The “No Boku” Challenge!

I’ve wanted to do this for a while now. Starting today, I will attempt to go for as long as possible speaking Japanese without using a personal pronoun to refer to myself! No 私, no 僕, no 俺, no 自分, and definitely no あたし or おいら. I might make an exception for 家. Nah, none of that either.

I’ll call it the “No Boku” Challenge because boku is my current personal pronoun of choice, and it sounds better than the “No Personal Pronoun” Challenge. Feel free to join in and see how long you can hold out!

I think the three keys to this challenge will be:

1) constant vigilance

2) passive tense

3) giving and receiving verbs

I think this will be a great exercise, especially for students of the language in the intermediate / advanced-intermediate levels; that’s when you start to break free from the English grammar patterns that bar you from true Japanese phraseology.

I’ll do my best to log my progress. Boku will soon be my pink elephant, so I’m sure there will be many harrowing and hilarious tales of near self-referral. Ha ha. (Joke.)

6 thoughts on “The “No Boku” Challenge!

  1. Ha. Naw, man. Just trying to emphasize that the subject-object centric mindset doesn’t work/doesn’t need to work for Japanese. I was stuck in “watashi wa” mode for probably a year too long. Don’t you think it’s a little underemphasized in text books? Or maybe emphasized at the wrong point? As in too early? Rubin’s little grammar book was great – he says flat out that “watashi wa” is often just plain wrong.

  2. Yah, it seems to show up way more often than it should in early lessons. I assume the idea is to ease the passage from subject-predicate to topic-comment for folks who only know IE languages, but it sets bad patterns in learners early. A better plan would be to start with V, move on to OV, and only then introduce wa and ga (via situations where they are actually useful).

  3. I’ve been practicing these ways for a while now. JLPT 2Q+ people should really try to avoid the personal pronouns. It’s definitely something that NEEDS to be mentioned in textbooks. The culture is harder than the language!

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