Proposal: Japanese

Inspired by commit message by Prix:

"The japanese culture is interesting to me and as such i would love to learn more and more about it."

And so I thought, why not we expand this proposal to cover the cultural aspect of Japanese society? For starter, it would attract larger audience than with just the language aspect, but more importantly when we are learning the language we cannot escape from having to understand the cultural background behind the language constructs.

For example, to fully answer and understand one of the top on-topic question examples:

How should I refer to members of my family (in-laws) when talking to a third party outside the family, in my families presence?

it would be reasonable and important to include the concept of 'in-group' and 'out-group' in Japanese culture and society.

Another example is the use of honorific forms of various language constructs and their usage as greetings in Japanese. In the Japanese language course that I took in college, the students were taught that おはようございます (ohayou gozaimasu) means "it's early" and not simply "good morning", and having known this it is easily understood that I should not use the greeting at 11AM because it would no longer be "early", unlike the English greeting of "good morning" where you can always use before noon.

So to summarize, I highly recommend that we expand this SE site proposal to include the cultural aspect of Japanese language/society.

  • Maybe create a new proposal for a Japanese culture site? Commented May 25, 2011 at 8:45
  • 1
    @Mark actually no. I'd just follow and commit to Culture Exchange proposal instead. I'm not a big fan of creating all these small niche sites just for the sake of it. If a site/proposal already covers my idea I'd just contribute to it instead.
    – Lukman
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 8:56

4 Answers 4


I partially agree with you.

Firstly, I think that whenever you learn any language, you necessarily have to gain a certain level of cultural awareness to fully understand the language. Your examples illustrate that nicely. Questions regarding the way the culture relates to the language absolutely must be considered on-topic.

That said, I would prefer to draw a clear line. Any discussion of culture must relate to language. If the question can stand alone without its linguistic aspect, it should be considered off-topic for this SE.

This proposal is for a site about Japanese language, and that is what people have signed up for. It makes sense to include cultural topics that relate to Japanese language, but I don't think it makes sense to broaden the proposal to include any and all Japanese culture. That is a large shift in focus from the original proposal.

While it's good to be inclusive and try to draw a large audience, we also need to limit our scope to attract high-level experts.

  • Thanks for the answer. I agree that the discussion of culture must relate to language. I can already imagine the kind of questions that would pop up if we allow them to touch any aspect of Japanese culture unrelated to the language, given how unique and bizarre (no offense implied) their culture is ..
    – Lukman
    Commented May 16, 2011 at 5:04
  • 2
    I don't think that the site's really about learning the language, anyway. It seems like the people who frequent the site are more interested in language history than language learning. Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 12:39

I agree mostly with sjohnston. I think that as a part of studying the language you will be exposed to the culture anyway (i.e. by learning the language you're learning the same framework that Japanese people have for understanding the world). I'm not sure that we need to explicitly focus on it, the cultural juiciness will shine through the language.

If it turns out that we're having to moderate a large volume of culture related questions because they're not strictly 'on-topic' in some way, then it might be worth revisiting this proposal.


I think that the JLU site is going pretty well without culture questions.
Answers often include culture elements (which is a great thing), but questions must focus on language.

So I created this site:
Your sample questions and participation are welcome!

Let's say a given scholar is very knowledgeable about Japan's Paleolithic Age craft. He does not need to know Japanese to be a useful contributor.


Culture.... What about literature? There has to be some common element to tie multiple cultures in. How can a site about Japanese language draw a Japanese crowd, when all the questions are from beginners? There has to be a component of advanced Japanese, or something (maybe culture), to have any hopes at drawing an authentic Japanese audience.

  • Are you sure all the questions are from beginners?
    – Lukman
    Commented Aug 10, 2011 at 10:53
  • 1
    figuratively speaking Commented Aug 10, 2011 at 15:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .