The Japanese Language: Some Interesting Facts for the Uninformed
Thread poster: LingoTrust

Local time: 07:59
Apr 30, 2013

I recently wrote a piece about some of the reasons why the Japanese language can be so hard to learn, and how it's structure is different than English.

A short, light-hearted read if you're interested:


MariyaN (X)  Identity Verified
United States
Japanese to Russian
+ ...
"Well, for starters..." May 1, 2013

...kanji is not an alphabet.
(The author of the original article at KT70, by the way, uses the words "methods of writing", and does so for reason.)

Neither is the word order free.


Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:59
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Khm... May 1, 2013

In addition to Mariya's notes,

"the existence of several levels of polite language" is not due to the fact that "the Japanese people also don’t like to be blunt or rude". The levels of politeness stems from the relationship between the people participating in the conversation, based on their social status. Social status is deeply rooted in the culture, and that manifests in the language as well.

"Not hard to learn to pronounce as there are only 48 sounds consisting of 5 vowels and 11 consonants!" - Sounds? 5+11 is not 48. You meant 48 syllables, right?

"No verb conjugation!" - well, yes, sort of, but you do change the verb endings for past tense, imperative, conditional, etc. and based on whether the speaker female or male and whether honorific use is required.
A few examples:
Verb (dictionary form):
to go - iku
I (you, he, she, we) go - ikimasu (polite, and female use), iku (informal and more male use)
Past tense:
went - ikimashita (polite), itta (informal)
go! - itte (kudasai), ike (informal)
let's go! - ikimashoo (polite), ikoo (informal)
if I (you, he, she, we) go - ikimashitara (polite), ittara, ikunonara (informal)

As to the language being "fuzzy" - well, it is a high-context language, because it belongs to a high-context culture. See more at:

"Syntax or the word order of a sentence, excepting the final verb, is totally free!" - now this is funny.

[Edited at 2013-05-01 00:59 GMT]


esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:59
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
Really? May 2, 2013

Not hard to learn to pronounce as there are only 48 sounds in the language, and only 5 vowels and 11 consonants!

Is it really? Assuming that this article expresses a POV of an English speaker and is targeted to such speakers primarily, I wonder, do they really find nothing hard in tones? I do.


Petr Jan Vins
Local time: 13:59
English to Czech
+ ...
Japanese Pronunciation May 2, 2013

For a Czech speaker the Japanese pronunciation is fairly easy. The two languages - although otherwise far apart - are phoneticaly very similar.


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The Japanese Language: Some Interesting Facts for the Uninformed

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