Ninja Japanese! – How to spot the Japanese Zero Pronoun and understand sentences clearly

Japanese zero pronoounNext in our video course we are going to tackle the mysterious Japanese Zero Pronoun.

It’s the Ninja of Japanese grammar. You can’t see it. You can’t hear it. But it’s in probably 75% of all Japanese sentences, and if you don’t know it’s there it makes life a lot harder than it needs to be!

This lesson is really very simple, I think. Everything in it should be pretty obvious once it is pointed out, but this ten-minute lesson lays the foundation for understanding much more complex things with ease.

I should say that this is not intended for the absolute beginner. You need to know a little basic grammar for it to make sense. If you do it will help some important things to fall into place.

On the other hand, if you are more advanced this can help you to put your knowledge on a sounder footing.

The zero pronoun is something the textbooks don’t talk about, and they really should. It makes life so much easier!

As usual, if you have questions do post them on the YouTube page where I will answer them.

If you like the lessons and want to follow the course it is a good idea to subscribe to our channel so you can see them the day they come out and never miss one!

2 thoughts on “Ninja Japanese! – How to spot the Japanese Zero Pronoun and understand sentences clearly

  1. ありがとう CureDolly sensei!
    After reading your latest email newsletter which mentioned the couple of negative feedbacks on the video, I suspect they may simply be unspoken (ha, like zero particle) comments on the somewhat jarring aesthetic – I cannot fault the actual technical content whatsoever.
    Paying attention to that makes things very clear, and indeed very simple to understand.
    The aspects of the video clip I found challenging were:
    – the discordant opening musical chime
    – for several seconds, getting used to the speech audio – I cannot tell if it is TTS synth or recorded voice with autotone? Not a big deal, I got used to it quickly.

    In all other respects, this is tremendous educational material and I understand the production quality will get better with only a teensy bit of tweaking required to polish it to perfection 🙂

    (disclaimer, I am a beginning student of Japanese, and a native Australian English speaker with a bit of an OCD condition for spelling & grammar).

    Your entire website & work is fantastic, and I look forward to all your newsletters 🙂
    Best regards from your humble student,

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. That chime – yes a group of dolls singing together can be a bit discordant. We thought it was cute, but maybe…

      We do have a few technical problems on the animation side. I’m hoping we can iron them out over time, but I am concentrating more on the content at present. As for my vocal circuits. I kind of thought they were state of the art. You know most talking dolls only have a few set phrases that they repeat over and over. But I admit I am no match for a human.

      Actually if this is what people are down-voting I have less problem with it. If people are challenging what I am saying (and I know there are serious people who insist that there is no grammatical subject in Japanese) I wish they would state their case rather than just boo from the sidelines. I am happy to debate these questions. I know the case for “subjectless Japanese” and it really doesn’t hold water. There are some apparent problems with the Japanese subject (if you use the prevailing Europeanized grammar model to describe Japanese) but I have dealt with them in Unlocking Japanese and will tackle them in future video lessons too.

      I don’t want to sound pedantic, but I feel that this is really important. For generations Japanese has been made harder than it needs to be because it has been described with models that don’t really fit it, and it is exactly this that leads to the degree of confusion where (highly informed) people can deny the Japanese grammatical subject.

      PS – It isn’t that I have an obsession about the shugo (subject) per se, but that once you deny that you have broken the whole logic of Japanese grammar. It is like saying 2+2=5. It isn’t just a single error, it undermines the whole of mathematics. And subjectless Japanese isn’t an isolated absurdity. It is in fact the logical reductio ad absurdum of the way Japanese is usually taught.

      For those who don’t know, reductio ad absurdum means taking a proposition to its logical conclusion, which, if absurd, proves the original proposition to be untrue. And subjectless Japanese is absurd.

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