Has learning Japanese made you think differently about anything?

I’ve started to make more empathetic and encouraging sounds when listening, the long mmmmmm… with that rising intonation at the end that I hear japanese people using in anime and other content. i think i was looking for that all along! the english, ‘oh yes?’, ‘is that right’, ‘really?’ always sounded excessive to me. and i see people respond very well to this japanese way of active listening/encouraging, they feel good about what they’re saying and want to talk more and i feel good about them opening up to me more and its just happier all around!

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My experience has been ever so slightly different, although it’s possibly a matter of semantics.

There are certain aspects of English culture (I cannot speak for the whole UK but certainly for some of the South East, and possibly geography is not the only variable) that uses language in a less direct way than most Americans or Europeans I’ve come across.

For instance, when we respond with I’ll give it some thought an American or European may think that we’ll give it some thought, while a fellow speaker would understand the actual meaning beyond the literal interpretation.

In other situations we may use understatements to convey a strong opinion. For instance we would shy away from expressions like very good and substitute them with not bad to convey a high praise. Incidentally we would never talk highly about ourselves or boast.

These and other examples are the reason why I’ve always felt a certain affinity both linguistically and culturally between (a subset of) English and Japanese.


Same here, I’ve noticed I give more vocal feedback when listening to someone.

I always have to stop myself from saying そうですか but its so much easier than “is that so” or “you don’t say” in english (which can come off as condescending anyway xD). Most of the time I just end up grunting.


Yeah, I kinda agree with this.

Reminds me of when I saw:

It made me think about how some years ago I used to end almost every English sentence with “I guess”, years before I knew any Japanese.

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I’ve been into

even before starting on Japanese. Same for


I even heard of しょうがない (or 仕様がない) a little before I heard about 仕方がない.

I wouldn’t say these concepts changed my thinking from the ground up or something like that, it was more something I was already thinking about phrased better and more clearer than it was in my mind. I count that as a valuable contribution.

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Like a few other people here, I was drawn to japanese because it suited the way I already speak. Things like talking passively, not using pronouns to avoid placing blame, avoiding gendered pronouns when talking about the overall population, and just talking politely in general.
In English I’ve often been told that my emails are too formal, and I’ve never been comfortable calling professors or managers by their first name. So japanese just works better for me.

It made me realize that Japan is really cool

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It made me realize how much culture/values and language are intertwined. You cannot understand one without the other. Many values, way of thinkings, cultural things are reflected in the language, so as I learn Japanese or English, I understand bit by bit more about the foreign culture.

And most interestingly, it made me think about my own language as well and how it is shaped by the different values and culture.

So, yes, it taught me that language cannot be used or learned in isolation. And a culture or another country cannot be understood without learning the language. That’s my big take-away :slight_smile:

About Japanese specifically I love how the words are sometimes illustrative of the thing they describe. Like hanabi for fireworks. How boring in English and how illustrative in Japanese: flowers on fire :slight_smile: or drawing flowers with fire.


Doing WaniKani has made me realize that achieving goals is hard. But it’s achievable if you break it off into small pieces. Knowing that there’s an end to WaniKani, I can know how far I’ve come and how much more I have left to do, at least in terms of Kanji progression.


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