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View Poll Results: What is the most difficult in learning Japanese ?

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  • the grammatical structure (subject + object + verb)

    50 16.03%
  • the particules (wa, ga, wo, ni...)

    98 31.41%
  • memorizing the vocabulary (too different from other languages)

    79 25.32%
  • the untranslatable cultural words (irasshaimase, ojama shimasu...)

    51 16.35%
  • the verbs forms (-rareru, -te, -ttara...)

    84 26.92%
  • the politeness levels (keigo...)

    98 31.41%
  • the writing (especially the kanji)

    167 53.53%
  • understanding katakana words

    33 10.58%
  • the pronuciation

    18 5.77%
  • other (non listed, please specify)

    23 7.37%
Multiple Choice Poll.
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Thread: What's difficult in Japanese ?

  1. #76
    女に不自由 crunch's Avatar
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    Verb conjugation and counters.

  2. #77
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    I started learning Japanese a few months ago in my spare time. So far the most difficult part has been the sentence structure. Every time I think I've got it down, I find myself getting too confident and making the same mistakes I did in the beginning. Of course, I haven't gotten up to kanji yet...

  3. #78
    なおと
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    I thought the particules or the politeness levels would be the hardest for non-Japanese speaking people. My guess was not totally wrong but...

    Kanjis are not so hard to learn really. Kanji's may intimidate you at the moment you see them, but it is not too hard to memorize them once you find certain patterns. (I guess the way we were taught at school is different from the way you are learning them) Well, sooner or later, you will know that this is true.

    Even to me, (native Japanese) it is very difficult to explain Keigo. I can even say that Keigo is another language that you need to learn. But don't worry. Almost all Japanese do not expect foreigners to know Keigo. (because they don't even know or speak properly!)

    Those who do well in Keigo are very trained ones through experiences in the real life, usually through business meetings or a private school to become a telephone operator or something. I don't believe 80% of today's high school students know Keigo well. One of the major reasons for this is that young generations in Japan now do not respect others much. It is sad, but I assume this phenomenon is happening in all other languages, too. No one can stop it either.

  4. #79
    Inuyasha's hot SharkLover's Avatar
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    the pronuciation
    the ponuciation is kinda hard...

  5. #80
    Regular Member Keoland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit Of Atlantis
    I know several languages, i'll sum them up in order of difficulty.


    *) Ancient Greek (<< most difficult)
    1) Latin
    %) Japanese (learning)
    3) Czech/Slovak
    4) German
    5) French
    6) Dutch
    7) English (least difficult)
    Spirit Of Atlantis, your post was most interesting. My experience is almost the opposite to yours.

    Being from a country whose language is very closely tied with Latin (indeed, with a bit of attention we can read many latin sentences even without any lessons), I found the japanese grammar extremely comfortable and quite understandeable - it's a very obvious one to us, as UltimaBaka seems to agree.

    Not to mention there are some similarities, like the 'ja ne' (we have the 'ja ne'*, which is used in exactly the same way).

    *: plus some characters this board cannot display.

    German and Dutch, on the other hand, are *a pain* to learn. VERY confusing languages, especially because they use such simplistic grammer. I sometimes wonder what do you do to figure out you're talking about different things.

    I guess germanics have things more complicated here...

    The one thing I find complicated in Nihongo is the kanji (Kakatana and Hiragana are quite easy). There are too many of them and the 'onyomi' and 'kunyomi' readings make them hard to learn in their fullness

    Of course, learning how each one evolved and their physical meaning (like seeing a woman performing the tea ceremony in the 女 onna/me/jo/nyo kanji, or seeing a rice field and a man working it in the 男 otoko/dan/nan) greatly helps to understand them and increase the reading skills, but learning *all* of them takes quite some time and effort. I daresay having a Nihonjin as a teacher is a requirement here.

    Regards,
    Keoland

  6. #81
    Wanderer Mamoru-kun's Avatar
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    The kanjis are quite difficult, I think that nobody (even japanese natives) would deny. But something I've noticed during my night lessons is that, us, gaijins, tend to learn every single kanjis we find in our study texts. It happened more than once that my wife could not write kanjis I've learned. As she says herself, what's important in japanese is, first, speaking, second, reading, and finally, writting. Of course, being able to write beautifull and hard kanjis can impress ones own friends, but it seems to be less valuable for all-the-day life in Japan. Studying common kanjis doesn't need so much efforts, especially because we read them often. Hard kanjis (rare kanjis) need of course more efforts if you want to learn them, but in another hand, it seems not to be so much usefull to learn them.

    For exemple, I was very proud when I finally recorded the "komoru" kanji in "hikikomoru" verb. It's one that my wife could not write anymore at first, but she said that unless you want to save space in a newspaper for exemple, nobody will use it naturally. Another exemple is the basic "onegaishimasu". Most of the japanese I know doesn't write it with its kanji version, but us gaijin (well I mean, at least me) tend to use kanjis whenever it's possible, even there. It doesn't seem to be bad at all, but just unusefull.

    Personnaly, I have much more difficulties learning vocabulary. For exemple, how much words for "situation". Last year, if I well remember, I counted more than 6 way of saying "situation" (jijou, joutai, tsugou, jousei,...). At a certain stage of learning, knowing what word to use where become a real...how do you say in english? Pain in the ***?...Well, I suppose you got my meaning

  7. #82
    なおと
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    We have tons of similar words; thus tons of ways to express.

    This leads to the differences in:

    The way women say, the way guys say, the way old people say, the way kids say, the way people in a boonie say... and on and on.

    Just make sure not to learn Japanese by 時代劇 (じだいげき)

  8. #83
    「真相はいつも一つ」
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mamoru-kun
    Last year, if I well remember, I counted more than 6 way of saying "situation" (jijou, joutai, tsugou, jousei,...). At a certain stage of learning, knowing what word to use where become a real...how do you say in english? Pain in the ***?...Well, I suppose you got my meaning
    The other day I was counting how many ways "you" can be said directly, ended up with:

    anata - normal
    anta - casual
    omae - said by guys
    onushi - said by old people
    kisama - not too sure... makes you sound rough?

    (apologies about the romaji, my Jap system stuffed up a bit)

    are there any more?
    学如逆水行舟,不进则退
    心似平原走马,易放难收

  9. #84
    Wanderer Mamoru-kun's Avatar
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    Kanata also exists if I well remember (heard in "Mononoke Hime").

  10. #85
    Junior Member kagebunshin's Avatar
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    Personnally,i found the kanji scripts very difficult especially when you pass the first 80 one ,i wonder if kana can't replace them,bcuz they're 100% japanese & reduced,bof ..guess it's the "patrimoine",n perhaps japanese learning won't be funny without kanji.
    what i did enjoy the most in japanese grammar is the modifier-modifee rule,i found a certain logic in it not like in ours .

  11. #86
    Regular Member MeAndroo's Avatar
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    I voted for keigo, just because it's the kind of thing that would NEVER stick in my head. As my friend related to me, there's nothing worse than having someone say "gozonji desu ka?" and replying with "hai gozonji desu."

    On a side note, I fond those "untranslatable sayings" to be pretty simple...things like "ojamashimasu" is derived from "jama suru" (to impose), "okamainaku" is from the verb "kamau" (to worry/be troubled). Itadakimasu, ittekimasu, irrasshaimase...they're all conjugations of verbs.
    Go Trojans! Fight On!

  12. #87
    Rawr, le typos Neon Heart's Avatar
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    Too bad "Everything" isn't an option in this poll... I don't know why, but I just can't seem to grasp the concept of learning this language. It can't stick in my head, probably because I'm not used to learning a language of symbols and not letters like we have.

    I just need very, very, very basic help. O_o
    そのまんま東 yummy

  13. #88
    人間と人形は同じ。 Kintaro's Avatar
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    To add to the #1 factor of not having an active partner (aand not your buddy at the anime club)

    #2 = Kansai-ben. Learning a dialect almost seems a natural thing to do when you realize that there are many flavo(u)rs of English, or French, or any other language.

    "Gomen, nihongo wo wakarahen."
    The difference between men and puppets is only by who controls the string.

  14. #89
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    What's difficult about Japanese -- I've found that this keeps on changing for me as the studies advance. I study Japanese purely for translating purposes and do provisional (poor quality) translations as a hobby.

    Currently the hardest things for me are definitely the untranslatable, culture-dependant expressions, plus Japanese idioms that never seem to appear on any dictionary, and finally how to translate keigo. Sometimes these things are just way over impossible to convey in any reasonable way into English or any other target language. Even if there's a roughly "equivalent phrase" available, it's still not the same thing. It feels like the more I learn, the more inaccurate my translating becomes.

    Up until recently, kanji was what gave me easily the most troubles. I noticed that the usual way of hammering meanings and writings into my head from the most common to the least common just doesn't agree with me in the least, and was deemed an unavoidable migraine-incentive - until I found the free downloadable first part of this neat little book: Remembering the Kanji I (http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/...he_Kanji_1.htm)

    I think the link was from somewhere on these forums. I read it for one evening and the next day counted bit under 100 previously unknown kanji I could still reproduce and remember the meaning for. Truly a personal revolution in kanji studies.

  15. #90
    Big city - too tired トラちゃん's Avatar
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    I have learnt most of my Japanese from living with Japanese people in Japan...
    So I guess I have learnt how to speak, but I sometimes don't understand how the sentances work. Kanji is a killer for me.
    There is no substitute for cheese.

  16. #91
    Regular Member J C's Avatar
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    It's gotta be the particles

    The particles are the really difficult thing for me to get right. Even Japanese kids get them wrong or more commonly just leave them out when speaking.

    In fact a Japanese friend said that in conversation, if you're unsure, just don't bother - your listeners will get your jist and it's painful waiting around for someone to pick out the right particle when 90% of the time you can work out what someone is saying without them.

    With writing though, the particles have to be right and it's definitely more noticeable if you get them wrong....

  17. #92
    負荷.. Tsukimiya's Avatar
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    the writing (especially the kanji)
    the pronuciation
    That's so difficult.. yoy.. -_-

  18. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    So you are learning Japanese ? What do you think is the difficulty of this language ? Have you learned other languages to compare ?
    It's a multiple choice poll. Dont forget to discuss it with other members afterwards.
    Please notify me if you'd like to add more choices to the poll.
    Personnally I found everything difficult at first, except the pronunciation. The writing has been one of the funniest part for me, so it's not so much a problem. The toughest points were the structure and the particles, but it's got much better. After a few months in Japan, understanding katakatan English becomes natural and I use Japanese cultural expressions in English too.
    I'm still sometimes confused by some verb forms and need more vocabulary. Compared to Latin and Germanic languages, Japanese grammar isn't particularily difficult, it's just too different from what I am used to. Ditto for the vocabulary. I even find that the kanji are a great help in understanding new words.
    Sorry, I have changed my mind from "Kanji" to "particles". I can learn the kanji; Its doubtful I can learn the particles, at least not by myself.

    I'm going to have to major in japanese languages (Which I want to do, DESPITE people telling me on here I can't...whats that about, anyway?) and get tutor lessons, but my car was just sold by my parents, and plus its gonna be expensive to go to the mesa community college in phoenix. SO i'm getting a job.


    Oh my god. "Wa" and "ga" Kills me. Apparently, you can use "ga" for non action verbs (called static verbs), like "wakarimasu".

    also, "ga" tells an action who is doing something, "Who is playing the PSP?" "I am playing the PSP." answers "who", and "wa" explains "What are you playing?" "I'm playing this game." what you are doing.
    私の趣味は金貨集めです。
    I collect gold coins

  19. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kintaro
    To add to the #1 factor of not having an active partner (aand not your buddy at the anime club)
    #2 = Kansai-ben. Learning a dialect almost seems a natural thing to do when you realize that there are many flavo(u)rs of English, or French, or any other language.
    "Gomen, nihongo wo wakarahen."
    "Gomen, nihongo wo wakarahen."

    Gah, that is terrible. Kansai I guess.. I'm guessing it means, "Sorry, I don't know japanese.."

  20. #95
    Regular Member Nicky's Avatar
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    "wakarahen" makes logical sense to me. Say it outloud, it kinda sounds like "wakarimasen".

    The most difficult thing for me is grammar, and occasionally particles. Grammar because it's hard not to write something like 「ケーキが好き」 as 「好きケーキ」, since in english it's "(I) like cake" and not "cake like". Oh and I have no idea where exactly I can put comma's.

  21. #96
    Regular Member KrazyKat's Avatar
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    I've thought about this for some time and finally come to my decision, which doesn't come up on that list.
    The most difficult part of Japanese is the names of people and places. First of all its hard to remember names in your own language, if the names are unfamiliar in the first place, even more so.

    But more importantly than this is that Japanese insist in writing their names in Kanji. And not just normal Kanji, they are often obscure or only used for names and have unpredictable readings.

    Then there is that any given name like yosiko or keiko could be written in any number of ways, and there is no way to tell without asking or seeing the Kanji.

    And so I have come to consider names to be the most difficult part of Japanese, followed by keigo and writing Kanji.

  22. #97
    相変わらず不束者です epigene's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrazyKat
    I've thought about this for some time and finally come to my decision, which doesn't come up on that list.
    The most difficult part of Japanese is the names of people and places. First of all its hard to remember names in your own language, if the names are unfamiliar in the first place, even more so.
    But more importantly than this is that Japanese insist in writing their names in Kanji. And not just normal Kanji, they are often obscure or only used for names and have unpredictable readings.
    Then there is that any given name like yosiko or keiko could be written in any number of ways, and there is no way to tell without asking or seeing the Kanji.
    And so I have come to consider names to be the most difficult part of Japanese, followed by keigo and writing Kanji.
    Sure, it's difficult, but it's difficult for native speakers, too. I think it happens in English, too, like the late US President Ronald Reagan. The Japanese always thought his name is pronounced "ree-g'n" (especially when he was an actor) and found his name is pronounced "ray-g'n" only after he became president and was told so by US government representatives.

    Anyway, even native speakers don't expect to be able to read names correctly. That's why we are required to add "furigana" to names when we fill out forms, even for the simplest ones. People with difficult name readings must always explain how their names are read as a matter of courtesy to others. People who don't are considered either inconsiderate or rude.

    If you are not given how a name is read with "furigana," you are entitled to give an educated guess and don't have to be embarrassed by such mistakes. As a student of the Japanese language, you have the right to demand to know how a name is read and not feel ashamed about it.

    In short, take it easy!!

  23. #98
    悟空 の かのじょ Takaryo's Avatar
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    Hm...grammar is a pain, but I can learn it easily. @[email protected]

    My problem is kanji. Writing it? That I can't
    名前 は「りょくん」。 最愛の アニメ は 最遊記 で 最愛の人 は 悟空 です。

    Kinkaku to Ginkaku. Futari wa youkai no ko da yo. Hitori wa Kinpatsu. Aitsu no oniichan wa Ginpatsu. Kinkaku wa me mo kin no iro de Ginkaku wa me mo gin no iro desu.
    +My site+ +My LJ+

  24. #99
    Regular Member KrazyKat's Avatar
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    So I was wondering, are place names often given in furigana, on say maps or signposts?

    While I was complaining about how hard names are in Japanese I know they must be just as hard in English. We have crazy place names like edinburgh, names with different spellings Thomas, Tomas etc. Different names with same abbreviation like Sam and abbreviations with alomst nothing to do with the original names william-bill richard-dick and of course crazy English pronounciations.

    Of course, that doesn't make Japanese names any less hard

  25. #100
    相変わらず不束者です epigene's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrazyKat
    So I was wondering, are place names often given in furigana, on say maps or signposts?
    You just have to LEARN them.

    You get help very often with romaji readings of place names in signs posted at railway stations, shopping districts, etc. Otherwise, you have to ask the locals. (Even TV news announcers misread names of people and places now and then.)

    Having lived in the Kanto (Tokyo and surroundings) region all my life, there are place names in far-off Kyushu and Tohoku regions I cannot read correctly to this day...

    Places in Hokkaido are tricky to read because they originate from Ainu language (kanji used are "ate-ji" applied for convenience, based on phonetic similarity rather than from kanji character meanings). Okinawan place & family names are also difficult because they derive from Ryukyu names.

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