My New Year’s resolutions for 2015 included the learning of a new foreign language and I couldn’t help but choose Japanese. Should you wonder why, it’s because I’ve always loved Japanese culture and strongly want to understand it a bit more. The reason why I am writing in English, instead, is that I wish non-Italian speaking people to understand what I say. In addition, as I’m not English-native-speaking, but willing to improve my writing skills, should I make mistakes (and sure you’ll find a lot), please feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail.
Considerable differences between Italian and Japanese languages basically lie in the alphabet and in the sentence structure.
As for the alphabet, it is not just the way letters look, excluding Romaji, but the way alphabet is conceived. When we think about our alphabet, we identify a sequence of single letters, while in Japanese you have an ideographic alphabet and two syllabic ones. Long story short, the ideographic one is composed by signs called Kanji, while the syllabic alphabets are Hiragana and Katakana (this one is used when writing foreign names and words borrowed from foreign languages).
In Japanese, sentences follow the scheme: subject + object + verb. You don’t need neither number nor gender to comply with the nouns, but you must learn how to use particles: they are the keys to help you understand the whole sentence. We’ll talk about them next time; now, I’d like to change point of view, for a moment.
Imagine you are a Japanese boy/girl who is trying to study Italian language… You would have all my support!
Both Italians and Japanese must completely change their mindsets when studying eachother’s language. However, while Italians would still find it hard, for a Japanese this could be the beginning of a nightmare, in my opinion.
He/She will have to study a single alphabet, and this could sound easy, but Italian grammar has at least one feature he/she might have never heard before: in a sentence, gender and number must comply with the noun they refer to. Anyway, don’t worry: once you’ll understand how it works, this will be easier.