anata – ‘you’ in Japanese

In English, to address the person you are speaking to, you use ‘you’ (I have just used ‘you’ four times in one sentence. lol). It is impossible to call them by name directly to him or her.

But that is English. In Japanese, you must use their name, or else drop the subject (which is permissible) all together.

In fact, to use the personal pronoun ‘you’ in Japanese can be rude, if it is to someone you are not on familiar terms with. anata is often and exclusively used between husband and wife.

So overgeneralising and then transferring a rule from L1 (one’s first language) to a L2 (one’s second language) is where common errors often come from. L2 often has to contend with the L1 in the brain. This is a sign of deep-seated habits and biases. Memory often interferes with learning. Unlearning is a very difficult process.

3 thoughts on “anata – ‘you’ in Japanese

  1. I am currently learning Japanese, and as it is so different from my native language, it does take conscious thought to form sentences. It is too easy to slip into your native language’s constructions and make assumptions which are not true for Japanese.

    Liked by 1 person

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