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Why learn Japanese?

10 great reasons to start learning Japanese


<<< Reasons 1 to 5 | Why study Japanese?


6. Japanese cultural exports are exploding.

From anime to sushi bars, karaoke to manga, bonsai to origami, Japanese culture has become part of international culture. A knowledge of the language will give you direct access to Japanese film, animations, and comic books, give you insight into the special terminology used in your favorite martial art, help you understand the cultural basis for kamikaze training and the origin of the samurai warrior, and develop your ability to order sashimi like a native at your favorite Japanese restaurant!

7. Knowing Japanese will set you apart from the crowd.

The majority of people who learn a foreign language choose a European language like Spanish, French, German, or Italian. Choosing a less commonly learned language will pop out on your resume and differentiate you from the crowd.

8. The Japanese are international tourists.

With all of the disposable cash in their pockets, 16.8 million Japanese tourists headed to destinations abroad in 2004. In a survey, 94% of Japanese visitors to the U.S. reported shopping during their stay, and more so than any other group, the Japanese were more likely to pay for goods and services in cash. 3.7 million Japanese tourists visited the US in 2004, second only to the British among overseas tourists. Visitors from Japan spent $12.4 billion in the U.S. in 2004, up 24% from the previous year, and were alone responsible for the majority of the U.S. travel trade surplus.

The market for Japanese tourist dollars is strong. A knowledge of Japanese can gain you entry into that market. Of course, knowing Japanese will make your own visit Japan both easier and much more enjoyable.

9. It's not as hard as you think!

It's true that Japanese has a much different system of writing than English or any other European language. However, foreigners can get by with learning the 44 or so hiragana or katakana characters that represent sounds in much the same way as the English alphabet does.

In addition, the grammar of Japanese is in many ways simpler than that of European languages. Japanese nouns have no genders, plural forms, or accompanying articles to learn. The language also has only two verb tenses, present and past, and includes very few irregular verbs. Spoken Japanese has only 5 vowel sounds and spelling is phonetically consistent, making the language relatively easy to pronounce.

10. Japanese is a stepping stone to learning other Asian languages.

Like other languages of Southeast Asia, Japanese is a highly analytical language, relying heavily on function words rather than extensive systems of inflection to denote linguistic properties. These languages also share a similar subject-predicate sentence structure. Though Southeast Asian languages are distinctly different among themselves, as a group they are clearly differentiable from geographically more distant language families, such as Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic languages.

In particular, the grammar of Japanese is very similar to that of Korean and both languages have an equally advanced system of honorifics for showing respect. And Japanese takes its kanji writing system from the Chinese system of ideographs. Learning Japanese brings you a step closer to taking on Korean or Chinese because many of the concepts underlying the language are similar.




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