Don't Learn Japanese.
May 12, 2010 9:03 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a humorous essay about why one shouldn't learn Japanese. It gave equal attention to the cultural and grammatical frustrations involved. I think I saw it two or three years ago, on Reddit/Slashdot/Mefi or the like.
posted by phrontist to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Probably this essay. You probably saw it here but the link in that FPP is dead now.
posted by jedicus at 9:06 PM on May 12, 2010 [5 favorites]

Although this is for Chinese a lot of it also pertains to Japanese as well since a lot of it is character based. in fact, the article references Japanese.

Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard
posted by chinabound at 9:50 PM on May 12, 2010

The Deer Caught In headlights are those students who took Japanese because a.) they thought it sounded like fun (!), b.) they thought it would be easy, or c.) they just needed a couple more credits to graduate. These students wear a mask of terror and panic from the moment they walk into class until the moment they leave, the high pitched scream of their future being flushed down the toilet echoing inside their heads. They are usually failing.

That perfectly describes me in my college Japanese course.
posted by Think_Long at 9:51 AM on May 13, 2010

I've always been partial to this post by an American expat working (at the time) as a salaryman in Japan.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 1:49 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Chinese is really tough to start out and really tough to read fluently, but it is worlds more akin to English than Japanese. The shitload of idioms that are pretty essential to effective communication, but Japanese has quirks and oddities that years of study will never fully reveal.

I spent four+ years of my life wrestling with that demon tongue, and in the end, it has primarily helped me to look like a douchebag when trying to order at Japanese restaurants.

There are two Japanese girls in my upper division Cognition class, and I feel for them. They try super hard, and spend a lot of time outside of class getting additional help, but it is still damn tough to master what is already difficult material in a foreign tongue. Even though I study this stuff like all the time, I would be hard pressed to understand a bit of it in Japanese.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 3:52 PM on May 13, 2010

Chinese is akin to English only in terms of grammar. And at least Japanese has adopted a phonetic approach for the most common characters.

if you look at the time it takes to reach basic literacy you will see that in fact it is the characters that are the defining factor.

the grammar is just the way Japanese makes up for the lack of characters. :-)
posted by chinabound at 7:58 PM on May 13, 2010

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