How do you explain Japanese to people?

Yeah, if anything, learning a language as weird (for us) as Japanese has made me more sympathetic to non-native English learners because I recognize how insanely terrible English would be to learn from scratch if you didn’t grow up speaking it.


For me, the hardest part was (and still is) the sounds yall have in english. While grammar was hard, it is just a matter of friction before you master it, but I still don’t know how to speak english without a heavy accent!

Funnily enough, japanese is way easier on that area. Yeah, less sounds, but I’m pretty sure every sound in japanese already exists in portuguese (yes, including the R- sounds. We call those intervocalic). Grammar is another beast, but I’m sure its really just another matter of friction, just that now you’re pushing agaisnt rocky road vs ice


I find the hardest thing to explain, is why you would ever want to learn Japanese.


whoa i love it! i’m gonna borrow this explanation…

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While Japanese is a difficult language, the abundance of modern resources and content, as well as a large community of learnerns make it manageable.

Try learning some European languages from smaller countries. You may have an old textbook and just a few online resources. Plus, finding a teacher is difficult.


Yeah, as a native English speaker, I never consciously thought about the wide range of sounds we try to represent with only 26 letters. It sounds horrible to try and learn a language where many letters can sound completely different depending on the word, especially with all the exceptions, weird spellings etc.


For me, out of the four/five languages I have ever learned (English, French, Italian, a very tiny bit of Chinese, and Japanese), English was probably the easiest one. Yes, the orthography is wonky - but it’s not completely arbitrary, it’s just heavily dependent on a) context and b) a word’s origin, but the grammar is fairly simple, doesn’t have too many verb inflections you have to learn (always the worst part for me), very few grammatical concepts that aren’t in German as well (the gerund and the progressive tenses are the big ones), no T/V distinction or other honoriffic / politeness constructs, and a lot of vocab that is easily recognizable.

Admittedly, I might be biased here because my native language is fairly closely related to English.

Regarding Japanese - I honestly think the hardest part of learning it are the kanji. Aside from that, the experience of learning Japanese isn’t much different from learning any other foreign language from a family you’re not yet familiar with.


I found German pretty intuitive. The tricky parts for me were the gendered articles and the adjective endings, but eventually I got a feel for them, especially after living in Heidelberg for a short time during college and having to speak it every day. I agree with you that that is probably the result of the two languages being closely related, though.

Why do “a” and “A” count as one letter while か and カ count as two?


Also, I don’t know about your school, @warstolrem, but I was taught to read and write both in block letters and in cursive, which are two vastly different character sets, and occasionally was required to read Fraktur, and there was that one time where I had to read a bunch of documents in Sütterlin (which was mostly guesswork, to be honest).

Granted, only two of those are relevant for English, but that still makes it 2 times 2 times 26 = 104 characters.

(And neither hiragana nor katakana nor kanji are alphabets.)

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Yeah, english isn’t hard by any means, but it is tricky to speak when so many of the sounds are new to you haha. Its like if you had to learn japanese, but half of the sounds were completly new, instead of just one set.


tru dat, my accent is pretty horrendous, but I feel like the same thing goes for most people who learn a new language. Heck, most British people would struggle to pull off a proper American English accent (or even another British accent than their own) and vice versa.


Im hoping that my accent in japanese will be better than whatever the mess that my accent in english is, considering I don’t need to learn any new sounds :pray:

Gonna bug my friends to talk to me more so I can try and speak less like an air balloon lol


Cursive is no longer taught in public schools in the United States, is rarely used generally in the united states outside of signatures. And if you want to get technical, Japanese calligraphy basically is the equivalent for cursive.



Because HELLO I LIKE STUDYING JAPANESE and hello i like studying japanese are both completely understandable in English, but コンニチハニホンゴノベンキョウガスキデス is quite unpleasant to read as a Japanese speaker.


honestly not really any more unpleasant than こんにちはにほんごのべんきょうがすきです


Sure, I was trying to remember examples of words where the katakana and hiragana have different meanings, and I remembered one.
ホテル = Hotel
ほてる = to feel hot


Except it is perfectly legal to write any Japanese word in katakana, e. g. to emphasize it.


I think it’s very difficult to understand just how different languages can be until you learn two completely unrelated languages. I already thought I had a pretty unbiased outlook when I learned multiple Indo-European languages, but when I picked up Japanese I realized just how many things I was still taking for granted.


That makes a more compelling argument for sure, but couldnt you say that in english PIN and pin refer to two different things usually?