The YouTube sensation PewDiePie has always intrigued and entertained his millions of fans worldwide.
Lately, with his move to Japan, newfound fatherhood, and deep dive into Japanese culture and language, interest has spiked even more.
Given his new life in Japan, a particular query repeatedly arises among his fanbase.
Does PewDiePie Speak Japanese?
PewDiePie does not speak Japanese fluently. While his content often features snippets of Japanese pop culture, Felix himself only has a foundational grasp of the language. He does understand basic words and can construct simple sentences but is not adept enough for an in-depth conversation.[Minor spoiler warnings for PewDiePie’s recent videos ahead!]
Fans have observed Felix trying to converse in Japanese during his recent visits to Japan.
The glimpses of him attempting to order food or ask for directions are both endearing and impressive.
One would presume from these segments that Felix has been studying Japanese for a while. But what’s the real story?
PewDiePie’s Early Tryst With Japanese
In the initial days of his channel, Felix occasionally mentioned his love for anime and his desire to visit Japan “someday”.
During a fan Q&A, he disclosed that he’d taken a few online Japanese lessons out of sheer curiosity and personal interest.
He once shared that he had anxiety dreams about landing in Tokyo and being completely lost due to the language barrier, reflecting his genuine concern about the nuances of the language.
PewDiePie Had a Japanese Tutor for His New Series
While Felix’s earlier content had mere traces of Japanese, his new series demands a more in-depth understanding.
To make this a reality, he hired a Japanese tutor several months before the series launch.
In an interview with Polygon, Felix reminisced, “Our sessions aimed to ensure I could interact in Japanese, at least superficially. We pushed the boundaries of my linguistic skills as much as possible.”
Felix often humorously commented on his tutor’s balanced approach of being “super kind but so strict”, ensuring he got his pronunciations somewhat correct.
Jokingly, he added, “Japanese viewers probably watch and think, ‘Well, he’s giving it a shot’, but I’m genuinely trying my best.”
So, how do native Japanese speakers perceive PewDiePie’s Japanese skills?
Japanese Fans Weigh In On PewDiePie’s Japanese Efforts
A Twitter thread centered on PewDiePie’s Japanese pronunciation saw mixed responses.
Most acknowledged his genuine effort and the progress he’s made, although some pointed out his Swedish accent influencing his pronunciation.
Given his candid and entertaining approach, most fans, Japanese or otherwise, appreciate his effort and the fresh perspective he brings to understanding Japanese culture.
With more episodes lined up exploring deeper facets of Japan, fans eagerly await more of PewDiePie’s linguistic adventures.
Let us now have a closer look at PewDiePie’s Japanese skills as displayed in one of his latest videos, shall we?
How much Japanese does Pewdiepie know?
Pewdiepie is a beginner of Japanese, but he has begun to understand phrases of the language.
Understanding phrases as a listener is one of the first major signs of language proficiency, so it is proof that he has been serious enough about his studies to be noticeable.
Most anime fans will begin to know some of the most basic phrases of Japanese such as “konnichiwa” [hello], ohaiyou gozaimasu [good morning], and ganbatte [do your best].
Pewdiepie has been using these phrases in his videos even before he moved to Japan, though again, these are phrases well known by many anime fans who don’t actually speak Japanese.
We can’t say for certain whether or not he can speak Japanese from these short phrases, though they are a start for a beginner at the language.
In a recent video he published where he actually uses some non-fandom Japanese, we can analyze his speaking a bit better and get an idea of whether or not he can actually speak Japanese.
Pewdiepie speaking Japanese [Examples]
In his video “1 Year Japan Review (0 – 10) 👏👏” Pewdiepie speaks out about his struggles with the Japanese language, and cites multiple expressions often used in Japanese convenience stores.
Let’s look at a few examples:
Fukuro wa goryoyu u desu ka? [Do you need a bag?]
Fukuro goryou desu ka?
He leaves out some of the grammar (the “wa” particle here) and slips up on the verb for need “goryoyu”, but his sentence is close enough to be understood!
Ikkatsu barai desu ka? / Ikkai barai desu ka? [Would you like to pay a lump sum/Would you like a 1-time payment]
Ikka barai desu ka?
He is very close with this sentence, and his accent could have contributed to this mistake.
In Japanese, the noun “ikkatsu” meaning “lumped together” is sometimes used by cashiers. Equally commonly, “ikkai” can be used here to mean “one-time”.
Either way he is just slightly off with one of the words. But again, he is close enough that we can see that he is likely doing well in his Japanese studies.
Being slightly off actually makes it more believable that he has studied these phrases, and didn’t just memorize them for this video.
His accent when speaking Japanese could use some work, but even that has improved a lot since his earlier videos.
He is showing signs of knowing vocabulary (for the most part) and being able to recite some common phrases used in Japan.
He is correct in the sentence he uses later in the video “the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know sh*t.”
Sometimes Japanese studies seem like one step forward and two steps back, but that’s just understanding enough of the language to know your true level as a learner!
What’s Next For PewDiePie’s Japanese Journey?
“With the current trajectory of his content, it’s evident that PewDiePie’s exploration of Japanese culture and language will only deepen.
Now living in Japan, PewDiePie has an additional motivation to truly master the Japanese language.
One thing is clear: PewDiePie’s commitment to immersing himself in the culture he adores, both online and in his daily life in Japan, is commendable.
Until the next video drops, as Felix would say, “Mata ne!” (See you again!)”
Frequently asked questions about PewDiePie
Is PewDiePie living in Japan?
PewDiePie is indeed living in Japan now, together with his wife Marzia and his newborn son Björn.
Is PewDiePie a father now?
PewDiePie is indeed a father now. Together with Marzia, his wife, he has a son named Bjorn (Björn).
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.