Japanese vs chinese

I already speak/read Chinese. I thought learning Japanese Kanji would be simple. It isn’t nearly as easy as I thought. With Chinese, each character generally only has one pronunciation. Japanese uses Kanji more like an overlay of the underlying spoken language. It is forcing me to learn this in a different way than i learned Chinese. It’s good. Just took me a while to figure out. Thanks to Wanikani, or i would be really frustrated.


I was actually considering trying to learn chinese after japanese some 5 or 6 years down the line. I figured it would make life a bit easier already knowing the kanji, but i’m quickly learning how different they really are. Maybe you can let me know when you’re fluent in both :sweat_smile::sweat_smile:

Welcome to the forums! I wish you the best of luck in your Japanese endeavours!


One reason the kanji in Japanese are so complex is the way the Chinese words and characters were borrowed into the language. English has multiple “readings” for the same “kanji/concepts” as well. We have “ward” as well as “guardian” because both were borrowed from different French dialects at different times.

There are many examples of words we borrowed from languages descended from Latin like French and Spanish, that we later went back and “re-borrowed” from Latin itself. The situation is comparable in Japanese, where some readings/characters were borrowed from older versions of Chinese, and then later re-borrowed from more modern Chinese languages.


And in English we even have fun situations like ‘read’ and ‘read’. Luckily this all can be figured out with context.


If you ever need a headache just read this.


My tongue hurts.


What’s your recommendation going backwards? Do you think now it would be easier to learn Japanese that Chinese? What would you tell us to study first?


chinese is a tonal language… that sounds like hell on earth tbh


As someone doing Wanikani knowing Chinese, I’ll say that actively learning one language to learn another faster is probably not worth it. Knowing Chinese beforehand helps only sometimes with remembering on’yomi, but it does help a decent amount with definitions. Most of the kanji doesn’t deviate too much from the current meaning in Chinese. In general, though, I’d say don’t rely on learning Chinese to make Japanese easier.

I’ve been learning Japanese for a while now and when I married my husband (who is Taiwanese) I thought it would be nice if I learned Mandarin.
But I gave up so quickly lol because my mind would automatically think of the Japanese word or pronunciation I just couldn’t remember any of the Chinese. So I’m honestly super impressed if anyone ever says they’re learning both.

I’m learning both right now because I am going to Taiwan for a student exchange, then I hope to do an internship to Japan.

However, my plan to do an internship with the help of my university is falling apart. To many constraints with the fact I would have to do the procedures in Taiwan. I try to convince myself that I should do my required internship in Taiwan instead, that it would be cool since it will leave me more time to practice chinese, and to begin the learning of two languages at the same time was probably not a good idea, but on the other hand Wanikani helped me so much with characters recognition. I don’t know if I should continue japanese or not :frowning:

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