With the release of the Japanese Stack Overflow, I think JLSE is most likely getting more traffic from native speakers than ever before.

Unfortunately, it is somewhat hard to contribute to JLSE without having an extremely good grasp of English at the moment:

  • There seems to be an extreme pressure to have all communication on the site be in English, even when all people in the conversation speak Japanese well.
  • Naturally, it is hard to understand questions and clearly express yourself in an answer when everything is English and it is not your native language.
  • When the question is misunderstood or the answer is otherwise unclear, the answerer currently seems to just get ignored or downvoted for the most part; truly a sad atmosphere for people who could potentially be extremely awesome to have around in time.

So, to help change this unfortunate situation, I think we should try to be more welcoming of Japanese communication on the site.

Personally, I try to ask[1][2] and answer[3] questions in Japanese to help shift the tide.

However, I think that's nowhere near enough to actually make a difference, so, taking the lead from French.SE[4], I've decided to also try translating questions I find interesting into Japanese[5][6]. (Obviously, my Japanese is not very good, so I hope the translations get corrected by people who know Japanese better.)

In the end, I think whatever we can do to increase the amount of Japanese communication on the site will help native Japanese speakers get involved.

What are folks thoughts on this? Are there better tactics to increase involvement? Can any of the Japanese members speak towards what challenges they've had in getting involved?

Stack Overflowの日本語版の出現で、JLSEはかつてないほど日本語母語話者がアクセスしていると思います。


  • 会話に参加している人全員が日本語ができても英語で話さないといけない極度のプレッシャーがあると思います。
  • 当然ながら、英語母語話者でなければ、英語で書いてある質問は理解しにくいし、英語で自分の考えをはっきりと表現することは大変なことだと思います。
  • 質問の内容を理解できなかった、もしくは回答が明確でない場合、回答者は無視される、あるいはdownvoteされてしまっていると思います。なんということでしょう。非常に大きな貢献をしてくれる可能性をもつ人にこういう扱いをするべきではありません。






  • I for one thing this is a great idea. --- 私自身はこれがいいアイディアと思っています。
    – virmaior
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 1:14
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    I think that making one's own posts in both English and Japanese (or just Japanese) is a good idea. I'm not so hot on the idea of adding Japanese translations to other user's posts. If we could "perfectly" translate posts, then yeah, there would be no reason not to; but since there's no such thing (especially for those of us who aren't ~native-level fluent in the target language), adding "imperfect" translations seems like it could result in failing to "respect the original author".
    – senshin
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 4:02
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    Re: the pressure to have all conversation in English - I agree that this is a problem. I think it might be helpful to put some text near the answer-entry textbox saying something in Japanese about contributions in Japanese being welcome / English not being mandatory.
    – senshin
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 4:03
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    @senshin I definitely understand the sentiment of failing to respect the original author. Do you think the negatives outweigh the positives of gaining native Japanese speakers as community members? (Personally, I love the bilingualness of French.SE and am happy to try out copying what they are doing to see if helps encourage the same here.) Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 4:07
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    Imperfect translations could also drive potential users away. A site about Japanese with 0% of the actual questions in Japanese might still be better than a site about Japanese with 10% of questions in weird Japanese. Unfortunately, I'm no native speaker either, although I'll try my best to translate my next questions into Japanese.
    – Earthliŋ Mod
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 8:36
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    Honestly, I actually thought it was some sort of unspoken rule that the actual Q&A stuff should be kept in English as much as possible. Glad to hear that's not entirely the case, considering I feel like often the best explanations of Japanese are in Japanese. (Not that I trust my own Japanese skill at the moment to provide a concise, understandable answer in Japanese, mind!) Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 17:45
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    @Aujury Quite to the contrary. On the Area 51 Robert Cartaino frequently quotes (himself) (e.g. here on the Portuguese language proposal): "In all reality, we are quickly becoming a world wide site, and we're going to look back on this someday and laugh that we ever allowed (on these language sites) to use English at all." So English is fine for the beginning, but we're really hoping to become not just a site for learners, but also a site for Japanese native speakers.
    – Earthliŋ Mod
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 5:30
  • Bravo!! I will agree with that opinion. --- ブラボー!!私はその意見に賛成です。
    – M.I.A
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 5:17
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    @Earthliŋ That Robert Cartaino quote, though, is nonsensical. Plenty of professional linguists, including many native speakers of Japanese, publish in English. Are we to believe that they're "first-day beginners"? That they shouldn't be "allowed" to discuss Japanese in English? Of course, many publish in Japanese as well, and I agree we should encourage participation from native speakers here! But I think the sentence you quoted can be safely ignored.
    – user1478
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 5:16

6 Answers 6


even when all people in the conversation speak Japanese well.

This "conversation" doesn't exist, really. A question on SE is not just for the question asker and answerer (or commentators) - but mainly for everyone else who happens to encounter that question.

I personally, for example, as a Japanese language learner am far from being able to read all-Japanese questions / answers. As such, even if the question is interesting (from my limited understanding of it), I will likely just ignore it, without being able to really learn or contribute to it.

Of course, the best of both worlds would be to have questions / answers be bilingual - in both English and Japanese. That would, however, require that all posts that are made by people that mainly speak one of the two languages are revised by someone that speaks both and then adds the appropriate translation - which would be a huge and likely unsustainable effort.

What might be needed is a split into Japanese Language Learners and Japanese Language & Usage, similar to ELL and EL&U.

  • Good point! I think the most likely place I would see translating questions causing issues for beginners is when there's an answer written in only Japanese. Sure, that answer may have not been there without the translation, but the side effect it has of discouraging further answers from people who can read the existing one (i.e., the people who are likely able to answer in the first place) might outweigh that. With that in mind, what else can we do to make the site more interesting/valuable for advanced users (i.e., answerers)? I think both groups need to be attended to for a healthy community Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 9:13
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    But ELL questions are in English!
    – Earthliŋ Mod
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 4:22
  • As a beginner, I second this. I don't have an issue with translations being used on interesting questions, but the fact is that, at my level, I'm going to ignore J-only questions. That's maybe not a huge problem, unless all the posts are in Japanese and I can't contribute to anything.
    – Lou
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 7:36
  • @Earthliŋ I think that the situation with ELL and EL&U being both in English is pretty unique and it can't be extrapolated to other languages for a simple reason: English has become the de facto international language for communication, whereas Japanese or other languages haven't. This is why I am able to contribute to and use JLSE despite not being neither an English nor a Japanese native speaker.
    – jarmanso7
    Commented May 28, 2020 at 22:37

Can any of the Japanese members speak towards what challenges they've had in getting involved?

One thing I noticed is it can be hard to look for the right tag. Even those with a good grasp of the English language may not be familiar with linguistic terms in English, let alone English equivalents of Japanese linguistic terms.

Since we don't have a builtin way to switch the language of the tags, we can make do with adding Japanese synonyms to popular tags and including relevant Japanese words in the tag excerpt, like it's already done for some of the tags.

  • 2
    One thing compounding this is the use of at least three different sets of terminology. There's the 国語 set, the 日本語教育 set, and the sort of terms that get thrown around in 初級 Japanese in English.
    – virmaior
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 0:34
  • Since this post, Earthing and some other folks helped put Japanese on a the large majority of our active tags (see (1) and (2) for that progress). Yeay! Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 0:35




(Doubles as an example of typical Japanese forum post, with some over-N1 vocab and loose compositions)

Translating from the original language into one's own language would be considered the most ideal option. So, I would be glad to assist with translating English posts into Japanese. If a native speaker of English were to translate Japanese into English, I think it could actually be more natural. But, with the current volume of answers, as one might expect, it's in doubt as to whether there would be the necessary manpower available to sustainably keep translating every post one by one. If we want a translation system to be established, I think a "translation badge", or something like it should be added to the platform to encourage people to keep contributing in this way. However, I don't know how feasible this would be.

At any rate, I think it could be better if the fact that you can also ask questions in Japanese was put in an obvious place (as I think there's currently only information to that effect on meta?)

This goes a bit away from the topic of Japanese speakers, but what I personally have thought is that, even if written in English, there are times when posters' English is difficult to understand due to them not having a good command of English. If you think about it, Japanese is an Asian language, and I think there may be many learners of Japanese who aren't proficient in English. It seems there are these kinds of examples, and if someone doesn't have confidence in their wordsmanship, also allowing one's own language to be used alongside Japanese or English could help to broaden this site's base from new angles.

  • 「第一言語以外から自分の第一言語に訳すのが一番理想的とされています」…ですねー。僕もそう思ったけど、数少ない日本語話者から翻訳を要求するのはあまりにもぶしつけなお願いではないかと思って、自分の手でちょっと訳してみました。ここでの重要なポイントなんですが、今のメンバーでなんとか最も利益を得る質問を訳そうとすると、参加している日本人の数はそのうち増えて、憧れているバイリンガルの環境が努力せずに存在し続ける、と。ご感想ありがとうございます。 Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 20:24
  • I like the idea of a "translation system" being established. However, it is important to be aware that we're almost certainly never going to get software-level support for this (like badges, a translation queue, and so forth). Indeed, the whole reason ja.SO and pt.SO were established is that the current Stack Exchange position is to prefer to create separate versions of a site for separate language communities over attaching a translation layer to an existing site.
    – senshin
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 21:22
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    @DariusJahandarie お気遣いありがとうございます^^。全部とは行かないですが、これは英語で読むのが億劫だなと思ったものは訳すようにします。今思ったのですが、SEの投稿はGoogleに載るので、単純に日本語が入っているだけで母語話者の目にも触れやすくなりますね。 Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 10:22
  • @senshin I wonder what degree of customization we can access to. Is it possible, say, to alter top banner or side bar display? Apparently, the furigana engine is provided with some custom JS, I guess? Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 10:28
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    re: the customization of the Furigana engine, it would be possible to e.g. add a "日本語も大歓迎" message to the "Thanks for contributing an answer to Japanese Language Stack Exchange! (etc)" banner that first-time posters see, and/or to the sidebar in the "ask question" screen. The exact wording and what the community decides is allowed etc would need to be decided before I could make the changes & update the engine on the site. I might write an answer in more detail sometime later.
    – cypher
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 6:11

I think communication is the most important aspect. I'm italian and I'm learning japanese, but I still have a long way to go, so it's hard for me to understand japanese post, especially when they are full of kanji. English lets us all comunicate in a more or less proper way.

If I can't understand, I ask for explanation.

If someone misunderstood me, I try to explain better.

This is a really useful tool for those who are trying to learn japanese and native speakers' help is always welcome, even in an uncertain english translation.


Personally, I hope, especially for beginners, at least to try studying the "fundamentals", not just by asking from scratch. I don't think we have any "obligation" to answer questions here, so if they do not like me, please downvote. It is quite O.K with me, but I'm rather happier for them to describe why they downvoted. Just because that someone does not like someone, then the answerer is downvoted, it really discourages me. Could you, please, imagine, how much do you need to pay outside of Japan so that you can master the slightest difference of meaning in the particles? For example, some questioners, who know some of the fundamentals completely like Mr. Noir or Mr Darius, ask questions that interesting to me, because we can find out in the end what we did not know as a native speaker until they ask us. However, we ARE NOT AN ONLINE FREE TEACHER. I wish people would think about this. This sort of thing really discourages me and I receive downvotes with no reason attached.

  • 1
    Thanks for responding. I've written a little about downvoting here: meta.japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/1274/… -- I agree that it is almost always better for someone to either leave a comment or write their own answer rather than downvote. Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 22:35
  • I am reaaaaaaaally afraid I am feeling soooo frustrated about the way how beginners ask. Before that, Snailboat deleted this, but somebody later undeleted it, so please be reminded it was not me who undeleted it. About this question, japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/21706/…"
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 6:59
  • I received a comment "I should have taught like this, I should have taught like that." ---> "Hum, you say that the adverb, like 毎日, should come just before the verb. Yet, in the page you link, the example given is : "私は毎朝学校に行く". I think you should maybe put more emphasis on how to choose the order of the words (See here : nihongoperapera.com/dirty-japanese-guide-word-order.html where they actually recommend to put the time marker before the object!). On top of this, shouldn't this particular sentence use 数ヶ月間 to express a duration ? "
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 7:00
  • If it is a duration or not, this commenter does not understand the basics. It was a DEMAND WITH COMPLAINT. How much do first level Japanese learners demand? Should I be the questioner's personal teacher? Shouldn't we create a different site for Japanese beginners only?
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 7:04
  • Or may be he/she is understanding. Then why didn't he/she answer him/herself? Should I be "soft and kind enough to treat a child" to teach Japanese here???????????????????
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 7:20
  • I definitely think it's important to be kind. And, I think you have been very kind so far! With regards to comments, I have a somewhat long opinion: I think many participants of this site feel a personal obligation to keep the overall quality of the site high -- if they see anything low quality (e.g., a question which wastes people's time, an answer with incorrect information, an answer with misleading information), they feel obligated to do something about it. Sometimes, they write a comment as a result. Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 7:47
  • 1
    So, when I receive such a comment ("complaint"型), it means to me that my answer is either actually wrong, or at least my answer confused one person. What I do from there of course depends on if I understand the comment, if I think that person gets confused too easily, etc. I think there's certainly no obligation to listen to all comments, but I think they're useful in terms of understanding if readers are confused or not, allowing for more improvement. 長くなってしまってすみません。私の意見だけなので、多分役に立たないコメだと思います… Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 7:49
  • ダリウス氏, thank you for nice comment as always. "In my opinion," no racial issue concerned, Japanese language learners ( especially from America? ) tend to prefer "quick and handy" answers which in the long run leads to their oversymplyfied Japanese. Well.. may be it is none of my business in the end. Thank you for your nice support and I wish your further (?(Your Japanese is like TOEFL score 110 lol )) improvement.........
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 7:57
  • ダリウス氏, don't you think this site needs to be a place for "beginners only"? After answering japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/21732/…
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 6:09
  • I thought this "probable" beginner in the end is asking for "the whole meaning of the speech" and possibly "ambiguous" suitable usage of the speech. That is, in the end, asking for the whole translation itself, and it in the end is same with "teaching" from scratch. I spent 20 years in studying English and over 100K for it, then, is it demanding for me to say if "the questioners are hardly encouraged to study the basic knowledge themselves as much as possible"? May I ask you for your opinion, Mr.
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 6:16
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    I don't see how studying basic knowledge will help with understanding the meaning/nuance of 細やか. Personally, even after reading kotobank.jp/word/%E7%B4%B0%E3%82%84%E3%81%8B-504491, I still could not answer that question myself, so I think it is a good question. As far as I can tell, the only thing that helps with learning complex vocabulary/nuance is reading books for years. (But, I really hope we can provide better advice on this site than just "go read a lot of books in Japanese". :-) Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 6:23
  • It is as you say. However, since you have mastered Japanese quite well, I think you could have quoted that 大辞林 source. Nonetheless, I wonder if that above questioner's level is quite as high as yours. I admire your effort, however, this is completely different from my view to you. I still suggest this site needs an another site for beginners.
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 6:34


FOR INSTANCE, THIS Q, I was told to do X if Y

is actually equivalent with asking the whole grammar! Please do some kind of stuff to these I I want a quick and handy and easy answer right away stuff. PLEASE!

  • 4
    I don't see the connection between your frustration and what's discussed here. Also do calm down, shouting does not lead to constructive discussions.
    – Yosh
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 13:24
  • Then can you give me the counter proof against my claim on here? japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/21779/… I can hear your complaints by either being downvoted or just ignored. Or banned in the end. At least, are you going to Japanese school in your country now?
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 14:30
  • Does that, or your answer above, correspond to this meta question? (Perhaps was it in response to the reference to the ELL and EL&U in the Xeo's answer? If so, why did you bother to post that as an answer?) / As for the last question, I'm not sure why you're asking this to me. In case it matters: I'm a Japanese, grown up and living in Japan.
    – Yosh
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 14:47
  • Oh sorry about that. Then it will be my misunderstanding. I will apologize for that. Kindly teach the participants with your good command English ( no offense please ) according to your method. I unfortunately am a "going my way" type. You may be so kind so that people will welcome you, I think.
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 14:59
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    あ,いえいえどうも.申し上げたかったのは,「こういうアホな質問/"教えて君"は別のところに移すかなんか,とにかく対処して欲しい」というようなことを仰っているようですけれど(そうですよね?),ちょっとこの質問(「日本語の母語話者にもっと積極的に参加して欲しいけどどうしようか」)とそぐわない内容になっているようですよ,ということと,PLEEEAAASE とか書いてもあまり雰囲気が良くないので一旦落ち着かれては,ということでした.質問の質の担保じたいは皆の関心ごとであるはずなので,meta に別の質問として投稿したりするとよいのではないでしょうか.
    – Yosh
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 15:07
  • まあ正直そんな所かと。1千万以上,
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 15:10
  • 20年勉強英語を勉強していた私から見れば
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 15:10
  • 「これこれの翻訳頂戴」とか。何様よ。
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 15:11
  • みたいな(笑)です。すみません言い方悪いですが
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 15:11
  • 後連投すみません…。リターンキー押し過ぎました
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 15:12
  • というよりルーツさえ不明で学者間でさえ
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 15:15
  • 論争が有る日本語を即興でマスターするのは無理かと。
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 15:15
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    – Yosh
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 15:21
  • 1
    あと,上記の通り文面の雰囲気が良くないのと「この質問にぶら下げてする話じゃない」ので, downvote がついてるのはそういうところだと思います(書いてある内容そのものではなくて).
    – Yosh
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 15:22
  • 成程、有難う御座います。参考にさせて
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 15:23

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