So.. I had to learn Chinese as my mother tongue growing up as part of my education, didn’t do too well in it since I didn’t really like the subject/classes. However I know enough to be able to speak comfortably with other people, order food etc. and I only need a dictionary for the words I forgot. (Idk if that qualifies as “advanced” lol) Also my Japanese level is somewhere in the midst of N4, but I’ll share my experience anyway. Learning kanji wasn’t really an issue since I’ve had so many years of seeing Chinese hanzi. For quite a lot of the words, they shared the same meaning so it’s just a matter of learning the extra On/Kun readings (Even though onyomi is known as the Chinese reading, it may still differ slightly from the actual Chinese reading but they are similar enough). Most kanji still look similar to traditional Chinese characters, as opposed to simplified Chinese which is what I learned but they still didn’t pose much of an issue. There are however plenty of words and concepts that kept tripping me up since their usages/meanings differ from Chinese, which was what I was used to. eg. (CH) 步 -> 跑步 = run 走 -> 走路 = walk (JP) 步 -> 歩く = to walk 走 -> 走る = to run 的 is a modifier used to indicate possession/attributes in Chinese, whereas in Japanese の is used for possession while adjectives are joined directly to nouns (EN) My handphone / Old chair (CH) 我的手机 / 旧的椅子 (JP) 私の携帯 / 古い椅子 For counting books, 本 is the Chinese counter while 冊 is the Japanese counter (CH) 三本书 (JP) 三冊本 书 is only in CH, for JP we only use 本 to say book And there are certain concepts that use completely different words (CH) 站 vs (JP) 駅 for saying station (as in train station) (CH) 漂亮 vs (JP) 綺麗 for saying pretty/beautiful Beyond the kanji however, there isn’t too many similarities between the 2 languages that give you too much else of an advantage. Word order is different (Chinese being mostly SVO like English while Japanese technically doesn’t have one, but is mainly SOV). Grammar, social conventions of speaking are both also quite different between the 2 languages. In my experience I use Chinese just as I would use English to speak to someone, whereas in Japanese you have to take into account polite/short forms for sentences based on who you talk to. eg. In a 1 on 1 scenario when we address the other person we use (EN) you (CH) 你 or 您 However Japanese tends to avoid directness so rather than using あなた(you), it's more common to use the other persons name instead So imo, Chinese does give you an advantage in learning Kanji (either the characters are the same, or you already have a good technique to learn them) but otherwise doesn’t help too much in the other parts of Japanese. Apart from that can't really speak too much about using both languages professionally since I only use Chinese casually. Edited for some styling


I'm a Cantonese speaker, and my favourite false cognate is 勉強する: to study (Japanese) 勉強: reluctantly (Cantonese) Other than that, there's a couple of other oddities. Cantonese share more in common with Onyomi than Mandarin, so it's interesting to draw parallels between the pronunciation (my wife is a native Canto speaker so she picks up on these similarities). There's also some strange subtle differences, like 黒 (JP) Vs 黑 (CH). But overall, not having to study kanji as much and being able to pattern match them will save you time, but it won't help with grammar.


It really depends how well educated you are in Chinese. Since Japanese borrows heavily from the classical period of Chinese, naturally the modern spoken language will be useless. Most Chinese in the mainland (or in Singapore as i am) will have some amount of mandatory education in the classics, so these differences are quite trivial to us. Since Southern Min preserves some of these classically archaic written language in spoken language, so for us, 走 is actually run as well. 冊 is also book instead of 书 or 本. Archaic 2nd person pronoun 汝 is also used as a standard "you" in Southern Min. Basically, if your dialect is old enough, you'll find the match is better and better.


Thank you for the detailed response. It was enlightening.


> (Even though onyomi is known as the Chinese reading, it may still differ **slightly** from the actual Chinese reading but they are similar enough). Ha! * 一: ichi/yī * 二: ni/èr * 三: san/sān * 四: shi/sì * 五: go/wû * 六: roku/liù * 七: shichi/qī * 八: hachi/bā * 九: kyuu/jiû * 十: juu/shí * 白: haku/bái * 黒: koku/hēi * 赤: seki/chì * 青: sei/qīng * 黄: kou/huáng * 藍: ran/lán * 日: nichi or jitsu/rì * 月: getsu or gatsu/yuè * 天 : ten/tiān Yes, some are similar, but I think most are not. Fortunately, there are some semi-regular correspondences, where characters that have similar readings in Mandarin often have similar on-yomi in Japanese, but I didn't find knowing Japanese to be terribly helpful for learning Mandarin readings of characters.


There's pretty regular correspondences between the Japanese and Mandarin even in what you're written. First of all discard the second syllable of a Japanese onyomi, since Mandarin lost final consonants other than nasals. Then for initials n in Japanese usually corresponds to r in Mandarin, r in Japanese usually corresponds to l in Mandarin, h in Japanese usually corresponds to p or b in Mandarin, k in Japanese usually corresponds to j in Mandarin (based on this list there also seems to be a k in Japanese to h in Mandarin correspondence, but I hadn't noticed this before). As for finals, final n in Japanese usually corresponds to final n in Mandarin, final ng in Mandarin usually corresponds to a う in Japanese (sometimes this causes a further sound change). I actually haven't quite picked up all the vowel correspondences yet, admittedly, but some are pretty straightforward, like i in Mandarin usually corresponds to i in Japanese, a in Mandarin is usually a in Japanese (except -ang then corresponds to au, which turned into ou in Japanese. E.g. Mandarin 上 shàng, Japanese 上 じょう). All that said, it's not one to one, but modulo some regular changes you can narrow down the sound of a character in one language given the other quite a bit.


I would say knowing Chinese helps with Japanese (which OP is asking about) more than vice versa. Knowledge of Chinese is a major help in understanding kanji you haven’t learned in Japanese yet, and Chinese readings can make for decent guesses for onyomi. It definitely has its limits, but it essentially eliminates the hurdle of acclimating to using kanji, which most English learners find difficult.


Yeah, it definitely isn’t too useful. I’m fluent in Japanese, been learning for over 10 years, work in Japanese all day, the whole deal. And I started learning Mandarin about a year ago. Pronunciations are practically never similar enough to intuitively remember them. You have to memorize them just like any new Japanese pronunciation. Meanings however, tend to match a lot more closely. Some are false cognates or have close but not identical meanings, but others are just the same thing, like 练习 = 練習、大学 = 大学、我 = 私(我) and so on. For the most part, I didn’t have to learn *a lot* of new stuff to be able to write complex ideas and texts. In fact, it was a lot of the more basic and everyday vocabulary that I had to learn all over, while the more technical or specific vocabulary remained almost identical.


> Word order is different (Chinese being mostly SVO like English while Japanese technically doesn’t have one, but is mainly SOV). Nah, it's just SOV. Many languages have some way to force rearrange words if you really want to. English is very strict about its word order generally and even then I can say stuff like: > It was the ball that the boy bounced or > The ball bounced by the boy Japanese isn't particularly flexible about its word order even though you _can_ rearrange words. It's like English adjective order, sure you _can_ say "the red big ball" but nobody actually would say that over "the big red ball".


男の子はボールを弾ませた standard ボールを男の子は弾ませた emphasizing ボール 男の子は弾ませた、ボールを rhetoric/irregular but often happens colloquially 弾ませた、男の子はボールを rhetoric, emphasizing 弾ませた ボールを弾ませた、男の子は rhetoric I think it's quite flexible.


Yeah, but none of that is unusual for an SOV language.


Damn are you me?


Ha, I'm from much the same situation (just... less good at Chinese) and the difference in 步/走 always irked me ever so slightly. Like, you get it after seeing it once but it just feels a bit wrong lol.


Have chinese as mother tongue and I would say It's basically a cheat code for comprehension and kanji. I don't need to memorise how to write and what it means(most of the time its the same meaning or close to its kanji origin), the only thing you need to do is learn pronunciation. Anedoctal but I took n2 with minimal preparation. Scored close to full marks on reading while barely passing listening and grammar. That's how much easier it is.


I have a friend whose native language is Hokkien, but she was educated in Mandarin/English. Though the readings are different between between Chinese and Japanese, the meanings of the kanji are often the same or very similar. Even though her Japanese reading level is overall quite low, she says she can get the gist of newspaper articles quite quickly. She really struggles with Japanese grammar though. There's very few grammatical similarities between Japanese and Chinese. Overall I don't think (outside of reading) her fluency in Chinese helped her too much with learning Japanese. So I guess it depends on your goals. If you're just interested in reading (which seems to be the case for a lot of people on the internet) speaking Chinese will be a major boost. But if you're interested in more than just reading, Chinese is much less helpful when it comes to spoken language or understanding Japanese grammar. So you'll progress more quickly on reading, but be on pace with everyone else for everything else. While it is true that Chinese speakers can pass the JLPT much faster than non-Chinese speakers, this is mainly because the JLPT is mostly a reading test. You run into huge issue with Chinese speakers who zoom through the JLPT levels and pass the N1, but on the CEFR scale are only assessed at B1 level because their other language skills are so low level. So imo, it's less that it's easier for Chinese speakers to learn Japanese and more that it's easier for Chinese speakers to game the JLPT Source: https://jfstandard.jp/pdf/jfs_jlpt_diagram2017(english).pdf


I'm doing what you're doing in the opposite direction, leveraging Japanese to learn Chinese. Kanji radicals are pretty useful. Kanji readings resemble Chinese readings to a degree. You'll have a head start. Curious about comments from more experienced Chinese learners (I just started).


I remember there was a thread that had the average numbers for learning Japanese from English and from Chinese from start to N1. It was something along the lines of 2800h with English vs 1700h for Chinese. I don't remember the exact numbers, but it seemed that there was a significant advantage.


If you happen to run across it again, I'd love to have a link.


Maybe this one: https://cotoacademy.com/study-hours-needed-pass-jlpt-comparison-levels/


Hmm, very interesting data.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese-Language_Proficiency_Test#Estimated_study_time https://www.reddit.com/r/LearnJapanese/comments/i9754w/chinese_looking_to_learn_japanese/ It was from this thread i think. I don't know if the study was very good or not, but it is just something that I remember running across at some point.


Just took my N2 this July, and native speaker of Mandarin. Knowing Mandarin is like a cheat code in comprehension. Where speakers of other languages would stumble and confuse similar kanji, native speakers of Mandarin have far less of an issue. Knowing Mandarin helped propel my learning process in Japanese because I could access material way above my level and essentially immerse in grammar and sentence structure without worrying too much about the vocabulary. I self studied (aka watched anime and read manga) my way to N3 ish in 2 years before going for proper lessons to break my crippling addiction to Kanji and learn grammar points for N2 and above. That said, I still had to put in effort to consciously learn the language, and the false cognates and "similar but different" vocabulary really drove me crazy. The grammar is also very different, which means that you're on your own for much of the grammar you learn at the start. Mandarin and Japanese sentence structure is almost like 2 ends of the spectrum between analytic and agglutinative languages. It only gets easier in grammar once you move into slightly more complicated and nuanced grammar, where Mandarin would have a phrase or word that fulfils almost exactly the same role, but English would not. Another point that native Mandarin speakers have trouble with is "unlearning" the 1 character 1 pronunciation rule-of-thumb in Mandarin. It is surprisingly difficult to learn to connect multiple pronunciations to a single kanji when you've only ever used the 1 or 2 pronunciations for all its meanings. For example, 生. In Mandarin, regardless of where in the word, or what meaning it carries, it is only ever read as shēng. In Japanese, this kanji has some of the most varied pronunciations, depending on where in the word it is used. Given that you learnt Mandarin later in life, it is hard to judge exactly how much Mandarin can help you. On one hand, modern Mandarin and Japanese only share a superficial similarity, that being kanji, and the topic-comment sentence structure. If you aren't familiar with the Traditional character set, it can be disorienting as you relearn words with a different pronunciation, even though you technically already know the word in Mandarin. In addition, many of the similarities and relations between modern Mandarin and Japanese really come to light only when you have minimally a superficial understanding of 文言文, as this is where the meanings and sounds originated from. This is way beyond what you would be exposed to as an intermediate learner of Mandarin, which means that while Mandarin can help you, the challenges stated above can also hinder your leaning if you over rely on Mandarin and kanji as a crutch.




如果你已经懂了一点点的文言文,那就应该没问题。我说需要懂文言文是因为如果你真的想利用中文来学日语的话,文言文能够帮你更深一层地了解并记住语法和单词。 最主要的是不要为了学日语而学文言文。如果你学日语只是为了兴趣,或者没有想达到N1之类的,文言文并没什么重要。如果你想学日语,就去学,不需要担心会不会中文。两者是非常不同的语言,而最大的好处仍是在于你已经克服了汉字这难关。再花多七年用不同的语法重学汉字也应该没什么大不了的吧?就当做是一个古怪的方言学就好了。


嗯,我赞同。其实要是我能从今天开始就好多了,只是我首先得完成我中文的学习,然后因为我在入荷兰籍所以也非得学会荷兰语不可。真的是太多了😭😭😭 可是以后呢我很乐意学日语。是个美好的语言对不对


Massively, aside from the obvious stuff let me give you some more advanced knowledge that might help you on a more technical level, if you're interested. You can use patterns of On-readings compared to mandarin readings to GUESS how certain words are read. Example: A lot of words containing r in mandarin used to start with the consonant N or J, this is preserved in a lot of Japanese words for their ONYOMI (Sino-Japanese) readings 二 and 贰 which are both er4, are both ni in Japanese (compare 腻 which is ni4 in mandarin, a preservation of the older prounciation from middle chinese) 人 ren2 is jin or nin in Japanese 日 ri4 is jitsu or nichi 忍 ren3 is nin in Japanese There is other examples, like the Q consonant in Mandarin turning into the K consonant in Japanese like in 气,期 etc... and a bunch of other stuff that you'll realize is similar once you get into it. Since Japanese doesn't have tones(only pitch accent) you don't have to worry about remembering a tone either, so guessing Japanese pronunciation for Kango, that is originally Chinese compound words (which make up a large portion of Japanese vocabulary) is super possible.


>you don't have to worry about remembering a tone either My goal when learning a language is always to approach a native accent as closely as possible, so pitch accent is absolutely something I would be memorizing for each word.


Do yourself a favor and don't. Pitch accent not only depends on words but words in context of a sentence. Depending on preceding and following words pitch accent could change entirely, its not something you can remember on paper alone, you need to experience it. For learning japanese to start with pitch accent is like some japanese guy who has no idea about japanese deciding that he wants to speak perfect RP accent English, its putting the cart before the horse


Absolutely not. I work as a professional accent coach. In my years of professional experience, failing to study accurate pronunciation in the very earliest stages of study will usually lead to students having deeply entrenched poor pronunciation habits down the line -- habits that can be very difficult and require a lot of effort to rectify. The best approach is to make intensive study of phonetics the bedrock of your very earliest studies, so that you have a strong foundation to build on, and so that you are building good speech habits from Day 1.


You're confusing pitch accent with using the same consonant/vowel sounds that would be expected of a native. Different things. But yes, do learn the pitch accent patterns, which are only 4. Look up 'yudai sensei' on youtube


Sure you're right about studying pronunciation, but I think what you're wrong about is the idea that in order to learn pitch accent, you should memorize the pitch of every individual word. In Mandarin you should definitely memorize the tone of every word. Sure there are tone shifts that happen, but learning the tone of every word should be your base. Japanese is not like Mandarin. I'm not an expert on the academics of pitch accents, but unlike Mandarin, the word level pitch accent changes quite a lot when words actually get put into sentences. Memorizing pitch accent for each word will actually just lead your pronunciation to sound worse, more wooden and segmented. When using pitch accent irl it's much more important to understand how it works on the sentence level. There's also a big understandability gap. Consistently fuck up tones in Mandarin and you're speech will be very difficult to understand. In Japanese, people can still understand you perfectly fine if your pitch accent is off. You just sound foreign. Vowel length, devoicing, and vowel pronunciation are way more important for understandability. So yeah, put effort into learning about pitch accent if you want, but memorizing the pitch for every single word is not the most effective way of going about that


I haven't done but I know my girlfriend who's fluent Chinese did sorta. This was back when we still had free time as students. She said it was easier similar to the other comments. Of course different grammar structure and the different kanji readings had to be learned, but it helped that she was used to learning it. Also I remember reading in /r/languagelearning of some learners preferring to learn Japanese to Chinese and vice-versa over English to Japanese/Chinese because the resources were a lot better.


Knowing Chinese will save you a lot of brutal memorisation. Plus give you a massive head-start in "reading". I have met Asian N2 passers (and some N1 passers) that speak at a beginner level. One of my neighbours from the US lived in China for several years; his fluency was near-native. He said he could generally understand Japanese reading from day one, so the hanzi was a big help there. I would not say he had an "accelerated" trajectory in Japanese speaking-listening, however. In my Tokyo language school, the Chinese & Korean students generally were faster learners than westerners at the beginner and intermediate levels. I think that Chinese had the Kanji and some similar vocabulary. The Koreans had some similar grammar and pronunciation (while hanzi is still used I was told Korean schools have generally reduced study). \- Other important factors might be memorization skills taught in China & Korea, self-motivation to enter Japanese University/trade-school, prior study of Japanese.


They are two completely different languages in structure, vocabulary, and grammar. But knowledge of characters, and character combinations can and will help, even though there are the obvious "false friends" (see all the examples from lolthe1st above). If you learned Chinese in mainland China, you will have learned simplified characters, and unless you spent some time with the original versions, it will take some getting used to. For example: the kanji for "book" used in Japanese for specific types of books like "textbook", "schoolbook", "manual" etc, in modern/simplified Chinese: 书, Japanese (and the original Chinese character): 書 Having said that, I started with Chinese at university and added Japanese afterwards, and I found my knowledge of characters and classical Chinese to be a big help (one thing less to learn from scratch). You will also find that Japanese is much easier to pronounce (no tones, even though some here will reference intonation, so fine), and the grammar is structurally easier to comprehend I find than Chinese. (YMMV though) Anyway: go for it, it's a great additional language to learn!


> to a solid intermediate level (vocabulary approx. = 25.000 words) You think 25.000 words is intermediate? I'm pretty sure some natives know less than that lol


A vocabulary of \~21.000 words, which is what I have right now, is enough for me to read intermediate literature such as Harry Potter or Cat Country, but far, far insufficient for me to read advanced literature (think Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones or anything equivalent). Currently, I can expect a chapter of intermediate literature to contain 20-70 unknown words on average, whereas a chapter of advanced literature will contain *hundreds* of unknown words. I have done some calculations that suggest a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese likely possesses a vocabulary in the range of \~50.000 words, so when I hit this year's target of 25.000 words, I'll be about halfway there.


I would like to know where did you get that data from, I found a website that showed that books like Lord of the rings and equivalent literature have around 6000 unique words, some going up to 10 000; but reading that you say that a vocanblary of 25 000 words is intermediate makes me confused. I would like to understand why Chinese has that big amount of vocabulary or if there is a really difference that makes up a new word. [here](http://www.tylervigen.com/literature-statistics) is the website in case you are interested.


I got my data from Chinese Text Analyzer, a computer program which breaks texts down into word- and character-based statistics.


I guess it can be Influenced by the way the writing system works then, having chinese a lot more of symbols because those only have one reading; but, as far as I know, you won't need ~50 000 words of vocabulary to read advanced literature in japanese, but around the same amount that in English.


For what it's worth, in my experience Chinese speakers *dramatically* underestimate how many words are involved in reading a novel in their native language. It is entirely possible that you are doing the same with Japanese.


There have been some analysis ran and you can find some information in this same subreddit, here are two of them that i found interesting: [Vocabulary in light novels](https://www.reddit.com/r/LearnJapanese/comments/boco76/light_novel_vocabulary/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share). Light novels are aimed to teenagers, so they don't have the hardest vocabulary, but it is a really important part of Japanese literature. You can see how they don't have that really big amount of words, variaring between 3000 and 5000 words. [top kanjis used in 5100 novels](https://www.reddit.com/r/LearnJapanese/comments/g6zxs6/a_few_years_back_5100_japanese_novels_were/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share) this one is an analysis of how many kanjis were used in the top 30 000 words in 5100 novels, being around 3000 kanjis. It also adds the top 6 words that those kanjis were used in.


Here is some of the data produced by Chinese Text Analyzer for various works of literature (translated to Chinese): 1. **Charlie and the Chocolate Factory** 1. Total words: 31.128 2. Unique Words: 3.221 2. **Animal Farm** 1. Total words: 31.040 2. Unique Words: 5.336 3. **Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone** 1. Total Words: 90.402 2. Unique Words: 8.065 4. **Ender's Game** 1. Total Words: 112.695 2. Unique Words: 8.792 5. **The Eye of the World** 1. Total Words: 322.871 2. Unique Words: 12.667 6. **Dream of the Red Chamber** (one of the four great works of celebrated Chinese literature) 1. Total Words: 597.445 2. Unique Words: 18.517 It is true that individual works of literature will generally oscillate between \~3.000 words (for short novels aimed at young children) to \~15.000 words (for very advanced and lengthy works of high literature). However, for someone to be able to pick up a book at random and be able to read it with a high level of confidence (i.e. very few unknown words), they need to possess a passive vocabulary significantly larger than just 5.000 words (or even 10.000 words). If you know precisely 3.221 words, and pick up *Charlie and the Chocolate Factory* for a bit of fun reading, you'll be sorely disappointed to find that you'll be drowning in an endless amount of unknown vocabulary --- because you know the *wrong* 3.221 words. Words like "government organization", "cancer", "hyperdrive", and "senator" are all hopelessly useless for this novel. I picked up *The Witches* (which has slightly lower vocabulary requirments than *Charlie and the Chocolate Factory*) when I had a measured vocabulary of \~5.000 words, and there were chapters in the book that had over *one hundred* unknown words. Just for clarity, "measured vocabulary" here means I actually counted each individual word in my vocabulary, as insane as that sounds. I didn't just take one of those vague-as-hell internet tests. (I can explain how that worked if you would like.) Currently I have a vocabulary of \~21.000 words, and the final chapter of *Catching Fire* by Suzanne Collins contains \~70 unknown words --- still far above what would be expected for a native speaker. Here is some more data that gives you an idea of what my \~21.000 word vocabulary gives you: 1. **Animal Farm** 1. Unique words: 5.336 2. Unique unknown words: 786 2. **Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone** 1. Unique words: 8.065 2. Unique unknown words: 1.222 3. **Ender's Game** 1. Unique words: 8.792 2. Unique unknown words: 1.361 4. **The Eye of the World** 1. Unique words: 12.667 2. Unique unknown words: 2.604 5. **Dream of the Red Chamber** 1. Unique words: 18.517 2. Unique unknown words: 9.153 So you see, if the goal is to be at the level of a native speaker, a \~21.000 word vocabulary falls far short, at least for Chinese.


That is a really interesting analysis and honestly makes a lot of sense once it is explained like this; I'm really into having the largest possible vocabulary and being able to understand at those high levels. My native language is Spanish and I learnt English by myself; I write stories and I have been really interested in making my English vocabulary to be broader so I can express more things in my stories. I would love if you could explain how you counted your vocabulary and what are the techniques you use to acquire more, because, honestly, it is one of the most epic data analysis I've seen and I'm quite nerdy when it comes about statistics.


Ah, unfortunately it won't help you much. The program I use, Chinese Text Analyzer, not only breaks texts down into various word- and character-based statistics, but also keeps a running count of all words that you know. There is a counter that displays how many unique words you know, and every time you mark a new word as "known" (or as "unknown"), it adjusts that counter and all other generated statistics accordingly. After you've used the program for a while it'll have a damn near perfect model of your vocabulary. I have a spreadsheet where you can view the information I have gathered, although it is in Chinese: [https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1tgS5MFb4xOmFNqfY6WspV-\_tidKFxvHAuPc3zm0geBI/edit?usp=sharing](https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1tgS5MFb4xOmFNqfY6WspV-_tidKFxvHAuPc3zm0geBI/edit?usp=sharing) The leftmost tab, labeled 小说的生词量, contains an enormous graph showing how unknown vocabulary totals have changed over time for a number of books I have been keeping track of. It starts in March (I think?) of last year, and continues up to present day. You can see how the most advanced book at the beginning of the graph originally clocked in at 6.948 unknown words, and now ranks at 2.227 unknown words. This is with an intake of 30 new words per day, systematically and exhaustively studied from books that I am reading (the rapidly declining lines near the bottom of the graph). There is also a graph in another tab which displays average unknown words per page, and how those numbers have changed over time.


Probably the main advantage comes from your ability to recognise the kanji characters, so you can guess meaning of words more easily, and once you learn to associate the Japanese reading of the characters (exceptions exist, of course, sadly...), will be able to pick new words up more quickly. The downside: * There are many many character combinations that exist in Chinese, but iehter don't exist in Japanese (thus, you end up saying words that make no sense), or mean something completely different (大丈夫 comes to mind). My friends who speak Mandarin told me this is one of their biggest challenge once they've reached higher level classes where they are expected to engage in more free conversations with the teacher in class. * (Again, exception exists!) Generally, I found that Kanji is closer to traditional 繁体 than 简体. Even if the characters are 'the same', subtle differences exist, e.g 强 vs 強, so if writing is a concern, then you gotta be on the look-out for these * I've only encountered one girl with this issue - she had a lot of problem pronouncing some combination sound such as "un" (E.g ikun desu) because she'd say how it should be said in Mandarin. I'm actually doing the reverse of you. While ethnically Chinese, I've never learned Mandarin, though I do have some basic grasp of the language since we speak some version of dialect (it's like a mixture of some Hokkien, Teochew, Malay, and everything in between!) at home. I decided to pick up Chinese calligraphy recently, and found that knowing Kanji has helped me a lot in picking up new Mandarin vocabulary.


Even just basic knowledge of Chinese (2 years of continuous classes) helped me a lot with learning Kanji. Knowing radicals, stroke orders which are the basics of Chinese, help tremendously.


My Chinese teacher said that despite not knowing Japanese he can still read the headlines of newspapers in japan. And learning Japanese myself I find that I know Japanese words from Chinese and vice versa. Some cases they are even pronounced similarly like library (tushuguan and toshokan). The only issue is that Japanese uses traditional characters and other uncommon words. Like night in Japanese uses a character that is rarely used in Chinese (I might be wrong though). Another issue I find is that I often mix up readings like “not” (bu and fu) and half (Ban and han). But my advice is dude take on the challenge english helps with your Japanese pronunciation and Chinese helps with your reading. You’re as prepared as you’ll ever be take on a category 5 language!


From a purely linguistic standpoint, Japanese and Chinese are nowhere near related. In fact, Japanese comes from the Japonic language family: spoken exclusively on Japan and some surrounding islands (and maybe parts of the Korean Peninsula but they are all extinct). So, as far as grammar, vocabulary, and the like are concerned, your knowledge of Chinese will have little benefit. Now we acknowledge the history of kanji. Kanji is a sort of “first cousin once removed” to traditional Chinese and “second cousin” to simplified Chinese. So, there are some similarities (particularly in the more pictographic kanji) but a lot of kanji came to Japanese by copying the sounds they made in Chinese and often disregarding the original Chinese meaning, not to mention the fact that Japanese overloaded the Chinese characters (to the point that 生 has 13 readings). So, while your knowledge of Chinese will certainly help with recognizing, distinguishing, and writing Japanese, it probably won’t be a world of difference


My mother learned Japanese within a year or two (Zero knowledge to N1) when she moved for work from China to Japan. She is super smart/hardworking so this may not be for everyone- but she leveraged her knowledge of Chinese characters not just to learn Japanese kanji but also for vocab. Reading kanji that she already knew the meaning of with hiragana/katakana on top allowed her to match the meaning to the term and basically just reinforced her knowledge of vocabulary and grammatical structures.


Im fluent in Korean and conversational in Mandarin, and that makes my learning process for Japanese considerably easier. Half the time, I can guess the meaning from the Kanji from Chinese, and guess the pronunciation of the Kanji from Korean, and use Korean grammar structures for Japanese grammar structures. The basic understanding of Chinese characters that I had helped me a lot with recognition and recall.


It would help a lot, the fact that you would already know most of the kanji meanings really does make things a lot easier to understand. Personally though, my grammar is definitely a lot weaker since I don't really spend as much time studying so my Japanese would come out as "yeah definitely not a native" after a bit of prolong conversation. There is definitely some guesswork at times when it comes to meaning of Kanji, but really, it's probably like 95% of them being the same. u/lolthe1st made a good point on some of it with some of the examples, but as with most languages, you sort of get used to them as you go along the process. The other thing about Kanji is also that if you know how to read traditional Chinese, it makes a lot more sense when you read Japanese, rather than just basing it on from simplified Chinese (which I would assume that's what you studied, though it's not too difficult to read traditional Chinese).


It’s helpful in the beginning where Chinese will give you a lot of contextual clues to understand the semantics of phrases and help trigger your memory but after that, not so much. It is probably at best as helpful as Latin would be for learning French.


I’d think that the main advantage would be in reading, not speaking. Some words are cognate but not many. As I’m sure you know, Chinese is tonal while Japanese is not. If you want to see an American who was fluent in Chinese go from knowing basic Japanese to being more or less fluent, watch Oriental Pearl on YouTube.


Like most people have commented, knowing Chinese helps in reading and writing. But it doesn't help much in grammar, listening and speaking Japanese. I just started learning Japanese and it struck me how hard is it to able to memorise the different pronunciations, especially when each character may have multiple sounds to them unlike in Chinese.


Chinese is your go-to for really advanced level of Japanese. Almost all of the most difficult words and 四字熟語 come from Classical Chinese. For example, 肯綮 嚆矢 塞翁が馬 and such all come from texts in Ancient China.


Everyone in my first Japanese group lesson in Japan.


Although I can't comment on the topic, I am curious as to what this language classification system you mentioned is?


The FSI classifies various world languages into different categories based on empirical data it has collected about how long it takes monolingual English students on average to reach professional competency. Category V* is the highest level. Only Japanese receives this classification. The Category V languages (half a step lower) are: Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Arabic


The category V languages are definitely understandable, but I'm a bit surprised that Japanese is considered even harder than them (but I suppose the combination of Kanji and complex grammar would explain that). Hah, well, makes me all the more proud to be studying it :) Thanks for the info!


So basically there’s something called kanji and although pronounced different the meaning is the same as it is in mandarin and kanji hardest part of Japanese


What you'd be leveraging is actually two things: 1. your knowledge of Chinese characters, which are used to write Japanese, and represent the most significant hurdle for westerners trying to learn Japanese 2. your experience in language acquisition


It is a huge advantage. I came to Japan after getting a degree in Chinese Lang and Lit. Kanji has almost never challenged me. Japanese grammar and general languaculture however is nothing like Chinese.


Knowing Chinese is a cheat code for Japanese indeed. The other commenters are absolutely on point about it. However, I do want to point out that Japanese is *not free* just because you know mandarin. The grammar is drastically different. And there are Kanjis that can surprise you. As a very primitive example, if you know Chinese and see 下手 you would be a little confused, and chances are you won’t be able to guess its meaning on the first try. There’s also words that only appear in kana, stuff like ほとんど, かなり、おいしい, which, although if you see them in their kanji form you could probably (?) guess their meaning, you just won’t see them in kanji that much. Oh, let’s not forget those onomatopoeias. You probably don’t have to spend as much hours as someone who doesn’t know Chinese, but you definitely do have to put in some hours still.


As a Cantonese speaker I can definitely say that Chinese has helped in Japanese First of all there's the Kanji. Basically skips the whole learning Kanji part for the most part because I already know Hanzi. Also I can guess what words that I've never seen before mean (though sometimes there's a big difference between Japanese and Chinese meaning like 勉強) And there are still a few kokuji to learn. I think the most helpful thing is being able to guess the onyomi of kanji (to some degree) using Cantonese. I have a Japanese book that actually teaches using Cantonese to guess onyomi using a few patterns Here's a few examples (jyutping → romaji) 大学 daaihok daigaku 影響 jinghoeng eikyou 特別 dakbit tokubetsu The patterns aren't obvious at first but you get used to them But as for grammar and hiragana words I've had to learn them for scratch like anyone else N3, have been learning on and off for years now


Of course. Because you just need to assign a new meaning to a character that you already recognize. I'm Chinese, and learning Kanji has been a breeze honestly. It's almost like cheating. I can't even imagine learning Kanji from scratch as an adult.


My native tongue is Chinese and I will say, it made learning Japanese easier. The first hurdle is to learn hiragana and katana. After that, reading a lot and watching shows with Chinese subtitles helps a lot. Essentially, it's easier to pick up Kanji because...well, it's literally Chinese characters. I learned Traditional characters so that helped a lot since Japanese is almost in between Simplified and Traditional characters (they do have a few unique characters here and there but not that much). You start with easier books to read with furigana so you learn how to pronounce Kanji characters but the Kanji essentially helps you guess the meaning through context. With subtitles while watching shows, again, it helps a lot because a lot of Japanese words actually sound pretty similar to Mandarin and so a lot of times, while watching the shows, I can piece what I hear to the subtitles I'm reading. And through a lot of exposure, you also start to grasp the grammar structure. I'm mostly self-taught and passed N2 years ago - my Japanese skills have dropped a lot since due to not using it for a while but yeah. Knowing Chinese definitely helps is all I'm going to say.


No offense, but you're not exactly breaking new ground here. Both these languages have existed for thousands of years. Knowing Chinese will give you a leg up, sort of, in learning Japanese kanji. It won't in any way help you learning vocab, grammar, sentence structure of Japanese since the languages (other than the writing system connection) are completely unrelated. Some of my Chinese classmates who thought they could get by on just their kanji knowledge without actually learning Japanese were some of the most incompetent students in my university's Japanese program. They would guess at the meaning of sentences from their knowledge of kanji and be 99% wrong 99% of the time. Knowing Chinese is not something that instantly allows you to easy mode power through the Japanese language. If you want to learn Chinese, learn Chinese. If you want to learn Japanese, learn Japanese. If you want to learn both, learn both. Learning a certain language for the purpose of making it easier to learn a completely different one is one of the more pointless ways you could spend your time.


It seems like you are making a lot of harmful assumptions about me. I appreciate the cautionary words, but when I commit myself to a language, I commit fully and absolutely in every sense of those words. I have been learning at a rate of 30 new words in Chinese every day for the past 1.5 years, aiming for a total acquisition of 20.000 words at the end of 2 years' time, and I am on track to meet that goal. I spend multiple hours almost every day on study and practice, and have devoted a significant amount of effort to mastering accurate pronunciation. My end goal -- which I absolutely expect to eventually meet -- is to read high-level literature with extremely detailed comprehension. I'm not learning Chinese because I want to learn Japanese. If I ultimately do decide to learn Japanese, it will be for reasons wholly separate from why I chose to learn Chinese, and I have already stated those. I enjoy a good challenge. This question was not about looking for an easy way out, but rather to gauge any advantages I may or may not bring with me from Chinese. When it comes to learning languages, I am not in the business of skating by on half-baked efforts.