At what point would you be comfortable saying "I know Japanese" to people

I think it depends on the audience. If it’s just a random monolingual person here in America, I would be fine saying “I know enough to answer whatever question you’re about to ask me”, because that is probably true. But if the context is something like there being some situation in which I’d have to read a bit of a book or talk to some native for whatever fantastical reason you might imagine, I’d be realistic and say “No, I only know a little.”

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I would lean more toward “I don’t know” than “I know”. However, things are rarely that black and white. For example… A native speaker would say that they know their own language. As a non-native English speaker, I asked a native what “Nimbostratus” meant. They didn’t know. I think in the languages that we learn, we’re just simple more aware of that which we don’t know.

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It’s a type of cloud, but it’s rather a technical term, so I’m not sure I’d expect the average English speaker to know. If you want something more specific than that, you’ll need to ask a meteorologist - the general public’s knowledge of cloud types doesn’t really extend much further than “cumulonumbus” (anvil clouds / thunderclouds) and “cirrus” (high-altitude wispy clouds), I wouldn’t think.

Or ask Wikipedia. " A nimbostratus cloud or nimbostratus is a low, gray, often dark, amorphous, nearly uniform cloud that usually produces continuous rain, snow, or sleet and no lightning or thunder." :slightly_smiling_face:

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I wouldn’t say i know japanese until i can converse “comfortably” in it. I’m not going to say fluent, because that’d be a higher level. Just to the point i could get my message across without stumbling too much, i could admit i know japanese. I’m not trying to admit I’m a master at it, but I’ll admit so that people would try conversing in japanese to me too.

I put the least emphasis in speaking tho when it comes to my Japanese studies so… I’ll never admit i know japanese, from the looks of it :rofl:

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Well, I don’t know many natives that would claim to be knowledgeable about random science jargon. I think everyone knows that there are hundreds of thousands of words in existence that we don’t think about or use as natives.

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Ah, I looked it up since (but thank you!).

Maybe my point didn’t come through in my comment… That kind of what I meant. Therefore, everyone to some degree, both knows and don’t know even their native language. So to say “I know/don’t know [a language]” would be quite a difficult thing to judge (at least to me).

If you can pass N5, say, “I’ve studied Japanese.” If you passed N4, say “I can handle some basic communication in Japanese.” If you passed N3, say “I know some Japanese.” If you passed N2, say “I’m getting pretty good at Japanese.” If you passed N1, ok you can now say “I know Japanese.”

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It’s up to you. “I know (conversational) Japanese”. You can always clarify your level of knowledge.

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When I was at N3 level I was comfortable saying I know Japanese, but only because I was having pretty fluent conversations with my native teacher at that point on rather advanced topics (and even though my vocabulary was lacking, I could explain what I meant using simpler words in a roundabout way lol). I think it was during my second or third year of learning the language. Technically I could hold very basic conversations after 1 year of learning, but the class setting and the constant conversations I had when I was preparing for N3 was like a dam bursting and I could express myself much better than I could before.

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I would only say that if I felt comfortable talking about anything. Like, the person would ask me, “how do you say this and Japanese?”, and I’d be able to say it without making a fool out of myself. I believe that won’t happen for several years. I can only say that in English, but it took me years to reach that level.

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I think once you reach a certain level of fluency, it is fair to claim that you know Japanese. For me that means that you can be thrown into random conversations or daily situations and navigate through them similar to your mother tongue.

Of course, there is always more to learn and to know and given the fact, that many people do not know any Japanese at all, they are sort of easy to impress. I usually state that I know “some” Japanese while trying to limit the scope of this statement within the same breath of air… :sweat_smile:

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Hmmm that was not my experience. So far, it’s been a typical “the more I know, the more I know I don’t know”.

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When you’re at a point where you can stop studying the language and still understand and communicate with people in most situations as well as express thoughts, needs and emotions in the language without having to look things up. Doesn’t need to be perfect but if you can manage to communicate at least at the level of a Japanese child (early elementary) I’d say you can definitely say you speak the language.

If I was relatively comfortable speaking Japanese, I’d probably say I know Japanese - with qualifiers. I feel like in casual conversation, I feel like asking if someone speaks or knows a language means the same thing, and it usually just means speaking casually.
As it is I just say I know some and study it.

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My partner speaks amazing English, better than some natives in my opinion and she would never say she knew English. She probably will never speak as well as I do, and I will never speak Japanese as well as her.

I think the answer to your question depends on the type of person you are lol.

If someone asks you whether you know how to play a piano, and you’ve been learning for five years, do you say yes, knowing there is a whole country full of people that have played it essentially since birth?

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I don’t think we’re saying “I know Japanese better than a native” but rather “I know Japanese well enough to communicate with natives”. And/or “to interpret for non-Japanese friends”.

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Even Japanese people don’t know everything about their own language, so it seems that you’re saying that being like a Japanese person isn’t good enough to say you know Japanese. Go to Japan and talk to a native speaker about their feelings about their high school Japanese language class.

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I’m not sure I even know English.

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I don’t think I’d really ever tell anyone I know Japanese. Someone finding out I’m learning is almost always followed by either sheer confusion as to way anyone would do that, or comments about tentacle/cartoon porn.

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I always think that’s a question only people who’ve never studied a foreign language ask.

I’d probably say yes if I could function at a near-native level here in Japan. I’m much more comfortable saying that I can communicate. ^^;

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