Why are you learning Japanese? Is it (with Chinese) the most difficult language in the world?


#1

It’s because you like Japanese pop culture? Because you simply love kanjis? Because you need to move to Japan for some reason? Why?

And also… Why Japan and China adopted a (apparently) so little practical and so difficult language? (Or maybe it’s practical after learned? hehe) Maybe the most difficult languages in the world? Maybe you shouldn’t put less efforts in a language so that everybody could learn it easily to communicate? And to progress more in other areas of the knowledge? (Or maybe you train your brain to be super smart!? lol) Or just… live? lol

What other languages do you think are so difficult as Japanese and Chinese? Actually I think Chinese is even more difficult than Japanese because of the pronunciation. Japanese is very poor in phonetics, but Chinese has so many kinds of sounds!


#3

haha i haven’t known about that thing of so many cases or genders in Polish… in fact, at least Japanese is very simple to conjugate the verbs and also as English usually there’s no difference between genders in the words. In Portuguese, my mother language, we have for each time tense, 6 conjugations depending on the person referred (and also depends on the region of Brazil or if it’s in Portugal).

about genders, i thought before that the champion was German, with three genders: masculine, feminine, and neutral (articles der, die and das).

but i mean, i thought Japanese/Chinese is unparalled at least talking about the writing system! By the way, I was reading a book saying that in the ancient Maia civilization (in South America), before the invasion of Spain in the XV-XVI centuries, they also had a well developed writing system, but it wasn’t spread through the population, because it was very difficult. but the way it describes the language is pretty much like Japanese: with letters for syllables (hiragana and katakana) and symbols for ideas or whole words (kanjis). and then the author concludes that this may have been one of the reasons of the failure of the Maia Empire… not a practical language to everybody use. well, but China is today the richest and one of the most powerful countries of the world…


#4

I learn Japanese because I love Japanese people and culture.

It’s my understanding that Japanese is the hardest language for native English speakers to learn. Chinese is also difficult, but I’m told it’s easier to learn because the grammar is quite a bit simpler.


#5

Oh yeah, not only a bit easier but quite easier. Chinese sentence structure is roughly said the same as English grammar: Subject - verb - object. Furthermore, there’s no verb conjugation at all (and therefore no complicated tenses oh how I hate them because I’m not native English). In fact, grammar in Chinese is easy as hell.

The difficulty of Chinese lies in the other parts: Reading, Speaking, etc.
As there’re no kana (or hangul in Korean), Chinese is ‘Kanji’ only. So you might not differentiate if two characters forge one word or if these are two words in a row. You may need to differentiate by context (other than Japanese with the topic or Korean). And pronunciation is way harder than Japanese.

I forgot the website where I found the difficulty for a language as native English speaker but I do still know that the hardest languages are/were Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Arabic.

Ok, that’s enough with Chinese phew.

Personally, I don’t think that Japanese belongs to the hardest section. Kana simplifies Japanese massively. Just continue learning Kanji (and Vocab) on WaniKani, learn grammar and some words normally written in Kana and you’re good to go (I know, there’s still more to do but that is a great start imo).

Ah yeah, I only learn Japanese because I really want to read Light Novels which aren’t translated into English. Or I wanted. Now I want to learn Japanese for its culture. Travelling around Japan might sound fun. =)


#6

Wikipedia says the Polish has seven cases, interestingly they look almost the same as Latin’s.

If you want a language with lots of genders (noun classes), Swahili has 18.


#7

Some people say Finnish is a rather difficult language to learn. Looking at this I can see why. :^D

istua “to sit down” (istun “I sit down”)
istahtaa "to sit down for a while"
istahdan "I’ll sit down for a while"
istahtaisin "I would sit down for a while"
istahtaisinko "should I sit down for a while?"
istahtaisinkohan “I wonder if I should sit down for a while”


#8

As a Finnish person, I appreciate this comment. I love my language.

I’m learning Japanese simply bacause it’s my favorite language. Has been for about 10 years now. I feel warm and fuzzy everytime I hear it. I find a great amount of beauty in kanji. I love the culture, food, music and the scenery of Japan. It’s a beautiful country and I can’t wait to go again.


#9

I think Japanese isn’t hard but it is very complex. Complex =/= hard.
The language has easy to follow grammar rules but those grammar rules depend very much on the context you’re talking in.

You can’t really read Japanese without really knowing how to pronounce the word.
昔話: むかしばなし. Using both the kun’yomi readings, instead of onyomi readings, which is uncommon. Also a dakuten.
伝説: でんせつ. Using both the on’yomi readings. Which is common. No dakuten.
設け: もうけ: Preparation. Same word written as the one below, but different in context.
設け: しつら: Equipment. Same word written as the one above, but different in context.

Japanese is not hard. But it’s going to take time.
I could go on for a while longer as to why Japanese is so annoying to properly learn.


#10

I don’t think I ever had a single reason for wanting to learn Japanese. Partly, it was because of anime/games/pop culture stuff, but a lot of it was more to do with the country itself. I love Japanese food, art, music, style, etc. In fact, I love a lot of east Asian stuff, Japan was just the country I settled on loving the most. I figured I may as well challenge myself and learn the language since I had been wanting to start learning a language again (the only past experience I had was learning French in school), so I gave Japanese a try and I ended up falling in love with it.

Initially, aside from how they looked and how they came from Chinese, I really hated kanji. They’d just get in the way of stuff I’m trying to read, and when you’ve just learned kana, it’s a pain having so much stuff restricted. But after a while, the more kanji I learned, the more I liked them. Learning 2000+ kanji is certainly challenging and time consuming, but the challenge is half the fun.

I don’t really need to urgently know Japanese. I want to become an English teacher (teaching assistant) there once I’ve finished my degree, but that only came about after I had started learning. I’m not the kind of person that gets motivated from being required to learn something. I simply learn because I want to. It’s the same for my degree.

Learning Japanese isn’t my one purpose in life. In fact I don’t think it’s anyone’s one purpose. But It’s a big part of my life, and I enjoy my life more because I’m learning it. :grinning: Who needs friends when you have kanji?

Phonetically, Japanese is pretty easy. But that’s what I love about it. It doesn’t have a huge variety of sounds, so they had to make do with a limited number of phonemes.

With learning everything, measuring how likely you are to learn it by how hard it is, is (I think) a pretty bad measurement. You should instead measure it by how much you want to learn it. If you have enough time and dedication, you can learn it.


#11

Atleast these are all related to sitting. Unlike some kanji.


#12

Because I love travelling to Japan and I felt so ignorant coming back here year after year and not being able to communicate at all. I just came back here for a couple of weeks and it is the first time since I started learning the language. Everything is even more exciting than it used to be. I can now say “Can I charge my IC card here?”, “200g of that one please” and “A medium sized one. Yes, I will eat here”. Not much else… but still so much fun and it opens up new possibilities.

I’m unfortunately not really into any kind of japanese media but I have watched Shirokuma Cafe to practice and I love it so I hope I’ll find other things that I enjoy once I got tired of watching it over and over again and it got too easy for me. Which will probably be in 20 years from now…

About the difficulty: it’s of course more difficult and time consuming than learning languages that are similar to my native one. I’m certain I will never be as fluent in Japanese as I am in English. And I know that I still make plenty of mistakes in English although I’ve had so many years of practice. So I guess you have to be realistic with your expectations but it seems much more possible now to get to a “meh, good enough” place than before I started learning. Learning Japanese seemed like this unrealistic goal that I would like to pursue maybe in retirment (and then give up on after a couple of weeks). But it seems doable now, just needs a lot of time and patience.

It is of course frustrating to know that had I invested the same time into learning e.g. Spanish I would by now be able to have basic conversations, read easy books and stuff like that. But I wouldn’t be even 20% as happy and excited about it so there is no need to compare the two languages.

And Japanese is, I think, at least easier than Chinese. I’m thankful for that :slight_smile:


#13

Habit.

Would like to use wanikani chinese version sometime.


#14

#15

I agree, it’s just down to mileage, like art. But not hard or impossible, just the grind.


#16

English native, with SOME Chinese background (parents were Taiwan/Cantonese).

With that in mind, I grew up consuming Japanese Media and Cantonese Media.

So with that in mind, obviously I gravitated to learning Japanese. I’ve visited both Japan and Hong Kong, and probably could see myself living in Japan. (would love to live in Hong Kong, but don’t think I have money/comfort of living in a small house)

Interestly enough, Chinese is my second strongest language… but I find it hard to retain/be motivated to learn when I don’t consume its media.


#17


#18

It’s sounds beautiful, it looks beautiful, awesome culture/food, and I want to learn as many languages as possible throughout my lifetime


#19

It reminded me of Twain’s essay. I’m sure many of you have read this before, but it is an entertaining read for anyone enjoying language learning:
https://www.cs.utah.edu/~gback/awfgrmlg.html


#20

Normally, I don’t get involved in this kind of discussion. But I hate this lie. But there is a ton of complicated Grammar in Chinese. While 我是美国人 “I am an American” may be easy for an English speaker, SVO is only a basis. But in this sentence, 我和朋友一起昨天去公园了呀。“I went to the park with my friends yesterday” We see a number of features that aren’t simple. Among those grammatical features, 和, 一起, 了, and 呀 are all not so straight forward.

Next, 我说中文说得很差。“I speak Chinese poorly”, again is not a simple sentence for an English speaker as it is literally “I speak Chinese” followed by “Speak + 得+ 很 poorly”.

Furthermore, we have two major features that have nothing remotely similar. Elastic Verbs and Verb Complements.

Look at two similar sentences, 他为什么还不会说话?“Why Can he not speak yet?” and 他为什么还不会说英语? ”Why can he not speak English yet?" In one case “Speak” is 说话 but in the other case 说 is only used. Furthermore, there are other sentences where both can exist, but are separated from each other. Many words have both a two character version and a one character version. Nothing like that in English.

Next, Verb Complements. 我听他说的话, 但我没听见他。“I listened to what he said, but I did not hear him." 听 is the verb meaning to listen. However, it does not imply actually hearing someone. 见 is a verb complement which shows that a successful result was achieved. So While 听 is just “to listen” that makes 听见 “to successfully listen” or “to hear”.

This is a very broad topic in Chinese and there are a ton of these, but these kind of result complements do not even remotely exist in English.


#21

I’m learning Japanese so I can translate all the doujinshi in the world.