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There are some aspects of japanese which make it quite easy. Notably the pronunciation which is certainly easier than that of english. A solid base will get you far so those not into study may find it harder, although at the same time their oral skills may be quicker to develop. Best advice I can give is to work on a ski-field for at least a season and your ability can only sky-rocket. More importantly you can combine learning the lingo with having wicked powder at your doorstep every morning.(nothing gets better than that) Beats traveling 2 hours a day to get up slopes as I'm presently doing in New Z at present. Sort out a hotel where you can work soley at night and have accommodation, meals, liftpass, onsen entry and the list goes on of benefits you can get provided-I tell ya.

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Interesting point about pronunciation.

 

Doesn't that rather depend on where you come from, as well as on your 'ear'?

 

A lot of Americans who have otherwise excellent Japanese never come close to achieving native pronunciation. They sound like Yanks talking Japanese. Whereas the vowel sounds are closer to those in British English so that even Brits who haven't bothered to learn can still say their few pat phrases like natives (and thus be mistaken for speakers).

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I actually didnt find it as difficult as French or German actually.

 

Probably has a LOT to do with the fact that I wasnt interested in them, and I wasnt living in France or Germany.

 

Motivation has a lot to do with it.

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NoFakie,

 

Obviously the tests are far from perfect as you well pointed out. I mean, how can you have a language test without BOTH an interview and a written test? How many people who study these test can write the Kanji correctly, recall them from memory without a dictionary, and not just recognize them as whats required by the current standards? That is one of the most obsurd things Ive heard of for a "foreign language test"!!!

 

Not sure I really grasp your point though about the "school textbook" passages youre referring to. The passages that are used for the test come from a variety of sources and texts on a myriad of topics... so youre saying that a topic that comes from a financial newspaper article is easier than the test you referred to in taking? But to be honest I dont care - as my goal isnt just a score on a test but a life-long goal of truly mastering the language.

 

Ocean11,

 

Youre remark about American pronunciation regarding Japanese is one of the most unintelligent comments about this topic. Yes, British and American English have different pronunciations but that in no way enables a Limey to speak Japanese better than a Yank or sound more native. Too many generalizations, mate. It depends on the person and their effort, not the culture or race.

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There is the JETRO Business proficency test that has an oral exam. You have to pass level to sit it.

 

It is the only one I know of the actually does a complete ringing out of your abilities.

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Yuki-chan, if you want to provoke me, I'll go one step further and say that the Americans I've heard with anything like native pronunciation are the ones who come from areas of the States with pronunciation closest to British English. They also happen to be the ones who have made the most effort too.

 

>but that in no way enables a Limey to speak Japanese better than a Yank

 

I enjoyed your little straw man argument there too. I was only talking about pronunciation, and not overall ability to speak Japanese.

 

Let me make another generalization too - people who can't spell often can't think straight either.

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The December test passages may come from a variety of sources, but they all strike me as simplistic (vocabulary and sentence structure etc) and almost artificial compared to a half-decent Japanese magazine, for example. The test is supposed to be judging whether gaijin can read well enough for university. If you've got cable or Sky, try watching the Housou Daigaku. The (spoken) in its programs is far more difficult than the written passages in the test.

 

The tests motivated me to learn so I'm all for them. That doesn't mean they can't be made better though.

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Originally posted by NoFakie:

The December test passages may come from a variety of sources, but they all strike me as simplistic (vocabulary and sentence structure etc) and almost artificial compared to a half-decent Japanese magazine, for example.

 

The passages that are used in the December test come from books, research journals, historical and philosophical books - whats the difference? I actually have a much, much easier time reading Japanese magazines than the test because the Kanji from general magazines tend to be repeated over and over. But, I dont know what magazines youre reading. Give me an example of what youre reading.

 

The test is supposed to be judging whether gaijin can read well enough for university. If you've got cable or Sky, try watching the Housou Daigaku. The (spoken) in its programs is far more difficult than the written passages in the test.

 

My mate has Sky and have watched that program through a mate who recommended the same thing. Thanks for the tip!

 

Ocean11

If you want to provoke me, I'll go one step further and say that the Americans I've heard with anything like native pronunciation are the ones who come from areas of the States with pronunciation closest to British English. They also happen to be the ones who have made the most effort too.

 

In what area of the STATES do Americans speak like Limeys? The New England areas with those nasal-like tones or maybe from California where they all walk around saying Dude man, did you see that wave? Or, Hawaii where they all speak Pigeon English, Oi, you go come stay brah? Wait, I got it. It must be all the Rednecks in the SOUTH!!!

 

Pronunciation, EH?! Geeze then by your premise I guess a parrot has better English pronunciation than your average Japanese because it can say, "Polly wanna cracker" using correct "L" and "R" pronunciation. Not trying to offend any Japanese people here just using Ocean11 "reasoning". Spelling, who cares if you make a typo?

 

 

Mogski,

 

Thank you - I am interested in the JETRO test and will take that next year. I know there are three levels but thats all. Cheers for your advice.

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Yuki-chan,

 

I expect you can find your answer here. You seem to crave knowledge and detailed information;

 

http://www.ling.upenn.edu/phono_atlas/Atlas_chapters/Ch11/Ch11.html

 

And it's not 'pigeon', you pheasant, it's 'pidgin'. As for the parrot non-analogy, I see that you understand what you're mouthing about as much as would one of the Psittacidae. Typo indeed - snort.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ocean11,

 

First, yeah, I did screw up using the damn bird instead of pidgin. Won't do that again.

 

Next, the link you provided, while interesting, had no bearing on my previous question. It showed, as I already said, differences between pronunciation within different regions in the US, and also included Canada, but no relation with the U.K. nor did it prove that somebody from a certain area in the U.S. would speak more like a person from the U.K.;and, therefore sound more fluent or native than an American. Don't try to infer something that's not there mate.

 

"I'll go one step further and say that the Americans I've heard with anything like native pronunciation are the ones who come from areas of the States with pronunciation closest to British English. They also happen to be the ones who have made the most effort too." Ocean11, obviously it's the effort, not the country.

 

Psittacidae - *yawn* must be the most sophisticated word in your vocabulary... Congrats!

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Seriously Yuki, you're going out on a limb there.

 

With all that variation in American accents, amply detailed in that page I indicated, some of the accents are going to be more similar to some British accents than others. I won't pretend to know which accents exactly are similar, as I haven't studied the matter, but I've met Americans who say 'hot' and not 'hat', to put it very crudely. So obviously, they would have to make less effort correcting their vowels when speaking Japanese. That's an obvious implication. There's no inference involved.

 

"nor did it prove that somebody from a certain area in the U.S. would speak more like a person from the U.K.;and, therefore sound more fluent or native than an American." Titter, it's Americans I'm talking about -- sounding more like native Japanese. From that bunch that's forming in your drawers, might I infer that you're perhaps an American who's offended to think that British English speakers have a slight advantange over most Americans when it comes to Japanese pronunciation? I sympathize, I really do ... but offended nationalism does tend to cloud one's capacity for logic.

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Ocean11,

 

Im not offended at all by your comments or by anybody who is more fluent than I am. To me, it has to do with how badly somebody wants to master the language.

 

As for the vowel pronunciation itself I find it pretty easy - especially when you hear it daily its quite easy to pick up. Maybe for students at Uni who have just a few hours per week their accent might be poor... Probably the hardest thing for me is for words like ryuuchou (smooth, fluency) riyuu (reason), shouryaku (abbreviation)words which have rya, ryu, and ryo sounds I sometimes still find myself slowing down to check my intonation.

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What you say is quite true, but I think you still miss the point.

 

There are some native pronunciations that make nailing Japanese pronunciation easier. There are Americans who get their vowels wrong. There are SE Asians who can't seem to harden their 'z' so they say 'misu' instead of 'mizu'. They may otherwise be very competent speakers, but they just don't even seem aware that their pronunciation is wrong.

 

Isn't it obvious that if your vowels or consonants are already similar to Japanese, less problems are likely to arise, less effort is required, and mistakes will be detected more easily? Of course if you have a good ear and make an effort, then very good pronunciation will be possible.

 

My biggest problem is switching between English and Japanese, at parties and so on. The slight shift in vowels sometimes comes too slowly so I end up saying English words with Japanese vowels. A great way of sounding like someone who's been in the country too long. And indeed, 'rya' is a tough one, especially after a few drinkies.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ocean11,

 

What you said in your last post hit the nail on the head - of course if a persons native language has sounds more similar to Japanese then they could, technically, be able to pick up the pronunciation without much effort......but

 

But, what keeps ringing in my head when I hear gaijin, from all different English speaking countries speaking Japanese like they were speaking English - they dont or cant stop sounding like an aussie, a brit, an american, etc... the pronunciation may be better but after bar after bar of listening to guys doing their best nampa lines, you could just see that they really didnt have the language down. Its like watching Koko ha hendayo nihonjin. Thats the name of that show, right? You had to have laughed at that show as much as I did cuz you can hear the gaijins native accent while speaking Japanese. I could go off about that show - why did they take it off the air anyways??? It was pretty amusing for banter. But that show is a really good example of people, who really had good japanese (for the most part) but some still had bad 'pronunciation.'

 

As far as the parties go, I hear ya mate. Especially after the beer glasses keep getting poured one after another, or the sake keeps coming, Im sure my words and pronunciation slips some no matter what language Im speaking.

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Hummm... Okay.

 

Why some Japanese words that contain "R" are hard to pronounce for foreign people? - as a Japanese man, I think you had better try pronouncing them with "L", not with "R" when you pronounce them.

 

In short, just pronounce like "Lya", "Lyu", "Lyo". We do write Ra Ri Ru Re Ro when we do in alphabet. But the pronounciations are more like La Li Lu Le Lo. Not quite the same, but closer.

When I am asked, I usually tell people it. And they say it works!!!!

 

I think I have posted the same before, but don't remember in which thread I did it LOL.

Damn old brain tongue.gif

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks Yuki, I was half way through reading it and I thought "hmmm, I should have read this before". Then I come to your post.

 

Nice stoush earlier on with Ocean! I have to give him credit for this line, very funny, but a little sharp tongued:

 

"And it's not 'pigeon', you pheasant, it's 'pidgin'"

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