Japan has always been a marvelous mystery, especially for us, Europeans – and after studying Japanese, I can definitely understand why! There is almost nothing compatible between Japan and the rest of the world – it is as if Japan decided to be the most unique country in the world and it actually succeeded!
The fascination of the exotic languages
I know most of us wonder what’s like to study – and exotic languages, such as Japanese, Chinese and so on and so forth, and I know for sure that I can tell you my story as a student who’s been studying Japanese for 3 years now.
Time is relative
Once you start studying kanji – which are those twisted ideograms, pretty much like Chinese characters or even Egyptian hieroglyphs – you no longer measure time like you’ve done it before. And the explanation is pretty simple – it takes so much time to memorize those pictograms and actually learn how to use them, that you invest most of your time in doing that.
I’m not going to lie to you – I haven’t done that, because I like socializing and I simply can’t invest that much time in only one activity, but my colleagues, who actually speak Japanese fluently, have definitely done that!
You know nothing even when you know a lot
Unlike other foreign languages, when you study Japanese you have to expect to know a lot of grammatical structures without being, in fact, able to use them in a proper conversation. The speaking part is, in my opinion, the most difficult aspect of studying such a language – not only you have to master 3 alphabets, but you also have to understand the mechanisms of a language very attuned to social and cultural aspects.
To give you a short example, according to a person’s social status or gender, people in Japan are actually talking differently! They use distinct verbal forms for women and men – and, if you are a director or some sort of manager, you must expect people to treat you like an earthly God!
Animes don’t use real-life Japanese
If you are an anime fan or, at least, if you have watched Animax as a kid, you definitely know Naruto – but for those who haven’t watched it, it’s pretty much a cartoon with a blonde kid trying to master the art of being a samurai. Ok, so what I’m about to say might let down some of you – but the producers created a sort of particular language only for Naruto and some of those lines don’t even exist in real life! Bummer, right?
When you start studying Japanese, you expect to become, sooner or later, some sort of anime character, talking with all those tonalities and using all sorts of interjections. Well, real-life Japanese is a bit different – of course, young people use a lot of colloquial expressions, talking really friendly to each other, but, in order to be able to express yourself in Japanese, you must also learn Keigo, which is the polite register of the language.
To be completely honest with you, guys, you must start studying Japanese only if you are willing to invest a lot of time – we all know foreign languages are meant to be studied individually, but Japanese among all of them is the queen of devotion and constant repetition! I don’t mean to frighten you – but bear that in mind before placing your finger on those Japanese books and dream about fluently speaking this language!
How do you feel after reading this article? Do you consider studying Japanese? And if the answer to the previous questions is yes, what made you take that decision?