Why is Japanese So Hard For English Speakers?

Why is Japanese So Hard For English Speakers

Why is it hard for English speakers to learn Japanese? Japanese is one of the most difficult languages to learn for many English speakers. There are several reasons for this:

  • In Japanese, there are three different writing systems.
  • The sentence structure is quite opposite to English.
  • Moreover, there’s a complicated hierarchy of politeness.

In this article, we’ll explore 8 reasons why Japanese is so hard for English speakers to learn.

So, stick with me as I get started!

Big Reasons Why Japanese Is So Hard for English Speakers

These are the reasons why you’ll need a Japanese tutor, like those available on AmazingTalker, to make language learning easy. Let’s explore them.

1. Different Writing Systems

We’re used to reading and writing with the letters of the English alphabet—simple, right? Well, Japanese throws in a twist. Instead of one alphabet, it has three main writing systems:

1. Kanji:

These are characters borrowed from Chinese. There are thousands of them.

2. Hiragana:

Hiragana is a syllabic script, which means each character represents a syllable in the Japanese language.

3. Katakana:

Similar to Hiragana, Katakana is also a syllabary, but it’s used for different purposes.

2. It Comes With a Set of Complex Grammar Rules

In English, we use a structured way of putting sentences together. We start with a subject, then a verb, and then maybe an object. Simple, right?

Well, in Japanese, it’s nothing like this. Japanese sentences mix things up. Sometimes, the verb comes at the end of the sentence.

But wait, there’s more! Japanese also uses little words called “particles” to show the relationship between different parts of the sentence. These words tell us who’s doing what to whom.

3. Politeness Levels

In English, we often have polite ways to speak, like saying “please” and “thank you,” right? Well, in Japanese, being polite goes even further.

In Japanese, it’s like having a whole set of different phrases and words for each situation. You’ve got super polite ways to speak to your boss or someone you just met, and more casual ways for friends and family.

And it’s not just about the words you use. It’s also about how you say them and even how you act! There are special ways to bow and show respect with your body language too.

4. Pronunciation is Difficult

In English, we’re used to certain sounds, like “a,” “b,” or “c,” right? But in Japanese, some of those sounds are a bit different. And there are new sounds we’re not used to making.

In Japanese, there’s a sound like “tsu” that we don’t have in English. Try saying “cats,” but instead of the “ca” sound, use a “tsu” sound at the beginning. It’s tricky, right?

And then there’s the rhythm of speech. In English, we stress certain words to make them stand out. But in Japanese, it’s more about keeping a steady rhythm without those ups and downs.

5. Cultural Context

In Japan, language and culture are so tightly knit that you can’t really understand one without the other.

For example, in Japanese culture, there’s a strong emphasis on respect and modesty. There are special words and phrases you use to show respect to your elders, your teachers, or even just people you’ve just met.

And let’s not forget about non-verbal communication! Things like bowing, eye contact, and personal space have their own meanings and rules in Japanese culture.

6. There aren’t Many “Cognates”

In some languages, you can spot words that look similar to English and guess their meanings. But in Japanese, there aren’t many of these “cognates.”

That means you can’t rely on similarities in vocabulary to help you learn. So, instead of recognizing words right away, you have to memorize lots of new ones from scratch.

7. Idiomatic Expressions

English has its fair share of idioms, like “raining cats and dogs,” but Japanese takes it to a whole new level!

There are lots of phrases and expressions that don’t translate directly into English. Plus, there’s a special kind of language called “honorifics”, which shows respect to others.

8. Different Counter Systems

In Japanese, there are special counters for counting different things. For example, you use one counter for counting people, another for counting animals, and so on.

Final Thoughts

Learning Japanese can be a challenge for English speakers. However, with dedication and the right guidance from a Japanese tutor, like those available on AmazingTalker, you can do it easily. It’s a place where you can find awesome tutors who can guide you through learning Japanese step by step.

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