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To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby Sairana » Thu 11.05.2009 10:04 am

hyperconjugated wrote:If I remember correctly, someone said here once that most of the learners coming here will probably never reach a level in Japanese in which they have to really worry if they expression is "natural" Japanese. It's probably quite fair assessment. When someone has reached that level, proficient people and natives easily spot it and will address it accordingly. There's just no reason to dwell in the fine points when someone doesn't have grasp of the rudiments.


I agree with this entirely.

I don't think someone can study to sound natural, and it's a wasted effort. In a comparison with English: I went to visit and old friend for a week, who lives now in Georgia. First thing I noticed was that the people down there speak very differently than those in the midwest, where I live. It's nothing big, just changes in preferred vocabulary, plus the "Southern Drawl" effect.

If I was going to move in with my friend, I wouldn't study up on sounding like a natural southerner. My language would be strange to them for a while, and I'd be labeled a yankee or whatever. But relatively quickly my speech habits would absorb those of the people around me. It doesn't take terribly long.

My sister lived in NY for 2 years. She came back with a thick accent.
My friend had lived in GA for 1 year before I came to visit, and she drawled the sugariest greeting at me when we arrived.
When I moved from WI to TX at the age of 18, it wasn't more than 8 months before I had completely lost my Northern "o" sound. I had a friend who took great amusement in tracking it in secret, and threw me a party when he determined I had finally stopped using it.

I just don't think there's any point in trying to study to sound natural. Getting "standard Japanese" is enough. If I ever need natural Japanese, it will be because I am in a position to learn it first hand, by living, eating, and breathing it.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby lonelytraveler8 » Thu 11.05.2009 10:32 am

Haha, that's great. I live in New England, but the majority of my family lives in Arkansas, and I love their accent. When put that way, I agree you can't study to sound natural, but you can certainly study to not sound unnatural. There are just certain ways of speaking even English that are really natural no matter where you go (I just woke up, so no examples...). Well, I can say, for one, that the way I write, even on these forums, is nowhere near the way I speak. I much prefer the way I write, but when talking I tend to be more to the point, less grammatical and use more slang ("fail" is a word I picked up from my friends in the past couple years and has been extremely versatile!).

As far as I'm concerned in the matter, I didn't really feel discouraged by Magamo's post earlier. Actually, I think I understood what he meant a little better than others. I knew someone would comment on the use of the word 'contrived,' but I hardly expected the post, as a whole, to turn into this much of a debate.

That doesn't mean I really agree with him. I'm going to continue studying from textbooks for awhile, as I've only been studying for about 3.5 months and I feel I've made good progress. Once I feel satisfied with my level of grammar, I'll start tackling comics, children's book and children's TV shows to immerse myself exactly like he suggests. I just don't think immersion is very useful in a non-native setting until you have a handle on the basics. Were I to move to Japan and live there for the rest of my life, I feel there's no reason I couldn't learn the language like a child growing up does.

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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby magamo » Thu 11.05.2009 11:56 am

Thanks for everyone in this thread. Your thoughtful posts gave me a chance to think about language learning again. It doesn't seem I can reply to every point you made because of my lack of fluency in English. Well, I'm not sure if I can take this much if this was in Japanese. But I definitely read all posts.

Astral Abraxas wrote:Magamo just misunderstands the purpose of textbooks. They aren't meant to get you to a "talk naturally" level. They are a "get you to a communicative level" at a faster rate. Once you reach that level then you go and practice in real life situations and eventually learn natural Japanese like she is suggesting. This process is suppose to hasten the learning and make it more fun. Why struggle twice as long and get discouraged because you can't communicate when you can use a textbook and almost right away start communicating.

She just wants to skip that step which is utterly ridiculous and has no point what-so-ever. The person who used the textbook to get to that communicative level then went to native material to pick up more natural sounding expressions isn't going to sound less natural than the person that jumped straight to native level material.

I didn't say you should never use textbooks though... But I admit that I don't think that learning simplified grammar from textbooks designed for foreigners would be as important as massive exposure, especially when they don't think it's going well themselves. I've seen a lot of non-native speakers who learned Japanese from textbooks and/or classes for a long time and most of them couldn't master even one of the most important grammar rules such as は vs. が. And the only adult learner I know who speaks Japanese better than your average Japanese didn't use textbook much, though she's been living in Japan for 20 odd years so it may not be that surprising. She also says her English is better than her Japanese (Her mother tongue is Chinese.), though her English is way better than mine so I can't speak for her English.

Like I said, if you think it works well for you, it probably is good. But if you choose the textbook based learning path, later on you might find yourself trapped in the "I've been studying this language for decades, and it doesn't seem I'm making progress for like 10 years" morass. I think I managed to get out of the purgatory by trying to forget what I have learned from textbooks and classes, but I may well be heading straight to the same morass again too. Hmm...

furrykef wrote:A foreign speaker saying things like "I dunno" and using slang does often sound a bit awkward if the rest of his speech isn't very native-like, though, which is, I think, a legitimate reason to master the "textbook language" first.

Fair point. And obviously what I need to lean is to sound more mature, which I may be able to do efficiently by using textbooks.

hyperconjugated wrote:If I remember correctly, someone said here once that most of the learners coming here will probably never reach a level in Japanese in which they have to really worry if they expression is "natural" Japanese. It's probably quite fair assessment.

Hmm... I don't want to believe the "They won't master this language anyway" kind of claim, thought unfortunately it may be an arguably fair assessment. I'd like to think that if most of the people who came to this site failed to reach satisfactory level, it's the method prevalent in this forum that is wrong. I don't want to think it's because of the people who failed to achieve their goals. I know there are many possible reasons why the majority of learners drop out sooner or later. Maybe I'm too optimistic, but still... Maybe I'm just saying that if you're following a method so many people have picked up and have fallen by the wayside, it doesn't bode well.

hyperconjugated wrote:When someone has reached that level, proficient people and natives easily spot it and will address it accordingly. There's just no reason to dwell in the fine points when someone doesn't have grasp of the rudiments.

From my personal experience, it seems bad habits are really hard to break. I wish it were that easy too. Do you find it easy to address your rough points?

@cooco

英語で書いてきたとおりですが、NileCatさんおよび私の軽率なコメントで気分を害されたすべてのメンバーにお詫び申し上げます。幾人かの英語母語話者の方もおっしゃっていますが、私もここまで話が大きくなるとは思いませんでした。とはいへ軽率であったことは確かですし、不快に思われた方がいることも事実です。実際NileCatさんは快く思わなかったわけです。改めてここでお詫びし、発言を撤回いたします。

coco wrote:
Coco 脳内変換2 wrote:てかさぁ、俺、mamagoみてーに話さねーよ。マジだよマジ。みてみろよ。全然ヘンだろ? っーか、あいつ何考えてんのかわかんねーっつんだよ。教科書みたく話せばいんだってバカみたいに信じてんだろ。そんなふうにいくかってーの。みんなあれがフツーの日本語だと思っちまうじゃんな。ちげーっーの! ネイティブなら普段話してるように話してみろっつんだよ。


知能指数低そうですね。mamagoに対する憎しみに満ち満ちています。よろしければこちらも英訳をお願いします。
これ、意図して文体変えてます。というのも私は普段こういう言葉を話したりしませんので。

cocoさんの意図していることは分かりますし、個人的にはNileCatさんのお気持ちは尊敬できるものだと思っております。が、まぁ余興ということで:

coco's interpretation 2 wrote:By the way if you guys are thinkin native speakers all speak like magamo, I have bad news for ya. Oh and if you're Japanese and don't think it's odd or strange, you better learn ******* Japanese first before preaching on your precious grammer. I don't get what this f*g is thinking. He better shut up already. I don't think spouting ******* textbookspeak s gonna work. Guys here don't know what it's like to speak like that. It's just horrible. Why can't he speak normally? Don't say you always speak like that, magamo. I sick of your pretentious talk.


背後にある敵意をくみ取りつつ、なおかつ自分が使うかもしれない範囲で訳してみました。grammerなど誤字はわざとです。4chan memeを混ぜればさらにアホっぽくなるのですが、特に2ch語が混ざっているわけでもありませんし、そもそもあれはbanされかねませんからね… 私の性格の問題かもしれませんが、アホっぽく書くのは比較的簡単かもしれません。

それからもう一つ。何の考えなしに普段通りの文体のほうがよいとただ妄信しているわけではありませんよ。詳しくはこれまでの書き込みと今回英語で書いたことを参照してください。
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby NileCat » Thu 11.05.2009 12:48 pm

Magamo, can I ask you just one thing?
I know it might sound very rude. But I think I'd be allowed to be a little bit impolite just this once.
My question is; Are you a returnee ? (帰国子女?)
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby Astral Abraxas » Thu 11.05.2009 12:53 pm

NileCat, I had the same impression awhile ago and I'm not even
a native speaker.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby Sairana » Thu 11.05.2009 1:06 pm

magamo wrote:I'd like to think that if most of the people who came to this site failed to reach satisfactory level, it's the method prevalent in this forum that is wrong.


There really isn't much of a prevalent method here, other than for the self-taught student to use a textbook.

Despite all your typing and big long posts, I still don't really understand how you propose people study Japanese.

Hyperconjugated's comment wasn't exactly directed specifically at "this site". It's people on the internet in general.

magamo wrote:I don't want to think it's because of the people who failed to achieve their goals.


I think you might change this perception when you realize that very, VERY often, people have unrealistic goals. How many times have you seen these questions:
How long will it take me to know enough Japanese to: Translate songs? Read a manga? Watch an anime?

Can you answer that question? No one here has yet been able to give these people the answer they want. There's no "Jpop level" and no "manga level". No specific, simpler set of grammar rules or vocabulary that music, manga, and anime conform to. Either you learn Japanese or you don't, no?

A lot of people who come here fail to achieve their goals because they want the quick-n-easy. We recommend textbooks because DESPITE that fact, we treat everyone like they're going to go all the way. We could pack them off to a phrase site and let them memorize a bunch of set phrases, but it still leaves them unable to translate their songs, read their favorite manga, and watch anime.

Do you have an alternate suggestion?
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby hyperconjugated » Thu 11.05.2009 1:58 pm

magamo wrote:Hmm... I don't want to believe the "They won't master this language anyway" kind of claim, thought unfortunately it may be an arguably fair assessment. I'd like to think that if most of the people who came to this site failed to reach satisfactory level, it's the method prevalent in this forum that is wrong. I don't want to think it's because of the people who failed to achieve their goals. I know there are many possible reasons why the majority of learners drop out sooner or later. Maybe I'm too optimistic, but still... Maybe I'm just saying that if you're following a method so many people have picked up and have fallen by the wayside, it doesn't bode well.

Adding to what Sairanai said above,

People in this forum encourage new and old learners in their studies greatly, they really do. What they refuse to do is reinforce unrealistic methods or goals. This is what sometimes makes (especially the young) newcomers leave with doors banging. One of the great things about this forum are the people who have considerable knowledge of Japanese and who can use that knowledge to give specially tailored answers(well, as far it can be done on the Internet) according to the skill level of the of student. Like said before, sometimes self-inflated egos can't take an honest advice but that's hardly "a failure of the method"(whatever that is ;))

You obviously could contribute tremendously here (actually you have in other threads already). There's just no point wasting all that skill giving ambitious advices to people who really just need to learn the basics first , IMO. You're a new member, layback and lurk a while and you'll get the drift. Right now you have stepped on toes of few regulars(who contribute considerably here) and that's a big no-no, like in most forums. Eventhough officially we are all equal here. Tranquilo!
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby magamo » Thu 11.05.2009 2:30 pm

NileCat wrote:Magamo, can I ask you just one thing?
I know it might sound very rude. But I think I'd be allowed to be a little bit impolite just this once.
My question is; Are you a returnee ? (帰国子女?)

No. I've been living in the US for only 2 months. Native speakers should be able to pick up my idiosyncrasies. Actually I just read some of my own posts again and found several errors.

Sairana wrote:I still don't really understand how you propose people study Japanese.

I don't say you should follow what I did or think you'd take this seriously, but this is how I learned English:

I started learning English at school like your average Japanese. I flunked my English class at university (I got tripped up by French too). By the time I entered grad school, I think I knew basics like "go-went-gone," "I thought he WAS Japanese," etc. I guess I knew the basic meanings of a few thousands English words, thought I only knew Japanese equivalents of them. I'm pretty sure Google translator made much more sense than me back then. I'm guessing a serious Japanese learner who finished a series of textbooks would speak better that my English back then. If you know what the average college graduate's English in Japan is like, that's pretty much what my English was like. I might be slightly better than the average, but I don't think native speakers would have noticed the difference.

English has never been my top priority, but I was looking for a good learning method. And I came across this video about 2 years ago: AJATT guy speaking in Japanese

Ah, if you're a native Japanese speaker and haven't watched this, you should check it out. He says in his blog that he had been learning Japanese for 4 years or so at that time. I was amazed by his Japanese (Who wouldn't?) and started reading his blog using a dictionary. It took several months to read through the main blog posts, but as I read about his theory, I had come to think I might give it a shot.

I do think he's exaggerating, and I'm not gullible enough to believe everything a random blogger says. Actually he claims he reached fluency in 18 moths from scratch. I don't buy that. But it seems to me that his methods like SRS, immersion, etc. are very effective. It seems working for me, though it's not as fast as it's advertised. I should have had a head-start in the sense that I already got basics down. But I can't say I'm fluent in English yet. I don't know how long I can improve my English at this rate either.

But if I went the immersion method and SRSing from day one, maybe in conjunction with a basic textbook, I honestly believe it wouldn't have taken more than, say, 4 years to be as good (bad?) as my English I'm speaking right now, thought I NEVER say it's easy to learn a language. Also, everyday I have to correct myself because I learned so many wrong explanations from textbooks and teachers. It's still hurting my language skills significantly. I must admit that grammar/translation I had learned might have been helping in a way I don't notice. It's not easy to tell what actually worked.

Sairana wrote:Do you have an alternate suggestion?

I don't want to be rude or anything, but, um, to me your entire post sounds like you're explaining how your proposing method doesn't work... "I recommended this! We could let them memorize a bunch of set phrases!! But they fail!!!" Doesn't it sound like it's the method that's the culprit? Hmm... If you gave some examples of people who achieve fluency, then it's a different story though. But you just described how they failed...

Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not saying it's necessarily bad. If you think it should work and it's the people that's the reason, then it may be. I just think language learning should be fun and effective.

hyperconjugated wrote:[...]Right now you have stepped on toes of few regulars(who contribute considerably here) and that's a big no-no, like in most forums.

I think I understand what I have done. I don't want people who are learning my mother tongue to be discouraged or leave here. I'm not sure if I should delete my posts, but mods will do it if they're inappropriate and against this site's culture.

Anyway, thank you all for your feedback. It was interesting. Oh, and you don't need to take this post seriously if you don't want to. If it's working for you, I never ever say you should stop what you're doing. If it works, the method doesn't matter at all.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby lonelytraveler8 » Thu 11.05.2009 2:57 pm

magamo wrote:I don't want to be rude or anything, but, um, to me your entire post sounds like you're explaining how your proposing method doesn't work... "I recommended this! We could let them memorize a bunch of set phrases!! But they fail!!!" Doesn't it sound like it's the method that's the culprit? Hmm... If you gave some examples of people who achieve fluency, then it's a different story though. But you just described how they failed...


First off, I think I should say that your English (at least written) is very good. But I've noticed a couple of times that you've misunderstood what someone says:

Sairana wrote:A lot of people who come here fail to achieve their goals because they want the quick-n-easy. We textbooks because DESPITE that fact, we treat everyone like they're going to go all the way. We could pack them off to a phrase site and let them memorize a bunch of set phrases, but it still leaves them unable to translate their songs, read their favorite manga, and watch anime.


What the first line means (and I underlined the key part for emphasis) is that a lot of people don't really care to learn the language. They just want to be able to quickly understand manga, songs, etc. What they don't understand is that you can't really do this without actually learning the language. Thus, they fail.

The bolded parts say this: We could recommend this alternative method of "learning," but it will leave them unable to reach their goals, which is why we DON'T recommend it.

Instead, new people (especially those self-teaching) are recommended to grab a textbook and attempt to "go all the way," or, in other words, learn how to speak the language as fluently as possible.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby magamo » Thu 11.05.2009 3:25 pm

Ah, thanks. Obviously my brain needs some sleep. I've been on this thread more than 12 hours! No wonder my second language's getting worse and worse. Sorry for posting a stupid comment when what she's saying is crystal clear. I can feel my writing is also deteriorating too.

What I was trying to say was if they're interested in this language they don't "need" to learn, they should have some motivation when they started to learn. And if learning is fun, they'll keep learning till they feel satisfied. And if many people can't keep up, I suspect that's because the method they're using is boring, not effective or something. Actually my SRSing has been always full of fun.

And I've been saying this for more than 12 hours today, but I'm not saying you shouldn't use textbooks... Use them if you think you're benefiting more from them. I don't force anyone to stop doing that. Apparently I suck at getting my idea across... *sigh*

By the way, I believe they can quickly learn Japanese and understand manga, songs, etc. I don't say you don't need to put effort, but "quickly" only means "fast" in context of a period of time, I think everyone can. It's not easy at all, but you can, or so I believe.

Hmm. But is the average beginner that bad? Maybe I have seen too many motivated learners in person. Come to think of it, people who came to Japan all the way should have a lot stronger motivations.

Edit: fixed some errors.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby Astral Abraxas » Thu 11.05.2009 3:32 pm

This is the last time I'm going to say this because I'm beginning to get irritated. No one is saying not to use native material. Naturally that's the only way to attain fluency after a certain point. Textbooks are merely suppose to provide a basis to work from.

Your English is unbelievably good. But, I can find several cases where you're using unnatural English in even the most basic situations.

Also, textbooks don't give wrong explanations. You just don't understand the learning process. They give you a vague temporary explanation which will be cleared up and appended to the farther you progress. There is a reason to this. It's because they don't want to bombard a beginner with advanced explanations that require at least an intermediate level to understand.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby lonelytraveler8 » Thu 11.05.2009 3:37 pm

lonelytraveler8 wrote:For now, I'd say let this particular conversation go. What can be said has more or less been said already.


Both sides of the argument have been repeated multiple times. There is a very slight language barrier that is causing minor issues to be blown up a little bit. When people start getting irritated, that's definitely a good time to stop a debate. Ending now won't affect how the rest of the forums run. :arrow:
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby magamo » Thu 11.05.2009 4:10 pm

Astral Abraxas wrote:This is the last time I'm going to say this because I'm beginning to get irritated. No one is saying not to use native material. Naturally that's the only way to attain fluency after a certain point. Textbooks are merely suppose to provide a basis to work from.

Did I sound like I was saying you don't use native material? If that's the case, I'm sorry... We're not disagreeing when it comes to importance of native material, I guess. It seems I'm not think textbooks are as important as others in this forum think (I might use them if I were to learn a new language.), and advocating use of native material at a very early stage, which most people doesn't think as efficient as I believe.

Astral Abraxas wrote:I can find several cases where you're using unnatural English in even the most basic situations.

yes... that's the problem... and I wouldn't say my English is unbelievably good.

Astral Abraxas wrote:Also, textbooks don't give wrong explanations. You just don't understand the learning process. They give you a vague temporary explanation which will be cleared up and appended to the farther you progress. There is a purpose to this. It's because they don't want to bombard a beginner with advanced explanations that require at least an intermediate level to understand.

I can't agree with this point. Actually grammar the Japanese kids learn at school is obsolete in modern Japanese linguistics. And as far as I know, textbooks for foreigners are using simplified grammar. It doesn't seem "は = as for" or "topic marker vs. subject marker" are helping learners grasp particles は and が. If you use grammar to understand it, you need to know the three types of Japanese sentences i.e., 名詞文, 動詞文, and 形容詞文 (Actually yudan taiteki kindly let me know there is one English textbook that teaches this). Also there is no consensus when it comes to these two particles among Japanese linguists, so it seems to me that claiming simplified grammar is not wrong is not very accurate.

There are a lot of examples that seem to be confusing learners such as "subject" in Japanese. But I'm not trying to discourage people from using simplified grammar designed for English or other foreign language learners. I think every grammar rule is wrong. Some are less wrong, of course. But I don't think it matter much. What matters is whether you can take advantage of it. I'm merely stating learning shouldn't be boring to the extent that people quit learning.

lonelytraveler8 wrote:Both sides of the argument have been repeated multiple times. There is a very slight language barrier that is causing minor issues to be blown up a little bit. When people start getting irritated, that's definitely a good time to stop a debate. Ending now won't affect how the rest of the forums run.

Thank you for always giving us kind advice. I just wanted to point out the statement "textbooks don't give wrong explanations" is not very accurate, so I couldn't resit my urge to post this. I wasn't very nice to you because of my lack of maturity and language skills. I've seen you giving sensible advice when threads slided into unwanted flam-war. Thank you. I'll leave this thread now and take a nap.

Edit: I can't believe the number of simple errors in this post. I hope I made sense.
Last edited by magamo on Thu 11.05.2009 4:20 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby ヴェンリメル » Thu 11.05.2009 4:15 pm

If I may; (going to continue the requested learning bit in an appropriate sub-forum): My original passion was mathematics (my favorite homework involved equations that required an entire notebook page to solve), but was also doing lots of reading and soon began writing. Years later, my love of riddles was properly recognised and I understood the correlation between language and math. I switched to language, because I preferred the ability to express oneself.

In the last five years of school, I learned bits of French and German and did a little studying of Russian, Croatian and Czech afterward. (Please don't mistake me for understanding any of these very well.) German was the only one I took numerous classes in. All of this learning is what has caused me to want to be a linguist; the idea that so many groups of people have developed different riddles of communication.

In more recent years, I decided I wanted to make Japanese less of a scribble of strange symbols. Studying Japanese is a little bit like studying A Sunday on La Grande Jatte for all its component colors, for me. The language has so many basics that are used in its complex ideas. Such as: "sweet smell water" for "perfume". It's bloody brilliant. I look forward to when I can step back from studying Japanese and enjoy the big picture within.

Truly, finding people to interact with me - to tell me when I'm having ridiculous problems - is why I'm here, and I can only say that it's been successful, so far. There have been speed bumps, but the speed bumps in residential areas are what make you slow down. Sometimes that's just what I need: to slow down amid all the people who can help me. (I also played a number of musical instruments through school and was notorious for attempting pieces beyond my playing level; but I would practice them until I could play them.)

Point is: I'm quite in this for the long haul and it's why some of the members' seemingly discouraging responses merely have me standing at the door to exit. I'm not willing to give up. I'm hard-headed, remember. lol
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby Astral Abraxas » Thu 11.05.2009 4:38 pm

If you want I can explain to you why は = topic marker and が = subject marker. There are no exceptions to this rule. The situations that you believe are exceptions can be nullified if you understand passive verbs, intransitive verbs, what a subject is, and what a topic is. If you understand all of this in addition to maybe a couple of other things that aren't coming to mind at the moment you will realize that it's the perfect definition of は and が。 If you understand all of this the way it's suppose to be understood then you will realize why は is used to contrast and が is used to talk about something specifically and every other instance that may seem strange to someone learning Japanese.

You bringing up は vs が is the perfect example of what I was talking about. They don't go and explain transitivity and everything else under the goddamn sun when you're trying to make sentences like "私は猫が好きです!”。 They give a basic explanation of は and が not a completely accurate one for a good goddamn reason. They'll expand on it when they get to the point of teaching passive verbs, intransitive verbs etc. Like I said, you just don't understand the learning process.
Last edited by Astral Abraxas on Thu 11.05.2009 8:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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