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jd144

Learn Japanese after studying Mandarin for about 5 years

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jd144

Hi. I have learned Mandarin since I was 18. I am now at a level where I can hold conversations (text and in person) on everyday normal topics. I can also read news articles (finer detials can escape me with some difficult articles). I would say I am at an intermediate/upper intermediate level. I do feel I am slightly limited as I live outside of China and obviously do not use the language everyday, and for work etc.

 

I have also had an interest in Japanese for some time, however have never really started (bar basic travel phrases), due to the fact i dont want my mandarin level to be affected. Has anyone in a similar position to myself (upper intermediate mandarin level) started learning Japanese too? Should i start or just focus on Mandarin? Studying these is just my interest, as it has nothing to do with my job. I may one year work in China though.

 

Any thoughts? Thanks

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Hofmann

If you're like most people, learning more languages will make you better at all of them in the long run. If you find that it hurts your Mandarin or impedes progress, you can just pause.

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歐博思

I remember watching a Youtube video about polyglot study habits once. They spend more time on learning new languages and a minimum of "maintenance" time on learned languages. I'll see if I can find the video again.

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haerviu

I did something similar too, though I started with learning Japanese first.

I started to learn it five years ago and in the third year of my Japanese studying (I was close to an advanced level back then) I decided to learn Mandarin too. I was used to kanji thanks to Japanese so learning basic hanzi was quite easy. That's why knowing Japanese helped me with Chinese reading and in this situation, knowing Chinese can help a lot with understanding written Japanese.

Both languages have very different grammars though so grammar may be difficult to study at first but it will get easier in time too.

 

This is the fifth year of my Japanese studying and the second year of my Mandarin studying. I can say that none of the levels of the languages I learned were affected by the other so I totally suggest going for Japanese too!

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ParkeNYU

Like haerviu, I also learned Japanese before I even touched Mandarin, but with an eight-year difference. Without any doubt, Japanese was an immensely helpful tool for learning Mandarin, and later Cantonese and other topolects. However, if I could do it all over again, I would have learned a Chinese language first. I ended up having to study ancient Chinese to make the necessary connections between Mandarin and Sino-Japanese pronunciations (but it was well worth it, as ancient Chinese helps with all languages that use or have previously used Chinese characters, à la Latin).

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nihaokelin

Likewise began with Japanese (studied Japanese for 5+ years before even thinking about Chinese), and found it incredibly helpful for reading when living in Taiwan. I hadn't thought about touching ancient or classical Chinese to make those character connections - interesting.

 

What struck me with Chinese was how 'different' or unintelligible words are. And by that, I mean the many katakana loan words that Japanese has. Makes it much easier for English speakers to remember some new words, names, brands, companies etc.

 

Grammar-wise there's not much to help you, but really, there should be no problems in maintaining both if you really want it. Best of luck!

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robbkvasnak

I have studied Chinese (Putonĝua) for many years with many intervals. Now two things have changed my live: I run an Airbnb in Fort Lauderdale Florida and more and more Chinese tourists are visiting my Airbnb. Most of them only speak limited English and no Spanish, so I have started improving my Chinese vocabulary with several books. I now recognize around 2,000 ideograms but I think I need about 4,000 to read a newspaper in Mandarin. At the same time, I have fallen in love with Japanese cuisine, art, music, and history. So I started learning Hiragana and Katakana but then noticed that I will need a bunch of kanji, too. The kanji are some how related to the hanzi of Chinese so I have started added the Japanese pronunciation to my work books on Chinese calligraphy. I hope that once my Chinese is better that I will be able to turn more time to Japanese and not feel so daunted by the kanji. What do others think about that?   BTW as an outsider, I have no hierarchical love for either Japan or China - they both fascinate me - in somewhat different ways but I love reading books about their countries, watching films, listening to streaming radio online and meeting people from both countries. I hope that maybe next year I will be able to visit BOTH countries :-) 

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ParkeNYU

robbkvasnak, you sound like a great candidate to tip your toes into Middle Chinese.

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NinjaTurtle

Robb,

 

It sounds like your Chinese ability is not at a fairly high level yet. If so, I would advise you to stick to Chinese, get it up to a fairly high level, then start Japanese. If you don't, I think both languages will interfere with each other. For example, you need to be able to walk into a store, see something too expensive and exclaim without  hesitation,  太贵了!  What you are trying to do is to build up to where, in this example, you can immediately exclaim 太贵了!   and  値段が高い!  at the same time, effortlessly, and without mixing up the two in your mind as you do this. I have finally got to the point where I can do this, but it took me a long time. It may take you a long time too.

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vivea

OK, I've given up trying to quote you in my reply (can't figure out how to do that now, although it worked yesterday), so I'll just ask: ParkeNYU, what do you mean by that? As a person who's going to study Japanese in a while, too, I'm very interested.

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ParkeNYU

vivea, if you learn the Middle Chinese properties of each character, then the differences between the Mandarin and Sino-Japanese character readings will appear more logical and predictable. It's also useful to make sense of Sino-Korean and Sino-Vietnamese readings, as well as those of pretty much any Chinese topolect. Yeah, it's extra work, but I find it enjoyable and illuminating. You can really understand characters better this way.

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