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Why Programmers like Japanese & Japanese Learners like Programming — 29 Comments

  1. LOL this is awesome. I love the images, especially the Summer Wars one. I started learning Japanese long before programming. Programming is more of a recent endeavor. Both are fascinating and insanely difficult/ tedious. I love learning both. As with Japanese, I find programming to be very time consuming and a methodical process is a must. Also, yes, I got into both because of videogames. Programming more so to leave my job though. Thanks for the article!

  2. I think Japanese language is exactly the *opposite* of programming: you have to
    memorize *a lot*, writing system is so complex that it takes months to get used
    to, and Japanese is a lot harder to test and debug!

    Programming languages, on the other hand, tend to have a lot simpler grammar,
    and do not require you to memorize anything, since you always can (and actually
    should) check a documentation.
    When programming language have clear and unambiguous specification (in a perfect
    world), natural language have a good amount of exceptions and context dependent
    meanings.

    Still, learning Japanese can be quite beneficial to a programmer, since it helps
    training your memory and improves communication skills.

    Slightly off-topic question: how do you look for a programming job in Japan?

        • I also got my first programming job in Japan using wantedly about 4 years ago.
          While I got it directly applying to positions, I’ve since been contacted by headhunters several times since then just for having a profile on there.

  3. As a programmer studying Japanese (for unrelated reasons – I really like reading and some Japanese books I want to read haven’t been and will never be translated to English), Japanese is a very logical language. It makes my programming heart warm when I parse a Japanese sentence and see how it all fits together. :D
    The way a particle modifies a word it belongs with, the way you can use parentheses to separate a complicated sentence into several simpler ones, the way verbs can be changed depending on their suffix… It’s all awesomely regular.

    And yes, the way you get used to learning new languages as a programmer definitely helps.

    Thanks for the article!

  4. My interest for Japanese started way before I knew what programming was. But yes, I did start learning Japanese and coding because of video games and anime. I believe I started Programming and self studying Japanese around the same time. I still want to use my Japanese at work. Im hoping to get there someday.

  5. Just leaving my “checks out” comment in regards to interests: programmer and mathematician in the makings, and video games being my greatest motivation :)

    (followed by anime and manga but that’s almost a given in this site haha)

  6. I too started studying Japanese way before programming, but I’m a CS major now—which was completely unexpected. I’m finding that I can apply a lot of the same principles of Japanese learning to computer programming, and I appreciate the logic and structure of both.

  7. In terms of actually how to learn a programming language, has anyone got any experience or thoughts on using Anki or even applying the Jalup method?

    • I don’t think you can apply that correctly. The best thing you can do to learn a new programming language is grabbing a good book and code in that language. There’s not much to memorize or things you can SRS there.

      • While it is no substitute for experience, one could learn basic CS knowledge, best practices, and design patterns through Anki if they so desired.

        • Yeah, I though for a while and maybe it wouldn’t be really useful for memorizing things in that regard, but you could quiz yourself periodically about various CS topics (including particularities from given programming languages).

    • I’ll just use the keyword of “Janki Method” here. :D It’s easy enough to google, if it is applicable one has to decide for themselves

      • This comment is appearing and disappearing in my browser back and forth, how he likes it – sorry for the double post. :<

    • Once I read a blog about a guy who made his own Method (Janki-Method) for his work with different programming languages – where he uses anki and small pieces of code to study

    • I created a massive Anki deck/applied the Jalup method while learning a few programming languages, and found it really worked well. Not only in the learning process, but when reviewing, it constantly refreshes me of new/old ideas, and different ways I can handle a task I’m currently working on.

      Maybe I’ll talk about the experience one day here if people are interested.

      • That would be great! I definitely would like to see how you set up your cards. I have tried using anki many times in the past for college work and interview questions but I feel like after a while it just became busy work.

      • I’d be up for that; I’m always interested in learning about other people’s studying methodologies, let alone if they’re yours!

      • This sounds super interesting Adam. I’m totally keen to hear about your experiences.

        On another note, if anyone is looking for a Japanese resource for learning programming, I’m finding http://prog-8.com to be really good. There are a whole bunch of different languages, the explanations are quite clear, it’s very interactive, and it even has a game-like element with levels.
        I’m working through the python lessons and making Anki cards as I go.

  8. Yep! I first tried it in 84, and loved it ever since, and now professionally since 96. I suppose I should be fluent in Japanese then, but nooooo.

    I’d be curious if there was a correlation between people who liked learning real languages, and programmers who prefer functional programming, since functions compose so similarly to natural grammar. Also idiomatic FP often involves devising your own languages, or writing parsers. 超楽しいですよ!

    FP FTW!

  9. I am a programmer :) and I love the Japanese syntax. Something about it feels very efficient. I hope that as I learn more complex grammar, I won’t find too many “exceptions” the way English does. I love writing/reading but I have such a love-hate relationship with English… my favorite writers make it look like pure art, but the programmer in me has like 0 respect for the exception-riddled English language…

    Woops, ranting :) Nice article.

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