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Which is harder: Korean, Chinese or Japanese?


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I am currently studying Japanese, and plans to study Korean once I'm finished. I am finding Japanese hard to study, like Mandarin. Can someone tell me if Korean is as hard or harder than the other two? Which part is hard for you?

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I am currently studying Japanese and Korean.  I find Chinese to be quite difficult.  While my maternal grandfather, now deceased, knows how to speak Chinese, I never liked learning his language at all.  For the Japanese language, I'm trying to learn about katakana, while I am constantly being taught how to count in Korean.

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Oh, I find the two syllabary in Japanese quite easy. I tried memorizing how to count in Korean, but I find that hard, so I stopped learning the language, and switched to learning Japanese instead. I promise to come back and learn Korean again, though. :) Thanks for the feedback. ^^

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It depends on which part you're talking about. I don't know much about Korean, but I have experience learning both Japanese and Chinese.

For Japanese, the writing is definitely easier. While they have Kanjis too, their base is hiragana which is way easy to write than Kanjis. However, their grammar is harder and more complicated than Chinese. Plus they have a whole different way of speaking to people from upper society. This is something Chinese doesn't really have.

Chinese is harder to write, but the grammar and sentence structure is more straightforward so I find it to be easier than Japanese.

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I'm teaching myself Korean with the help of books and YouTube  videos and also a few helpful people on language learning sites.

Korean in my opinion is hard, the hardest part I find is reading, even though I know Hangul I'm lost when reading. As for Chinese and Japanese they would be hard too.

There is no easy language, if you are a non Chinese Korean or Japanese native speaker then these languages are going to be difficult because they are different to your own, writing system is different grammar and all that.

Everyone learns at a different pace and with time and dedication all 3 languages are learnable to anyone, and probably come out easy in the end.

It all comes to the person and the person's natural learning ability, some people are better than others in their ability,  and each language has their own path, method style etc. But all come to the same road in the end.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm also studying Japanese right now but I would like to study Korean as well. I think Chinese is the hardest one to learn because it's a huge language. I guess it still comes down to whether you really want to learn the language or not. Like me since I've been watching Japanese and Korean series and movies I have a basic knowledge on their pronunciations and words. I think that also goes the same to those studying Chinese who has been watching shows with that language. They might find Chinese easy to learn. :)

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  • 1 month later...

I haven't tried to learn much Japanese or Chinese, but I have to believe that Korean is easier.  The Korean alphabet is phonetic and specifically designed to be easy to read.  Chinese and Japanese both have a different character for each word, which is much more memorization and much more difficult. 

From a pronunciation standpoint, I think Japanese and Korean would be fairly similar.  Chinese is a tonal language, so I think that adds a level of complexity.  Also, since there are several different types of Chinese that are linguistically completely independent, you would need to specify which one you are asking about for a true comparison.

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  • 2 months later...

I don't know much Chinese, but I've learned more about Korean in a day than I learned about Japanese in two weeks. In which case, personally I think the systematic system of Hangul is much easier to grasp. Meanwhile, Japanese is definitely harder to me because of it's pictorial system.

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I know Chinese and I'm currently studying Japanese and a bit of Korean and I think they are all equally difficult to learn. Though, if I had to choose the most difficult I think I'd still stick with Chinese as being the most difficult one to learn even if just slightly more than Korean and Japanese. It's just way too rich and complex and not to mention you have to keep up with the modernization of many phrases and words as well because it's a very old language and chances are you can learn many versions of it.

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  • 10 months later...

Apparently Korean grammar is horrific and it's difficult to know when a word ends and a new one begins. But the writing system is suuuuper easy. I was surprised that it would be so easy for an Asian language. 

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I believe Korean, Chinese and Japanese are all among the hardest languages to learn, especially for native English speakers. Personally I think Korean is the easiest, while Chinese and Japanese are somewhat tied. If I had to pick one as the hardest though, I think I'd say Japanese is the hardest. There's hiragana and katakana and all that jazz and it's just like plain horrible. Chinese pronunciations are far easier because you really just have to follow the tone marks, or whatever they're called. But once you've tackled that I think it only gets easier.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The Korean writing system is the easiest of the three writing systems. There is no need to memorize ideograms; the system is simple and can be learned very quickly. As far as pronunciation goes, I would say Japanese is the easiest. If you're worried about grammar, Japanese and Korean are nearly identical. I can't speak for Chinese in that regard.

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  • 2 months later...

I'm studying Japanese and Chinese and honestly I find Chinese to be the most difficult. It would have been the same for me except for the fact that Chinese has tones. Once you get used to the tones learning it is a bit easier but if a native speaker comes up to you and starts speaking really fast I just blank out. I can handle Japanese a bit better since there isn't going to be four different meanings for a word depending on how they say it. Plus a lot of Chinese characters have the same meaning in Japanese kanji so it's a bit fun to come across those.Korean is an oddball for me. My friend tried teaching me a bit and I find it not to be as hard as Chinese. 

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Whichever is the hardest depends on your persona.

I know a good amount of Japanese and I'm currently learning Mandarin Chinese.
In Japanese, grammar and politeness can be considered hard, while speaking and vocabulary can be considered easy.
In Mandarin, tones are the hardest part, but the grammar is very easy.

I don't have any experience with Korean myself, but I've heard that Korean is a bit similar to Japanese when it comes to vocabulary and very similar when it comes to word order.
However, I can't confirm this myself.

When it comes to reading, I think Korean is the easiest because it has only 1 alphabet, compared to the 2 alphabets + character set in Japanese or a character set in Chinese.
When it comes to speaking, I would give my award to Japanese.
For listening you would be leaning more towards Chinese.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Chinese is defintely going to be the hardest. I'm learning both Korean and Japanese. I just started Japanese but I've known Korean for a while now. Koreans alphabet was easy to learn. But learning the grammar and formalities is tough, especially at first. Now, the Japanese alphabet is super hard. There's hiragana and katagana. Then there's kanji. They use more chinese symbols than Korean does. So it's really hard to remember everything but I think that forming sentences in Japanese is a lot easier than Korean - WAY less conjugation, if that makes sense. As far as I know (I'll romanize):

Japanese 'i love you': aishitaru

Korean 'I love you':

who are you talking to? someone younger than you or your best friend or significant other? sarang

maybe just a tiny bit more formal to someone close? saranghae

talking to someone you need to show a little more respect to? saranghaeyo

talking to someone you need to show a great respect to? saranghabnida

I'm sure there are formalities in Japanese but I'm married to a half-japanese guy and he says they rarely matter. Korean revolves around the utmost conjugation and formality. 

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Chinese is the most difficult among them, I think. I tried to learn Korean and I find it easier than Chinese with lesser characters to memorize. But I think the pronunciation and accent is more difficult. I'd love to learn Japanese too if I'm already confident with my chinese language. It will be a little confusing for someone who's learning Chinese to learn Japanese at the same time because of the similarities in characters as Japanese and Chinese have a few similar text with different meaning. I guess my interest with asian language is due to the influence of asiandrama and anime. 

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1 hour ago, innovativecat said:

It will be a little confusing for someone who's learning Chinese to learn Japanese at the same time because of the similarities in characters as Japanese and Chinese have a few similar text with different meaning.

That's not entirely true though.
While it's a well known fact that both languages have a totally different grammar (Chinese is similar to English, Japanese is similar to Korean), the Chinese have simplified their characters differently from the Japanese too (like 飲 (Japanese) vs 喝 (Chinese), both mean "to drink").
Not to mention that many of the same characters have a different meaning in both languages (like 勉強, which is "study" (benkyou) in Japanese and "reluctanly" (miǎnqiǎng) in Chinese).

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On 13/1/2016, 12:40:47, Blaveloper said:

That's not entirely true though.
While it's a well known fact that both languages have a totally different grammar (Chinese is similar to English, Japanese is similar to Korean), the Chinese have simplified their characters differently from the Japanese too (like 飲 (Japanese) vs 喝 (Chinese), both mean "to drink").
Not to mention that many of the same characters have a different meaning in both languages (like 勉強, which is "study" (benkyou) in Japanese and "reluctanly" (miǎnqiǎng) in Chinese).

Oh, sorry. I'm talking about this "same characters have a different meaning". I think it will be confusing for me as someone who's learning chinese. :)

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Korean gets a lot easier if you know Japanese. The words differ, but the grammar is similar (i am speaking of the subject/object particles, levels of politeness).

+ Hangeul, the Korean writing system is one of the easiest. The Chinese grammar on the other hand is not really complex BUT Chinese has tones and tons of characters.

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  • 6 months later...

Korean is by far the easiest to learn of the three since the alphabet system is all phonetic just like ours. I never tried learning it myself, but it seems from the way my boyfriend talks about it that Japanese might be the most difficult. I mean, according to Wiki, it's one of the most difficult languages to pick up because their sentences mixes different scripts and has a large inventory of character type.

That said, I think Mandarin would be somewhere between Korean and Japanese. Their writing system is based off of a bunch of radicals (basically root characters), so even though it looks intimidating to learn, it's actually not that bad. And again, they ARE essentially pictographs, so sometimes a little imagination makes learning Chinese easier. If my foreign language inept brother was able to pass Chinese in high school, it's manageable. 

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10 hours ago, kimseokjin said:

Korean is by far the easiest to learn of the three since the alphabet system is all phonetic just like ours. I never tried learning it myself, but it seems from the way my boyfriend talks about it that Japanese might be the most difficult. I mean, according to Wiki, it's one of the most difficult languages to pick up because their sentences mixes different scripts and has a large inventory of character type.

That said, I think Mandarin would be somewhere between Korean and Japanese. Their writing system is based off of a bunch of radicals (basically root characters), so even though it looks intimidating to learn, it's actually not that bad. And again, they ARE essentially pictographs, so sometimes a little imagination makes learning Chinese easier. If my foreign language inept brother was able to pass Chinese in high school, it's manageable. 

You should know that reading is only a fraction of the whole package we call "language".
I agree that in terms of reading Korean might be the easiest, just because it has 1 phonetic script.
In terms of spoken language, I think Japanese and Korean might be on the same level, since both share a good amount of Chinese and English loanwords, both are non-tonal languages and both are SOV languages.

But as a learner of Japanese, I actually find having a mixed script very convenient.
Unlike here in the west, they never use any spaces in the orient, so having 4 different scripts can pretty much replace spaces really well.
Not to mention that Japanese vocabulary solely written in Hiragana can be confusing, since a single word can have a fuckload of meanings.

Consider:
きをりかいするな。
This can be read as "I understand your spirit", "I understand the tree", "I understand the/your machine", etc.
気を理解するな。
This is the exact same sentence, except that this can only be read as "I understand your spirit".

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