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Making Sense of Japanese Grammar

Zeljko Cipris

Publication Year: 2002

Making Sense of Japanese Grammar explains in a lively and highly informative manner basic principles that underlie a wide range of phenomena in Japanese. Students--irrespective of proficiency level and linguistic training--will find clarification on matters of grammar that often seem idiosyncratic and Japanese-specific, such as avoiding the use of certain pronouns, employing the same word order for questions, hidden subjects, polite and direct forms. Organized for easy access and readability, Making Sense of Japanese Grammar consists of short units, each focused on explaining a distinct problem and illustrated with a wealth of examples. To further enhance their usefulness, the units are cross-referenced and contain brief comprehension exercises to test and apply newly acquired knowledge. A glossary and keys to the exercises are at the back of the book. This volume may be used as a supplementary classroom reading or a helpful reference for students of all levels. Both students and instructors, even those trained in linguistics, will find its accessible explanations of grammatical concepts helpful. Grounded in sound scholarship and extensive teaching experience, Making Sense of Japanese Grammar brings a fresh and liberating perspective to the study of Japanese.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. v-vii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-

We owe our thanks to a number of people who helped us with this book. Among others, directly instrumental in bringing the book about were Susumu Kuno, Patricia Crosby, Ann Ludeman, Nancy Woodington and two anonymous reviewers for the University of Hawai‘i Press. We are sincerely grateful to them for their encouragement and constructive...

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xiii

The audience we target is people who have little or no linguistic training and who may be unfamiliar with grammatical concepts. If you have never heard of the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs, but are genuinely interested in learning the Japanese language, this book is for you. We hope that even if you hated your English grammar...

Part 1. Grammatical Categories and the Basic Architecture of a Sentence

1. The subject corresponds to an item around which an event evolves

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pp. 3-4

2. Use the verb at the end!

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pp. 5-

3. An explicit subject is optional

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pp. 6-

4. Pay attention to the last part of a sentence

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pp. 7-8

5. There are three types of verb-like constituents

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pp. 9-10

6. The noun in the sentence gakusei-desu is not the subject!

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pp. 11-12

7. Japanese speakers avoid certain pronouns

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pp. 13-14

8. You cannot always guess the grammatical category of a Japanese form from the grammatical category of its English counterpart

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pp. 15-

9. Dictionary forms of all Japanese adjectives end with -ii, -ai, -oi, or -ui

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pp. 16-

10. “Noun” is an open category in Japanese

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pp. 17-18

11. Use the same word order for questions. Attach -ka to a statement to turn it into a question

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pp. 19-21

12. Do not hesitate to use the same verb over and over again

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pp. 22-

13. Japanese particles are postpositions

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pp. 23-24

14. Classification of particles

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pp. 25-28

Part 2. Phrase Particles: Marking the Functions of Noun Phrases in a Sentence

15. A phrase particle determines the function of the noun

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pp. 31-32

16. The particle -wa identifies what the sentence is about and urges the listener to pay attention to the part that follows

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pp. 33-35

17. The particle -mo adds the preceding noun phrase to a list of objects

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pp. 36-37

18. Use of -wa and -mo presupposes a contextual set

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pp. 38-39

19. -ga is the subject marker; -o is the direct object marker

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pp. 40-41

20. -ga and -o mark a fresh participant; -wa marks a familiar participant already anchored in a context

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pp. 43-45

21. Do not attach -wa to interrogative WH-phrases

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pp. 46-47

22. Only one direct object particle -o appears per verb

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pp. 48-49

23. The subject and the direct object are the primary grammatical categories

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pp. 50-52

24. Two types of locational particles: -de and -ni

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pp. 53-56

25. Three reasons not to use phrase particles

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pp. 57-59

26. “Exceptional” uses of -ga

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pp. 60-63

27. Grammatical reasons for alternations of particles

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pp. 64-65

28. The person marked with the particle -ni is an active participant in an interaction

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pp. 66-70

29. The person marked with the particle -to is a “reciprocal” participant in an interaction

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pp. 71-72

30. Certain auxiliary verbs take the non-subject participant particle -ni

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pp. 73-75

31. The auxiliary verb -morau comes with -ni; the auxiliary verbs -ageru and -kureru do not

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pp. 76-78

32. Another consequence of the double-o constraint

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pp. 79-

33. Phrase particles are powerful!

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pp. 80-82

Part 3. Expanding Noun Phrases

34. The particle -no between two nouns turns the first noun into a modifier

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pp. 85-86

35. A noun modified by an adjective functions like a noun

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pp. 87-

36. The modifier consistently precedes the modified

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pp. 88-89

37. Spatial relationships are expressed with stacked nouns

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pp. 90-91

38. The particle -no mediates a wide range of relationships. Mekishiko-jin-no tomodachi, for instance, means either “a friend of a Mexican” or “a friend who is Mexican”

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pp. 92-93

39. The particle -to connects noun phrases representing separate objects

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pp. 94-95

40. Na-nouns behave like nouns, but they have “fuzzy” meanings

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pp. 96-98

41. To say something more complex, use complex noun phrases

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pp. 99-100

42. The head noun of a complex noun phrase carries with it only the particle which marks its function in a larger sphere

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pp. 101-102

43. Japanese does not employ WH-phrases for creating complex noun phrases

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pp. 103-104

44. Mekishiko-jin-no tomodachi “a Mexican friend” is a complex noun phrase

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pp. 105-106

45. atarashii tomodachi “a new friend” is also a kind of complex noun phrase

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pp. 107-108

46. One more way to create a complex noun phrase

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pp. 109-110

47. no is for a familiar event; koto is for an abstract idea

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pp. 111-113

Part 4. Tense and Events

48. There are only two tenses in Japanese: non-past and past

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pp. 117-118

49. Special use of past tense forms

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pp. 119-120

50. Te-forms connect very closely related events

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pp. 121-123

51. Tense markers separate events

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pp. 124-128

52. Events are tied with varying degrees of cohesion inside a sentence

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pp. 129-132

53. Two perspectives for tense inside a subordinate clause

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pp. 133-136

54. The main clause perspective means involvement

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pp. 137-139

55. The speaker’s perspective means incidental connection, speaker’s recollection, or speaker’s reasoning

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pp. 140-142

Part 5. Miscellaneous Topics

56. hai and ee mean “I agree” or “I hear you”; iie means “I disagree”

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pp. 145-148

57. are “that” is for things known to both speaker and hearer; sore “that” is for something just mentioned

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pp. 149-151

58. The longer and vaguer, the more polite

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pp. 152-

59. Polite forms and direct forms

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pp. 153-155

60. Reality consists of continuous-grade scales; language makes things discrete

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pp. 156-158

61. Interpretations of -te-kuru/-te-iku

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pp. 159-162

62. Expressing solidarity with -te-kuru/-te-iku

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pp. 163-164

63. -n-da expresses expectation of mutual understanding

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pp. 165-166

64. -n-da-kara does not provide personal information. Do not overuse it!

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pp. 167-169

65. There are ways to identify hidden subjects

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pp. 170-174

66. Do not be intimidated by apparent complexity

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pp. 175-178

Answers to the Questions

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pp. 179-191

Glossary

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pp. 193-195

Index

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pp. 197-199

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About the Authors

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pp. 201-

Zeljko (Jake) Cipris received his doctorate from Columbia University and is currently an assistant professor of Japanese at the University of the Pacific. He is completing work on two books, Soldiers Alive: A Japanese Narrative of the War with China and A Flock of Swirling Crows: The Proletarian Writings of Kuroshima...


E-ISBN-13: 9780824863487
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824824976

Publication Year: 2002

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Subject Headings

  • Japanese language -- Textbooks for foreign speakers -- English.
  • Japanese language -- Grammar.
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