Video: I practice speaking Japanese in 3D

I think one of the best ways to test your progress is to film a video of yourself speaking about random stuff. I did butcher the second half where I tried actually making a point/ giving my opinion.

Please stop saying ‘ohayo gozaimashitanda’
It’s wrong on so many levels.

However, from your video, I’d say you’re a pretty good communicator, as it was actually fairly easy to understand what you were trying to say.

I think you should spend a bit of time of the written language though. Quite a few people try to skip it, but it’s so ingrained in the spoken language that to reach anything beyond upper beginner level it’s pretty crucial.

I recommend you slow down a bit, instead of trying to hurry, and try to get rid of language ticks, i.e. words you use over and over unnecessarily.

How do you know he was trying to hurry? I didn’t see any evidence that he was trying to hurry.
Most people fall into a bad habit of speaking Japanese too slowly.

The succession of fast parts, and slower parts with pauses and hesitations somtimes shows a certain lack of control. While this is entirely normal for any language learner, I thought Yuri could demonstrate more control if he slowed down a little bit.

Do you disagree with this advice?

Interesting- I do agree that I speak too fast in my native language and also english sometimes, though as far as Japanese goes I’m not sure- I think Japanese just sounds fast in general so my already fast rate of speech is suited to it somehow.

Sure, the flow and intonation are not natural but the speed is not fast. I do not think that deliberately slowing down will help at all. If Yuri is comfortable speaking at that speed then he should just continue to speak at that speed. It’s only natural that things you know how to say without thinking will just come out quickly, while other things you have to think about will come out after a pause.

Speaking off-the-cuff is really hard to do anyway, so I think Yuri did a good job.

“Sure, the flow and intonation are not natural but the speed is not fast.”
Maybe you meant accent not intonation? I do have a strong accent in most languages and my voice is naturally high pitched (I’m trying to fix it but it’s hard). I guess the “flow” should come later when I start watching a lot of non-learner content and get a better sense of the language- indeed like with english, which many of my friends are learning, I correct them but usually I can’t really give a rule, rather just that “it doesn’t sound right” and maybe give examples of similar constructions.

“Speaking off-the-cuff is really hard to do anyway”

  • yeah. I’ve actually had to edit the video because a few times I’d mess up/think for a long time for a word so I’d have to start over. It’s one thing to ask for directions or order a coffee, another one to discuss language learning/complex subjects. However, currently in my learning I’m focusing on listening to podcasts and repeating all the Japanese out loud- that I think is crucial in strengthening your memory of some words and giving you more confidence in the language overall- “just listening” all the time can lead to a state where one understands a lot but can’t really make a complex sentence- I’ve seen people talk about this issue.

Since you both mention intonation, I’d also suggest you concentrate on pitch. If you like to listen and repeat, it would be beneficial to learn about pitch so you know what you are listening to. As non-native speakers, it’s really hard to know exactly what part of what we hear needs to be exactly the same, and what part varies.

okay I have to clarify- by pitch one can mean

  1. the overall pitch of a voice
  2. pitch/intonation/ when it comes to pronouncing words- that is, knowing which letter should be the “loud one”, the length of some sounds etc

If you mean meaning n2 I’d say I don’t think I have big problems with that, my main challenge currently is more words, more practice. Maybe Keith/Steve/etc can chime in on this.

I meant the pitch that Japanese uses whereby each syllable is either high or low. In Japanese, it’s called 高低アクセント.

For instance, taBEru is LHL, and has a high pitch on the middle syllable.

The problem with pitch accent is that it varies so much from region to region - it’s one of the major factors that marks different dialects… In my experience anyway, if you ask people about the differences between, say, Tokyo Japanese and Osaka Japanese, they’ll mention some word differences like 分からない versus 分からへん, but they’ll probably mostly mention the different アクセント. You don’t notice it so much when people just say one word, but when I go to Osaka I find it difficult to follow people because the pitch bounces around in ways I’m not used to.

In Tokyo, IIRC, the figure was that 90% of words begin low and rise without a drop during the word. Most drops occur at the end of words, although some particles cause the pitch to drop and some do not. Probably the best advice I got was to try to speak with fairly level pitch and not worry too much about pitch accent. For English speakers anyway, it’s more important to not use the sort of forceful stress we normally use where some sounds become longer or louder than the other sounds.

When I hear 外国人 who are difficult to understand, it’s usually not because their pitch accent is off, but rather because they’re accenting sounds with length and/or force. It’s also important to not reduce any vowels to schwa.

I recall that the wikipedia accent on pitch accent was pretty good. It’s actually a fairly unique and interesting element of Japanese. There is “downstepping” in some African languages like Yoruba (although I may be misremembering which language it is), but it doesn’t work quite the same as in Japanese.

Apparently Shanghaiese has a similar pitch accent.

Only in rare cases does it actually prevent people from understanding you, as unlike Chinese it isn’t often used to differentiate between words. There are cases, but as Botrun, says they differ between regions anyway. The meaning can usually be understood from context, similar to getting stress wrong in English. In fact, stress and pitch have similar linguistic roles in this case, which is to indicate where words begin, with pitch in Japanese and stress in English having a fairly even distribution in their respective languages.

Far more important is to get the vowel length right, because this is used to differentiate words, and whilst a Japanese person’s ears may forgive the difference between 花 and 鼻, 故障 and 交渉 are entirely different.

I second what roan said about getting vowel length right. That takes a while (at least it did for me) and it’s very important both for understanding and for being understood.

I was recently in Osaka for a week, and I was talking to some Brazilians who didn’t speak English. It was really interesting hearing them speak Kansai-ben Japanese. If you live in Japan, you’ll probably just end up picking up the pitch accent and casual word forms of whichever region you live in.

As a side note, when this topic came up before, I asked some friends what they thought the strongest marker of a foreigner speaking Japanese was and they said the pitch accent. However, that’s probably not such a bad thing, as it’s also probably the strongest marker of where you come from in Japan.

It’s also kind of funny to hear Japanese people imitate foreigners speaking Japanese. Sometime in dramas there’ll be a foreign character played by a Japanese person speaking Japanese with what is apparently supposed to be a “foreign” accent.

'It’s also kind of funny to hear Japanese people imitate foreigners speaking Japanese. "

  • I think this is true for most countries/languages- the “quality” of the actor can vary greatly, and often you’ll have them making “incorrect” mistakes that foreigners who are learning wouldn’t usually make. For example, "correct"mistakes of a Japanese person speaking english would be sometimes be confusing R/L, he/she, and forgetting the (s) at the end of plurals like dog(s), “can you teach me your phone number”, etc

would sometimes be**

There is no doubt that learning correct pitch in Japanese is no easy feat, but if Yuriy were one to shy away from difficult endeavours, he wouldn’t have learned Japanese to this level.

Besides, he knew he’s the best.


english: yeah :slight_smile:

japanese answer: iiee sonna!