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Post Reply People Who "Know" Japanese From Anime
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27 / M / New York
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Posted 10/5/16
Do you or someone you know/have met feel as if they've learned Japanese from watching anime? I'm curious because I've met people, online and IRL, who feel as if they "know a little Japanese" or "understand basic Japanese" from watching an immense amount of anime. Some are even confident that they can translate the general idea upon hearing people speak it.

I grew up on these shows and still watch them (obviously) but I've never really understood the language except from a few common lines. Even then, understanding each component from the form (plain/casual vs formal vs formal+), the conjugation (positive, negative, past, present, progressive, etc), to the nuances and slang are all lost in translation. It's a fun language to learn but it does take a lot of time and effort to learn.

So my question is: do you feel as if you've learned "some Japanese" from watching anime? If yes, what percentage do you think your comprehension is at? Plan to do formal learning in the future?
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Posted 10/5/16

AlastorCrow wrote:

Do you or someone you know/have met feel as if they've learned Japanese from watching anime? I'm curious because I've met people, online and IRL, who feel as if they "know a little Japanese" or "understand basic Japanese" from watching an immense amount of anime. Some are even confident that they can translate the general idea upon hearing people speak it.

I grew up on these shows and still watch them (obviously) but I've never really understood the language except from a few common lines. Even then, understanding each component from the form (plain/casual vs formal vs formal+), the conjugation (positive, negative, past, present, progressive, etc), to the nuances and slang are all lost in translation. It's a fun language to learn but it does take a lot of time and effort to learn.

So my question is: do you feel as if you've learned "some Japanese" from watching anime? If yes, what percentage do you think your comprehension is at? Plan to do formal learning in the future?


yes 1 percent
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33 / M / outer wall, level...
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Posted 10/5/16
the hardest thing about learning japanese is the grammer. the words are easy enough. it sounds close to spanish to me anyways.
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27 / M / New York
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Posted 10/5/16
It's a toss up between grammar and kanji for me. Grammar isn't that bad once you've studied and get used to hearing and using it in a conversation but it certainly is deeper than it seems at first. Kanji is just..well, fucking kanji. It's the reason why people take years to be able to read a newspaper or a novel in Japanese.
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22 / M / Birmingham, UK
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Posted 10/6/16
I can recognize basic sentences but I can't speak em very well, to truly understand Japanese I'd still need to learn properly to understand why that sentence works the way it does, one thing I know is a sentence can be quite similar but just a few small changes can change the meaning entirely
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Posted 10/6/16
I can't say I learned much grammar-wise from anime, but I learned a lot of vocabulary. I studied Japanese in university and watching anime gave me the basics of pronunciation and some simple vocab, but I had to formally learn grammar in order to actually be able to understand and speak Japanese.

When I was a bit further in the learning experience I found anime was particularly helpful with vocabulary, but the vital part is being able to distinguish normal Japanese from stuff that is primarily in fiction only. If you're the type of person who watches tons of slice of life anime you probably have the advantage of relatively normal Japanese. All the rest of us watching stuff like fantasy, historical, sci-fi and military types of shows? Not a whole lot of normal Japanese in those...

I think I learned the most normal Japanese from j-drama rather than anime though. XD
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Posted 10/6/16 , edited 10/6/16
It's easy to know what they're saying if you have subtitles all the time. But to become actually proficient in a second language will always involve years of practice (actually producing it and then being corrected) and memorizing thousands of words. (And kanji, for Japanese.)
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27 / M / New York
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Posted 10/6/16
True. The thing is, in Japanese, when listening to sentences (without subtitles), it's easy to get lost once all the words start sticking together, especially if your only base of knowledge is watching shows. There's also plenty of words that are the same but have different meaning depending on context and intonation. Sometimes it's even pretty difficult to pick up on the intonation. For example, "kara" could mean 殻 as in empty shell, or 空 as in empty/blank, or から as in "from" or "because"..and the list goes longer once you start counting words like "karai" or "jikara". If people only know kara but don't know "karai", then they'll hear "kara" and omit the "i" part.
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Posted 10/6/16
That's why you have to know so many words.
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27 / M / New York
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Posted 10/6/16 , edited 10/6/16

heroizumi wrote:

I can't say I learned much grammar-wise from anime, but I learned a lot of vocabulary. I studied Japanese in university and watching anime gave me the basics of pronunciation and some simple vocab, but I had to formally learn grammar in order to actually be able to understand and speak Japanese.

When I was a bit further in the learning experience I found anime was particularly helpful with vocabulary, but the vital part is being able to distinguish normal Japanese from stuff that is primarily in fiction only. If you're the type of person who watches tons of slice of life anime you probably have the advantage of relatively normal Japanese. All the rest of us watching stuff like fantasy, historical, sci-fi and military types of shows? Not a whole lot of normal Japanese in those...

I think I learned the most normal Japanese from j-drama rather than anime though. XD


It does help with immersion process and repeat exposure helps solidify it as part of your daily vocabulary rather than your short-term memory. Your brain processes them as two different things so it's important for anyone who wants to achieve fluency to be able to speak and understand the language automatically instead of doing an English-Japanese translation in their head.

And that part about normal Japanese and anime Japanese is huge. I hope no one starts going up to strangers adding "-sama" to their name. They'll either think you're a 変な外国人 and let it go or start a fight.
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Posted 10/6/16
i agree with you guys. watching anime has taught me a couple words or phrases which i may recognize here or there, but anime has never ever given me a full understanding of the language. as you have said previously where there is formal and casual speech, i feel japanese is also very context-based (like what i'm learning in my university jap class right now). so, in my opinion, i feel that even if you are an avid watcher, who watches a LOT of anime, you still will not be able to fully "know" japanese (i'm saying this because i have never met a person who is able to hold a conversation in japanese, using just their knowledge from anime [more than just greetings]).

that being said, by bringing a part of japan's culture over to us westerners, we can learn one or two things about the language.
but that's just my two cents tho. lol
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Posted 10/6/16
Another downside of learning just from anime is that you'll be illiterate. Romanji does not count.
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27 / M / New York
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Posted 10/6/16 , edited 10/6/16
Romaji has its role but it's like training wheels for Japanese literacy. You can learn kana system in just a few days or even a week or two if you wanna take it slow. Over time, as you get more exposure to reading, you'll begin to have instant recall of the characters and you'll be able to sort of speed read through them. When I first started learning, I blacked out all the romaji in my textbook for the starter chapters so my eyes don't wander off and become dependent on them. I've used the same technique on furigana when learning to read words in kanji. Once I've studied each kanji character of that word and learned the basic readings, I black out the furigana.

I find that there is no excuse for people who want to learn the language unless it's a matter of time management. It costs pretty much $0 to learn Japanese unless you count internet and electric bill towards that. That said, there are textbooks you could buy that could certainly help but they're not 100% needed given the amount of free resources on the internet.
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Posted 10/6/16
Trying to learn Japanese from anime blind doesn't really work too well. However, if you've already put a few months to a year learning Japanese beforehand, then it's doable. You can basically quit your "studies" and learn the rest from media. I know people who have learned that way.
Posted 10/6/16
I watch anime all the time and now I'm fluent.
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