Japanese at a Glance

Is Japanese on your shortlist of languages to learn?

Below I give a quick and dirty synopsis of what you should be aware of and to expect when you go down this road.

Utility

Japanese is my favorite language.That said, as much as I like it I cannot lie and tell you that it is very useful.

There are honestly very few cases where it is really genuinely useful. Those cases are:

  • You have an interest in anime of manga
  • You have an interest in historic Japanese culture
  • You work for a Japanese company and knowing it could possibly(?) help with advancement(though unlikely)

Japanese is simply a very niche language.

Fluency Time

Quite a while. If you are coming from a Romance language like I’m assuming it’s going to take much longer than a language like Spanish.

The reasons a various, but mostly because of:

  • Kanji(Chinese characters). There are 2000 kanji that are used and expected to be remembered.
  • Lots of homonyms. There are very few sounds in the Japanese language, and most will sound like the same sound to the uninitiated.

With consistent daily effort expect 1-2 years to be fluent enough to handle daily tasks.

Top Countries

Japan. There are pockets of speakers in some countries, but in general the language is only used in Japan.

Future Outlook

Considering the Japanese economy has been stagnant since the 1980s, the future looks bleak for Japanese.

If you take away their cultural export of anime and manga the future looks bleaker (some would say these are on decline as well).

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