Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why learn Japanese?

Why don’t you learn a really useful language like French or Welsh?

Ok, they don’t say Welsh, but people are slightly puzzled when you confess to your ‘odd’ choice of second language.
“Oooh Japanese, that’s a bit of a weird choice isn’t it, what a weird language, you’re a bit weird aren’t you…WEIRDO, WEIRDO, WEIRDO!”
One other common response is, “why don’t you learn Mandarin instead? China will some day rule the world and Mandarin would be a dam sight more useful than this so called Japanese you are learning.”

And it’s a fair point; China will most likely rule the world and all Mandarin speaking people will live like kings as everyone marvels at their marvelous Mandarin abilities.

But all of the above misses the point slightly. I don’t want to learn Japanese because I think it’s a shrewd career move; I want to learn Japanese because I am passionate about it. If I wasn’t passionate about it I would find it impossible to learn.

To sit down, day in, day out, and study a language when you don’t really have to, shows that you must love it, you have to love it. If you don’t, it can’t really be sustainable. You may do a month or two of good graft but it will soon tail off.

So if your serious about learning Japanese, as I have discovered recently, make sure you enjoy it and don’t be afraid of being called a WEIRDO now and again, because the chances are you most probably are, and isn’t it great.

What first stirred your interest in Japan? Was it the culture, food, history, design, people, sake, anime, martial arts, technology, language….I could go on.


igor said...

Lol, I suppose you're already a bit familiar with me from Khatzumoto's blog. As a fellow AJATTist, I am happy to say I am glad to be the first to follow your blog.

This post is actually kind of ironic because I actually have learned French to a level where I can communicate really well in school (and it was going to be my major), but, alas, I will no longer be studying it. Nihongo has stolen the show, lol...

Anyways, I definite feel the same "yep, someday soon I'm gonna be all whoopin' yo butt in NIHONGO" feeling. I'm really glad there's someone else out there who really does appreciate the culture and wants to learn the language for such a variety of reasons!

igor said...

Oh yeah, and I totally get the "weirdo" thing. At lunch, I'm doing kanji and stuff with my choice of SRS (ANKI), and everybody else is like "You actually learn stuff OUTSIDE of SCHOOL?!" BTW, I'm at like 371-ish or something for Kanji.

Ramses said...

Okay, I'm not studying Japanese but I pretty intrigued by it's sound. Still, that's no reason for me to learn Japanese (I'm majoring Spanish).

Still, I wonder why other people learn Japanese. So far I haven't heard any other reason than to understand manga. Pff, I don't really like manga and anime.

Kerubin said...


A fellow weirdo, thanks for the comment.

I'm about 100 kanji behind you at the moment so hopefully we should finish the 2046 at roughly the same time.

By the way, I like the image on your blog. I enjoy a good Pocky now and again.

Kerubin said...


Thanks for passing by, I will be visiting your blog ( to hopefully pick up some language learning tips.

I think the reason why many people struggle to give an actual reason for learning Japanese is probably because they can't put their finger on it themselves.

I was attracted to Japanese largely because it was so different from any Latin based European languages. It is the unfamiliar which is exciting, new and interesting.

With over 400 million odd people speaking Spanish that can't be a bad choice either.

Ramses said...

Haha, I actually started majoring Spanish because I though I'd be hard. But in fact it's a lot the same like other Western-European languages, in fact not *that* hard.

But you're right about the difficult part. The more difficult something SEEMS (halfway my Spanish experiment I realized I could apply this method to any random language and still succeed) the cooler it'll be to gain fluency in it.

For me the main reason I'd even consider learning Japanese is because Japan is the electronics nirvana on earth, hehe. But yeah, Spanish isn't a bad choice when I consider what it has given me (nice friends, the best food I've ever eaten, a whole continent I can cross speaking one language).

mei said...

when I told my friend about my learning Japanese, they said, Why do you learn that? It's so difficult. Try Korean or Chinese instead :))
Writting my own blog about learning J too, but in Vietnamese (not confident with my English). Find your site through tofugu :")