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Is Japanese more easier to learn if you know English and Chinese?

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  • Is Japanese more easier to learn if you know English and Chinese?


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Answer #1 | 31/12 2013 13:10
I have to be a bit of snot: Is Japanese easier to learn...? more easier is not standard English, even in New Zealand. Whether or not a language is easy depends on your natural language skills as well as the language you know. If you can read Chinese, knowing those characters will HELP you read Japanese, but you won't be able to read Japanese automatically. Japanese uses fewer Chinese characters and sometimes uses them in different ways. It also employs two syllable based scripts along with Kanji (Chinese characters as used by the Japanese). Japanese has borrowed a lot of Chinese words, but many of these were borrowed thousands of years ago and sometimes bear little resemblance to their modern Chinese counterparts, as both Chinese and Japanese have evolved over the millennia. Chinese has more in common with English with respect to grammar and word order, than it does with Japanese. Basic word order in Japanese is subject object verb (or verbal adjective), and word order is not the primary tool for determining a word's function (special words called particles or inflection does that instead), and so word order is fairly free in Japanese, although the verb/verbal adjective phrase must come at the end. The sound systems of all three languages are different. I am told that Mandarin Chinese does not have a true tense system for verbs. English has 6 official tenses plus other structures using modal helping verbs. Japanese lacks true tense although some say it has past tense and non-past (present or future). In reality, it has aspect: completed (which some call the past tense) or perfect aspect, and the not completed or imperfect aspect (which can apply in ceratin structures to the past as well as the present or future). So, yes, it will help to some degree, but Japanese is very different from both languages. However, Japanese is my 4th foreign language and I have found it very easy, because I know how to learn languages by this point. English is my native tongue, I taught French, and I also speak German and Italian to lesser degrees.
Answer #2 | 31/12 2013 21:31
Of course. It makes it easier to remember some Japanese terms which sounds alike to the other two languages. For example, 天才-tian cai is ten sai in Japanese, and it means the same thing. Also, cheese cake is チーズケーキ(chi-zu ke-ki) in Japanese. Kanji may appear easier to you than to others who do not know Mandarin Chinese too.

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