Will I Sound Too Feminine/Masculine if I Watch Anime?

Are you worried that your Japanese is starting to sound feminine or masculine?  Are you a guy who watches a lot of Japanese idols (ex. AKB48), is dating a Japanese girl, or likes anime/manga with female leads?  Are you a girl who watches a lot of Johnnys, is dating a Japanese guy, or likes Shonen anime/manga?

Are you afraid that because you spend all your time listening to the opposite sex you will start to sound like them? Put your fears to rest.  Unless you purposefully want to sound like the opposite sex, you only need to employ one technique: Variety.

As long as you have some variety with your listening materials, you will sound the way you want to sound.  Regardless of your main focus on one specific area of listening, if you have variety, your brain will subconsciously pick up the way you should talk.  You will naturally follow the speaking patterns of people who are your gender and closest to your age.

There was a time when I used to watch a lot of children’s TV shows, Yakuza shows, and 時代劇 (Japanese samurai dramas).  I may have occasionally inserted some phrases I learned to add some humor to my spoken Japanese, but I never subconsciously started speaking like them, no matter how much I listened to them.

Now go relax, and watch as much AKB48/Johnnys as you want.

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


Will I Sound Too Feminine/Masculine if I Watch Anime? — 8 Comments

  1. When I reached the elementary level, whenever I spoke Japanese, I spoke in a very low voice. Maybe it was nervousness? Maybe it was because I was becoming aware of the change of languages? Whatever the reason, I wanted it to stop. So I trained myself to talk at my natural pitch (which is actually pretty high, in both English and Japanese). While others tend to go at a higher pitch when they talk in Japanese, because they want to sound cute and think all girls sound like that (I noticed that a lot of girls actually have very a low voice in Japan). My friend, who had been forced to learn Chinese throughout elementary school until high school, experienced the same low voice syndrome.

    Anyways, I think finding your Japanese voice is a fun experience. It’s like acting, or becoming a child again. I think Japanese with that low, girly voice is really cute. Like Ichikawa Mikako from Hikari to Tomo ni. But I realized that my voice is different, and I like my voice too. There are also speaking patterns. But I don’t think I’ve ever spoken like a guy. Naturally, I think we lean towards copying our own gender. However, I have seen some students who speak a lot like a girl. But I think that’s because they mainly learn from a textbook, and aren’t exposed to what Japanese really sounds like.

    • I’ve almost experienced some of the opposite. I tend to speak higher in Japanese then I do in English.

      You are definitely right though. Defining how you want to sound in Japanese is quite fun.

    • I think I speak a bit lower in Japanese too. But my voice in English is not so significantly higher that it seems particularly stupid. I just think I sound a little cooler. I think as long as you don’t start calling yourself boku/ore and ending your sentences with ze, it’s pretty hard to sound too masculine in Japanese. If you just use the plainest form you’ll sound fine unless you want to sound cute, which isn’t necessary.

      I think there’s more of a problem with guys speaking like girls because most learning material uses only watashi etc. and if you copy that you’ll sound like a girl. But that’s easily fixed by immersion.

      • Just to add here though, 私(わたし) will always be used in work/polite situations and will not make you sound feminine. It’s in casual situations where it wouldn’t really be used by guys.

        • Yeah, you’re right, the textbooks do have a reason. A lot of them just sincerely want to prepare you for business situations, but they end up breeding office robots, lol.

  2. Interesting. I think I also tend to speak a little higher in Japanese and sometimes have to consciously go down a little. It’s kind of funny how different you can sound speaking different languages.

  3. I love johnny’s!
    But I do listen to both male and female conversations which is helpful because im listening to both obviously and I know how both talk.
    Its pretty cool.

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