How Does a Chinese Person Feel When Learning Japanese?

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Oct 23, 2016 03:07
Many Chinese people think Japanese is easy to learn because Chinese and Japanese share a lot of characters, but if they start studying the language, most of them would probably change their minds. Japanese is not easy in the least. The grammar is utterly different, and the vocabulary is complicated.

Generally speaking, Japanese words mainly have three origins: wago (Native), kango (Chinese) and gairaigo (European, mainly English). According to an authoritative Japanese dictionary, wago comprise 33.8% of the total vocabulary, kango make up 49.1%, gairaigo account for 8.8%, and the remaining 8.3% consits of hybridized words that draw elements from more than one language. [1]

1) Wago (native)

These are the words often used in daily conversation. For foreigners, they’re the most difficult to learn, because their forms vary from occasion to occasion according to grammar, which is quite annoying. While I’m speaking and writing, although I try my best to find the correct forms and cautiously PASTE them together to form a sentence, I always make mistakes.

2) Kango (Chinese)

I like these words, because they look so familiar!!

During China's Tang dynasty (the 7th-9th centuries), Japanese borrowed a tremendous number of words from Chinese. The meanings of some words have changed in Chinese, but have remained the same in Japanese. For instance, “娘” means “daughter” in modern Japanese and ancient Chinese, but “mother” in modern Chinese.

Many Chinese people don’t know that modern Chinese has also borrowed a huge number of words from Japanese. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Japanese people created a great many new Kango words using Chinese word roots to translate words of European origins. Later, the Chinese language absorbed those words, and today we don’t even feel that words such as “民主,” 科学,” “纪律” are actually “foreign.”

Like English words derived from Latin/French, kango words are typically perceived as somewhat formal or academic in comparison to equivalent Wago words. Given that Japanese newspapers prefer to use Kango, even if a Chinese person has never studied Japanese, s/he will probably be able to get the gist of Japanese newspaper articles. (I’m not sure the inverse is also true.)

However, as Chinese people who are learning Japanese, when we write in Japanese, we shouldn’t use Kango words all the time just for the sake of convenience (the form changes are less complicated than those of Wago), because if we do so, our writing will sound very unnatural.

3) Gairaigo (European, mainly English)
These words are mostly proper nouns and special terms. Believe it or not, this is my favorite part! The meanings are almost exactly the same! And, the forms hardly change. I love to use them, because I’m lazy. Haha.

Reference:
[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_language#Vocabulary

(Revised)
很多中国人以为日语容易学,因为中文和日语都有汉字。但是当他们真正开始学日语的时候,大多数人会打退堂鼓,因为日语绝非简单。不仅语法完全不同,词汇也很复杂。

总的来说,日语词汇有三种语源:和语、汉语和欧洲语言(主要是英语)。根据某部权威的日语词典,和语占当代日语词汇的33.8%,汉语占49.1%,欧洲语言占8.8%,剩下的一部分词汇(占8.3%)是由上述三类语源混杂而成。

1) 和语词

和语主要是日常用语。但是,对于外国人而言,这部分词汇最难学,因为不同场合这些词语总是会变来变去。当我在说日语和写日文的时候,我得费九牛二虎之力找对词形,而后一个一个“粘”起来,合成一个句子,结果还总是犯错。

2) 汉语词

我喜欢汉语词,因为好亲切!在中国唐朝时期(大约从7世纪到9世纪),日语从汉语中大量引用词汇。有些词汇的意思,在现代汉语中发生了变化,但是在日语中仍然不变。比如,“娘”在古代汉语和日语中,是“女儿”的意思,但是到了现代汉语中,这个词语变成了“母亲”的意思。

很多中国人不知道,其实现代汉语中很多词汇来自日语。在19世纪末,20世纪初,日语用汉语的词根翻译欧洲词汇。然后,中文大量引进这些词,我们察觉不出这些词其实是“舶来品”。这些词语包括“民主”、 科学”、 “纪律” 等等。

和英文中很多拉丁语和法语语源的词汇一样,与和语词汇相比,汉语词汇在日语中显得更为正式和学术性。所以,一个从未学习过日语的中国人在读日语报纸的时候(新闻媒体一般倾向使用汉语词汇),都能读懂文章的大意。但我不知道日本人看中文报纸是不是一样的情况。

但是,作为学习日语的中国人,我们不能因为偷懒(因为汉语词变形要比和语词汇简单),总是使用汉语词。因为这样一来,语言会非常不自然。

3) 欧洲语言(主要是英语)

这部分词汇一般是专有名词和术语。信不信由你。这是我最喜欢的词汇!因为意思和英语词完全一样。而且几乎不用变形!我喜欢用使用它们,因为我懒癌晚期!哈哈!