Tag Archives: linguistic

Is there really no word for ‘foot’ in Japanese?

You may have heard there is no word for ‘foot’ in Japanese. That’s only partially true, and in this post I’ll talk about this misconception. When speaking everyday Japanese, it’s true there is no single which maps exactly to the English word ‘foot’. Generally speaking, the word あし refers to both the leg and the foot, but… Read More »

Don’t make a てき out of 的 (てき)

The Japanese suffix 〜的(てき)is extremely useful and will help you understand many existing Japanese words, as well as act as a tool to create your own. The simplest way to understand this suffix is to see that it turns nouns into (Na) adjectives. 劇(drama)     =>  劇的 (dramatic) 政治 (politics) =>  政治的 (political) 教育… Read More »

Japanese honorific prefixes お and ご (‘O’ and ‘Go’)

In Japanese, the prefixes お  and ご are used to add a feeling of politeness or respect to a word. The usage of these two prefix is defined as follows: お : used for words with the 訓読み(”kunyomi”), or Japanese reading. It is sometimes written in Kanij as 御. ご : used for words with… Read More »

“Becoming” in Japanese: the many uses of なる (naru)

なる is one of those super useful Japanese verbs that has many common uses, even for beginners to the language. This verb generally means “to become” and is used in the following pattern: [object] が [condition] に なる where the [object] here will become (turn into, change into, progress into) the [condition]. Let’s start with… Read More »

Words are bursting at the seams with meaning

When studying a foreign language, we have no choice but to resort to dictionaries time and time again to help comprehend new words and search for ways to express ourselves more effectively. Having said that,after many years of using dictionaries as a reference, I’ve learned to not over rely on them, sometimes even going as… Read More »

We learn language best from our peers

During my study of the Japanese language, oftentimes I cannot help but think fundamentally about how humans learn a foreign language, or any language for that matter. Some years back when I was more actively studying linguistics, I read a very interesting book called “The Language Instinct” by Steven Pinker (see wikipedia page here). As… Read More »

Grammar – it’s the linguistic glue that holds things together [beginner/intermediate]

All through my Japanese studies I have always dedicated a large portion of time to learning grammar, almost to the extent that I would call it “grammar-driven learning”. Of course it’s great to have a rich vocabulary, but without knowing the rules for how to transform and combine words to get across your intended meaning,… Read More »