Is Japanese hard to learn?

Discussion in 'General Off-Topic Chat' started by Seliph, Jun 14, 2017.

  1. Seliph
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    Seliph Scion of Light/Orphan

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    I'm curious about this because I just realize I do consume quite a bit of Japanese media daily without even realizing it. I want to get into learning Japanese online so I can read the Jojo's Bizzare Adventure manga without requiring a translation but I've heard from multiple sources that the language is either surprisingly easy to learn or deceptively hard.
    So is it hard?
     


  2. MrCatFace

    MrCatFace GBAtemp Regular

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    One of my friends is a "native" Japanese speaker. She hates it. She tried to teach me some, and I can say, its pretty impossible unless you put some serious dedication.
     
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  3. Seliph
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    Seliph Scion of Light/Orphan

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    Oh, lovely
     
  4. 0x40

    0x40 GBAtemp Regular

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    It's not hard, but it does takes a lot of time to get fluent at it.
     
  5. MrCatFace

    MrCatFace GBAtemp Regular

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    Not hard? But what about stroke order? I think in some places you would be considered illiterate if you don't know stroke order. And then there is Kanji. The ever expanding Kanji. Japanese has a lot to it.
     
  6. smileyhead

    smileyhead Occasional Reporter

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    afaik it really depends on your original language. it's one of the hardest language to learn for English people, for example.
     
  7. Veho

    Veho The man who cried "Ni".

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    It's pretty difficult outright, nothing deceptive about that.
    But the difficulty depends on how you are with languages. Do you know any other foreign language? How hard was it to learn? Now, Japanese is harder than that because it has no common roots with any of the languages you may already speak, and you have to start from absolute zero, starting from writing and going forth.
    That said, tons of people manage to learn it just fine, so the difficulty should not deter you if you're motivated.


    Yes :creep:
    And Japanese is difficult, too :creep:
     
  8. 0x40

    0x40 GBAtemp Regular

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    I don't think that makes it hard to learn. It takes a lot of time, but pretty much anyone can get fluent if they're dedicated enough.
     
  9. MrCatFace

    MrCatFace GBAtemp Regular

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    Its the sheer amount of dedication you have to put in to learn. That is what makes it hard.
     
  10. deishido

    deishido Texture Modder

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    Honestly, I thought it was pretty easy. The hard part for me is simply remembering all the different nouns and verbs, etc. The grammar structure is so much simpler than English. The rules are actual rules with very few exceptions. (Unlike in English where you have that "I before e, except after c" rule that just doesn't apply to like, 1500 other words for no particular reason)

    ignore what someone above said about stroke order and kanji, what was honestly one of the easiest parts and there are tons of resources for learning them, and knowing base kanji and radicals makes it super simple to look up those you don't already know. Of course, this is also about how perceptive you are personally. Some people I was in class with were really smart people, but just couldn't grasp the basics for the life of them. I knew a girl who could speak 4 other languages, but as she never got past first year japanese. One of my friends barely spoke proper english and picked up Japanese with no problems. It's all a matter of how well you can learn.

    That being said, from different EASL and multi-lingual people I know, they have all remarked that english is by far the hardest language they've learned. There's a reason we have 12 years mandatory schooling to learn it, when most other languages have around half that in their native countries.
     
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  11. Reiten

    Reiten Member

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    Well it's somewhat hard. You have to learn a totally new writing system and learning the new vocabulary will take lots of time.

    What I found the hardest was that Japanese doesn't really translate one to one most of the time. You could translate a sentence from English to German one to one, and you'd be mostly correct. With Japanese it's more like interpreting. I found it hard in the beginning, but once you get used to it, it's pretty easy.
     
  12. Quantumcat

    Quantumcat Dead and alive

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    I'd love to learn Japanese. It's so beautiful and mysterious, with links to such fascinating culture. I wonder if non-English speakers feel any similar attraction towards English. Probably not, it would just be an annoying chore that they have to do to improve their career prospects...
     
  13. Vipera

    Vipera Banned

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    This post has been removed due to the staff's corruption to money and other people.
     
    Last edited by Vipera, Aug 13, 2017
  14. linkenski

    linkenski GBAtemp Regular

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    Do you want to learn arabian? It's the same, the difference is that japanese is available in a lot of today's pop-culture so from the vocal use of the language to the banners and occasional text you see even in translated games there are a lot of cues that can help motivate you to learn japanese as you try to invest yourself into the actual learning of the language. I find language-learning always begins with noticing patterns in practical use of the language, like when you were a baby and started picking up on the words your parents spoke, like Odo-san which means "dad", and then you learn the alphabet, only, you learn that there's like 3 different types of alphabets in japanese, you practice drawing the katakana (one of the writing forms/alphabets) and so on.

    Yes, it's dedication but I would say the hardness of learning is eased up by the widespread availability of japanese language in anime and video games that we want to play whereas some other languages are less inviting as a westerner.
     
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  15. azoreseuropa

    azoreseuropa GBAtemp Guru

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    Are you kidding ? Japanese and Israel/india languages are the hardest to learn because they are different and doesn't have the letters like most native languages.
     
  16. sarkwalvein

    sarkwalvein Professional asshole at GBATemp

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    I remember some time ago, reading about how the US government had classified different languages into "difficulty" groups relative to native English speakers, this is intended to give an idea to ambassadors, etc., that will be working in a new place the time they will need to spend in learning the language.
    Those groups are ordered in increasing difficulty, with Group 1, the easiest, including romance languages and some germanic languages, e.g. "Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, etc.".
    Then, Group 2 contains only one language, "German", it is considered by the US government slightly more difficult to learn than those in Group 1.
    There are 5 Groups actually, and Japanese according to this classification BELONGS TO GROUP 5.

    Not my words, the words of the US government.

    PS: Here, for your delight, the full list of languages categorized by the Foreign Service Institute.

    Looking at the categories list, Japanese is not only in the hardest category (cat 5), but the only one marked with an asterisk in this category. Meaning that according to the US gov, Japanese is THE ABSOLUTE MOST DIFFICULT language to learn for a native English speaker.
     
    Last edited by sarkwalvein, Jun 15, 2017
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  17. Hanafuda

    Hanafuda GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    I somewhat responded to this in the other thread about learning English as a foreign language. In 1985-87, I took 2 years of Japanese in college. Straight A's. I wasn't taking any classes, but from 87-90 I was still hanging out daily with Japanese friends I made during that time. From 91-93, I lived in Japan, employed by the JET program. From 94-99 I didn't have any involvement with learning Japanese, but in 99 I was introduced to a Japanese woman who came to the States for business several times a year, and I ended up marrying her in 2000. We've been married almost 17 years now. We speak Japanese around the house, we watch Japanese television every night, we go to Japan for vacation every 2-3 years.

    And, I'm basically a functional illiterate. I can read at roughly a 2nd grade level. I can 'get' about 90% of what's being discussed on a variety entertainment or light comedy television show, but miss words a lot when the show is serious crime drama or has a lot of medical vocabulary.

    On the other hand, my 13 year old daughter is pretty close to fluent for her age level, because my wife has been teaching her since age three. When we visit Japan, she actually attends a local school there for several days and has a class she belongs to. She's been 'growing up' with the same kids since first grade. Unfortunately next year will be her last time to go to school with them, as they will mostly split up the following year for high school.

    Point is ... if you're not starting out young, really young, it's a serious struggle to gain real fluency. I have seen it done, but it takes living there and willfully abandoning English for the most part, which is becoming increasingly more difficult to do with the internet being at your fingertips now (and that most jobs for foreigners in Japan involve teaching English or translating, etc.). But if you want to be a functional illiterate like me, then get started asap. Totally doable lol.
     
    Last edited by Hanafuda, Jun 15, 2017
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  18. Minox

    Minox Spytech Employee

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    Impossible? I want some of what you're smoking.

    Having studied Japanese both at a university level and nowadays by myself I would have to agree that it's certainly not the easiest language in the world to learn, but once you get over the hurdle that is the writing system I can honestly say it's not that bad at all. Grammatical rules tends to be pretty consistent meaning you don't have to remember lots of exceptions, and learning new words/kanji is just a matter of using them until you remember how they should be used.

    Conversations add another layer of difficulty in the form of informal, formal and humble speech since depending on your conversational partner you might need to change the way you're speaking, but depending on how much you're planning on learning you might do just fine without learning humble speech as the formal way of speaking is perfectly usable in most situations you're likely to encounter (some exceptions might exist).
     
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  19. Saiyan Lusitano

    Saiyan Lusitano GBAtemp Guru

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    This is what I'd expect from it. Learning Kanji would take some serious dedication for years on end to get good at it.

    I'd like to learn Polish but it looks pretty hard too and full of accents on everything.
     
  20. queendude

    queendude GBAtemp Regular

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    why do u want to learn polish, its like one of the less important languages