Traisenau wrote:Hell, you just try learning Japanese, there are not 1, not 2, but 3 different alphabets(and a 4th, but it is just the english spellings of the sounds of the characters) all of which can be used in one sentence. They have a different grammer form for every single goddamn type of sentence that you could think of, different form for liking a book and like reading a book, etc. And the pronounciations can be a bitch too, because extending a sound sounds the same as just adding a new character... but they sound the same... shii (shi i) is different from shii (shi -)
Oh, don't be silly. Japanese isn't that crazy. Two of the alphabets (technically syllabaries) are totally phonetic, so it cuts down a lot on the ideographs, which are harder to learn because there are more of them.
A lot of the grammar is way less complex than other languages (for example, there aren't grammatical genders or singular forms). Even the plain and polite forms are pretty easy to handle. The worst grammatical part is probably the use of entirely different words for humble, respect, and plain verbs, but it's worth it for the rest of the language being awesome.
It's funny, because I've heard that Japanese grammar is very difficult and that it's very simple; I've come to the conclusion that it's very logical.
As for liking and reading a book, that difference is easy to understand when you think of liking a book in terms of saying the book is something that is liked.
As for pronunciation, you don't have to worry about tones or even sounds that are difficult to pronounce.
Anyway, sorry that was so long.
To summarize: Japanese isn't that bad.
As a phonetician, I must agree with you that Japanese pronunciation is moderately easy for native English speakers. However, there are several issues:
1. English speakers often have trouble with the following sounds in Japanese- [ɸ, ç, ts, ɴ, ɯ, ɽ]
2. Palatalized consonants, especially the [ɽ] series.
3. Japanese stops are moderately aspirated as opposed to English's larger amount of aspiration.
4. The Japanese syllabaries are not
phonetic. Japanese, like all languages, has phonological processes that take place, such as the allophony of ん in various places to everything from a bilabial, to an alveolar, an alveo-palatal, a velar, and even the nasalization of the previous vowel and complete elision of the nasal preceding a fricative. Other examples are the variation in /h/ to [ɸ] before a high, back vowel, [ç] before a high, front vowel or yod, and [h] elsewhere.
5. Standard Japanese has vowel devoicing processes that native English speakers must acquire.
6. Although not tonal, as you've said, Japanese has a pitch accent system that varies based on region. As long as you pick up a pitch accent from a major city, you should be fine although most people might point out a non-Tokyo accent. For example, I speak with an Osakan accent /shrug
7. Japanese contrasts vowel length, which is something that sometimes blows English speakers' minds.
As for grammar, no language is logical. Languages are not logical constructs. I believe the word you're looking for is "regular," and even Japanese has a fair share of irregularities. Like all languages, you just memorize and move on. Hmm... I would comment on writing styles, but writing is not language and is irrelevant.
All in all, Japanese is easier than say... Russian, phonetically speaking, but don't dismiss the difficulties and make people think Japanese is a breeze.