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Some Chinese kid trying to “prove” that he can understand Japanese better than I can 'cause he's Chinese:

(name withheld): koreans don't use chinese letters on a daily basis
(name withheld): but WE CHINESE PEOPLE DO
Me: Koreans and Japaneses do share same words spelled in Chinese letters, IN EXACTLY THE SAME MEANING (Koreans just transliterate them in Hangeul, in case you didn't know)
Me: The Korean language also shares an almost identical grammar with Japanese, whereas it'd be news to the rest of the world if the Chinese grammar happened to be closer to Japanese than Korean is.
Me: Korean also happens to have an honorific system, on both linguistic and social/cultural levels, which closely resembles the Japanese one
Me: So there.

You see, those few Chinese people who act as if they were masters of all Eastern Asian cultures simply because China “owns” Chinese letters….  They never cease to amuse me.


Japanese and Korean are two language isolates that are very closely related. They have had no relation whatsoever to Chinese until Japanese adopted the kanji system.

I'm sure what I just said was overly simlified.

They are in fact so similar but so distinct from the rest of the Eastern Asian languages, that there's even a long-standing debate whether Korea “taught” Japan the language, or vice versa.  I don't know its current status though.

As a linguist, I'd assume that there was a proto-language from which both evolved, but I don't know too much about that debate.