Category Archives: General

Japanese slang word: あざす(azasu) [“Thanks”, without the politeness]

Japanese is well known for its complex layers of politeness that involve different verbs, verb endings, and nouns, among other things. Japanese classes often focus more on the polite side of Japanese since it’s generally safer to be more polite, especially with people you don’t know well. However, many Japanese learners are also interested in… Read More »

What’s the difference between a 翻訳者 (‘honyausha’) and 翻訳家 (‘honyakuka’)?

In recent years I’ve gradually transitioned from simply learning Japanese to becoming deeply interested in Japanese to English translation. Besides actually doing a lot of translations myself, I have been trying to understand how to talk about translation in Japanese, in particular understanding the nuances of various terms related to translation. As you may already… Read More »

The *other* uses of polite language in Japanese

I think it’s fair to say that polite language (敬語, keigo) is one of the most difficult things to master in the Japanese language. Polite language includes the basic desu/masu forms that students generally learn early on, but there are also more advanced forms of polite language with varying nuances (ex: 召し上がる、お目にかかる). For the purposes… Read More »

Talking about ways of doing things in Japanese with 〜かた (~kata)

When you first learn a foreign language, you might be frustrated (or at least challenged) by how it differs from your native language. But the more you study, the more you’ll find aspects unique to that language that allow you to express things in convenient ways. In Japanese, by using the suffix かた (sometimes written… Read More »

The upward spiral of language learning

The other day I had a revelation about the difference between studying a foreign language by choice (using classes, textbooks, etc.), and being forced to learn it in an immersive environment (like at home or on the job)––in the former you always have the option to quit, whereas in the latter you don’t, or it’s… Read More »

Japanese word 我慢 (gaman): putting up with it

The Japanese word “gaman”, often written in kanji as 我慢 (or sometimes in hiragana as がまん)、is one of those words that seems conceptually simple, but doesn’t always have an easy English equivalent. “Gaman” is fundamentally about suppressing or putting up with some emotion or desire. Similarly, it can also have a nuance of enduring of… Read More »

Pronunciation: one of the hardest parts about learning Japanese (and a review of a great resource to help with that –– OJAD)

The other day I came across a recently-started blog about learning Japanese that talked about how easy Japanese pronunciation was. This really frustrated me, but my search for a way to leave a friendly comment to the author ended in failure, so someday you may come across that post (and others like it). After over… Read More »