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Old 10-30-2014, 01:56 PM
 
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How close are the Japanese and Chinese languages? (compared to other languages like Portuguese to Spanish or Swedish to Bokmal)


Are there words in Japanese with the same meaning as Chinese?

Can Japanese read chinese text and can Chinese read Kanji from japanese sentences?
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Old 10-30-2014, 02:07 PM
 
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Not close at all. They belong to two different language families. The only similarities are the fact that Japanese imported Chinese characters, and borrowed a lot of Chinese vocabulary. But, these loanwords were the ones spoken in China up to 2000 years ago. A Japanese person reading Chinese is similar to you trying to read Old English. You may understand some individual words, but you won't be able to understand a whole sentence.

My source includes my Chinese friends trying to read Japanese and don't have a clue of how to read the sentences, and the same goes for my Japanese friends. They can't comprehend each other's language, and the grammar is pretty different in each language. This is not like European languages which are all under one family: Indo-European. Chinese belongs to the Sino family, Japanese belongs to the Japonic family
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Old 10-30-2014, 02:36 PM
 
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Regarding spoken language, I would say that Japanese is about as close to Chinese as Vietnamese is to English. =^)
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Old 10-30-2014, 03:29 PM
 
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The two languages are totally different, but about 30~50% vocabulary (written form) are either the same or similar enough to be mutually intelligible. In literature of science, arts, or humanities, the shared vocabulary can be as much as over 70%. Usually a Chinese person can get the main idea from Japanese newspaper articles, unless the topic is about some foreign country and a lot of non-Chinese loan words are used.

The problem is, the words that are not related between the two languages are usually the fundamental ones that are used the most frequently.
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Old 10-30-2014, 03:34 PM
 
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Utterly different. As already stated, Japanese has many loanwords borrowed from (ancient dialects of) Chinese, and their writing system is derived from Chinese. But native Japanese vocabulary and grammar have no correspondence with Chinese vocabulary and grammar, and there is absolutely no mutual comprehension in the spoken languages. The Japanese pronunciation of Chinese loanwords is, for the most part, very far from the modern pronunciation in any Chinese dialect.

As for reading, there is some limited comprehension. Chinese is written entirely in kanji and the number of characters in use is much greater than in Japanese. Plus, many characters are now written in simplified forms which are mystifying to the Japanese.

Japanese is written only partially in kanji, with some words and all the grammatical particles and conjugations in one of the native syllabaries (hiragana and katakana).

So either a Chinese or Japanese speaker looking at a sentence in the other language will probably be able to pick out some isolated words, but will almost certainly not grasp the entire meaning of the sentence.

On the other hand, they will both be able to recognize that a sign says "EXIT" or a box is labeled "RICE." Those kinds of simple characters are mutually comprehensible.
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Old 10-30-2014, 04:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bettafish View Post
The two languages are totally different, but about 30~50% vocabulary (written form) are either the same or similar enough to be mutually intelligible. In literature of science, arts, or humanities, the shared vocabulary can be as much as over 70%.
This sounds about right, but there are lots of pitfalls.

Here's a random sentence in Japanese from a friend's blog:

そういえば、ころとくりはよく息子に遊ばれていたな.

"That reminds me, Koro and Kuri [the dogs], often played with my son, didn't they."

A Chinese speaker looking at this sentence would only recognize the characters 息子 and 遊 and would identify them as "child" and "to tour or travel," instead of "son" and "to play."
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Old 10-30-2014, 04:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
This sounds about right, but there are lots of pitfalls.

Here's a random sentence in Japanese from a friend's blog:

そういえば、ころとくりはよく息子に遊ばれていたな.

"That reminds me, Koro and Kuri [the dogs], often played with my son, didn't they."

A Chinese speaker looking at this sentence would only recognize the characters 息子 and 遊 and would identify them as "child" and "to tour or travel," instead of "son" and "to play."
You can always find such examples, but I am talking about things in general.

This is the first paragraph from Japanese wikipedia, for the term "Beijing":

北京市(ペキンし、中国語: 北京市、英語: Beijing/Peking(ウェード式))は、中華人民共和国首都である。
行政区画上は直轄市であり、中国の華北の中央に位置する。人口は2018万(2011年)であり、中国では 上海に次ぐ第二の都市。世界有数のメガシティであり、高い影響力を有する世界都市でもある。古くは大都・燕 京・北平とも呼ばれた。

A Chinese with no knowledge of Japanese can understand 90%. Another kind of extreme example.
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Old 10-30-2014, 04:57 PM
 
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Yes, the more technical the language, the more mutual comprehensibility there will be.

It's somewhat similar to the way an Italian or Spanish-speaker can identify Latin loanwords in English. Yet, as you said above, the most frequently used words of the basic vocabulary tend not to be the loanwords.
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Old 10-30-2014, 06:06 PM
 
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I have a Chinese online friend that I speak to on occasion, and she is learning Japanese in university. Says the language isn't easy despite using 漢字。The grammatical arrangement of the 漢字 "doesn't make sense" in complex sentences, but the meanings are usually the same. Also I as I've found out through my own learning, Japanese uses a mix of simplified and traditional characters, but the simplified forms don't always correspond to the PRC's. Also, Japanese has some archaic uses for certain characters as well. Like 先生 in Japanese is read as sensei, and that's teacher. But, in China, those 2 characters mean Mr., and teacher is 老师 Laoshi. Another famous example I know is the difference between hot water and soup. Japanese uses 湯 for hot water, but 湯 means soup in Chinese (written in traditional form, another example that Japanese uses both simplified and traditional)

Japanese did to the Chinese writing system what Polish did to the Latin alphabet, modified it and customized it to meet their needs. I think a lot of people that don't study BOTH Japanese and Chinese don't understand this. To non-learners, they look the same, but even those of us Westerners that are studying both languages will soon realize that the Chinese characters look the same, but aren't always the same.
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Old 10-30-2014, 07:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theunbrainwashed View Post
Not close at all. They belong to two different language families. The only similarities are the fact that Japanese imported Chinese characters, and borrowed a lot of Chinese vocabulary. But, these loanwords were the ones spoken in China up to 2000 years ago. A Japanese person reading Chinese is similar to you trying to read Old English. You may understand some individual words, but you won't be able to understand a whole sentence.

My source includes my Chinese friends trying to read Japanese and don't have a clue of how to read the sentences, and the same goes for my Japanese friends. They can't comprehend each other's language, and the grammar is pretty different in each language. This is not like European languages which are all under one family: Indo-European. Chinese belongs to the Sino family, Japanese belongs to the Japonic family
I have always wondered this.. thank you for this answer
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