Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

View topic - Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Japanese, general discussion on the language

Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby NocturnalOcean » Sat 04.25.2009 5:32 am

vinniram wrote:I never said I wanted to learn NO gairaigo whatsoever. I just said that I wanted to use kanj in preference to gairaigo. So I don't know why you think I'm not wanting to learn a single word of gairaigo; it's like pretending romance words don't exist and only using anglo-saxon words - impossible. but that doesn't mean I can't try to use anglo-saxon words instead of romance words where equivalents exist (like foreword v. preface), and that same philosophy must hold true, at least to some extent, for gairaigo and kanji.


The point is that a lot of the gairaigo that you find in Japanese is in Japanese because they didn't have words for it themselves. As new sciences like medicine, computer technology came to Japan, it was very natural to use the words already present in each field. I don't know for sure, but I would bet that a very high percentage of the gairaigo don't have a "Japanese" equivalent.
失敗は成功の元
NocturnalOcean
 
Posts: 688
Joined: Mon 03.12.2007 12:43 pm
Native language: Norwegian

Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby furrykef » Sat 04.25.2009 9:35 am

vinniram wrote:I explicitly said that "the Japanese can do what they like to their language, it will just affect whether or not I study it". So please don't put words in my mouth, by saying that I'm telling Japanese people what they should do or not do to their language, because that is simply NOT true.


I wasn't putting words in your mouth so much as echoing the logical consequences of what you were saying. You did say that you get to choose whether to use gairaigo or not; choosing not to makes a statement about what you think of gairaigo, and hence what you think of a Japanese language that uses a lot of it.

Harisenbon wrote:I actually find gairaigo HARDER to remember than regular japaense words, because there's less rhyme and reason to them.
I can remember what 操作 ans 操縦 mean because I can imagine the kanji in my head when looking for the right word to use. However, for the life of me I can:t remember the difference between ストライキ and ストライク and ガラス and グラス. I know what each refers to, but in the middle of a sentence, I always seem to forget which is which and pick the wrong one.


Well, yeah, but I imagine such confusing pairs are rather small compared to the total amount of gairaigo in use. For instance, I find Britain/England = イギリス easy to memorize even though it seems highly corrupted (it seems to have come via Portuguese) because it still kinda sounds like "English".

Also, you surely have a much easier time memorizing native/Sino-Japanese words than I do because you've been learning the language a hell of a lot longer than I have, and you have a much greater knowledge of kanji/reading pairs to draw upon. I find a word far easier to remember when it has a familiar kanji with a familiar reading in it, even if the rest of the word is unfamiliar. It gives my memory a "hook" to work with.

vinniram wrote:but that doesn't mean I can't try to use anglo-saxon words instead of romance words where equivalents exist (like foreword v. preface), and that same philosophy must hold true, at least to some extent, for gairaigo and kanji.


To some extent, probably. However, judging for yourself whether to use the gairaigo word or not is impossible until you've already mastered the language. If you look in the dictionary for a non-gairaigo equivalent of every word, and you use these words, not only will you have pointlessly made studying Japanese harder than it needs to be, you'll probably often find your "native" Japanese words (many of which will probably use Chinese roots) corrected with the gairaigo ones.

I mean, I'm fairly fluent in Spanish, and I still couldn't tell you whether any given utterance sounded weird. I could sometimes tell you when it doesn't just because I know I've encountered it before, but I cannot recognize unnatural Spanish. For instance, I have a Mexican friend who often laughs at how horribly badly something was translated into Spanish, but when I read it myself, I don't really see the problems. So I don't think you'd easily be able to distinguish between "natural" alternative phrasings (e.g., foreword vs. preface) and unnatural ones (e.g., movies vs. moving pictures).

By the way, as for your comparison between Anglo-Saxon vs. Latin/Romance words in English, I have to say that I find the idea of an English learner deliberately avoiding Latin words to be bizarre. If they don't like Latin words, English is simply not the language for them. No, there's nothing wrong with saying "foreword" instead of "preface", but there are far too many concepts where a Latin word is the only viable option. Moreover, what the heck does it matter where the word came from??

NocturnalOcean wrote:The point is that a lot of the gairaigo that you find in Japanese is in Japanese because they didn't have words for it themselves. As new sciences like medicine, computer technology came to Japan, it was very natural to use the words already present in each field. I don't know for sure, but I would bet that a very high percentage of the gairaigo don't have a "Japanese" equivalent.


This is somewhat true, but it's also true that a lot of gairaigo is gratuitous. Compare a video game that has はじめる on the main menu and another one that says スタート. Or to sign in on Amazon, you click サインイン. But I think such matters are hardly important compared to the massive effort it takes to learn Japanese.

- Kef
Founder of Learning Languages Through Video Games.
Also see my lang-8 journal, where you can help me practice Japanese (and Spanish, and Italian!)
User avatar
furrykef
 
Posts: 1572
Joined: Thu 01.10.2008 9:20 pm
Native language: Eggo (ワッフル語の方言)
Gender: Male

Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby astaroth » Sat 04.25.2009 9:53 am

furrykef wrote:but I cannot recognize unnatural Spanish. For instance, I have a Mexican friend who often laughs at how horribly badly something was translated into Spanish, but when I read it myself, I don't really see the problems.

That I think is mostly the grammar part and not the wording. Sometimes when I'm back to Italy I tend to speak Italian with a English sentence construction (and viceversa is also true, as I speak English with an Italian one).
furrykef wrote:By the way, as for your comparison between Anglo-Saxon vs. Latin/Romance words in English, I have to say that I find the idea of an English learner deliberately avoiding Latin words to be bizarre.

On that try to use pig instead of pork in every situations ...
furrykef wrote:This is somewhat true, but it's also true that a lot of gairaigo is gratuitous.

I agree on that, but that is used only because it sounds cool. Should I mention the use of panini (instead of sandwich)?
ー 流光 ー

   花地世
小  見獄の
林  かの中
一  な上は
茶   の 
User avatar
astaroth
 
Posts: 823
Joined: Mon 12.22.2008 5:08 am
Location: Amherst, MA
Native language: Italiano「伊語」

Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 04.25.2009 10:18 am

astaroth wrote:On that try to use pig instead of pork in every situations ...
furrykef wrote:This is somewhat true, but it's also true that a lot of gairaigo is gratuitous.

I agree on that, but that is used only because it sounds cool. Should I mention the use of panini (instead of sandwich)?


Of course, the English term "panini" refers to a particular type of sandwich, so although the use of an Italian word is probably just to sound cool, the word is not just a pointless substitute for "sandwich". The same is true of many seemingly pointless gairaigo in Japanese.
-Chris Kern
User avatar
Yudan Taiteki
 
Posts: 5609
Joined: Wed 11.01.2006 11:32 pm
Native language: English

Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby astaroth » Sat 04.25.2009 10:21 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:Of course, the English term "panini" refers to a particular type of sandwich, so although the use of an Italian word is probably just to sound cool, the word is not just a pointless substitute for "sandwich". The same is true of many seemingly pointless gairaigo in Japanese.

I know ... though I think this example shows the use of garaigo in English :)
By the way, panini is a type of sandwich only here: in Italy it truly only means sandwiches (since it's plural ... still find funny the paninis ... the super-plural :) )

[edit]
Other examples are the ubiquitous use of "Thanks" and "Bye" in Japanese, especially in spoken language.
This is comparable to the use of "ciao" in American English.
ー 流光 ー

   花地世
小  見獄の
林  かの中
一  な上は
茶   の 
User avatar
astaroth
 
Posts: 823
Joined: Mon 12.22.2008 5:08 am
Location: Amherst, MA
Native language: Italiano「伊語」

Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby AJBryant » Sat 04.25.2009 11:42 am

astaroth wrote:By the way, panini is a type of sandwich only here: in Italy it truly only means sandwiches (since it's plural ... still find funny the paninis ... the super-plural :) )


I think I once blew the mind of a waiter by asking for a panino.

:twisted: "Blah blah panino, please."
:mrgreen: "Panini?"
:twisted: "Panino. I'm not that hungry."
:mrgreen: "No panini?"
:twisted: "One panino, two panini."
:mrgreen: ".....?"


Other examples are the ubiquitous use of "Thanks" and "Bye" in Japanese, especially in spoken language.
This is comparable to the use of "ciao" in American English.


LOL! When I'm on the phone with friends, I usually say "Ciao, bello!" when I hang up. Don't know why.

Tony
User avatar
AJBryant
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5313
Joined: Sun 10.09.2005 11:29 am
Location: Indiana
Native language: English
Gender: Male

Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby kurisuto » Sat 04.25.2009 11:48 am

AJBryant wrote::twisted: "Panino. I'm not that hungry."


Are you sure you don't want some paninis with traffic jelly ? :wink:
User avatar
kurisuto
 
Posts: 413
Joined: Sat 12.13.2008 11:40 am
Location: France
Native language: French
Gender: Male

Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby AJBryant » Sat 04.25.2009 1:09 pm

kurisuto wrote:
AJBryant wrote::twisted: "Panino. I'm not that hungry."


Are you sure you don't want some paninis with traffic jelly ? :wink:



LOL! Good call-back. :)

Tony
User avatar
AJBryant
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5313
Joined: Sun 10.09.2005 11:29 am
Location: Indiana
Native language: English
Gender: Male

Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby Infidel » Sat 04.25.2009 2:13 pm

Now I had read an article somewhere about how gairaigo is used very often for negative things even when there is a perfectly fine Japanese word for it, by using gairaigo the act is subtly presented as if it were a "foreign" problem. Rape, Harassment, and so-on.
なるほど。
さっぱりわからん。
User avatar
Infidel
 
Posts: 3093
Joined: Sun 10.09.2005 1:12 am
Native language: 英語

Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby vinniram » Sat 04.25.2009 8:41 pm

Once again you've misinterpreted what I mean. I don't purposely go around avoiding romance words in English - why would I? I love French, and it's a romance language!!!!! I was merely using that as an analogy to the gairaigo/kanji issue. It was an ANALOGY, not what I actually do. In fact, I remember saying that it would be crazy to try and avoid all romance words, because it's impossible. PLEASE stop misinterpreting/misconstruing/twisting what I say!!!

I do think that this flood of gairaigo into Japanese goes beyond the normal scope of linguistic borrowing - the sheer volume of gairaigo, and more importantly the short space of time in which this latest influx has entered the language, makes me think that maybe it is better to stick to older words and calquing, rather than immediately using the gairaigo (which some people do, and that is totally fine because THEY want to do it and they can do what they like). But I don't want to do that, and I think I have the right to make that decision for myself. So I think let each individual do what they like, I'm just commenting on my opinion, because this is a forum after all.

And gairaigo is only one part of the Japanese language, and I do love the language, so if anyone's thinking I'm an arrogant foreigner, you're wrong because I am merely sharing my own view of this ONE issue, and I still think that Japanese is one of the most beautiful languages on the planet, with French and Chinese up there as well.

ありがとうございます!
vinniram
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Thu 05.08.2008 6:32 am

Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby astaroth » Sat 04.25.2009 9:19 pm

vinniram wrote:I do think that this flood of gairaigo into Japanese goes beyond the normal scope of linguistic borrowing - the sheer volume of gairaigo, and more importantly the short space of time in which this latest influx has entered the language, makes me think that maybe it is better to stick to older words and calquing, rather than immediately using the gairaigo

By the way, are you French? Because that's the attitude of the Académie française, and most of the French people I talked to cordially don't follow and keep saying computer instead of calculateur.
vinniram wrote:But I don't want to do that, and I think I have the right to make that decision for myself

Sure, you have that right, but what more knowledgeable people than I told you is that you are probably not going to be understood, and this is what I think most comments were.
By the way here is a story about this, because it happened to me, not with Japanese but with Italian and English:
I studied physics in Italy, but did my PhD and am doing my first postdoc in US. That to say that I do know the words used in contemporary physics both in Italian and in English. During the very first months I was working with my current boss, we were talking about future projects and the like. Being both Italians we were talking in Italian and we were talking about physics in Italian too. Several times I had to ask him to translate whatever he was saying into English because I was not able to understand him: I was understanding the words but not the meaning associated with them, and there is no much difference between "gravitone massivo" and "massive graviton" but the former doesn't ring any bell to me. I understand the words, not their meaning. (We now talk in an awful mixture of Italian and English, something that garaigo is pale in comparison.)
That was probably just me ... but I think garaigo is somewhat similar to that.
ー 流光 ー

   花地世
小  見獄の
林  かの中
一  な上は
茶   の 
User avatar
astaroth
 
Posts: 823
Joined: Mon 12.22.2008 5:08 am
Location: Amherst, MA
Native language: Italiano「伊語」

Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby astaroth » Sat 04.25.2009 9:21 pm

AJBryant wrote:LOL! When I'm on the phone with friends, I usually say "Ciao, bello!" when I hang up. Don't know why.

Which brings the following question: are you saying "ciao, bello" irrespectively of the gender of your friend?
ー 流光 ー

   花地世
小  見獄の
林  かの中
一  な上は
茶   の 
User avatar
astaroth
 
Posts: 823
Joined: Mon 12.22.2008 5:08 am
Location: Amherst, MA
Native language: Italiano「伊語」

Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby vinniram » Sat 04.25.2009 9:27 pm

No I'm not french, but I've learnt it for a while. Yes, I suppose all neologisms these days are becoming more and more english (with the possible exception of Iceland). I don't know what it is - kanji just really fascinate me and for some reason I love learning them...
vinniram
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Thu 05.08.2008 6:32 am

Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby astaroth » Sat 04.25.2009 9:51 pm

Well it's not that Japanese is entirely written in katakana (and hiragana) now ... kanji are still used ...
ー 流光 ー

   花地世
小  見獄の
林  かの中
一  な上は
茶   の 
User avatar
astaroth
 
Posts: 823
Joined: Mon 12.22.2008 5:08 am
Location: Amherst, MA
Native language: Italiano「伊語」

Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby Gundaetiapo » Sat 04.25.2009 11:41 pm

You're saying you don't have a problem with French words in English, you don't have a problem with Chinese words in Japanese, but European words in Japanese is an outrage? Your viewpoint is bizarrely inconsistent.
Gundaetiapo
 
Posts: 527
Joined: Fri 03.30.2007 11:26 am
Location: New England
Native language: English
Gender: Male

PreviousNext

Return to Japanese General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests