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How difficult is it to learn Japanese?


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xuechengfeng

A guy I've contacted says he has an intensive course. 10 days = 4 hours each day. Following for 12 some weeks, 1 day a week = 4 hours. He says that I could probably test out of 3rd of 4th level Japanese at my school (Ohio State). He said that knowing Chinese, and the characters should be a benefit.

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Yes, it's quite easy to pass the level 3 or 4 because they're designed for beginners, L2 is quite different.

So you have 3 months, 4 hours a week is okay (and I suppose you will also try your best to revise and practice outside class).

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If you really study hard, say 4 hours a day, then 5-6 months should be very much enough for a Chinese. I don't know, I couldn't read Japanese fluently like Chinese and English, but I think it shouldn't be too difficult... again, if you study hard. :wink:

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Quest:

you might try this after you learn the basic syntax and some of the particles:

http://www.jbrowse.com/products/jbrowse/

What level of Japanese text are you shooting for? Japanese literature (novels) is really hard to get into, you could first try short stories by Natsume Soseki 夏目漱石 (like in 「夢十夜」)and Akutagawa Ryunosuke 芥川龍之介, they are relatively easier.

Knowing Chinese (especially a southern dialect) helps a lot.

Screenshot of jbrowse (it adds ruby text to characters, like pinyin, and also gives you definition when you mouseover):

jbrowse_screen_furi.gif

jbrowse_screen_defs.gif

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If you really study hard, say 4 hours a day, then 5-6 months should be very much enough for a Chinese.

Sounds like a large amount of time to commit pazu! Were you in Japan when you studied the language?

Knowing Chinese (especially a southern dialect) helps a lot.

Does Hokkien(Fujian Hua, Taiwanese) count?(Hope it does!) It has many similarities to Cantonese in terms of vocabulary and a simple tone system like Shanghainese.

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The level I am shooting for is to be able to read online Japanese articles, or read their chatrooms/forums, I don't need to speak it or understand it spoken to me.

If I study 2-3 hours a day, 3 days a week, how long will it take?

Thanks for all your inputs, keep them coming ;)

(feeling like I hijacked xuechengfeng's thread)

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BTW, while we're still on the subject of just reading, how difficult is it for a Mandarin and Hokkien(Fujian Hua) speaker to learn to read Cantonese? Heard it isn't too tough.

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BTW, while we're still on the subject of just reading, how difficult is it for a Mandarin and Hokkien(Fujian Hua) speaker to learn to read Cantonese? Heard it isn't too tough.

very easy.

易到痹。

易过借火。

易过食生菜。

but finding cantonese materials to read is harder.

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SM Sung: shouldn't be too hard, as even I can read it. I understand it a bit less than I understand Mandarin when I read it, but not much less.

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Does Hokkien(Fujian Hua, Taiwanese) count?(Hope it does!) It has many similarities to Cantonese in terms of vocabulary and a simple tone system like Shanghainese.

Hokkien today is the closest to Sino-Japanese (since it still has many 古吴 pronunciations), so should help a lot.

Shanghainese today isn't that helpful for Japanese except in the tones, syllable length, voiced/voiceless distinction and knowing that a -ku, -chi, -tsu is around (but uncertain which exactly). Most Shanghainese pronunciation for characters have been Mandarinized. But, if you knew the Shanghainese 200 years ago, then it would be very helpful for Japanese. In those days 江 was still pronounced ko~ (Sino-Japanese kou), now it is kA~. But, we still pronounce 二 ni (/gni/), and 人 as nin (/gnin/). 人 is also pronounced as voiced /zeN/ in compounds like 人民.

Hokkien pronounces 人 as nang/lang?

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Thanks for the input Quest and Lu! That confirms what I heard.

Hokkien pronounces 人 as nang/lang?

lang is by far the more common pronunciation(the "more Hokkien" pronounciation). nang is strongly associated with Teochiew(Chao Zhou Hua). However, there is a continuum among the two dialects and there are quite a few regional variations so you might hear both in use.

There are some very obvious similarities between Hokkien and Japanese, for example:

五is pronounced go(rising tone) --->Jap "go"

新闻 is pronounced sin'buun ---->Jap "Shimbun"

先生 is pronounced sen'sei---->Jap "sensei"

P.S. Someone told me nang is a "corruption" from Teochiew. Not sure about this though.

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Most Shanghainese pronunciation for characters have been Mandarinized.

So Shanghainese is starting to resemble Mandarin? Has its grammar also been influenced?

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xuechengfeng

i made a mistake saying the teacher said i'd be better off cuz i know chinese, cuz i don't. i'm still LEARNING chinese. starting 2nd year this fall.

would it be 2 confusing to learn japanese this summer, and continue my chinese in the fall?

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I don't think they're really confusing, so it should be okay to study both together, the only problem is that you may have not enough time.

Well... it really depends on your Chinese level though, the 4th level test is easy for everybody, 3rd maybe difficult if you don't know Hanzi...

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tokyo_girl

Level three and level four are mostly hiragana (all but the kanji section). Chinese students often aim straight for 2 or 1 because of the kanji advantage. For level three you only need 300 kanji or so, for level 2 it is more like 1000 and for level 1 it is almost 2000.

I would get yourself the grammar books that go with each level of the proficiency test - UNICOM have a set of very good grammar books with English explanations at level 3 and 4. I think at level 2 there are not English explanations (I'm working on level 2 at the moment...)

I don't know if you are familiar with Kumon but it is a Japanese course - can be done by correspondence that focuses on teaching reading. Few courses seem to have a reading focus (at least in teh English speakers market) I know a Korean who learned Japanese for a year or 2 in Korea and after 6 months in Japan passed level 1....

I don't think this is rare for Chinese and Koreans.

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Most people say Mandarin is a more difficult language to learn than Japanese. But many Westerners consider Japanese a more difficult language to learn than Mandarin.

Verbs and objects in a sentence in Mandarin is structured the same way as verbs and objects in an English sentence, but the same is not true for Japanese. If you want to say "I like her", "her" always follows "like" in Mandarin and English. In other words, the object of a verb always follows the verb in these two languages.

The object of a verb always precedes the verb in Japanese. So the structure of that sentence in Japanese would be "I her like" from a Chinese and American perspective, but the meaning would be the same as in Mandarin and English.

Plus there are all those verb and adjective conjugations, and particles in Japanese. Take the conjugation of "eat" for example.

Japanese dictionary form: Taberu

Present tense (as in presently eating at the moment): Tabeteimasu

Past tense: Tabemashita

Future tense: Tabemasu

To want to eat: Tabetai desu

To have to eat: Tabenakarebanaranai

This is a "Ru" verb however. Conjugations may be different for "U" verbs.

Japanese, like English, is not a tonal language. So all you have to focus on are the placement of particles within a sentence, the verb and adjective conjugations, and always place the verb after the object. Also the same sentence needs to be phrased differently if you want to speak in honorific terms.

The major difficulty with Mandarin is the tones. In fact mastering the 4 tones can be very difficult for Americans that they say it overrides the convenience of having a shared sentence structure, and makes Mandarin more difficult to learn than Japanese. Chinese written characters are also more complex than Japanese hiragana or katakana, which explains why many people have a hard time mastering kanji. But once you master the tones, you're on your way to heaven. Also Chinese and English are "direct" languages (object always following the verb in these 2 languages). There is more subtlety in the Japanese language. "Anata" may seem harmless to use for the novice Japanese speaker, but using that word to call someone you hardly know in public is considered rude.

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xuechengfeng

is the pronunciation of letters the same as in english? i got myself a teach urself japanese book, but the pronunciation guide only shows you how to pronounce vowels and double consonants.

:conf

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