Wa-pedia Home > Japan Forum & Europe Forum

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

Voters
312. You may not vote on this poll
  • 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.
Page 1 of 7 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 155

Thread: What's difficult in Japanese ?

Hybrid View

Previous Post Previous Post   Next Post Next Post
  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434

    Arrow What's difficult in Japanese ?

    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.

    Visit Japan for free with Wa-pedia
    See what's new on the forum ?
    Eupedia : Europe Guide & Genetics
    Maciamo & Eupedia on Twitter

    "What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?", Winston Churchill.

  2. #2
    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 22, 2003
    Location
    Location: Tokyo. Country: Quebec, Canada
    Posts
    31
    As I didn't learn Japanese with a translation in mind, unstranslatable expressions are still untranslatable in my head, but I still understand them... Particles are tough, but then again, Japanese nationals don't have them down pat either, so I don't worry about that overmuch. I simply cannot katakanize words... But then I can pronounce karaoke or sushi English style either... As for the other stuff... I'm sure there is, but I can't think of any at the moment...
    - His arrogance is matched only by his firepower.
    - La culture, c'est comme la confiture: moins on en a, plus on l'etend.
    - TANSTAAFL.

  3. #3
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 22, 2003
    Location
    アメリカ
    Posts
    298
    I suppose because sensible explanations of it may not even exist, but untranslatable and or illogical grammar has always been the most frustrating personally -- particlarly things like creating noun phrases for reference something (no, koto, tokoro, to iu no wa), sentences that seem to have two topics ("Kore wa shuchou wa....") or an abstract topic and subject "Sore wa kono koto ga"), the use of "nan" at the end of a phrase or sentence I still have no idea about....and I'm sure other things will spring to mind after reading everyone elses headaches ;).

  4. #4
    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 22, 2003
    Location
    Location: Tokyo. Country: Quebec, Canada
    Posts
    31
    Sentences ending in "nan"? Can you elaborate?

  5. #5
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 22, 2003
    Location
    アメリカ
    Posts
    298
    Originally posted by tasuki
    Sentences ending in "nan"? Can you elaborate?
    Well, nan da or nan desu. One instance I recently came across would be "Sensei nan da" translated by a non-native English speaker as "He was [is] a teacher" and assumed the "nan" was mainly for emphasis, something to the effect "and what a teacher he was." I wasn't sure, though, if maybe if "n da" could also be a contraction for "no" -- it wouldn't make sense in this case. But after an adjective like sukina nanda? To make a long story short, it has somehow gotten entangled in my mind with "....irun'desu" as in "it is that thing" or "it is that way."

  6. #6
    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 22, 2003
    Location
    Location: Tokyo. Country: Quebec, Canada
    Posts
    31
    Mmm... I think I'd have to ask a pro about that one, because I use it so much I just don't think about it anymore. Venturing a guess, I'd say it's a twist on the "na no da"/"na no desu" phrasing, which is redundant, but sometimes used for emphasis. It's mainly used informally in conversational situations, though, and the "da" is often cut out, in which case it sounds better to say na no, instead of nan. "nan" would be the contracted form of "na no". In the present tense "Sensei nan da", in the past tense "Sensei nan datta". (Of course, da is just short for desu, that at least, I'm sure of).

  7. #7
    Hadoken!!!!! Himura's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 19, 2003
    Location
    German
    Age
    32
    Posts
    6
    There´s a lot which is difficult in Japanese... but I think the pronounciation is easy
    *Sushi & Instant Soups 4 ever!!! -- Miyamoto Musashi rulez!!!*
    -==> Hayabusa & Hayate (DoA3) / Dante (Devil may Cry) <==-
    ---====> Hiko Seijuro -- The best Swordsman ever <====---

  8. #8
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 22, 2003
    Location
    アメリカ
    Posts
    298
    Originally posted by tasuki
    Mmm... I think I'd have to ask a pro about that one, because I use it so much I just don't think about it anymore. Venturing a guess, I'd say it's a twist on the "na no da"/"na no desu" phrasing, which is redundant, but sometimes used for emphasis. It's mainly used informally in conversational situations, though, and the "da" is often cut out, in which case it sounds better to say na no, instead of nan. "nan" would be the contracted form of "na no". In the present tense "Sensei nan da", in the past tense "Sensei nan datta". (Of course, da is just short for desu, that at least, I'm sure of).
    Thanks, Tasuki! I was wondering also about the "nante....na" construction, as in "Nante kirei na" or "Nante shinsetsuna (hito)nandeshou. In is redundant, isn't it??? And probably hopeless to reason out even this far....but for a semblance of order, it looks like "na" here is in its "na" adjective-role which is not to be confused with the masculine sentence-ending particle analogue to "ne"? And "nante kireinan" probably doesn't make sense either?

  9. #9
    Junior Member Spirit Of Atlantis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 13, 2003
    Posts
    1
    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)

    * = Languages i used to know but forgot.
    % = Languages i'm learning

    I want to learn Chinese, Russian, Hebrew and Arabic too and then i think it'll be sufficient.


    I had Ancient Greek for 4 years in high school, and Latin for 7 years(i had to redo 1 year)
    The complexity of their grammar is just mind blowing.
    The ancient Greek and Romans loved to make ultra long sentences and speak in an analogic and enigma-ish way.
    I would be sitting for hours sometimes translating a few sentences of great philosophers or emperors.

    Japanese though is much easier than Ancient Greek or Latin, but the thing that still makes it hard is the shear amount you have to learn.
    And Japanese just love to bring very different compared to western languages.(which is cool)
    In a way they're like the Romans, they also spoke very poetical.(which is cool)

    Now Czech/Slovak is gramatically harder than Japanese.
    It's grammar is like a simplified form of Latin.
    What makes it easier than Japanese is that it feels more familiar to me than Japanese.
    I know that Russian for example is like Czeck/Slovak, but it has the fancy alphabet(Azbuka) too.
    So learning Russian for me would be easier than Japanese.

    German...well they have their fancy own sort of grammar too, it's a bit like Dutch, but with the Die, Der, Das, Dem, Den etc etc.(had this for 5 years in high school)
    That makes it harder than French, which only has Le and La.(French sounds sexy, had it for 4 years in high school)

    Dutch is easier for me because i live here, though it's not a very pretty language, but hey i can talk to Dutch, Belgians and even understand South Africans with it.

    And English is the easiest of them all.
    It has only "the" and "a(n)" and a quite simple set of grammatical rules, which makes it one of the most "user friendly" languages in the world i think imho.


    And about learning Chinese and Hebrew, well Chinese is imho a must, More people in the world speak Chinese than English, so English is not the nr1 language, but it is internationally wide spread which makes it very useful.
    While Chinese isn't that internationally spread(although Chinese people live everywhere hehe) it is the most widely spoken language in the world.
    Ignoring it is in my opinion arrogant.

    And last but not least, why do i want to learn Hebrew, well i have several personal reasons.
    But one reason is that it's a graphically cool looking language and it has a great history and culture.

    I like languages that are and look different graphically aswell as phonetically.
    Well there you have it.

    Oh ya and i'm kind of interested in Navajo too, which is a Native American language, but it's not like any language in the world, not even like other native american or indian languages.
    Which was one of the reasons it was used as a code by the Allied Forces in World War II.
    It is/was considered uncrackable or undecipherable.
    Though the Russians cracked it anyway.
    Cool huh?!
    Last edited by Spirit Of Atlantis; Jul 28, 2003 at 10:45.

  10. #10
    Regular Member Keoland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 1, 2005
    Location
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Age
    46
    Posts
    18
    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

  11. #11
    Wanderer Mamoru-kun's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 25, 2005
    Location
    Pecrot (Belgium)
    Age
    43
    Posts
    17
    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

  12. #12
    「真相はいつも一つ」
    Join Date
    Nov 1, 2005
    Posts
    9
    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

  13. #13
    Wanderer Mamoru-kun's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 25, 2005
    Location
    Pecrot (Belgium)
    Age
    43
    Posts
    17
    Kanata also exists if I well remember (heard in "Mononoke Hime").

  14. #14
    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 22, 2003
    Location
    Location: Tokyo. Country: Quebec, Canada
    Posts
    31
    Elizabeth
    "Nante" is an expression mainly used to express negation, where it usually replaces the particles は、が or を. For example, 「この辺郵便局なんてないです。」There aren't any post offices around here. It places an emphasis on the negative of the sentence, reinforcing it.

    Although the examples you give above can also be heard, they are not that common. In these cases, if you bear in mind what I just wrote, the way なんて is used in 「なんて親切な人…」implies a sense of disbelief, as if your first impression of the person of the image that you had of the person had led you to think otherwise and you just can't believe your eyes, ears, senses. So a more correct way of formulating the above would be 「なんて親切な人、信じられない」.

  15. #15
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 22, 2003
    Location
    アメリカ
    Posts
    298
    OK--thanks again, Tasuki. The only other context in which I had encountered "nante" was the weather -- Nante atsui(n)/samui(n?) deshou -- so wasn't sure what to extrapolate from that.

  16. #16
    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 22, 2003
    Location
    Location: Tokyo. Country: Quebec, Canada
    Posts
    31
    That it's unbelievably or uncommonly hot or cold... Oh, and no "n" before "deshou".

  17. #17
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 22, 2003
    Location
    アメリカ
    Posts
    298
    Originally posted by tasuki
    That it's unbelievably or uncommonly hot or cold... Oh, and no "n" before "deshou".
    Yes, I believe "How hot it is" was the precise expression in my dictionary, which sounds quite quaint....but in any case, would the "n" still come before "darou"?

  18. #18
    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 22, 2003
    Location
    Location: Tokyo. Country: Quebec, Canada
    Posts
    31
    The "n" that you're referring too is the "abbreviation" of "no" as you probably know. "no" is not used very often in front of adjectives. At least not in this sense. I believe "なんて暑いだろう" is more common and natural than "なんて暑いんだろう"

  19. #19
    Hi Keiichi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 9, 2003
    Posts
    44
    I would say it's memorizing the vocabulary. There's just so many stuff to remember. Everything else I'm okay since I'm in a class and is going step-by-step.
    K1

  20. #20
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Aug 5, 2003
    Location
    American, of Italian and Irish descent.
    Age
    33
    Posts
    2
    I agree with Keiichi. I'm just beginning but I'm already having headaches over vocabulary. It's not that it's difficult or different from other languages... it's just that you have to learn N thousand words over again. A new symbol to go with the concept. And you can't cheat like in other Western languages because the words are similar to English. (Assuming foreign loan words are the same as they are English is dangerous ;) ). Keiichi is lucky that he has a structured class, though. I have a few dictionaries, Japanese For Dummies, and a couple of websites. And I have to improvise from there.

    Learning the kanji is definitely the second hardest part for me. Writing them is simple enough once you learn the stroke rules. Learning their meanings is a prodigious feat of memorization - pounding it into your head with repetition so that by the time you know it you've forgotten yesterday's batch. I'd say my personal biggest problem is the fact that right now they all look EXACTLY THE SAME. Well that's not quite true. It just looks like there are only about ten kanji, and they're drawn sloppily. My eyes just glaze over; my brain treats it as pictorial information, not language information. Well technically it *is* pictorial information but it should be processed as word-symbols. My brain just looks at all the pretty pictures.

  21. #21
    HennaSaru
    Guest
    the hardest part for me is listening. because nihonjin talk so fast. but that is natural ofcourse. i really need to live in japan to fully understand japanese more. i´m lucky that i have so many japanese friends how can teach me when i´m lost : )

  22. #22
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 10, 2004
    Posts
    1
    Actually there is a pretty good explanation of "nante" at http://www.nafai.org/japanese/grammar/nafjpphrases/ section 12.3 "The many meanings of 'nante'" (even though it's listed in the TOC as 12.2). In particular, when used at the beginning of an expression, "nante" means "how/what", as in "how lovely!". so "nante kirei na" means "how pretty!" (actually, the -na here is not the one used with na-type adjectives but rather the exclamation -naa, like -yo or -ne). "nante majime na gakusei deshou" means "what a diligent student!" and so on. "nante" is used quite often in both spoken and written japanese language, so it's important to be able to interpret it naturally without disrupting the flow of the sentence.

    Hope this helps.

  23. #23
    黒い剣士 rquethe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location
    Minnesota
    Age
    33
    Posts
    2
    For me, vocabulary and writing are definitely the easiest. I pick up on kanji like nothing. From context and from my knowledge of some kanji and vocabulary, I am often able to guess the prounciation of some of the more common kanji words.

    Definitely for me, particles, verb forms, and grammar structure is the hardest for me. I can't construct sentences for beans despite how much instruction I've had. It's really an embarrassing point for me.
    この世界には人の運命をつかさどる何らかの超越的な"律"神の手が存在するのだろうか。少なくとも人はみず からの意志さえ自由には出来ない。

  24. #24
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Oct 23, 2003
    Posts
    65
    I find the writing system hard, I have trouble learning them and its really boring. I have also learned English and its very easy. The verbs are a walk in the park compared to French.

  25. #25
    Cute and Furry Ewok85's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 14, 2003
    Location
    Saitama/Tokyo
    Age
    33
    Posts
    103
    Japanese words that have no translation in english, but more of a story or longer meaning. I swear the only way to master japanese is to think like a Japanese person

Page 1 of 7 123 ... LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •