If you could study a new language to learn more about go, which one would you choose?

A local college offers extension courses in foreign languages and I figured I might enroll in one that could help me learn more about go. I’d like to hear your thoughts:

  1. If you had time/resources and wanted to learn a new language to further your knowledge of go, which one would you choose, Chinese, Japanese, or Korean?

  2. What are you personal favorite learning resources about go (courses, lectures, books, whatever), in any language, that aren’t available in English?

  3. What books about go would you like the most to be published in English?


Definitely Korean. You could just watch baduktv all day.


definitely japanese. no question.

I guess this is really up to each one of us, if it were me I’d choose Japanese simply because I’m more fond of it’s culture. However there are also many channels and resources in Japanese to read and watch go games so that’s a nice plus for me too. And also keep in mind that you don’t have to stop at one language, you can always move on to another one if you really want to :slight_smile:


I am already fluent in Chinese. For Go, Japanese is obviously the most useful language.

Who care just choose what you like.
However I couldn’t image the english Japanese version 《凡遇要处总诀》
Since japanese have pirated 《发阳论》for hundreds of years they still don’t understand the meaning of the three chinese character.
For Korean,even some japanese also think it’s just a joke :slight_smile:

If it’s about which language is easiest to read a book in, then you should go for Korean. The main problem with Japanese and Chinese is that you’ll have to learn just an awful amount of characters before you can read a book. I have been learning Japanese for 5 years now, and am pretty decent at speaking, but trying to read a go book still has me looking up kanji every one or two sentences. For Japanese you need to know 1500~2000 characters to read an average text, with Chinese this is more towards 6000~8000 characters.

What I think is more important than choosing the best language to learn about go, is to choose the language that speaks to you most. Learning a language inevitably means learning about the culture as well, so I would choose the one that interests you most. All three have plenty of resources about go, so it doesn’t really matter which you choose.

If you’re not experienced learning languages, then a word of warning that you probably shouldn’t expect to read any book in any language until you’ve studied it for a few years. Nevertheless, if you have the perseverance, then it is a lot of fun to learn a new language and definitely worth the time and effort.


if you have to ask, its definitely chinese. it has broader usage in other perspectives. and there are more japanese books in english already.


Can’t login with the original account. Anyway I was thinking an empty slate/objectivistic scenario. You like the three languages and the related countries/cultures equally and have the same ease/resources to learn any of them and it’s just about improving go someday, which one do you choose and why? (1) What are you personal favorite learning resources about go (courses, lectures, books, whatever) in any language that aren’t available in English? (2) What books about go would you like the most to be published in English? (3)

I don’t think Japanese is a good option here. Because you will be watching professional scene through the language you learn. And Japanese pro scene is depressing. Come on, Japanese themselves aren’t really interested in go. Why would you learn Japanese?


With that reason it would have been unwise to learn either Korean or Chinese a couple of decades ago, though.

If it’s solely about improving at go, I wouldn’t learn any language, but just study the game with English resources. Once I would somehow get nearly at professional level, I would start considering moving to Korea or something. Often commentary in another language can still be roughly followed, since the commentator will make surprised sounds at good / bad / surprising moves, and then work out a few variations.

I had a time where I watched the NHK cup every week, but that had the dual purpose of practicing Japanese. I bought Japanese go books for the same reason. As I’m not fast enough to read the text fluently, it takes more of my attention to understand what’s stated than to learn about go, so I’m not sure if it’s all that helpful for my go skills.

So my point is: learn the language for the language, not for getting better at go.

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Which country would you most want to visit? Learning immersively by studying with the local Go communities in one of those countries is probably both one of the best ways to improve, and one of the ways of improving that would rely most heavily on learning the language. There’s plenty of resources in English for remote study, but English speaking Go communities aren’t anywhere near as robust.

To the best of my knowledge, you could probably scrape by without knowing the local language, but if I were to plan on spending a large amount of time in Japan, Korea, or China, I’d want to be able to understand and interact with my local community as much as possible. For me, it’d be a tough decision. Chinese would be the most useful outside of Go, since there’s more people that speak Mandarin than any other language. However, I prefer both Korean and Japanese food over Chinese, and the skiing in Japan looks fantastic…


actually the WHOLE chinese vocab library is about that number, but most of them are either ancient words/ name for places / name for people etc.

modern, frequently used characters are just around 2000, and if you are a foreigner I think about 1000 will get you through daily usage, like reading a newspaper.

I don’t know much about Korean, so I can’t comment about that language.

Considering the differences between learning Japanese and Chinese, another factor to consider is that Chinese is a tonal language, where different words will have the same basic sound, but be differentiated only by how the pitch rises, falls, stays flat, or dips and rises again. For example, here is a video demonstrating how different tones of the sound “ma” mean “mother”, “horse”, “scold”, etc.

For many people that have not grown up using a tonal language natively, it may be quite difficult to learn tonal languages later in life.

On the other hand, Japanese is not a tonal language, and hence it can be much easier to pick as a spoken language.

I mention this since it could play a factor if you consider ease of spoken and listening fluency to be important in your decision.


I would learn Chinese, because then I could communicate/review with other Chinese players that I play on Fox.

I just received this email and thought of this thread:

"Learn to read and understand Japanese go books.

I am delighted to announce that Volume Three of Just Enough Japanese has just been released. It is an ebook available not only as a SmartGo Book (http://gobooks.com/books.html) for Apple devices, but also as an ePub for reader apps on other platforms such as Android and Windows (https://gobooks.com/epub.html). I have no plans to offer a paper version.

The series guides you from knowing zero Japanese to extracting key information from game records and fully understanding the text of go problems and their answers.

Volume Three methodically introduces the grammar found in books of go problems, one small step at a time starting from scratch. Examples are taken from go books and are presented with diagrams. This unique approach avoids irrelevant vocabulary and grammar. Written as a standalone book, it does not require you to have read the previous volumes. It is aimed at go players of all abilities who want to get more out of Japanese go books without years of traditional study. You can enjoy go books however little Japanese you know, but the more you learn, the more interesting it becomes.

Richard Hunter"

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Let me repeat the question: “If you could study a new language to learn more about go, which one would you choose?”

Obviously a programming language.


I like to recommend go as a nice programming language, but now I am playing with words.

The programming language of choice for neural networks is (unfortunately) python.

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Probably korean since it is where I would want to live out of the three. Unless I had plans to be a pro then probably realistically speaking japan.

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I don’t think studying a programming language is necessary or even particularly helpful for learning more about game of go. However, perhaps you might just be making a joke about “go” also being the name of a programming language.

I think one would learn much more from using and studying the behavior of a superhuman go bot, rather than (and without requiring) understanding how to program and implement the machine learning algorithms used to build/train the bot.

On the other hand, learning a human language like Chinese, Japanese or Korean (as specifically asked about by the original poster) would help to make more accessible a whole new culture (literature, videos, communities, social interactions, travel, etc.), each with a rich history and unique resources related to the game.