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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. #151
    In imagination land Chidoriashi's Avatar
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    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by Anatoli View Post
    Proper names (place or personal) ARE confusing and difficult, even for Japanese, the names can have really unexpected readings or you may get them wrong. That's why a phonetic aid is sometimes essential.
    Umm, that is exactly what I was saying. I was simply adding that it could also be used to help children, or foreigners. And not all proper names are confusing. Many are quite obvious to any educated Japanese person. And if you already knew the answer why were you asking a question?

    Well, that's pure arithmetic, isn't it, less kanji, less problems? Instead of deciding between 言う/云う/いう just use いう.
    In your example you are saying it would be better to write something like 話す、離す、放す all as はなす? How is that beneficial? Having that kanji there makes for faster reading, and less confusion.

    Reducing the number of readings for any given kanji would not be helpful. I'm certain that more homonyms (words that sound exactly the same) would arise or would have arisen. And that would make for confusing reading (without kanji), and problems for foreign learners trying to figure out what is being talked about.

    Kanji has multiple readings because if it did not, either 1. more kanji would be necessary. or 2. the Japanese language would have to use even less sounds or have a smaller amount of words.

    I still say that Chinese with its sounds system and the sheer number of Hanzi you have to learn make it lot harder than memorizing multiple readings for roughly 2000 characters. Now I have never tried to learn Chinese so I cannot know that for sure, but that is my impression right now.


    Yes and no, the problem with Chinese in this case is that rarely used words are harder to memorise if they use rare characters, whereas Japanese simply fall onto kana (hiragana/katakana) instead of using rare or too difficult kanji or use a loanword in katakana (a blessing for foreign learners).
    I beg to differ. Katakana and the billions of unnecessary loan words and wasei eigo etc. that come with it are anything but a blessing to foreigner learners.

    Admittedly, the thing with loanwords makes the Japanese writing system (+ speaking and understanding) somewhat easier (this particular aspect) compared to Chinese, as loanword creation is not intuitive in Chinese, they don't stand out in a text like katakana and may be confused for what the actual hanzi stand for, like ateji in Japanese.
    As long as the loan word is necessary then I would say I agree. But the loan words are getting out of hand. and when they are used in Japanese they many times take on different meanings, and the pronunciation many times does not even closely resemble that of the original word, which makes listening and even reading comprehension more difficult, since you have to stop and sound out the word, trying to figure out the original word it was created from.

  2. #152
    Regular Member Anatoli's Avatar
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    Perhaps, it would be better for me to use some particular obvious examples, which I currently don't have at hand but thought about the situation when it happens.

    Interesting that Chinese children are weaned from pinyin or zhuyin (phonetic guide in Taiwan) earlier and you won't find comics with any phonetic aid in China. I see that the usage of furigana is very common in Japan for adolescents. It doesn't mean that they are smarter.

    After learning both languages for a while I see that for reading better in Chinese I lack some vocabulary, when I pick more words, pick more characters and I don't to look their pronunciation any more. In other words - learn a new character once and you see how many times it's reused, always written in the same way (no hiragana, pinyin, etc.). It stays in memory.

    With Japanese I do find new with the characters I already know that I need to check the readings to be sure. The fact that words with the same meaning, same characters can be read in different ways is especially confusing. Why 泡 can be awa and abuku? 故郷 kokyō, kyūri and furusato? Sorry, only quick examples, may not be perfect.

    When you have a cluster of characters belonging to different words, you have to start wondering if they are components of words or separate words, so a good style dictates to use kanji sparingly (I am quoting a Japanese person here), so kanji does not always help to get the meaning quickly but vice versa.

    The fact that many words, especially less significant, are now written in kana only makes sense, so that kanji serve almost like capital letters or word boundaries (spaces).

    I see you point about hanasu but I actually find that many native Japanese verbs, which don't have homophones could be written in hiragana only.

    I agree that too many foreign words are not so good for the Japanese language, nevertheless, by "blessing" I mean that foreigners often get away without knowing native Japanese words by using English words transformed into katakana (the reverse is not always easy, that's right).

    My Japanese and Chinese are now at about similar levels and I enjoy reading parallel stories.

    No, I am not asking questions, just wanted to share.
    千里の道も一歩より始まる。
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    私に日本語を教えてくれば、ロシア語を教えて げます 。
    Chinese Language and Chinese Culture
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    Eastern Hemisphere

  3. #153
    In imagination land Chidoriashi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anatoli View Post
    With Japanese I do find new with the characters I already know that I need to check the readings to be sure. The fact that words with the same meaning, same characters can be read in different ways is especially confusing. Why 泡 can be awa and abuku? 故郷 kokyō, kyūri and furusato? Sorry, only quick examples, may not be perfect.

    When you have a cluster of characters belonging to different words, you have to start wondering if they are components of words or separate words, so a good style dictates to use kanji sparingly (I am quoting a Japanese person here), so kanji does not always help to get the meaning quickly but vice versa.
    I personally have never seen readings like こきょう、and ふるさと being both possibly read from 故郷 as a problem. I mean I get the basic meaning in either case so it really does not matter what the intended reading is I suppose.

    Overall in general I would say I have developed a sense for what Kanji readings are suppose to be. Like I just know from the sound of words like 率直 that it is read そっちょく not そつちょく, and from experience that it is not りつちょく or りっちょく. I can see how you may feel it is confusing, but with the help of an electronic dictionary, learning the distinctive word pronunciations quickly has never been a problem (at least for me). For me, I have always found (some) Japanese grammar and learning to use the proper word for the proper circumstance, or situation to be the hardest part of the language, but that could be said for any language i suppose.

    About the sentences that seem like endless streams of Kanji, I find those only to be present in formal documents where the sentences are long and complicated anyway, such as government stuff, policies, titles for sections, departments etc. etc.... i.e. crap that nobody really wants to read or pay attention to anyway if they don't have to.

  4. #154
    Regular Member Anatoli's Avatar
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    What you are saying conveys some attitudes of both Japanese and Chinese people who are saying - if I don't know how to say a word or how another person may read it, I don't care about it, some Chinese people would say it referring to some rare personal names or plant names. I see this as some problem. A language and its script could be more helpful. Some Japanese historical museums have writings full of furigana. A Japanese told me without it, she wouldn't have a clue how to say many of the words (and she is well-educated).

    A word with the same meaning but multiple readings - no problem, like above? A word with the same basic meaning and pronunciation but multiple spellings - I mean, even if the words: 見る, 観る, 看る, みる have some difference in usage but they all have the basic meaning - to see and to look at/after, etc? The original Chinese characters these are based on all have different readings: 見/见 - jiàn, 觀/观 - guān, 看 - kàn.
    This includes cases where Shinjitai and Kyūjitai are both used in the same text 籠 and 篭 (kago), 國/国, etc. In Chinese, there's a fight between simplified and traditional (Jiantizi/Fantizi) but the two scripts are usually not mixed, unless it's a joint exercise, like some chinese pages in Wikipedia.

    What's difficult in Japanese? What is lacking is a more strict standardisation or following the rules of standardisation. A standardised language is easier to learn and use. Admittedly, the Japanese government has standardised a lot but there's still something that could be done.

  5. #155
    Regular Member Sirius2B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    So you are learning Japanese ? What do you think is the difficulty of this language ? Have you learned other languages to compare ?
    I have learned (almost exclusively by selft study) English and German... and could understand more or less the contents of a text in French (not great deal, since my mother tongue is Spanish).

    Regarding Japanese... I think there is nothing extremely difficult in it, save that it will take more time to learn than indo-european languages, given the great distance in almost every aspect (curiously there could be exceptions, like being japanese phonetics a perfect subset of latin american spanish).

    I think the real problem, ist that there is not a widespread effective method of teaching Japanese to an adult foreigner (I don't doubt that one or many such methods exist, I just say they are not widespread).

    Usually an undaverted student that jumped from say, English to French, French to Russian, English to German... may try to learn Japanese with the same strategies that worked before, and will find itself, after some years, pretty discouraged by the slow progress... and obviously will quit.

    Regards.

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