I have an objective standard for whether you can speak Japanese, but it is only good for today. If you can, without looking anything up, as soon as you see it, say the following things in Japanese:
- “Hey, could you pick up some (insert name for little Japanese triangle rice things with salmon inside) from the 7-11? And remind me of what trash day it is? I don’t want the little old lady yelling at me again about the trash.”
- “What did you think about the latest episode of __________________? I thought ________ was being something of a dick, but what do you think? I’m totally in love with ______________, she’s so hot.”
- “Yesterday, I saw the strangest thing at the train station. There was this guy distributing fliers for a video game, while singing traditional Japanese folk songs. And then he saw me, and started shouting obscenities at me in English. What was that all about?!”
If you can say those things, right off the bat, in fairly decent Japanese, such that a Japanese person could make out most of what you say, and if they could respond to you in a sensible way, and you could understand what they were saying, without having to reference a dictionary, then – congrats.
By the Lion Kimbro 2020-04-08 standard, you speak Japanese.
Bonus points if you can do it in Osaka-ben.
This is a one time test, but the result is valid for 10 years, should you pass. You have only 90 seconds to complete it, should you take the challenge immediately, and nobody has prompted or prepared you for it.