| Mar 23, 2014

Being laughed at can help your Japanese evolve

by Daniel Morales

Students of Japanese are often Japanese-as-a-second-language (JSL) cavemen. JSL cavemen live a mostly pleasant existence of blissful ignorance, using a devolved form of the language as best they can. However, JSL cavemen are not total ignoramuses — their thick hide can be penetrated by ...

December: A last tango with soba

| Dec 15, 2013

December: A last tango with soba

by Kaori Shoji

Some men go out to buy that flaming red sportscar. Others embark on a messy but absorbing divorce process. Then there is of course, nirvana: the gorufujō (ゴルフ場, golf course). But in Japan, when men hit a certain age they have another option to ...

Oct 5, 2013

Japanese language diplomacy

An expert panel has proposed increasing the number of Japanese teachers sent abroad to teach the Japanese language as a way of improving relations with Southeast Asian nations.

Oct 1, 2013

More Japanese teachers needed in ASEAN, Abe is told

by Masaaki Kameda

An expert panel to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has proposed bolstering support for Japanese-language education in ASEAN countries by increasing the number of teachers, as more people in the region are learning Japanese. The proposal, submitted to Abe on Monday, calls for boosting the ...

When does one's native language stop being native?

| Aug 25, 2013

When does one's native language stop being native?

by Mark Schreiber

A 71-year-old man in Gifu Prefecture made headlines recently when he attempted to initiate a lawsuit against broadcaster NHK. Through its excessive use of foreign derived words, the man claimed, NHK had caused him 精神的苦痛 (seishinteki kutsū, psychological pain). He demanded ¥1.41 million in ...

Hyper, mega, ultra: talking in superlatives

| Jul 28, 2013

Hyper, mega, ultra: talking in superlatives

by Peter Backhaus

One of the ultra-fascinating facets of Japanese is its super-large arsenal of intensifying prefixes that provide an otherwise neutral expression with some emphatic edge. The best-known (and least spectacular) of them is dai (大), which usually translates as “big.” When something went really well, ...