Japanese: a not so difficult language 日本語はそんなに難しくない

  • Published on : 31/05/2018
  • by : S.R.
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Japanese in peace

Japanese is a language that has the reputation of being complicated. Subtle levels of politeness, several writing systems, thousands of ideograms. However, beyond this image of an arduous idiom, Japanese conceals numerous facilities...



The genres? The agreements? We forget!

“But why do we say a table? And not “one”? ". Who hasn't heard this kind of question from foreigners trying to unravel the mysteries of Molière's language? Tricky question. The Japanese student is much luckier, the common nouns in this language have no gender! For example :


  • “a library” is called “toshokan”, literally “library”. The sentence "there is a library" will therefore mean "toshokan ga arimasu", or word for word "library there is".



Des lycéens japonais dans leurs classe

Japanese high school students in their class

Kala Corbel


A pronunciation within everyone's reach

The pronunciation of the Japanese language requires little or no effort for some foreigners. For example, the French are well adapted to Japanese pronunciations. Japanese has 22 phonemes, compared to 37 in French, the phoneme being the smallest unit of pronunciation in a language (the consonant “t” or the vowel “a” are phonemes). Japanese, therefore, has fewer sounds to pronounce than French, and apart from the “r” (which is understood between the French “r” and “l”) most of the sounds are already present in our language! Only the aspirated "h" remains difficult to tame for French speakers...



Hiragana chart



But the kanji?

Some might reply that there remains a difficulty, and a central one! That of the kanjis, the ideograms of Chinese origin which populate the Japanese writings and which require so much work to be memorized. But this writing system allows at the same time to be able to guess the meaning of a word without even knowing the reading.


Kanji dictionary

Kanji Dictionary


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