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tokyo_girl

Hanzi means Kanji I guess.

No more than usual for a news report.

However news reports have more kanji

than personal correspondence usually would.

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Quest

who do you think can understand the other's news articles better, a japanese reading chinese pages, or a chinese reading japanese pages? assuming both are qualified high school grads.

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tokyo_girl

I don't know.

That would be a very interesting experiment.

I would guess the Chinese student would get the sense

of Japanese better - esp if they had some familiarity with

traditional characters.

I think in general it is said that pronunication aside, it

is easier for a Japanese to learn Chinese than vice versa.

That is not the same as just reading written text though...

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HashiriKata
who do you think can understand the other's news articles better, a japanese reading chinese pages, or a chinese reading japanese pages? assuming both are qualified high school grads.

It'd be very difficult for both sides if neither side has learned anything about the other's language. At a push, however, the Japanese would have the edge in reading Chinese, especially non-mainland Chinese. A Chinese speaker would have serious problems in reading Japanese because of the interpolation of Hiragana and Katakana scripts, not to mention the unfamiliar word-order (The difficulty in deciphering simplified characters is not comparable to trying it with Hiragana & Katakana, if you haven't never learned them).

Having said that, I need to add that by looking at just headlines and shopsigns in Japanese, Chinese speakers would cope allright because these don't normally have lots of hiragana & katakana or complicated grammar.

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carlo

I read Chinese but have never learned any Japanese. During my first trip to Japan I was surprised by how much of the written language I could understand (book titles, newspaper headlines, shop signs). I remember seeing an article about the imperial family once and the kanji-to-kana ratio was so high that it was a bit like reading 古文. A strange feeling indeed, that of being almost literate and yet incapable of saying a single word.

On a related note, I've always assumed that for a speaker of language A to learn language B is approximately as difficult as it is for a speaker of language B to become proficient in language A. It's only an assumption, as I imagine that the effort required to 'adapt' one's own language instinct to another set of 'rules' should be sort of the same in both directions. Of course this is very hard to prove, but... does it make any sense?

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HashiriKata
I've always assumed that for a speaker of language A to learn language B is approximately as difficult as it is for a speaker of language B to become proficient in language A. It's only an assumption, as I imagine that the effort required to 'adapt' one's own language instinct to another set of 'rules' should be sort of the same in both directions. Of course this is very hard to prove, but... does it make any sense?

This is on the whole correct but is not always the case. Some simple examples: a Chinese speaker would have less problems in putting down in English writing what he can say in English than an English speaker would in Chinese, given that both of them have similar level of competence in speaking the other's language (= The writing system in Chinese is objectively more complicated than that in English). Again, an English speaker may need just a few weeks to master the sound system in Japanese; but for a Japanese to master the sound system in English, it should normally take years (= The sound system in English is objectively more complicated than that in Japanese). So what is involved here is that it is not simply a matter of A vs B, but is A vs BC, in which BC has extra features C for A to master.

Let's get back to Japanese and Chinese writing: as Japanese has extra sets of writing (hiragana & katakana) in their system and unless these sets are learned, they'll pose problems for Chinese speakers in trying to read Japanese. But as already noted earlier: Japanese headlines, shopsigns, old & formal writings, etc. may give us a different impression due to the special characteristics of these styles of writing.

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