What are the motivations to learn Japanese?
Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people. It is the national language of Japan. The language is a member of the Japonic (or Japanese-Ryukyuan) language family, and its relation to other languages, such as Korean, is debated. Not much is known of the language’s prehistory or when it first appeared in Japan. Chinese had considerable influence on the vocabulary and phonology of Old Japanese. Japanese has no clear genealogical relationship with Chinese even though it makes prevalent use of Chinese characters or kanji in its writing system, and a large portion of its vocabulary is borrowed from Chinese. Along with kanji, the Japanese writing system primarily uses two syllabic (or moraic) scripts, hiragana and katakana. Latin script is used in a limited fashion, such as for imported acronyms, and the numeral system uses mostly Arabic numerals alongside traditional Chinese numerals. Late Middle Japanese included changes in features that brought it closer to the modern language and the first appearance of European loanwords. Following the end of Japan’s self-imposed isolation in 1853, the flow of loanwords from European languages increased significantly.
Japanese is an agglutinative, mora-timed language with simple phonotactics, a pure vowel system, phonemic vowel and consonant length, and a lexically significant pitch-accent. With that being said, it is pretty clear that this language is one of the most historical and vibrant out of thousands of languages in the world.
But in order to be truly motivated to learn Japanese, we would need understand the benefits of learning the language in the modern day:
- Learning Japanese will specifically aid you when you travel to Japan. Especially because only 30% of the Japanese population speaks English.
- Japanese consumers are very attractive to global organizations as they’re very well educated, tech savvy and financially stable. Therefore, if you possess the ability to converse with these Japanese consumers, you’re automatically standing out from the rest of the crowd.
- When considering the entertainment industry, Japan has taken the lead in this sector through their popular anime and manga. Being able to speak, read or write Japanese would not only help you read and watch the manga and anime but you could look out for jobs in these sectors.
- Japan is one of the top economies of the world, with a GDP of nearly $5 trillion (in 2017), it’s a powerhouse to be reckoned with in Asia and globally. If you want to find new opportunities in Japan or any of the successful Japanese brands like Sony or Honda, being able to speak Japanese to executive and fellow co-workers will help you gain an advantage.
- For students, learning Japanese helps them gain broader perspectives, higher thinking skills and new learning strategies that they can apply to their other academic subjects.
- As traveller or explorer, the Japanese would open up many other Asian cultures like the cultures of Korea, China and India that have great influence over Japanese history.
- Japan is also the leader in various fields of technology such as fermentation processes, industrial robotics, semiconductor manufacturing, electronics and optical media. Therefore, if you work in the technology field, especially robotics, learning Japanese will be very advantageous for you.
Japanese is a beautiful language with a vibrant culture. Learning Japanese has tons of benefits, while the above mentioned are my top picks, these are not all. Japanese doesn’t just open up doors for you career-wise or academic wise or even let you experience the culture as an explorer, but the language itself has an aesthetic of its own. Learning the language will help you grow spiritually as well and connect with your inner-self.