Pronouns
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26 / M
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Posted 5/22/10
Why are there so many of them in Japanese?
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M / Someplace
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Posted 5/22/10
because there just is
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28 / M / Colorado, USA
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Posted 5/28/10
Politeness.

Politeness is the main reason for diversity of words in all areas of the language. Though it's kinda unfortunate that despite the quantity of pronouns, none of the ways of saying "you" are perfectly polite. And that's where in their culture the importance of using names is highlighted.

But there may be better explanations, since I've yet to live in Japan.
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35 / M / Portland
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Posted 5/30/10
Orangeflute, you're mistaken, Japanese has no pronouns. if you mean 代名詞, then the reason is because it is an open word class, not closed like English pronouns. They act pretty much like regular 名詞 (name words, or nouns if you really want to call it that) so they take modifiers and subordinate clauses. 代名詞 being an open word class allows words to easily change, be modified, come in and out of style, and for new innovative slang to be created.

TerraGamerX: Politeness does play a part in it, but ultimately it is a stylistic reason why there are so many variations and why they get propagated through the language.
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26 / M
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Posted 5/31/10

shujinkou wrote:

Orangeflute, you're mistaken, Japanese has no pronouns. if you mean 代名詞, then the reason is because it is an open word class, not closed like English pronouns. They act pretty much like regular 名詞 (name words, or nouns if you really want to call it that) so they take modifiers and subordinate clauses. 代名詞 being an open word class allows words to easily change, be modified, come in and out of style, and for new innovative slang to be created.

TerraGamerX: Politeness does play a part in it, but ultimately it is a stylistic reason why there are so many variations and why they get propagated through the language.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_pronouns

Though my friend, who is Japanese, born there, and speaks Japanese as a first language, claim that while those pronouns do exist, they are rarely used in everyday conversation, the amount being similiar to the amount English or Spanish use, a comparative few.
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35 / M / Portland
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Posted 5/31/10
orangeflute: I'm not saying that there aren't things that /could/ be called pronouns, but I would rather call them 代名詞, from a linguistic perspective they are rather different. I am of the camp of people that believe that one language cannot be translated into another, and while you can get close I don't really like to fit Japanese grammar into the confines of English even though that is how most of the world may do it.

Spoken Japanese unlike English is a high-context language that only uses 名詞 (name words) and 代名詞 (substitute name words) in situations where they believe confusion may occur. English is actually much the same, but our bar is much lower, we use a lot of pronouns as grammatical boilerplate even though it is not needed, this is reinforced by our education system. Japanese on the other hand is reinforced to not use 名詞 and 代名詞 in spoken language because it can come off as saying that the person you are talking to is unobservant, unintelligent, and can't follow a conversation. In other words, by using those kinds of words when unneeded you are talking down to that person and being rude.

So while they serve as a similar functional role, they are quite differently grammatically. For example (from wikipedia, too lazy to make my own right now):

背の高い彼だ, 彼は背が高い。
The tall he, he is tall.

Pronouns can not accept adjectives in the attributive (before pronoun) position, only in the predicate.

Lets look at it using nouns/名詞:
背の高い人だ, 人は背が高い。
The tall person, the person is tall.

It seems pretty clear that 代名詞 act much more like nouns than pronouns, but this a bit too in depth for such a simple question.
:sweatingbullets:
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Posted 5/31/10 , edited 5/31/10

shujinkou wrote:

orangeflute: I'm not saying that there aren't things that /could/ be called pronouns, but I would rather call them 代名詞, from a linguistic perspective they are rather different. I am of the camp of people that believe that one language cannot be translated into another, and while you can get close I don't really like to fit Japanese grammar into the confines of English even though that is how most of the world may do it.

Spoken Japanese unlike English is a high-context language that only uses 名詞 (name words) and 代名詞 (substitute name words) in situations where they believe confusion may occur. English is actually much the same, but our bar is much lower, we use a lot of pronouns as grammatical boilerplate even though it is not needed, this is reinforced by our education system. Japanese on the other hand is reinforced to not use 名詞 and 代名詞 in spoken language because it can come off as saying that the person you are talking to is unobservant, unintelligent, and can't follow a conversation. In other words, by using those kinds of words when unneeded you are talking down to that person and being rude.

So while they serve as a similar functional role, they are quite differently grammatically. For example (from wikipedia, too lazy to make my own right now):

背の高い彼だ, 彼は背が高い。
The tall he, he is tall.

Pronouns can not accept adjectives in the attributive (before pronoun) position, only in the predicate.

Lets look at it using nouns/名詞:
背の高い人だ, 人は背が高い。
The tall person, the person is tall.

It seems pretty clear that 代名詞 act much more like nouns than pronouns, but this a bit too in depth for such a simple question.
:sweatingbullets:


So your point is that the function of the 'pronouns' in Japan behaves much more like a noun than a pronoun under the rules of English grammar.
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35 / M / Portland
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Posted 5/31/10

orangeflute wrote:
So your point is that the function of the 'pronouns' in Japan behaves much more like a noun than a pronoun under the rules of English grammar.


Yes and therefor should not be called pronouns but instead 代名詞 (daimeishi) because we don't have anything like them in English.

But the original point is that there are so many 代名詞 because it is an open word class and is used for stylistic, distancing, and politeness purposes, much like English slang and dialect.
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76 / F / Zhiganshina
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Posted 7/14/10
Japanese a flexible language though, I don't really think you need
a lot pronouns in a sentence to have person B understand what youre saying
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