First of all, no, I’m not a professor, not yet at least. But I’m planning on eventually doing a PhD in linguistics, likely including a focus on Japanese, hence the name of this site.
About the Site
The basic organization of the site is shown in the top menu bar. See the homepage for a brief overview.
I started this project in the summer after my freshman year in college. The original vision was to create a comprehensive guide to Japanese, made up of mid-sized, explanation-heavy lessons organized by both topic and level and hyperlinked like a wiki to make a highly flexible course and reference. The original scope turned out to be overambitious, but I remained convinced that the format is a good one.
As alluded to on the homepage, one of the main features of this guide is that the content is based on research in linguistics, the scientific study of language. (The name of the site is also meant to capture this theme.) The aim is to strike a middle ground between work in Japanese and general linguistics, which is largely inaccessible or impractical to the typical learner, and everything else, which is mostly presented in the form of (confusing, illogical) traditional notions of language. Simplifications are often unavoidable, but the result should be more coherent and understandable, not to mention closer to the truth.
It is at this point that I make the following disclaimer: while the information contained in this site is based on academic research, the site itself is NOT intended to be scholarly work. While the academic in me would like to have every piece of information cited and all claims backed by complete arguments, this is simply not feasible for me at this time. Nonetheless, I do want the information I provide to be as accurate as possible, so if you believe that something I wrote goes beyond fudging the truth for educational purposes and is simply incorrect, please contact me, but include a written source if at all possible.
About the Author
My name is Kenneth Hanson, and I’m a native English speaker from the United States. Japanese is my first and only second language, though I will probably add a couple more at some point in the future.
My hometown had a significant Japanese population, and I received some early exposure to Japanese as part of my elementary school foreign language classes. I started studying in earnest in early 2006, starting on my own and soon taking courses in high school up to the AP level (2nd year university) level. In the summer of 2009 I visited Japan through the Youth For Understanding (YFU) Summer Japan Program, where I stayed for 6 weeks with a host family in Sendai, a 90 minute shinkansen (bullet train) ride north of Tokyo.
I continued studying Japanese at Michigan State University, graduating in May 2014 with majors in linguistics and Japanese and a minor in computer science. MSU’s undergraduate programs in Japanese and linguistics are both very high quality, so I would encourage current high school students who are interested in either to consider applying.
I returned to Japan in August 2014, this time to teach English through the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, and plan to stay for a total of 2-3 years. If you forced me to evaluate my current Japanese fluency, I would say that I am solidly “advanced” level, far beyond the textbook stage but with a ways to go before I would call myself fluent. I currently live in the Kyoto area, which has caused my formerly very standard Japanese to start to shift towards a mild form of Kansai-ben.