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Re: [Lingo] Re: [tlug] Correct particle to use

On 12/06/07, Stephen J. Turnbull <> wrote:

Ask their mothers.[1]

Ask them if they can say 「bawdo君は日本語の本を読めるかい?」

I think not. I think this is either a mistake or conveying some nuance a) for which no formal rule exists, or b) that neither my wife nor I have ever studied. I consider (b) somewhat unlikely, considering that the wife and I have something like 10 years of formal Japanese language instruction betwixt the two of us, and she has an advanced degree in Japanese linguistics.

But stranger things have happened. :)

A look at the first page of Google results for 「を読める」 suggests
that being a subordinate clause may have a lot to do with it.  「◯◯
を読めるよう」 alone occurs 4 times in 12 instances.

Now this is an interesting clue.

To resolve this issue, I imagine we will have to involve a professor
of Japanese language somewhere; we need the why and wherefore that a
native speaker probably cannot give us, except through examples. I do
not mean to deprecate anyone; I know I cannot explain the formal rules
for many things that I know instinctively as a native speaker of

Obviously, I am not arguing that "object を V-potential" exists in the
language. Google has shown us that it does.

I am wondering if there is a prescriptive rule that explains its usage.

And I am attesting that the "correct" usage (prescriptively) is
"object が V-potential" for almost all common cases (i.e. all those
that would matter from a first- or second-year Japanese student's

No Japanese mother can resist the chance to scold "Even a gaijin speaks better
keigo than you."

I am pretty sure I speak better keigo than most Japanese people under the age of 25 or so, cf.


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