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How hard it is to learn an oriental language? Answered

I would like to learn Chinese or Japanese but I wonder how difficult might be to learn a language with a different alphabet.

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Joe MartinBest Answer (author)2010-08-12

I took Japanese for a year around two years ago. It's not as hard as you think it would be, speaking Japanese is pretty easy, writing in Japanese is difficult however your sensei will teach you the pronunciation of each character and the order in which in is written. You will also slowly work through each "alphabet" starting with Hiragana which is very simple then moving on Katakana and finally Kanji.

It's a lovely language to speak and fun to learn, I'll probably go back to having lessons sometime this year. I would really recommend having a teacher rather than learning it yourself as it is a complicated language but simple when explained.

Try your best to get a sensei with Japanese as their first language rather than as well or in whatever language your choose. It helps alot!

Good luck and Sayonara! 

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Udon (author)2010-10-14

I've been learning Mandarin Chinese on my own for 4 years now.

Chinese is hard, but not as hard as people think.
Many people can learn to speak Chinese very well and not have a clue how to read or write it.

When it comes to grammar, Mandarin is easier for English speakers, as the word order isn't too alien. Just compare it to French (Chinese has only one verb form, no pasty tense verbs, no masculine/feminine). So in this way, it's easier. And if you learn it, it guarantees you can speak to ALL PRC Chinese, regardless of their home dialect.

The tonal thing is a new concept to get one's head around, but it's not beyond anyone.

As far as I know, Vietnamese is similar to Chinese in word order and in having tones. Writing Viet uses our alphabet, but maybe a hundred odd years ago, Vietnam used a type of Chinese character.

But it's wrong to tell you what to do... (LEaRn cHinEse chInEse chIiiiii nEeeeeeees.... one point six billion people to teach you...)

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rickharris (author)2010-08-12
Having had my young grand children to stay - I realise you can get by with very few words:

2 People - Eat - Now - Please = Can I have a table for 2 this evening?

Me - Need - Help - Lost - Need - Here - simple - Please = I am unfortunately lost and would like simple directions to this address please

Me- need bed -close - tonight - cheap - safe-Please = I am looking for a reasonable local hotel for the night can you direct me?

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orksecurity (author)2010-08-11

I've been told that Japanese, unlike Chinese, is not a tonal language. That would probably make it much easier for those of us who do not have experience with tonal languages.

There are "romanized" spellings of both chinese and japanese, so you don't necessarily _have_ to jump immediately. And of course it's possible to learn a spoken language without learning the written form, and sometimes that's actually easier if what you want is to hold practical tourist-level conversations.

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yokozuna (author)2010-08-11

As Steve said, all the dialects of Chinese are tonal, confusing, and in my opinion very difficult to learn. Japanese on the other hand has very direct sentence structure, around 1/3 of the words are very similar to English, is phonetic, and you can pick up a conversational level in a couple of weeks, then add to your vocab. I have no knowledge of the Korean language. Reading Japanese on the other hand is far more challenging, but there are NOT 50,000 characters. There are three alphabets, two of which are phonetic and fairly easy to pick up (44 characters each). The third alphabet, kanji, has about 4000 characters (though only about 2000 are normally used). Also, FYI, the term oriental is kind of PC unfriendly at this point. The people who care about such things prefer Southeast Asian.

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steveastrouk (author)yokozuna2010-08-11

HI Yoko, Korean uses a regularised alphabet (Hangul) that is highly phonetic

Steve

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onrust (author)2010-08-11

There are about 50,000 symbols in the Japanese language and I only know this because my uncle in prison wanted same tattoo patterns......... I got lost quick! I did find this: http://www.linguanaut.com/learn_japanese.htm

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steveastrouk (author)2010-08-11

Chinese is tricky, because its not phonetic, its tonal, Korean and Japanese are, AFAIK at least phonetic.

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