The Japanese Language
Not knowing the Japanese language and counting only on your knowledge of English can be very frustrating. Also, the language opens the door to the culture of the country.Speaking Japanese is not as hard as you may thought. It is very easy to pronounce (French speaking people especially will be able to talk without any accent !). On the opposite the writing system is so tough that even lots of Japanese have problems with it.This chapter deals with :
- Description of the Japanese language.
- Where can I learn the Japanese language.
How difficult is the Japanese language ?
There are clearly difficulties with learning a language which is totally different from one's mother tongue.But where are the difficulties ?
Verb conjugation ? no singular or plural, nor first, second or third person differentiation.
Declension ? adjectives, nouns, pronouns and articles are not declined (Latin and German learners know what it is...)
Pronunciation ? tonal variation are not a structural part of the language (like it is in Vietnamese or Thai, for example), andthe Japanese vowel system is very basic, consisting of just five sounds which may be diphthongized or lengthened.
Some difficulties may be found in post-positions and word order, as it is quite dissimilar with European languages.Also, levels of politeness, understanding who is doing what for whom and the homonymity of Chinese loan words can be a bit tricky.
let's face it, the writing system concentrates the most difficulties. It can be judged to be hard for the Japanese themselves, as it has to be learnt even in senior high schools.
Ressources on the web
- Joyo 96 : teach yourself written Japanese (Katakana, Hiragana, Kanji) on-line through this site.
- Kanji of the day.
- Dictionary on-line.
- A list of the dialects one can find in Japan.