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Call a dog and they come, call
a cat and they take a message
and get back to you later.
Oldwrench, chat 13th Apr

 
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Howdy,

 

I know that Japanese has a reputation for being a difficult language to learn. In my experience, the spoken language is not so difficult as it is different. If you learn to take Japanese on it's own terms, then things tend to make more sense.

Anyway, I thought I would assemble a list of things that you will come to love as you study Japanese, so you can see that it isn't a path to misery and insanity after all.

Things To Love About Studying Japanese:

 

1) Manga and Anime.

'Nuff said.

 

2) No plurals.

In many languages you have to fuss with changing a word's ending if there is more than one. Doesn't make sense, does it? Knowing that there is more than one but less than an infinate amount of items is not useful enough to warrant additional grammar in my opinion.  Now some of you may be thinking "what's the big deal? You just tack on an 's' and you are done." Ah, if it were only that easy. Takes a look at this nasty list of irregular English plurals.

 http://www.gsu.edu/~wwwesl/egw/pluralsn.htm

With Japanese, the amount of an item is usually clear by context, or you simply mention the number of items. Easy.

 

3) No subject-object agreement.

In English, you must match the proper tense of the verb to the subject. i.e. I go vs. he goes. Don't have to do that in Japanese. One verb works for all subjects.

 

4) No inverting the word order for a question.

The sentence "You can go" becomes "Can you go?". Tell me, just why do we have to screw with the word order to make a question? With Japanese all you have to do is tack the particle "ka" onto the end, and you have a question with no sentence re-ordering.

Another thing, the sentence "you went to the store" becomes "did you go to the store?". Here we don't re-order the sentence, which is inconsistant, but we end up changing the verb  tense! No such problems in Japanese.

 

5) No articles.

Can you tell me the difference between "Batman" and "The Batman"? Well don't worry about it. In Japanese, there are no articles, so kiss "a", "an" and "the" goodbye. We don't need them in Japanese.

 

6) No masculine/feminine/neuter nouns.

In many roman languages, the nouns have a gender, and you have to remember if it is "le porte" or "la porte" or "los muchachos" or "las muchachas". Another thing you don't have to memorize in Japanese.

 

7) No irregular verbs.

Quick, spot the pattern in the following verb tenses: "go, went, gone" vs. "fit, fit, fit". You can't, because they are irregular. Nothing to do but memorize the following list of irregular verbs:

 http://www.gsu.edu/~wwwesl/egw/verbs.htm

Get crackin'. I'll be here when you finish. In the meantime, I'll have memorized all three Japanese irregular verbs. All other Japanese verbs have tenses and conjugations as regular as clockwork.

As a matter of fact the grammar for everything (nouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc) is regular as well. Once you learn grammatical rule for a a part of speack, that rules works for all of the same parts of speach.

 

8) Word order is flexible.

In English, word order is very important. The subject-object-verb order can't be changed without changing the meaning of the sentence, or worse - making the sentence meaningless. Japanese stakes out the grammatical functions of words by attaching little markers called particles to the end of of the word. While there is a customary word order of topic-subject-object-verb, it can be mixed up with out fear of changing the meaning of the sentence. This is a huge boon to beginning students who are talking in fragments anyway.

 

9) No complete Sentences.

In English, you must mention the subject object and verb in every sentence for it to be a "complete sentence". With Japanese, once the subject, object, topic or verb has been mentioned, it is considered that everyone understands what you are talking about. You don't have to specifically mention the subject, object, topic or verb again unless something changes.

 

10) No spelling problems.

Japanese is extremely phonetic. If you hear it, you can write it down with no problem. As a matter of fact, there are no such things as "spelling bees" in Japan because spelling is a non-issue. Just think, no  more "silent E".

Of course, Japanese has things that can be considered harder than english (kanji comes to mind) but I'll leave it to you to find those yourself. Consider it homework. :)

 

Have fun!

 

Best,

Dave

 


 
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