T Nation

Advice on Chinese vs Japanese Language

For the last few years i have been wondering about widening my horizons.
Right now i am a hand to hand combat instructor, and i have been into fight world largest part of my life. I do also have a specialization(idk how is that called in english) in construction works, but i also have a degree in political science and an unfinished degree in biology altho i have never done anything with those my whole life.
Ever since Covid shot me in the back, all the trainings have been shut down mostly, so its basically surviving financially and its not looking better - actually in my country its getting worse than it was a year ago.
Anyways, from time to time, due to Covid showing how fragile my work field is, and also because of some mid-life crisis i am thinking about some extra stuff to learn, do and maybe some day use to make some money.

My latest idea is to learn a new language. Right now, i know my native latvian, i also know russian and english and a very very basic german which i would describe as - i know more than average person does, but i still dont understand shit in german, lol.

So, my 2 picks are - Chinese or Japanese.
For now, my reasonings are :
Chinese is a huge country and its growing fast. Also lots of users for the language.
Japanese is more fun because of their culture - historically(since im in martial arts) and also nowdays they tend to push their stuff around the whole world, while Chinese tend to keep to themselves.
If it was only for fun, id definetly pick japanese, but i hope that some day i might be able to use this language for some sort of work - idk, maybe translation, client support, or something online… I have no clue to be honest.

I would like to ask you guys - what do you think - which one is better and why? All answers are welcome as i need as much info as i can get to think about.
I know that knowing any language is a good thing but i am really looking into MAYBE and hopefully actually doing something with it in case this world never comes back to normal, or i just get tired of breaking faces for money.

I don’t know how things work in Latvia but I’d imagine a multilingual person with a political science degree could find some cool work to do. Here in the States if you show enough aptitude for language learning and are a decent student you can often find overseas work for the government. Very different situation obviously, but have you looked into anything like that?

I’d say learn whatever you want to learn. You are interested in Japanese culture/history, and you hope that whatever language you learn you are able to use someday in maybe a work setting. Well, with your interest in Japan wouldn’t it be cool to work there/with a Japanese company/etc.?

I’m sure Chinese would be a perfectly fine language to learn, and could become useful, but since you know what you like and what you hope to get out of it, I’d go with what makes you “happier” not just what might look better on a resume.

Also, this occurred to me: there’s probably more Chinese speakers than Japanese ones. I mean, obviously the country itself has a way bigger population, but I would just imagine that though there’s a large amount of both, I would guess that more people have learned Chinese as a second language than those who’ve learned Japanese, so as far as the job market goes, Japanese might be more unique/in demand. I’m completely speculating here though, so take with a grain of salt.

lol, @anna_5588? Thoughts?

1 Like

I took a small amount of Japanese when I was a teenager, and as an English speaking person, it was significantly easier to pick up than the Mandarin or Cantonese that my friends or coworkers tried to teach me.

Just my two cents.

1 Like

sad part is that everyone is multilingual in here… i had to learn these languages but kids nowdays speak latvian, russian and english by the age of 7…
when i teach kids classes, some kids are so young they just speak a mix of these 3 languages and not 1 particular language…
as in - i am not special, anyone has some sort of degree and speaks at least 2 languages here… thats why im looking into some EXTRA ones.

i have the interest, yes, but i dont plan on going to live someplace else… i am finally settled down actually… i would be interested in some online or long distance work - thats why i think languages would also be a good idea as you can do lots of stuff online nowdays.

I’m biased, but in terms of business utility, I’d go with China. Right now, China is much more economically and arguably politically important than Japan. How long before China is overtaken by the next hot emerging market is unknown, but even if that is true, China still has significantly more people, so speaking Mandarin will at least allow for wider communication



which means that you will probably be more disciplined and actually learn Japanese

Also, with the popularity of anime, Japan is arguably more culturally significant.

The other option would be Korean, which is easier than both

i also tought about this - its easier to actually USE japanese language daily, as they have very popular media…
since chine keeps to themselves, it could be a bit harder to actually use it…
but then again - technically, one can learn both languages eventually in case i succeed at one…

and nah, i would be disciplined enough if i knew WHY am i doing this…
this is what fucks with me - japanese would be fun and intereseting while all the info says that chinese would probably be more usable for me and that is very important.

1 Like

Not sure which Asiatic language this is, but pick the one where there is guttural that sounds remarkably like someone is squeezing out a poop while really constipated and simultaneously being so cold they are shivering and thus kind of have a stutter.

When I was a kid a friend would do a comedy act (a real one, on stage) on “how to speak Chinese” (or whatever it was) and he would go through the steps, which included, hitting himself in the balls, faking constipation, and freezing.

It was obviously gibberish, but sounded like a real language, so much so that Korean soldiers (in Israel for training) would come up and get their picture taken with him because it was so spot on. So I guess it wasn’t Korean.)

1 Like