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Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby niknak » Sun 04.26.2009 12:57 pm

wow, such a heated discussion! I'm not going to go into that, but I felt the need to comment on a few things Infidel said ;)

I know, let's get rid of ON readings. Don't just drop kango, but ON yomi.

Yes,

gyahaha, i'd love to get rid of Onyomi ^____^ kanji would be so much easier, although words would get a lot longer! (as far as syllables are concerned)

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

This is amazing, I had never heard it before :O way to put an even more negative spin on english-speakers D:
I've read before that the older generation in Japan are pretty upset about all the english words that are finding their way into Japanese, but they're also upset about things like marrying for love instead of politics, women working/not getting married/having children out of wedlock, and all kinds of things that the Western world tends to see as normal, or at least acceptable nowadays...
I've heard the same about France, although from what I've studied of French, English words aren't quite as prevalent as they are in common, informal Japanese. I've never had an informal conversation in French though, so I'm not so sure on that :o anyone have any comments on this?

I guess if to say anything on the original poster's questions and comments, Your point of view is outdated, and if you insist on learning unnecessary kanji and uncommon words (someone's example was 麦酒 instead of ビール) then you're just going to look weird - you ALREADY look weird as a foreigner, so this will add more weird points :P so, if you're ok with not fitting in and seeming really strange, then go for it. Just don't expect the younger generation of Japanese people to have any idea what you're talking about :P
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby astaroth » Sun 04.26.2009 1:06 pm

niknak wrote:I've heard the same about France, although from what I've studied of French, English words aren't quite as prevalent as they are in common, informal Japanese. I've never had an informal conversation in French though, so I'm not so sure on that :o anyone have any comments on this?

French tend to be very conservative as language goes. Though nowadays what is considered cool (for teenagers) is to talk with an Algerian accent or using Arabic words, not English. But then we Europeans tend to have our ... let's call them, disagreements, so some languages are worse than others. For instance, now in Italy is fashionable to use Spanish words, so a lot of friends mix Italian and Spanish ending emails with "besos" or "gracias". (I personally dislike this ... but what can one do?)
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby niknak » Sun 04.26.2009 1:13 pm

astaroth wrote:in Italy is fashionable to use Spanish words, so a lot of friends mix Italian and Spanish ending emails with "besos" or "gracias". (I personally dislike this ... but what can one do?)


...Why? I understand the English loan words in Japanese, because we Americans messed them up in the war, went back to try and make up for it, and we have a lot of people stationed in various places in Japan. Thus our influence extends much farther than just some katakana words ~_~; How does Spanish fit in to Italy? hehe. I think I'll need to research this one!
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 04.26.2009 2:17 pm

niknak wrote:I understand the English loan words in Japanese, because we Americans messed them up in the war, went back to try and make up for it, and we have a lot of people stationed in various places in Japan.


That doesn't have much to do with the loan words in Japanese.
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby astaroth » Sun 04.26.2009 2:39 pm

I second Yudan's comment on the English loan-words in Japanese, since I think it has nothing to do with presence of US troops and post-war sentiments. For that reason, Veneto (a north-eastern Italian region) should talk in English ...
niknak wrote:How does Spanish fit in to Italy? hehe. I think I'll need to research this one!

Because Spain doesn't border with Italy?
Just kidding. There is no actual reason, except what at certain times sounds call and what doesn't.
English is felt by some in Italy as the language of Americans and that carries post-war sentiments about the liberation (4/25 by the way ... since it was yesterday :)) and in particular the stay-behind operations carried from '45 to the end of the Cold War. (This can degenerate into a Cold War thread, so just to make everything clear I'm not making any comment on US, USSR and the like.)
Then why Spanish and not another European language? Boh! :D
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby kurisuto » Sun 04.26.2009 3:20 pm

niknak wrote:I've heard the same about France, although from what I've studied of French, English words aren't quite as prevalent as they are in common, informal Japanese. I've never had an informal conversation in French though, so I'm not so sure on that :o anyone have any comments on this?


The English words we use are mostly related to new technologies (e.g "e-mail"), marketing (e.g... "marketing" :wink: ) and entertainment (well, again, "entertainment"), but apart from that, a "normal" informal conversation doesn't usually contain a lot of English words. But, with the arrival and now the huge importance of the internet, it's not so true anymore (for instance, as was said, "lol" is now part of the English spoken language : in French too). As Astaroth pointed out in another message (if memory serves), the Académie Française tries to "latinize" as much as possible the French language, but it's bound to fail : really, I wouldn't say French are conservatives when it comes to language (we even coin new so-called English words which really aren't used in English speaking countries... a bit like 和製英語).

On the contrary, Canadians from the French speaking region of Québec are indeed much more conservatives (and it's kind of ironical considering the closeness to the U.S). For instance, they use "courriel" (from "courrier" = "mail" + "électronique") instead of "e-mail", whereas pretty much all French find it ridiculous (btw, a quick look at Canadian and French forums gives you a good idea of how the two varieties of the same language evolve(d). Really interesting : grammar, vocabulary/expressions, spelling,.. close, but different).
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby astaroth » Sun 04.26.2009 3:27 pm

kurisuto wrote:On the contrary, Canadians from the French speaking region of Québec are indeed much more conservatives (and it's kind of ironical considering the closeness to the U.S).

I think it has more to do with the closeness of English speaking Canada, rather than US. The French language in Canada was recognized only very recently ...
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby kurisuto » Sun 04.26.2009 4:08 pm

What I meant was that the fact that they are close, of course to English speaking regions, but above all to the U.S from where the new technologies and the words attached to them actually come from, is pretty ironical if you consider the language they use (I mean, compared to France). Now it is true that they're more attached to their French because of the closeness to the English speaking regions, they feel like they have something to protect (it's not the same situation, but it makes me think of the relation between Flemings and Waloons). But still, so close to the most powerful nation on Earth... I somewhat admire them. :)
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby JaySee » Sun 04.26.2009 6:03 pm

The situation in Belgium I think is really interesting. Over the past years the rift between Flemings and Walloons seems to have become very large. It started out as a language thing but it gradually infiltrated politics, to the point where it caused a political crisis 2 years back that still hasn't really been solved.

While Flanders has been the richer part of Belgium for quite a while, over the past few centuries the language border between Dutch and French has moved steadily north (in fact, there is still a small area in France as well near Dunkerque/Dunkirk/Duinkerke where Dutch is spoken, but this area used to be much bigger). This is due to the fact that for a long time many Flemings tried to get their children to speak French rather than Dutch because it was (and still is) the more prestigious language, and thus it came with many benefits. Only relatively recently did Dutch become an equal language to French (legally), but now it is being pushed back by the large influx of immigrants from mainly Africa - most of these people speak French natively, so they don't have to learn Dutch.

The article on Wikipedia about the "language struggle" in Belgium is quite interesting, but it's unfortunately only available in Dutch, French, German and Italian. The French version seems contain quite a few bits that "provoque une controverse de neutralité", which I guess only shows the strong feelings many Belgians have about this issue.
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby niknak » Sun 04.26.2009 6:33 pm

wow i'm learning a lot from this thread ^_^

astaroth wrote:I second Yudan's comment on the English loan-words in Japanese, since I think it has nothing to do with presence of US troops and post-war sentiments. For that reason, Veneto (a north-eastern Italian region) should talk in English ...


I didn't really mean that there are English loan words because of the troops there, but more that our (America's) influence on their economy (at least in the past), PLUS the huge influence American popular fashion and music, and i'm sure many other things, have (somehow o_O) on the same Japanese things. After reading some of the other posts, though, it occurs to me that the number of loan-words may be increasing because Japan is trying to be... er whats the term... trying to increase their international relations, i guess. Or why come up with a new word when someone has a perfectly good one for it already ラジオ、テレビ、Tシャツ、etc. I could be really wrong here though, since the Japanese word for car isn't car, neither is it katakana, its kanji 車. same with 電話 dunno!
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby kurisuto » Sun 04.26.2009 6:45 pm

Interesting subject indeed : after all, this little country is somewhat the place where the Germanic and Latin cultures meet. I tend to see this kind of matter primarily from a linguistic point of view, and well, in this case language plays an interesting role (for instance, I've seen the other day on TV that, in some places in Flanders, speaking French in public institutions was strictly forbidden).

BTW, I think you're aware of this, not so long ago there was this hoax on Belgian TV (namely on RTBF) : they announced the separation of Flanders and Wallonia. I thought it was well thought off (and fun :) ), but obviously there were people that didn't think so. Now, how much time before it actually happens ? (if it does happen, the debate about "Québec libre" is gonna be a bit more... lively, I think :wink: ).

(Looks like an interesting article, but I wonder whether I've ever seen so much red on a Wiki :lol: )
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby JaySee » Sun 04.26.2009 7:35 pm

Haha, yeah I must admit I only read the Dutch version :P

I think that in the Flemish part of Belgium Dutch is the only language in use, and in the Wallonian part it's only French. I find it hard to imagine that it is actually legally forbidden to speak French in certain public institutions in Flanders, but maybe in border communities where the problems between the language groups are biggest such rules might be unoficially enforced. I do know that in Flanders public institutions don't have to offer you any services in French (and the other way around), even though most Flemish people know the language pretty well. On the border there are however a few municipalities that have "language facilities", meaning that they have to also offer services there in the language that is not the official one. This is because as you can imagine close to the border many municipalities have a large minority (or sometimes even a majority) of speakers of the non-official language.

I heard about the documentary, I thought it was a nice idea as well. Quite a good criticism of the way things were going politically at that time. Over here and in Flanders there's actually talk about them "joining us" should they separate from Wallonia, although that idea is only supported by a small minority I think. I'm not sure if it would be a good idea, because there's been quite a bit of friction between the Flemish and the Dutch too over the past few centuries, so not all of us really like each other as much (exemplified by the fact that in Holland we have tons of jokes about Belgians being "dumb" and in Flanders they have jokes about the Dutch being "greedy"... which I guess is true if you look at Holland's history). It's interesting too to see that in Holland Belgium is much more viewed as one entity, we never really speak about Walloons or Flemings, just about Belgians.

I don't think Belgium will really split up anytime soon though, it would have drastic consequences and it really seems like the last option to consider if everything else has completely failed (I also wonder what they would do with Brussels and the German minority in the east).
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby kurisuto » Sun 04.26.2009 8:33 pm

JaySee wrote:I think that in the Flemish part of Belgium Dutch is the only language in use, and in the Walloon part it's only French. I find it hard to imagine that it is actually legally forbidden to speak French in certain public institutions in Flanders, but maybe in border communities where the problems between the language groups are biggest such rules might be unoficially enforced.


Yeah, I know, it's hard to imagine, I mean, it's just grotesque ! As you said, I don't think it was actually written in legal documents or whatever, but in some small villages the mayors themselves asked the employees not to speak in French. The journalists used hidden cameras to see how it was, and well, the employees weren't really cold, but they sure were a bit scared. It's probably a marginal phenomenon, but it shows you the tension that exists between them. It was talked about "racism" (maybe simply communitarianism would fit better here) too, it was frightening. Again, it's probably marginal, but they didn't even want to sell lands to people that didn't speak Dutch.

JaySee wrote:I heard about the documentary, I thought it was a nice idea as well. Quite a good criticism of the way things were going politically at that time. Over here and in Flanders there's actually talk about them "joining us" should they separate from Wallonia, although that idea is only supported by a small minority I think.


Same here : I didn't go to Belgium to see for myself, but I've seen another documentary (well, right after the hoax, then with the political crisis, we had a certain number of documentaries about Belgium) where the journalist asked Walloon passers-by about whether they'd like to join France, and actually I was kind of shocked to see that the majority wanted to (even elderly people, who in my mind were more attached to the unity of their country). Now, I suspect heavy editing, because I don't think it reflected the actual proportions, but still it was a bit strange.

JaySee wrote:It's interesting too to see that in Holland Belgium is much more viewed as one entity, we never really speak about Walloons or Flemings, just about Belgians. I don't think Belgium will split up anytime soon though, it would have drastic consequences and it really seems like the last option to consider if everything else has completely failed (I also wonder what they would do with Brussels and the German minority in the east).


Actually, in France too we talk about "Belgians" as one people - but we mean Walloons, because to us, Belgium speaks, is French. And it's pretty logical I would say since there aren't cultural relations with Flemings (for instance, Tintin - soon in theater I think - by the Walloon Hergé, is one of our favourite comics here in France, we have lots of Walloon comedians, and... we love "moules-frites", which is to us is typically Walloon, etc). So, in some way, I wouldn't find it ridiculous if the country split, but well, you raised the issue of the other communities and Brussels (let's see... West Brussels and East Brussels... I don't know why but it doesn't sound that good :? ) : probably too much troubles for so little gains (if there are gains at all).

JaySee wrote:in Holland we have tons of jokes about Belgians being "dumb" and in Flanders they have jokes about the Dutch being "greedy"... which I guess is true if you look at Holland's history


Really ? Do you know that the single most productive joke material in France is Belgians ? Literally, I'm not exagerating (well, we make fun of Swiss too, but to a much lesser extent). I usually don't find these jokes that funny, but you just told me the best ever :wink: :lol: (really, it's culturally interesting - maybe not really kind, but interesting)
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby astaroth » Sun 04.26.2009 8:40 pm

kurisuto wrote:
JaySee wrote:in Holland we have tons of jokes about Belgians being "dumb" and in Flanders they have jokes about the Dutch being "greedy"... which I guess is true if you look at Holland's history

Really ? Do you know that the single most productive joke material in France is Belgians ? Literally, I'm not exagerating (well, we make fun of Swiss too, but to a much lesser extent). I usually don't find these jokes that funny, but you just told me the best ever :wink: :lol: (really, it's culturally interesting - maybe not really kind, but interesting)

Name me a country in Europe that didn't make any joke of people from other European countries.
Or, name me a country in Europe that doesn't have jokes and prejudices about people from other regions of said country.

I mean, seriously, that's what Europe is :) And we love her so
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby kurisuto » Sun 04.26.2009 9:06 pm

astaroth wrote:Name me a country in Europe that didn't make any joke of people from other European countries.
Or, name me a country in Europe that doesn't have jokes and prejudices about people from other regions of said country.

I mean, seriously, that's what Europe is :) And we love her so


Actually, I wouldn't...

...Ok, you're right :lol:

In fact, it's just like you say, but, while I can't tell for Netherlands, here I assure you Belgians are really laughed at. Sure, we have some jokes about Portuguese, British, Germans and Swiss (not about Italians though :wink: , nor about the other people), but really, Belgians are, how can I say, our favourite ones - by far. And also, what stroke me was that JaySee said that these jokes were about Belgians being "dumb", just like in France (you know, all people have, in the world of jokes, certain particularities. Hence, Germans for instance are beer drinkers, or alternatively, nazis. But Belgians, in French jokes, they're just dumb !). Do you know Carambar ? Maybe it's not French, but anyways, they are sweets, with jokes written on their paper. Just eat 3 of them, you're pretty much sure you'll find at least one Belgian joke.

BTW, as I said, French do not have jokes about Italians : how are French viewed in Italy ?
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