If you’re guy what you don’t want to do is model your Japanese after your girlfriend. This happened to a few guys I knew where they would pick up their girlfriends speaking patterns. You’ll sound strange and feminine.
If you’re guy–model you speech after people in your age range and don’t have any noticeable bad speaking habits.
Formal or informal
Learn informal or casual Japanese first. Because you are a foreigner you’re not expected to know all the nuances of formal or polite Japanese.
I went 2 years without using much polite Japanese and didn’t notice any difference in how I was treated.
When I’m in the immigration office or somewhere uptight I tend to use more polite language. But it’s not necessary.
If your goal is speed and communication then informal will get you there faster.
Ore vs Boku vs Watashi vs Uchi
If you’ve got some size and muscle then use ‘ore’. I used ‘boku’ for a long time as well as ore. I’ve used all 3 except uchi. What you don’t want to do is use your first name like some girls do.
The first tip is to model your speech pattern after someone who is in your age range and gender. Since I’m a guy, I model my speech pattern after guys that in their 20-30s.
Quirks and Habits
After spending 2 years living in Japan, I can tell you that many Japanese people have their own quirks and habits when they speak.
There was this one guy, who would always use ‘ne’ at the end of every sentence. We could be talking about anything and he would put ‘ne’ at the end.
Another guy, spoke mumbled, fast-rapid fire Japanese that I could barely catch. If I imitated him, I would get strange looks.
Who to imitate
Besides picking someone in your age range, find a Japanese person that matches your personality.
You’ll often find someone in a drama or comedy that has a way of speaking that you like.
I imitate Japanese guys that are laid back and cool. I find out what slang they use and how they speak to girls and other guys.
What you’re doing is translating your personality into the language of Japanese. It’s a difficult task and requires knowing the nuances of the language.
I’m going to rank the easiest to understand vs hardest to understand.
- 1) Old people.
- 2) Middle aged Japanese guys
- 3) Males
- 4) Females
If you want to increase your listening abilites try to decipher ojichan’s or old guys speaking patterns. You will hear outdated slang, sayings, and dialects long forgotten but your listening will improve.
If you want to practice picking up vocab and just have an easy time listening to Japanese then younger male/females are fun to listen to.