View Full Version : Why did you decide to study Japanese
2002-12-24, 09:14 PM
Personally, Im doing because I like the culture first and foremost. Also, I have a passion about learning different languages and Japanese really caught my interest because of the Kanji and other writing systems. I view it as an artform. Im curious as to why you chose Japanese. Please enlighten me :)
interesting question. Let me contribute and see if others do the same.
I came from Europe to Japan (Tokyo) as an expat, slightly over one year ago. I was and am eager to learn Japanese because:
*) It is so damn useful to break the ice in case you need something. Even if, during the conversation, you loose track and switch to a mixture of Japanese, English and "sign language" it helps that you started off in Japanese. Examples: being lost on unknown territory; wanting to book a hotel or train ticket; wanting to buy clothes in an irregular size etc.
*) Curiosity to the completely different structure of this Asian language compared to European languages (I speak 3 languages fluently and am able to read simple pieces in 2 more languages, all European).
*) Be able to listen to the daily chatting of my co-workers in the office (in our office there are 4 gaijin and roughly 90 Japanese). The "official company language" is English, but all daily chatting is done in Japanese.
*) Getting a (very basic) understanding of kanji is very interesting.
To be honest: the fact that my company is paying the bill for the language training lowered the barrier to enroll. But even if I would have to pay for it myself, I would continue.
2002-12-26, 01:55 PM
Well, actually is pretty difficult to get started, but once you've moved
you can't stop from learning and discovering new things about it.
Also, as J said, Japanese is a useful language when it
comes to eavesdropping. That's how I learned a good deal of my Japanese.
I used to be the only non-Japanese staff in a Japanese school in
Europe, and I soon found out that my Japanese co-workers just did not
let you know about this or that important event of the school, when
obviously everybody should dress up (I don't know whether this was done on
purpose in order to embarass this "henna gaijin" or just they were actually
secretive!). After being embarassed to appear a few times in jeans
for an entrance or graduation ceremony, I learned to
listen to the other people's conversation and gossip.
Also, just relying on bilingual announcements or materials existing here is
not a solution. Bilingual as they may be, even a basic knowledge of Japanese will tell
you that the English version is a much shortened, deceiving and hard
to understand variant of the Japanese one.
2002-12-26, 02:16 PM
I knew this would come in handy someday...
2002-12-26, 09:51 PM
Because I live in Japan.
Quite unlike you, I didn't come to Japan to learn the language, but after a while a person just gets dog-tired of being mute, illiterate and uncomprehending in the society that has become his home.
Another useful spur to learning and continuing to learn is the joy of confounding the popular Japanese expectation that you WON'T understand. You would be frankly amazed at what they'll say about you within earshot because confident that you won't understand.
A more frustrating product of the expectation that you can't speak or understand Japanese is the fact that irrespective of how good you get at Japanese many Japanese people will simply 'refuse to understand' your Japanese, even standard phrases or phrases that have been long tried and tested among a variety of Japanese friends and acquaintances, and will politely insist that conversations be conducted in 'English'. This can be enormously dispiriting for those people, I'm not one, who have invested a considerable amount of time and money in mastering the Japanese language.
I've lost count of the times I've ordered a meal in perfectly serviceable Japanese and had my order checked in - tortured - English. I always wonder how amazingly frustrating this must be for non-Anglophone foreigners. I like to think, and am sure, that it drives the French potty.
2002-12-26, 10:30 PM
The reason why people refuse to understand your Japanese maybe not because it's not good enough, but because they refuse to accept the idea that the Japanese language (which everybody in Japan will assure you, is REALLY difficult) can be spoken by a gaijin who looks like somebody on whom they can try their English knowledge, or who is a
possible Eikaiwa no sensei.
Remember, as a gaijin in Japan you are expected to behave like a gaijin, too. This means
that you are NOT supposed to be able to speak Japanese, eat deftly with chopsticks,
like natto (yuck!) and marry their daughter.
Took me 9 years to understand it.
2002-12-26, 11:25 PM
Why did you decide to study Japanese? For any testosterone-driven male tis` an elementary question. Within my first day here, having witnessed The Japanese Women, I experienced an epiphany of sorts as MY GENITALS SPOKE DIRECTLY TO ME. They said to me "We stayin`. Do what you gotta do".
And that was it.
I was obligated to learn enough Japanese to satisfy my genitals. Crude, I know, but under force of duress ANY MALE WILL TELL YOU THE SAME.
I was wondering if anyone out there whose Japanese has become quite good could recommend any study books or schools for me? I`ve done the Japanese for Busy People Book I, but I still don`t have a clue usually as to what is going on around me. Like Osakan said, I`m getting sick and tired of not being able to communicate with the locals and it`s not very edifying when they decide it would be better to use what little English they possess in conversations. Just yesterday some guy spent one minute with a pensive look on his face to come up with the word January. A bit condescending. Sometimes I feel like learning the language just to spite them with it.
But it is very difficult, and I always seem to get bogged down. It can`t be impossible, can it? So any books, tips, or pointers would be greatly appreciated.
2002-12-27, 11:42 AM
Well, the fastest and more pleasant way is to find a Japanese
girlfriend. If not, then watch Japanese TV and immerse yourself
as much as possible in J-"culture". You will find the TV dramas
extremely childish and poor quality, but it's a good language exercise.
Keep a bilingual dictionary with you at all times and look up the words and
expressions you don't understand. You may feel overwhelmed at
first, as I did, too, but if you persist, you'll find out that you've learned
more words even without trying too hard. It worked in my case - I'm not
too keen on studying Japanese from books - they are boring and most
of them fail to motivate you.
A friend of mine started reading children's books - which are only written in
hiragana. His Japanese improved quite fast. My advice is to find some
study method which fits you best - such as learning Japanese via
something you like (be it a woman or anything else). I gues you'd get
more motivated than learning from books.
2002-12-27, 12:25 PM
that's just what I was saying. "IRRESPECTIVE of how good you get at Japanese, many Japanese people will simply 'refuse to understand'".
2002-12-27, 03:22 PM
You're perfectly right, Osakan, but this advice was given to one who
may want to become proficient in Japanese not only for his/her co-workers'
sake, but more because he/she wants to have a clue about what's happening
around. Even if yourJapanese proficiency is not taken seriously here,
still it's good to wash your hair with shampoo and not conditioner if you choose to
do so, or to eat cheese and not "something-resembling-cheese-which-smells-like-fish",
just because you couldn't read the label. Been there, done that.
Not my fault that you guys look like the Eikaiwa no sensei in the TV commercial
(joking, of course)
2002-12-27, 06:55 PM
[once again] That's what I wrote. The very first reason I offered for learning Japanese was that "after a while a person gets dog tired of being mute, illiterate and uncomprehending in the society that has become his home." As much as you do in 'setting me aright' is give concrete examples of how being illiterate and uncomprehending might readily become tiresome: shampoo/conditioner and etc. (Though there's a hardly a music-hall farce to be wrought out of that mix-up.)
It seems to me odd that I'm being, unwillingly, dragged into dispute by someone by reason of her insisting on agreeing with me. Here, and elsewhere on this board, you seem super nice. Why are you giving me back my own post as a difference of opinion?
2002-12-27, 06:55 PM
I just thought that it was me. But now I realize that it happens to everyone.
They really do believe that they are special don't they.
2002-12-27, 07:00 PM
What happens? Who are they? Has someone been hurting you?
2002-12-27, 10:03 PM
Thanks for "seeming super nice". I appreciate the compliment since it
comes from such a spiritual poster.
OK, you are right. Are you satisfied now? I was just trying to help. I had not
realized that you are in the possession of the absolute truth and nobody
should not even agree with you.
I do not intend to start an argument with you here. Enjoy your supremacy.
you mention that you did the "Japanese for Busy People Book", as you describe it. Did you do all 3 volumes or only the first one? After completing the first one, I still could not understand what was being chatted around me. But by the time I passed the second volume halfway did I start to get a better understanding of all this chatting. And, as the second volumes uses more kana (instead of romaji, plus it includes some most frequently used kanji) do you also get more exercise in reading texts. I can't judge if the third volume is useful: I'm still working my way through volume 2.
But I can not judge if other textbooks are better, because I have never seen or worked with other textbooks.
Thanks Margaret, I have a Japanese wife so that`s not a problem, and it`s interesting that you mention reading Japanese children`s books. I have a few Miffy ones right now on loan from the library. And J, I am just starting the Japanese for Busy People II right now, so I hope you`re right in that your Japanese begins to improve after that. Thanks everyone.
2002-12-29, 06:51 PM
Well, since Australia is unofficially a member of South East Asia, we were forced to learn japanese in year 7-10, and it sort of grew on me.
My speaking might not be too crash hot, but I love learning kanji and have conquered about 700 of the little buggers ^^
i hate canada and canadian culture and canadian women and i am canadian. i hate the same boring common crap, same boring culture, same boring women, some boring country so i came to japan to f_ck the women without all the bullsh_t the western honeys give ya and to eat the food which doesnt make you fat to make lots of money with little tax, to basically do as i please at all times with no bullshi_
カナダ 嫌う そして カナダ文化 そして カナダの女 そして 僕はカナダ人
今性交がしよ もし 売春婦 いしょう に 行きたい だたら、
ＰＳ 英語もきる 日本語 使いてを下さい 大阪で住んでいる
2002-12-31, 05:12 PM
2003-01-04, 04:03 PM
I guess I was into the culture and liked it in the country area. Now I'm in Tokyo, living on 280,000 yen... not quite the same thrill... Anywho, I don't regret gaining a new perspective on life's journey, which learning another language gives you... Maybe weird to the other fellas, but I'm tired of J-girls and just want a nice western gal to warm my boots ;-) Maybe it's time to leave.