Japanese for the Western Brain


This is a site that offers an introduction to the Japanese language. Though no contents where you can actually practise yourself are available, you can read detailed explanations about Japanese.

  • There are explanations of numbers, verbs, adjectives, particles, sentence-structure, politeness-levels, reading and writing and so on.
  • Commentary is from the point of view of a native speaker of English approaching Japanese language-learning.

It is often said that learning Japanese is naturally difficult no matter how hard you try, so learners of the language want some sort of handbook or introductory text to help them. However, these texts tend to be so complex they seem to be intended for researchers rather than learners.
On the other hand, the kind of explanations offered in textbooks are often insufficient, leaving students feeling that they haven’t really understood what they’re supposed to be learning. Continuing in that vein, progressing with one’s studies while not fully grasping the finer points of the language means that such students may never properly understand how Japanese works. It appears that this site was created by the author to go some way towards filling this mid-point information gap that exists for learners.

As an explanation coming from someone seeing Japanese from the “English-language way of thinking”, it might well be of use in helping other native English speakers understand how Japanese grammar works.

We think Japanese people reading the section 'Relating your Japanese back to English' in 'Feedback on English' will also find it interesting. In particular, it might be helpful in giving a few hints to Japanese language tutors who are not native English speakers when they teach native English speakers.

An example of the content can be seen below.

The author uses the lyrics to 「Stand by Me」 as an example to explain simply the English words 「should」and 「ought to」which native Japanese speakers would translate as 「~するべきである」.

People who are learning Japanese often find themselves thinking more carefully about the peculiarities of their mother language.
In thinking about language like this, perhaps they will find themselves able to grasp Japanese meanings more accurately. Upon reading the author’s observations on various topics, other native speakers currently learning Japanese will most probably find some useful hints to help them with their study of the Japanese grammar.

In the "e! Kore" section you'll find an article called English-brain vs Japanese-brain: Know the difference and grammar's a piece of cake!? Please have a read!

Last update 2010.04.19