Tonki asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 4 weeks ago

Is it true? ?

Most people says that japanese people cant speak english well. Is this true? Whats the reason behind this? 

13 Answers

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  • Pontus
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago
    Favorite Answer

    That's undoubtedly from people either with no experience with the Japanese or a very limited experience.

    Generalities are a waste of a time (most of the time.  They can be useful for predicting buying trends etc).  Individuals often don't fit stereotypes.

    I knew some Japanese people who English well.  They had accents, like most people do, regardless of the native or target languages involved.  

    I knew one who was less skilled, but still functioned quite well in English. 

    English & Japanese are two very different languages, and so learning the other as a native speaker of one is very difficult.  Each one qualifies as one of the most difficult languages for native speakers of the other.

    However, the more languages you know, the easier (easier, not easy) the next one becomes.  Also things like having studied linguistics and being skilled in the grammar of your native language can make learning another language easier (as I did, for my degree to teach French - which also helped me learn other languages).

    Japanese strictly regulates the syllables it can use.  The Japanese writing system employs three scripts, two of them are syllabaries (symbols represent syllables instead of individual consonants/vowels - for the most part).  Writing new syllables in Japanese is harder than in an alphabet.   The third script represent meanings instead of sounds and does not adapt itself well to writing English words.   Some syllables English uses are just not used in Japanese, even if all the sounds exist in Japanese.

    As with most languages, the sound systems of the two are not identical.  There are many sounds a Japanese speaker has to learn.  Japanese has five vowels (one of which is not exactly like its English equivalent).  English has considerably more. The two TH sounds in English don't exist in Japanese.  L doesn't exist, and the Japanese R & F are pronounced differently from the English versions. 

    English is mostly a stress-timed language.  Certain syllables are stressed.  That idea is alien to Japanese.  The very concept must be learned as well as the stress patterns themselves.  Japanese is mostly a mora-timed language (mora is the Japanese idea of a syllable, not quite the same as ours).  Each mora gets equal stress.  Japanese also has pitch accent (English doesn't). 

    English relies heavily on word order and to a lesser degree on fairly simple inflection. Japanese word order is freer by comparison, and different in some aspects.  Japanese relies heavily on agglutination (words that represent grammatical functions instead of word order) and on inflection. 

    Japanese verbs do not change form for the person and number of the subject.  That does happen to a small degree in English.  Japanese verbs do change form for a host of other reasons, often without English equivalents. 

    The English verb system is quite alien to a Japanese native speaker.  The number of tenses & aspects differ between the two and each has some that don't exist in the other. 

    Japanese does not have plural nouns (some words for people do have a collective form, but it is not identical to a plural)

    English requires that subjects be stated, and often requires that pronouns of any kind be stated (especially subject pronouns).  Japanese drops any pronoun when understood from context and so some speakers do so in English as well, hampering comprehension. 

    The English version of the Roman alphabet is notoriously unphonetic, difficult for most learners, even if their languages use a version of the Roman alphabet. There are Romanization systems (which are very similar to each other) for writing Japanese in Roman letters, but it's very consistent, unlike the English alphabet (and some letters aren't used in those systems).  English has only 26 letters, but about 45 distinct sounds (give or take, depending on the specific dialect).   Some sounds don't even have a letter of their own.   That's nightmarish (even for many native English speakers.  Native speakers have spelling contests in their own language!  That's rare).

    Japanese has no concept of THE/A/AN.  They have no words for them. 

    Prepositions are usually a nightmare for any foreign language learner in any language that uses them, but it's particularly bad in English for a Japanese speaker.  Japanese uses postpositions (some of which are used as those agglutinative particles mentioned earlier), and they are far less numerous and more consistent in their use.

    Some English prepositions are nouns in Japanese and not postpositions (these come after a noun, instead of before) at all.

    There are other instances where a concept is a different part of speech in the other language. 

    Japanese also uses agglutination to form more complex words (from smaller bits of meaning). One of its scripts clearly identifies those parts and their individual meanings.  English lacks does that to a small degree, but either uses complex roots and affixes to create new words, or just creates brand new words (far more than Japanese does). 

    So, learning English for them is very hard, but many do succeed in learning it well, just as some English speakers learn Japanese very well (which is equally as difficult). 

    Source(s): taught French; intermediate Japanese (it was my last foreign language), Italian, & German
    • Tonki4 weeks agoReport

      This was very informative. Thank you

  • Anonymous
    3 weeks ago

    Of course they can speak it well. They do tend to have more of a noticeable accent than do people whose native language is closer to English.

  • Rico
    Lv 4
    4 weeks ago

    It’s not true at all.  I have a few Japanese friends that have lived in Australia for less than 5 years, and they all speak like Australians do when speaking English. 

  • 4 weeks ago

    I'm half Japanese, my mother speaks English very well, minor pronunciations flaws but like any person with an accent that's natural. We also have many Japanese friends that speak English decently, but again accents play a large part and limit what words may sound right. 

    Although, my first language was Japanese and I speak english very well, every now and then I'll slip though 😂

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  • reme_1
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    Why should Japanese people HAVE to speak English well? IT is not their language.

    By the way, children have to go thru 6 years of English classes to graduate. They all speak English, altho it may not be perfect. And their parent take classes too.

  • 4 weeks ago

    Many Japanese people speak English very well. Others can read and write fluently but have great difficulty actually speaking English, and this is almost always because of lack of exposure to native speakers. Very, very few Japanese school-children are taught English by native English speakers.

  • 4 weeks ago

    Yeah. Why do you expect them to? Because you're too chauvinist or lazy to learn their language?

    • Tonki4 weeks agoReport

      Thank you for your answer. I learned a lot

  • 4 weeks ago

    My old Japanese boss had a saying. "If you are born Japanese you will never speak English well and if you are English you will never speak Japanese well." There are too many differences in the language structure. In addition, the written language is not literal - it can be translated many different ways by the people reading it.

    • Tonki4 weeks agoReport

      Heh sounds difficult and complicated

  • 4 weeks ago

    Yes, it is true, English syntax and intonation makes it very difficult for the Japanese. Also Japanese people were told by their teachers, that English was too difficult to learn. I don't know how far "This is a pen, I am a boy" would get them in a conversation. Things are changing but, not fast enough.

  • Cogito
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    "Most" people don't say that at all.

    And most Japanese people I've met have spoken excellent English.

  • 4 weeks ago

    I lived in Japan for several years and I found that many Tokyo residents spoke English well enough to be understood. 

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