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Chinese vs. Japanese

Hello everyone! Welcome back our next challenge of the Versus Series is Chinese vs. Japanese!!!

In case you are unfamiliar with this challenge here is the discussion were we talked about it and the other competitions are here as well: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/25125242


We are going to put each language to challenge each other in 3 categories. 1. How it sounds (spoken) 2. How is sings (sung) 3. How it looks (written)

Now, what you have to do is vote! Choose who's your winner in this round. DON'T FORGET: we would like you to write in great detail why you chose the language you voted for. Let's start!

Chinese -

  1. Spoken: https://youtu.be/B-qxGhkRojc
  2. Sung: https://youtu.be/tDWYRUKUc68
  3. Written: 人人生而自由,在尊严和权利上一律平等。他们赋有理性和良心,并应以兄弟关系的精神互相对待。

Japanese -

  1. Spoken: https://youtu.be/o4R1-TLkxBs
  2. Sung: https://youtu.be/6-dqMG-Uycg
  3. Written: すべての人間は、生まれながらにして自由であり、かつ、尊厳と権利とについて平等である。人間は、理性と良心を授けられてあり、互いに同胞の精神をもって行動しなければならない。
November 21, 2017



I'm voting for Chinese on this one. It's the first language I learned to fluency (outside of Spanish) and I've made lots of connections with it so far. A few weeks ago I took a Chinese proficiency exam for native speakers, even though I'm not one! lol! I'm still waiting for results, but I know they'll be good. Plus, it's easier to speak and write (sort of) than Japanese AFAIK.


It's definitely not easier to write than Japanese. I can't draw Chinese characters, and when I attempt to, it looks ridiculous. Unless you mean the writing system, in which case, it definitely is.


I made my point due to 3 writing systems in Japanese, with one including more complex Chinese characters, some not even present in traditional or simplified Chinese charsets.


Yeah, but the Hiragana and Katakana are, at least for me, much easier to draw than Chinese characters. Of course, there is the Kanji, which I also fail at writing.


How did you learn Chinese?


Various sources. My primary one was this site.


You find Japanese harder to speak? Interesting, I think the opposite. Japanese has only one consonant not found in English (the weird r/l sound) and no tones (I suck at tones. A lot). The only real difficulty in speaking Japanese are long vowels and doubling consonants (i.e., small つ), but I got used to them rather quickly.


By speaking I meant grammar-wise. Japanese is agglutinative (sort of), while Chinese is analytical, making it loads easier than Japanese. Tones aren't hard either, unless you're talking about Vietnamese. Plus one Chinese character usually only has one reading for it, while one Japanese kanji character can have several, due to onyomi, kunyomi and nanoriyomi.


Maybe this is just me, but I actually find Japanese grammar very easy and intuitive, basically formulaic. It's different, but I don't find it very challenging. (At the very least it's much easier than the grammar of most European languages). Of course, Chinese grammar is also pretty simple and similar to English, but I don't find it nearly as interesting. I also really, really have difficulty pronouncing and recognizing tones. I'm getting better, but it's still a pain (especially when there's a tone change). I also personally don't find kunyomi and onyomi that problematic. They also tend to be similar (the onyomi for 目 are モク and ボク, and the kunyomi are め and ま). Maybe my brain has just gotten used to the idea of kunyomi and onyomi?


Chinese most definitely


Definitely Japanese! I think it sounds amazing spoken and sung because of how syllables can end only in a vowel or "n." It gives it a flowing quality that Chinese doesn't have. I'm also just not the biggest fan of the way tonal languages sound in general. I really like the way Japanese sentences look with the usually complex and blocky kanji mixed in with the rather simple and flowy hiragana, and katakana looks like a mix of those characteristics.



  1. Spoken: Japanese. Personally, it's the most beautiful language I've ever heard and the more I hear it spoken (by native speakers), the more I fall in love with it.
  2. Sung: Japanese. Yep, still sounds gorgeous.
  3. Written: Japanese because it includes Hiragana.

If I went into detail I'd basically be copying TheEeveeLord's comment because I agree with everything they said. :)


Spoken: Chinese. Sung: Chinese. Written: Japanese. Vote goes to Chinese.




The Japanese singing sounded better than the Chinese, but I have to vote for Chinese because it sounds so passionate when spoken and it's writing looks so much more standardized and simple than Japanese, which just looks chaotic.


Based on the criteria and links listed in the original post, I'd choose Japanese. Spoken: The Japanese accent sounds gentler than the Chinese accent. Sung: It is a close contest. But the sound quality on the Japanese recording is much better than the Chinese one. Written: I find it easier to decipher the nouns from the verbs, adjectives etc because of the Kanji in the Japanese sentence. In the Chinese sentence, I can't tell which ones are the nouns because they are all Chinese characters.


Spoken: Japanese is so much easier to 'understand' for us westerners. The sounds are much more familiar. Sung: Chinese. This is where its beauty shines through. Melodic and feminine (and I mean that in the best possible way). Written: Chinese. Aesthetically pleasing. Japans doodles in between the kanji looks out of place.


This is a fun one!


Chinese: As someone who has learned the language for about seven years now, I know Chinese is a nice language to speak. The tones add a bounciness to it, and it flows well. Japanese: It sounds really cute, with the vowel endings for every syllable and how its spoken. It doesn't stick out to me, however.

Chinese: Japanese -- 1:0


Chinese: Of course, it would be impossible to sing with tones; but even without them, it sounds really nice! I think the pinyin makes for a great song. Japanese: It works also, but I didn't get the same feeling I did with Chinese.

Chinese: Japanese -- 2:0


Someone here noted how hiragana and katagana makes Japanese a little messiers than its supposed to be with the squiggles and lines compared to the kanji characters. I find it quite cute, but with a bit of an eyesore at times.

Chinese: Japanese -- 2:1

It took me a few years from when I started learning Chinese in high school to fully appreciate Chinese; but when I've done so, it has opened a lot of doors to see how beautiful it is. I do not believe I'm fluent, which would take several more years to hit, but it's a language worth learning. Once you've gotten over the characters and the tones, the grammar is quite easy!


The Japanese version is slightly less awful than the Chinese one here, although I don't especially agree with using Frozen as a comparison for all of these, particularly when sung with a strong American accent. When comparing languages one is also comparing the cultures behind them, musical traditions, etc. In terms of my actual preference between the two languages, I'd say it depends on the type of Japanese and the type of Chinese. Normally I prefer Chinese, with Min Chinese being my favourite kind of Chinese https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLrUjZqTsTc

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