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Until you finally get used to Japanese and feel comfortable deploying all its various words and phrases fluently, it can be helpful to find conceptual expedients to use as crutches in the short term.

If one of these crutches can help you solve two problems, that’s all the better, and I’d like to share a particular trick that’s helped me better understand both the lack of explicit pronoun use in Japanese as well as 敬語 (keigo, polite speech), two of the language’s most intimidating features.

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