A Visual Look at Japanese

Welcome! This is a long-term ongoing project that I am working on while I study Japanese.

I am not the best at memorizing and remembering a lot of things, so I try to learn what I can at conceptual level, where logic can explain the connections we normally don't notice. While many don't expect to find logic in language (especially those of us who are native English speakers!), the truth is that there is a lot there that we take for granted. As a child, we learn language through mimicry, so much so that our first language actually comes to influence the way we think. Our language becomes nature to us, letting us recognize grammar that just doesn't "seem right," and creating barriers when we try to understand concepts in other languages that don't translate well. Instead, we try to learn these foreign ideas by equating them to idiosyncrasies that make sense to us, but then meanings get lost in translation.

Instead, I want to approach language like mathematics. Classes always try to teach us formulas to memorize, but the truth is that the math actually makes sense if you were to take the time to work your way through the problem. And the best part? Formulas become much easier to remember when you understand the context behind them!

And like math, there is a rhythm behind language, even if it doesn't match our way of thinking: we just need to get used to thinking a little differently. Since we aren't babies anymore, we can't learn language the way same way we did English, but we can reduce Japanese grammar into bite-sized pieces that are easier for us to relate to, find the patterns there that will help us remember them, and then build them up into sentences that sound right to them by better understanding how they use language to communicate.

And thus, I decided to work on this mini-website to help visualize my learning, and share it with others who may benefit from it in one way or another.

A couple of notes first, though. Yes, there is romaji on this website. I don't believe in requiring a proficiency in kanji in order to learn basic grammar. Romaji is also useful for making sure that you can pick up on subtle grammatical structures without having to focus on remembering what symbol means what. Not that I don't suggest learning kanji—please do, even if all you want to do is listen to anime. Kanji makes learning vocabulary progressively easier in the end, as most words in Japanese are not based on arbitrary sounds, like in English.

Lastly, please remember that I am a beginner to Japanese, so don't just take my word for it. I have provided my sources below, and you are also encouraged to point out any flaws or share with me any information that I have not considered. Please feel free to reach out to me for any reason, whether you find an issue, have a question, or would like to give me feedback or suggestions. You can contact me through my website or at Lang 8.


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