Category Archives: Japanese Study: Intermediate

Google suggest: a surprising supplement to foreign language learning

I think for a majority of students learning a foreign language in modern times, using Google as a search tool to find word meanings is a pretty common activity. Even for translating––although it often isn’t my “first line of defense” when trying to understand a word or phrase––often I’ll end up doing a search just to… Read More »

A confusing Japanese loanword in English: “Hibachi” (it may not mean what you think it does!)

Sometime a while ago I wrote an article about confusing Japanese loanwords which originally came from English words, and then a week or so ago I wrote another article about the reverse: a confusing English loanword that came from Japanese. Very recently I learned of another word that falls in this second category, so I… Read More »

Japanese expression: “七光り” (nana hikari) – Benefits received on account of a father

In this post I’d like to introduce another expression that I picked up from everyday conversation with a Japanese native speaker: “七光り” (“nanahikari”) You may have noticed that this word literally means “seven lights”, but out of context it is hard to guess what it actually means. So let’s look at an example sentence. 彼は親の七光りでその会社についたよ。… Read More »

Getting along with people: Japanese expressions involving “naka” (仲) [naka ga ii, nakayoku, nakanaori, etc.]

The word “naka”, often written in kanji as 仲 but sometimes in hiragana as なか, refers to a human relationship. There are a handful of expressions involving this word commonly used in everyday conversation that are useful to learn. One of the simplest and most common, ways to use this word is when describing a good or… Read More »

Japanese everyday word: “kasabaru” (かさばる)

Lately I’ve been making posts on words which I’ve heard in everyday conversation with Japanese native speakers, and in this post I’d like to highlight one more: “kasabaru”. It’s written in hiragana as かさばる but can also be written in kanji as 嵩張る. However, I hear this word more often than see it in writing.… Read More »

Japanese term “magari” (間借り): renting a room in someone’s house

In everyday conversation with a native Japanese speaker I came across another word that I hadn’t heard/read before. The word was “magari” which confused me at first because I thought it was a form of the verb “magaru” (曲がる), which means “to bend” (intransitively, as if something bends itself). However, that didn’t fit the context:… Read More »

Language learning pitfall: Learning similar words at the same time

There are surely as many techniques to learn languages as there are languages, if not many more. And a majority of the techniques you read about online or in a book will likely provide some benefit for at least a fraction of language learners. But there are a few things I’ve learned over the years… Read More »

“I’ve lived in Japan for X years and am still not fluent in Japanese!” –– 13 tips for language learning

I think we have all met someone who has lived in a foreign country for some time but hasn’t yet mastered the primary language of that country; maybe you are one of those people. In this post I’ll give some tips for language learning, targetting especially those immersing themselves in that language. While I will… Read More »

Japanese loanword spotlight: 「ナーバス」(naabasu) [It doesn’t always mean “nervous”]

Loanwords from other countries, called gairaigo (外来語), make up a significant part of the Japanese language, and learning their nuances is a key part of being truly fluent in Japanese. Many of these words, for example seetaa(セーター, meaning “sweater”), are used in a way that is very similar to their original language. However, some loan words have… Read More »