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The dreaded "wa" vs "ga"

#26
sorry, never mind
Edited: 2016-09-04, 11:27 am
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#27
I agree broadly with Stansfield123-san on this one. Actually "grammar rules" is a very strange concept in Western Japanese teaching. There are some genuine ones of course like how to make -masu form or the so-called "passive" (it isn't passive). These are called "conjugations" in the West (which causes more confusion than necessary). In Japan they are regarded as auxiliary verbs.

However you regard them, these, and such things as what the particles do, are actual "grammar rules". And they stop quite early on in learning Japanese. After that there are books on what Western students and teachers for some reason call "grammar points". But this isn't really grammar at all. It is idiom-study. But that's another matter.

Wa and ga are very subtle in their finer application, like English a and the (much subtler than native speakers realize). Some near-perfect Japanese English speakers make the odd mistake over a and the. How much does this trouble you when you hear it? I would guess hardly at all. It is likely to be the same in your own case (and mine too) and this I think is something one has to live with until one has sufficient experience, and sufficient in this case is a LOT.

Personally I would use Japanese forums. Native speakers don't look at their language in the same way foreigners do, it is true, but they look at it as it is. English-language teaching of Japanese is riddled with strange ways of looking at the language that sometimes actually get in the way of understanding it.

Rubin-sensei, however is really worth reading because he dispenses with some of the worst misconceptions - teaching for example that wa can never mark the grammatical subject, which does matter in this case.

My next video is going to be about wa and ga, and while it won't be especially high-level I do want to try to do something that I don't think has been done so far. That is tie up the main wa/ga uses with their fundamental character.

Stansfield123-san wrote

"Making an attempt to formulate a comprehensive "rule" isn't helpful" and may raise an eyebrow here!

However the point of what I am going to attempt is not really a full comprehensive rule. The point is that Western Japanese teaching, as I have tried to show in various other areas, tends to miss the actual logic of Japanese. It sees a sprawl of random "rules" and mysterious "exceptions" because it is looking through European spectacles at a language that isn't European.

It is a little bit (to simplify) like the way a beginner may look in a dictionary at all the various ways 切る may be used and see a sea of apparently diverse meanings to be learned, without realizing that every one of them is simply a an extension of the metaphorical act of cutting.

Does realizing this mean that you automatically know all the extended meanings? Of course not. But it does make them fall into place (and obviate the necessity of trying to commit them all to memory. They will make more sense when you hear them - and if you aren't going to hear them why do you need them?)

Similarly with wa and ga, I think the "list" of possible functions are all related to the respective fundamental functions of wa and ga. and I want to try to at least throw a little light on that idea.

Will that solve the problem? Of course not. But I am thinking it might make it easier to get to grips with.
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#28
Wish you luck for your next video (sincerely).
Tough subject.
This is not the first time you mention Jay Rubin...
I just 'hope' you have something a bit different to say.
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#29
Thank you for your support.

Yes it's a tough subject and no video is going to cover it completely (this is turning out to be a two-part series and still won't cover it completely, but it is a very complex subject. Whole books have been written on it.

Will I have something different to say? I believe I will. In fact that is the point of these videos. Not to try to cover the subjects exhaustively but to bring to the table something people probably haven't seen before which may help.

My main grammar series (and my book Unlocking Japanese) I've always said were not about giving people a lot of fish but about teaching them to fish.

The wa vs ga videos will be a little less ambitious perhaps. Not doing either but perhaps giving people some new flies and lures that may help them.

Something different? Well, I think the concept of logical vs non-logical particles is something I haven't seen anywhere else - though you can find it in the book. Also the fact that English actually has a counterpart to the ga particle in some cases - a fact no one seems to have remarked on but does make it rather clearer I think.

PS RawrPk-san wrote

TD;LR: if you don't need to use Japanese to communicate (via speech or writing) in your daily life, delay output. More input.

I've heard this theory often and I've never believed in it.

I don't say it's wrong, but I definitely think it is not the right advice for a lot of people. To absorb a language you need to be engaged in it, and for some people (I would have thought a lot of people but I may be wrong) passive engagement just isn't sufficient. You aren't truly emotionally engaged if you aren't participating.

At least I am not and I would have thought Euro-American people would be even more that way than I am, since they have a very "outward" and "activist" world-outlook. Though I may well be wrong about that, because so many of them seem to feel that passive exposure is sufficient.

Of course the idea is that you do output eventually, but when? RawrPk-san is advising someone at N1-level to "delay output". It reminds me of the story of an Irish mother when someone suggested it might be time for her 40-year-old son to get married and leave home. She apparently replied "Och no. Another ten years'll be fine seasoning on him".

For me getting involved actively with the language as early as reasonably possible seems best. Though I would say this may not be right for everyone and I would add the caveat that this should be accompanied by a LOT of input.
Edited: 2017-05-23, 12:34 pm
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#30
I agree, I don't think delaying output is necessary.
Actually there is already so much you can say with only N3 grammar.
But you only realise it when you start using it, and take a step away from your textbooks.
I'd say for everyday life conversation that's all you need and it often sounds more natural to stick to N3 than trying to use some N2's.
I'd also think westerners would be less prone to shy away from engaging a conversation.
But I don't know why, when it comes to japanese language...lots of people seems to aim for perfection before using it.


I don't see any benefit to only focus on input (especially if you're about N1), while you can tackle both input and output by strating to practice conversation. If you do input all your life, will you end up speaking like a broadcast journalist? That sounds awful. Doing output early helps avoid/break bad habits, and gives insight about what's not written in the books.
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#31
Yes, exactly. What's with this delicate-china Japanese that you never take out of the glass case?

I'd say for everyday life conversation that's all you need and it often sounds more natural to stick to N3 than trying to use some N2's.

I think the thing is here that when you are really using Japanese for everyday conversation you stop thinking in terms of things like "N3" and "N2" (at least I would think so, though I never thought in those terms in the first place so I can't be sure).

What you are actually thinking about is what you are trying to convey and how best to do it. In writing you learn a lot that way because you have time to find out how to make your point. In speaking you learn strategies for getting as near to what you want to say as you can.

Both are extremely valuable. However ultimately I believe that "output" should not be regarded a mere learning tool. Am I "outputting English" here on the forum? Or am I having a discussion with actual people?

But then (here's my dark secret). I don't actually believe in "learning Japanese". I believe in "living Japanese".
Edited: 2017-05-23, 8:21 pm
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#32
(2017-05-23, 11:51 am)CureDolly Wrote: Of course the idea is that you do output eventually, but when? RawrPk-san is advising someone at N1-level to "delay output". It reminds me of the story of an Irish mother when someone suggested it might be time for her 40-year-old son to get married and leave home. She apparently replied "Och no. Another ten years'll be fine seasoning on him".
In my defense, when I wrote that comment, I didn't read the part where he was around N1-ish level/ seasoned Japanese learner. I just assumed OP was someone who was just starting out. When OP mentioned that they could no longer wait to practice output anymore and desired for social communication, I then wrote another post stating that finding a language partner to do activities in Japanese would be the best move to make for output.

I personally am delaying output because I don't really have enough Japanese knowledge under my belt (N4-ish), and whenever I had the opportunity to do out, I sound like a cave person lol Very slow speaking and more pauses than actual words. Tongue But that is just me. When the time is right (for me), I do have native Japanese friends who I can practice with.
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#33
Oh sorry! I misunderstood.

I think people have their own pace for starting output, and N4 level is pretty tough (do-able but only if you're that way inclined).

I don't want to come across as saying "you must do output" to anyone. People work differently. I just think that some of this heavily input-oriented advice can be off-putting to people. And I understand that people can be shy of speaking.

My main aim was to give people back some of the confidence that might get drained out of them by the "don't say a word or you'll ruin your Japanese" school of thought.

Japanese is a plant that likes a lot of sun and rain and can weather the odd storm!

Good luck on your journey and have lots of fun on the way!
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#34
Quote:In writing you learn a lot that way because you have time to find out how to make your point. In speaking you learn strategies for getting as near to what you want to say as you can.
Yup, that's a good point to note.
That strategy is a very valuable skill in learning/living language. Trying to say more with less and learn to rephrase with simple words can often save your ass more than having a 電子辞書 constantly with you.
Either in speaking or writing on LINE, you don't really have time to look up for complicated words.
Also by rephrasing, the conversation becomes a lot more lively rather than having the exact word you want to say in mind.
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