Let’s compare Japanese with English. If you’re interested in learning Japanese, I hope this video would be helpful for you. For example, If you literally translate this into Japanese, it’s gonna be like this. But this sounds very weird in Japanese although it’s grammatically not incorrect. We do not say the subject multiple times like this. Omission happens in Japanese much more than in English. As an extreme example, when you want to say this to your friend in Japanese, That’s it. This’d be OK in Japanese. And especially the subject is often omitted.
This brings usmy next point. Quite often, you don’t know, for instance,who and if it’s male or female and if it’s singular or plural just by the sentence. In English, on the other hand,it’s much more clear. I still have a lot of difficulty when I translate Japanese into English. That’s because I need to make clear those non-verbal information between the lines. And I’d say Japanese is an extremely contextual language It’s so important to keep in mind that a literal meaning is quite often different from the actual one. We use 3 characters.
Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. Maybe this already makes you feel discouraged to learn Japanese. I think Hiragana and Katakana are quite easy. It’s straightforward and it doesn’t take so long to get it. But Kanji is quite tricky. Because there are two readings,On’yomi and Kun’yomi. Some Kanji have On’yomi or Kun’yomi only. And when it’s a two-Kanji word (pair) like this, On’yomi is usually used. When it’s one Kanji and some Hiragana together like this, Kun’yomi is usually used. In English,I think it’s not so many.
But in Japanese, it’s SO many. It may be quite over whelmingat first. Especially Te-form is the most tricky one for many Japanese learners. But once you get through it,everything is gonna be much easier. And luckily, there’re so many videos available explaining well Te-form on YouTube. Watching them, I hope you can get it well. We have so many onomatopoeia that we take a sound andmake a word out of it. In English, it’s a wordlike “HAHAHA!” or “BOOM!” The spelling of these words is based on the sound that the action makes.
There are basically 3 types of onomatopoeia in Japanese. Gitaigo may be very tricky because English doesn’t have that concept. In Japanese, men and women have a different particular way of speaking. And usually, it’s considered rude or inappropriate when a woman talks like a man or a man talks like a woman. The end of words is different like above. And usually, these kinds of ‘vulgar’ words are supposed to be used only by men in Japan. The Japanese gendered language got popped up especially around the Meiji Era (around 1868).
It is said that it had begun since upper-classmen complained about school girls’ unpleasant andvulgar way of speaking. English also has some honorifics like ‘Sir’ or ‘Miss’. But Japanese has much moreand quite complicated. The reason is that we have a concept, “Uchi (inside) and Soto (outside)”. Japanese speech totally differs whether it’s Uchi or Soto. If you wanna get to know about the Japanese concept, check this out. We have many different degrees of honorifics.
Depending on the relationship with the person you’re speaking to, your speech is gonna change like these. When foreigners speak Japanese, they often sound rude to us. I think that’s because Japanese honorific is too complicated to get right and use properly even for Japanese, I think. One major difference is that Japanese words are unstressed,while English one are stressed. If you say a Japanese word in that way, it’d sound weird. Yeah, it’s sound natural. In Japanese,it should sound like this.
A Japanese wordusually sounds flat. But technically, we havean accent called ‘pitch accent’. For example, The pitch accent helps usdistinguish homophones. We have many loan words from other languages especially English, German and French which is great because it’seasy to guess the meaning. But we also have manyWasei-eigo (Japanese-made English). For example, These words sound very English. But the meaning is probably not what you guess.
We very often use those kinds of Wasei-eigo (Japanese-made English). It may be confusing you. This may be not really about language. But I think it’s quite relevant. We tend to often say back-channeling words/phrases during a conversation. Such as,”Uh-huh”, “I see” or “Really?”. This is often taken negativelyby English speakers. Like, “Are you just nodding along?” or “Don’t interrupt me!”. It’s awkward when speaking in English. But it’s normal when speaking in Japanese. Actually, it’s often considered as a good listener in many cases.
So I think it’s better to make a small quick response like “Uh-huh” a little bit more often when having a conversation in Japanese. There’re many other differences between Japanese and English. And at this point,you may be overwhelmed “It seems like Japanese is very different and too difficult..” But here is a good news. Japanese is one of the most commonly used languages on the Internet. Which means, you can find a plenty of real-life Japanese materials and hope fully you’renever be bored. I think it’s effective to use materials you’re interested in like anime or mangato keep having fun. So let’s utilize them and enjoy learning Japanese.