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Japanese (and one Chinese) motivational quotes.

There's never enough of motivation, especially when it comes to learning, improving and practicing languages! Here are some of my favorite quotes, with their (approximate) translation:

  • 違う言語というのは、違う人生のビジョンである。 - (ちがうげんごというのは、ちがうじんせいのビジョンである。 - Chigau gengo to iu no wa, chigau jinsei no bijion de aru. ) - A different language is a different vision of life.

  • 別の言語を話すことができるということは、第二の魂を持っているということ。 - (べつのげんごをはなすことができるということは、だいにのたましいをもっているということ。 - Betsu no gengo o hanasu koto ga dekiru to iu koto wa, daini no tamashii o motte iru to iu koto.) - To have another language is to possess a second soul.

  • 話す全ての新しい言語が、新しい人生を生む。一つの言語しか知らなければ、人生は一つしかない。 - (はなすべてのあたらしいげんごが、あたらしいじんせいをうむ。ひとつのげんごしかしらなければ、じんせいはひとつしかない。 - Hanasu bete no atarashii gengo ga, atarashii jinsei o umu. Hitotsu no gengo shikashi karakereba, jinsei wa hitotsu shikanai.) - You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once.

  • 新しい言語は、新たな人生の始まり。 - (あたらしいげんごは、あらたなじんせいのはじまり。 - Atarashii gengo wa, arata na jinsei no hajimari. )- With a new language, it is a beginning of a new life.

  • 自分の言語の限界が、自分の世界の限界。 - (じぶんのげんごのげんかいが、じぶんのせかいのげんかい。 - Jibun no gengo no genkai ga, jibun no sei no genkai.) - The limits of my language are the limits of my world.

  • 少なくとも二つの言語を理解するまで、決して一つの言語も理解することはない。 - (すくなくともふたつのげんごをりかいするまで、けっしてひとつのげんごもりかいすることはない。 - Sukunakutomo futatsu no gengo o rikai suru made, kesshite hitotsu no gengo mo rikai suru koto wa nai.) - You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.

  • 二つの言語を知っている人は、二人分の価値がある。 - (ふたつのげんごをしっているひとは、ふたりぶんのかちがある。 - Futatsu no gengo o shitte iru hito wa, futari bun no kachi ga aru.) - A man who knows two languages is worth two men.

  • 言語を知ることは、賢者への道。 - (げんごをしることは、けんじゃへのみち。- Gengo o shiru koto wa, kenjya e no michi.) - Knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom.

  • 無知によく効く薬は、言語の知識。 - (むちによくきくくすりは、げんごのちしき。 - Muchi ni yoku kikuku suri wa, gengo no chishiki) - The great remedy for ignorance is knowledge of languages.

  • 相手の理解できる言語で話せば、その人の頭に入る。相手の言語で話せば、その人の心に届く。 - (あいてのりかいできるげんごではなせば、そのひとのあたまにはいる。あいてのげんごではなせば、そのひとのこころにとどく。 - Aite no rikai dekiru gengo de hanaseba, sono hito no atama ni hairu. Aite no gengo de hanaseba, sono kito no kokoru ni todoku.) - If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.

  • 学一门语言,就是多一个观察世界的窗户。 - (xué yì mén yǔyán, jiù shì duō yí ge guānchá shìjiè de chuānghu.) - To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world. – Chinese proverb

Bonus stuff - the funniest, weirdest commentary from people who found out I learn Japanese, either by seeing me writing in my notebook or using Japanese apps on my phone:

  • "What are you doing this for? It's not like you'll ever go to Japan. If you're that bored, maybe you should start second studies. You should go and write that dissertation already!" - mother (dissertation is due in about 1 year, but for her, I'm at the end of the deadline)

  • "Can't you find something more useful to do with your time? Like, become a builder? And what are you studying for, you should be working! I already worked when I was just 16!" - grandfather

  • "You're wasting your time. What good are all those "bush signs" for? You can't even use them or all that peeping sounds in crosswords." - grandmother

  • "Those Chinese signs are so difficult! And it sounds really weird, like they are chirping, you know, those squeaky sounds! (starts making weird noises of what is her approximation of the sound of Asian languages)" - aunt (confusing Japanese and Chinese)

  • "That's nice, maybe you will meet some nice man there and get married! I was already married for some time at your age, you should go out and talk to people more or you will end up an old spinster like [here her "at-least-twice-removed" cousin is mentioned]!" - another aunt

  • "So... you're not gonna start eating dogs and cats now... right?" - friend

  • "It's because you all watch so much anime!" - friend (referring to otakus, which I'm not one of)

  • "Oooh, I know Japanese too! I can say: [Ohayooo, genki! Baka! Majime da?] What? No, of course I don't know how to write that, it's from anime. And what is hiragana?" - friend

  • "So how you ask someone for a cigarette? Or ask if they smoke? Write it down for me! (took a photo) Now I'm ready to go, I'll just point to that sentence!" - friend (heavy smoker; when she saw me writing down a sentence about smoking)

Needless to say, those comments did exactly the opposite of discouraging me. Now, my family accepted my hobby of learning languages, sometimes they even seem somewhat impressed by it.

Don't let other people get you down! Keep finding motivation and doing what you love :)

~If you have any other inspiring, interesting or funny quotes, feel free to post them in the comments :D

January 14, 2018



Thanks for the quotes, they are good :) Personal opinion, but to me your family looks scary xD I just have some "but it seems sooooo difficult" when people see me reading a book in Japanese. And yes, lots of "are you an otaku?". Well, I do like anime to a certain extent, but I’m not learning kanji because of that…

I feel like some of the quotes, such as the fist one, are especially true when you learn a system that is really different from the one of your first language. That’s one of the points that really made me fall in love with Japanese.


Haha, they can be a bit scary ;D Fortunately, it was just a temporary "shock phase" for them, they quickly got over it and now they support me ;) They're just really stressed that I may drop in my studies if I spend time doing anything else ;) My mum is the kind of a Chinese "tiger mum", but shhhh.

The first three quotes plus the one in Chinese really appeal to me, I even put some of them on my profile. It's true, that when you learn a new language, all sorts of new ways of thinking open for you :) That's what I love about different cultures and languages.


I think the reason I like Japanese is because I'm fascinated with how the language is built. The fact I love Japanese music and traditional style helps too I guess :D

I don't expect to ever become fluent but I will sure pick up whatever I can!


When it comes to Japanese music, I usually see it as "singing poetry" because the lyrics, based on how they are constructed, truly match the intent of a theme that is trying to be conveyed. The structure has a lot to do with it, too. I simply love how the language is built!

I also don't plan on becoming fluent. Hopefully, I can get to a conversational level. Writing Japanese in creative writing is more of my focus than speaking it. ^ ^


Once my mom asked me if Duolingo was Nintendo (her words). I couldn’t quite answer at the time since we were out and our dinner came right after she asked that, so we became distracted, but I showed her today a Chinese exercise on here where I had translate “I also don’t drink tea” (我也不喝茶). She was like “oh my gosh, I didn’t know you knew that!”

Duolingo is the reason that I’m the best Spanish speaker in my family and can understand Anime in contexts my sister and brother can’t.


I'm quite sure my family never ever heard of Nintendo, I dread to think what would happen if they knew about anime, Nintendo and stuff ;P No one in my close environment really knows much about foreign languages, so it's onto me to do the translations from English and Russian at uni, talk with staff when on holiday abroad. But it's all very enjoyable.

For example, I was in Cyprus and the staff was mostly Greek and Hungarian, some were German and Slovak, and the guests were mainly Russian and British. It was so much fun to be able to talk to all of them in English, there were so many accents and differences! I really loved that trip... The ancient Greek mosaics were amazing too :) (Not as the cat that pissed on me... but that's another story ;P)


I always get really inspired by people who can speak multiple languages, I think it's really amazing. It really does open up your eyes! Other languages are absolutely beautiful and being able to teach yourself is an incredible opportunity that we have such easy access to thanks to apps like Duo Lingo. I wish more people took advantage of it!


Some more ones:

"One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way." - Frank Smith.

"Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere." - Chinese proverb.

I have no idea how to translate either into Japanese though :P


I was able to find two verions of the Chinese translation:

学习是永远跟随主人的宝物。 / 學習是永遠跟隨主人的寶物。

Not much luck with the Japanese one so far ;)

学習はどこの所有者にも続く宝です - but I'm not sure if this is quite accurate.


My parents don't really know that I learn languages (or maybe they do secretly because of all my Japanese notes strewn around back in the day, but I don't think they know that I can read it or speak it at a beginner-intermediate level). Not because I kept it a secret intentionally but I just never told anyone (except my best friend and a cousin). Anyway, I don't see myself meeting with a Japanese or French person in the foreseeable future and yet I learn all these languages, so I was also a recipient of comments that implied that it's useless to try to master these languages if i am never going to use them (and I imagine more people would say that to me if they knew). But they just don't understand that it's merely a hobby (and interest) something to distract me from my dissertation too which is due much earlier than a year (hopefully).

I love the quotes though. I'll probably save them for when I'm feeling discouraged!


To all of you and your families! I'm Hungarian, and in Hungary you can choose English or German to learn in school. I chose English. 6 years ago, because of my ex-husband we came to live in Switzerland, had to learn German. Around September last year my best friend, who is a mask carver asked me, if i would go with him to China in December... He only speaks Hungarian, and whenever he got invitations his wife translated for him, she speaks French. But the Chinese said they need someone who speaks English, and that's how i got in the picture. So i went to China, translated for him, and 2 other German speaking artists in the end. AND There was a Japanese participant as well!!! I'm not that good in Japanese, but it was still a lot of fun. And because the organizers doing international events around the world as well, i'm thinking of learning Chinese, in case i will have to go with my friend again. So you think you won't use languages? How would you know that? Just be a tiny bit optimistic, grab every possibility and magic can happen ;)


Some people get mad at me when I say the second quote in your post because they think I'm being overly dramatic over learning another language. Then again, these people I refer to are usually people who were raised to learn 2+ native languages. Therefore, they don't see anything special with being multilingual. However, for a monolingual person like me, simply being able to read a French novel or adopting a different mindset while speaking French is very significant. I wish more people would see language learning as a rewarding, eye-opening experience than just a dumb hobby that will never be utilized.

Thank you for these quotes and the commentary. I truly appreciate them. ^ ^

Also, Anime was the very thing that got me into Japanese culture. The same goes with Kpop for Korean. I always say that if a small aspect of a culture encourages you to learn an entire language and its culture, then there is nothing wrong with that.


My dad bursted out in laughing when he saw the word for "mother" and pointed at my mum. I started to understand some for when I travel to Japan, but seeing how difficult it actually is, I wanna understand the entire language.


A: "Tell me a joke" : B: "Your mom"

  • that just got a whole new meaning ;D


More like:

A: "Tell me a joke";
B: "母” ;)


so interesting!!!!!!!!! I love it


Just saying, shouldn't this topic be Chinese or Japanese? Who agrees?


There's only one Chinese sentence there, so it doesn't really apply for Chinese discussion. And I wanted this post to be motivating for everyone, not just the Japanese speakers, hence the choice of the category. And maybe to interest people in the Japanese. Hope you don't mind!

Edit: moved now, since the post and thread have grown a bit and they're mostly in Japanese now ;)

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