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Old 2008-06-19, 18:01   Link #1581
Nervous Venus
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Just a quick question (which has probably been asked many times before, and I'm sorry if it sounds repetitive) but what are some of your methods for learning kanji?

Although I understand daily Japanese perfectly, I have problem reading/learning Kanji. I'm trying out flashcards, but it just feels terribly overwhelming to focus simply on the cards. I'm wondering if it's worth the investment to hire a tutor, as I have a few months before I have to visit Japan with family.

I'm also learning for personal reasons (all my favorite comics are furiganaless). Any suggestions would be helpful.
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Old 2008-06-19, 19:26   Link #1582
nikorai
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LiberLibri
Thanks a lot for providing information about reading names. This is a part of japanese that doesn't seem to be in the textbook.

Nervous Venus

The opinion is that kanji are learned automatically as words both standalone and in compounds.
You might want to get a textbook and review the words.

Students are usually asked to dedicate some time to writing individual kanji repeatedly on a piece of paper. I'm self taught and i'm too lazy to do that which results in that i dont remember kanji for many words but can recognize then in text or vice-versa, I remember the kanji but forget the reading.
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Old 2008-06-20, 03:46   Link #1583
Mystique
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nervous Venus View Post
Just a quick question (which has probably been asked many times before, and I'm sorry if it sounds repetitive) but what are some of your methods for learning kanji?

Although I understand daily Japanese perfectly, I have problem reading/learning Kanji. I'm trying out flashcards, but it just feels terribly overwhelming to focus simply on the cards. I'm wondering if it's worth the investment to hire a tutor, as I have a few months before I have to visit Japan with family.

I'm also learning for personal reasons (all my favorite comics are furiganaless). Any suggestions would be helpful.
write them out.
Have the flash card, show you the hiragana and you write out the kanji on a piece of paper.
at least for me, when i memorise and can write the strokes of the kanji in the air or on the palm of my hand, i can associate the english meaning a lot better, it tends to stick for me
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Old 2008-06-24, 18:50   Link #1584
waterchan
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Could someone explain to me the difference in usage between 所(ところ) and 場所(ばしょ)? Thanks in advance.
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Old 2008-06-24, 20:22   Link #1585
LiberLibri
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waterchan View Post
Could someone explain to me the difference in usage between 所(ところ) and 場所(ばしょ)? Thanks in advance.
The former is inherent Japanese and the latter is a lawn word from the continent. Generally speaking, lawn words have more, say, physical and non-analogical meaning than inherent ones. Compare "great" (inherent English) with "large" (from French) or "big" (from Nordic). ところ means not only a geographical location but also a mental or chronological focus, while ばしょ signifies rather a physical point. Of course, the both are interchangeable to a certain extent.

You may see the difference in the following examples, in each of which ところ cannot be replaced with ばしょ:

- ここが我慢のしどころだ。
- 彼の主張に目新しいところはない。
- いま,作業が大事なところにさしかかっていますので,邪魔しないでください。
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Old 2008-06-24, 23:30   Link #1586
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nervous Venus View Post
Just a quick question (which has probably been asked many times before, and I'm sorry if it sounds repetitive) but what are some of your methods for learning kanji?

Although I understand daily Japanese perfectly, I have problem reading/learning Kanji. I'm trying out flashcards, but it just feels terribly overwhelming to focus simply on the cards. I'm wondering if it's worth the investment to hire a tutor, as I have a few months before I have to visit Japan with family.

I'm also learning for personal reasons (all my favorite comics are furiganaless). Any suggestions would be helpful.
(I know I'm replying to a several-day-old post. I don't know how I missed this when it was originally posted. Sorry!)

I divide kanji learning into three parts:
- Writing. If you write it, you will commit it to memory better. You also can't count on being able to read it providing you with the ability to reproduce it.
- Studying etymology. If you know where the kanji comes from, how it developed, how its individual components give it meaning... then you will have some context to form stronger memories.
- Reading in context. Just like knowing the etymology, reading the kanji in a context that is relevant to you helps you to form stronger memories. I had seen the kanji 分 many times, but it wasn't until I had to read it as part of deciphering the cooking instructions on a bowl of kitsune udon that I really committed it to memory. Once I'd read it in context and understood, it took no effort for me to commit it to permanent memory. Both my related memory of figuring out the cooking instructions and the relevance it had to me caused it to "stick". Deciphering your entertainment or getting by day-do-day in Japan will help with this tremendously.

About how many kanji do you know?
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Old 2008-06-24, 23:47   Link #1587
HayashiTakara
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Learning Kanji when you grow up/ live in an environment that isn't in china or japan, makes it extremely difficult. Me growing up in the states, I never picked it up. I recognize some here and there, but just stupid crap. Its the same for any foreign language really, if you don't use it constantly it'll fade.

I haven't lived with my parents since I was 17, and all my friends speak english. Now when I speak with my mom or dad, my japanese becomes extremely broken and I tend to mix a lot of english in it.

I suggest finding a friend who is willing to speak japanese with you on a constant basis to make it feel more natural.
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Old 2008-06-25, 00:55   Link #1588
waterchan
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Spoiler for Answer to my question about ところ vs. ばしょ:

I think that really cleared things up. I guess ところ is more like "place" while ばしょ is similar to "location". "Place" has a more metaphorical connotation, so you could say "The courtroom is no place for argument," while "The courtroom is no location for argument" would sound a bit weird. I think I get it, thanks.
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Old 2008-06-25, 01:04   Link #1589
waterchan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HayashiTakara View Post
Learning Kanji when you grow up/ live in an environment that isn't in china or japan, makes it extremely difficult. Me growing up in the states, I never picked it up. I recognize some here and there, but just stupid crap. Its the same for any foreign language really, if you don't use it constantly it'll fade.
I remember reading that while children are able to more readily pick up spoken languages, adults may be able to learn written languages faster, due to superior memory and pattern recognition abilities that have been honed by life experience.

For example, a kid may be able to learn Spanish more easily than an adult, but an adult could possibly have the ability to learn Sanskrit or Pali faster.

Of course, Kanji may not be a "written language", but hopefully you know what I mean.
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Old 2008-06-25, 13:23   Link #1590
Nervous Venus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyuusai View Post

I divide kanji learning into three parts:
- Writing. If you write it, you will commit it to memory better. You also can't count on being able to read it providing you with the ability to reproduce it.
- Studying etymology. If you know where the kanji comes from, how it developed, how its individual components give it meaning... then you will have some context to form stronger memories.
- Reading in context. Just like knowing the etymology, reading the kanji in a context that is relevant to you helps you to form stronger memories. I had seen the kanji 分 many times, but it wasn't until I had to read it as part of deciphering the cooking instructions on a bowl of kitsune udon that I really committed it to memory. Once I'd read it in context and understood, it took no effort for me to commit it to permanent memory. Both my related memory of figuring out the cooking instructions and the relevance it had to me caused it to "stick". Deciphering your entertainment or getting by day-do-day in Japan will help with this tremendously.

About how many kanji do you know?
Thanks for replying. About the etymology of kanji, are there any good books you can recommend on it?

As for how much kanji I actually know: About 50 basic ones, so far, that I learned through the chibi maruko chan comic book for elementary school kids, lol.
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Old 2008-06-25, 15:43   Link #1591
bungmonkey
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I'm on my way to getting hiragana down but I am absolutely terrible at writing them out by hand. My artistic ability is non existent. I can't even make stick figures look right . Guess I'll just keep practicing...
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Old 2008-06-26, 01:25   Link #1592
LiberLibri
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HayashiTakara View Post
I suggest finding a friend who is willing to speak japanese with you on a constant basis to make it feel more natural.
Be careful to select a proper counterpart though. I know a Chinese gentleman who speaks Japanese quite well but in a feminine way, for he has learnt the language from his girlfriend. D. Kahl speaks Yamagata-ben fluently; I admit dialects have their own beauty and should be respected, but if you are going to use your skill in business, for example, you should copy it from those speaking standard Japanese. In addition, note that not all natives are good speakers. Once I met an American who used only either "cool" or "fu*kin'" to evaluate everything.
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Old 2008-06-26, 01:50   Link #1593
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bungmonkey View Post
I'm on my way to getting hiragana down but I am absolutely terrible at writing them out by hand. My artistic ability is non existent. I can't even make stick figures look right . Guess I'll just keep practicing...
I am not the one learning Japanese as second language, so I cannot understand quite well the difficulty you are suffering. But let me give just a suggestion:

Unlike roman alphabet, Japanese characters are monospace in principle. That means, they are written in imaginary squares of equal size. Children in Japan often learn lettering by dividing each square into four (like this). Notes with only horizontal rules are not suitable to practice writing. Graph papers would be better.
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Old 2008-06-26, 06:40   Link #1594
bungmonkey
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Thanks for the suggestion. I think it should definitely help as things I have the most trouble with looking nice are things like い and く, which should probably be some of the easier ones. They just look worse than things like お or き, which I can make look pretty decent now after some practice.
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Old 2008-06-26, 10:09   Link #1595
FireChick
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I have a question. How do you change Japanese kanji into words? In case you don't know what I mean, how do you change 幸福です to "ureshii" (I used happy)? I kinda wanna know some words but I can't read this kind of Japanese. If you can, I have some words I'd like you to translate.

autism - 自閉症

feral child - 野性の子供

autistic girl - 自閉症の少女

Yeah, I copied the kanji stuff from www(dot)freetranslation(dot)com.
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Old 2008-06-26, 10:59   Link #1596
Slice of Life
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In general, kanji have several different pronunciations (readings) and the correct pronunciation is given in Hiragana.

First, go here and enter "happy". You'll get a lot of translations and ureshii is somewhere among them.

A more direct way is to enter "ureshii" and clheck the box "romanized Japanese" or "Romaji". If you do that you get

嬉しい 【うれしい】 (adj-i) (uk) happy; glad; pleasant; (P)

That means "ureshii" is written "嬉しい" and pronounced "うれしい" where "う-れ-し-い" is "u-re-shi-i" as you can check using the hiragana table behind the wikipedia link. There probably are tools to automatically convert hiragana into the latin alphabet somewhere.

As for your three terms:

自閉症 - jiheishou
自閉症の少女 - jiheishou no shoujo
野性の子供 - yasei no kodomo

I don't know if the latter is actually the correct term.
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Old 2008-06-26, 11:19   Link #1597
FireChick
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Oh! Okay! Thanks!
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Old 2008-06-26, 11:38   Link #1598
escimo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FireChick View Post
I have a question. How do you change Japanese kanji into words? In case you don't know what I mean, how do you change 幸福です to "ureshii" (I used happy)? I kinda wanna know some words but I can't read this kind of Japanese. If you can, I have some words I'd like you to translate.

autism - 自閉症

feral child - 野性の子供

autistic girl - 自閉症の少女

Yeah, I copied the kanji stuff from www(dot)freetranslation(dot)com.
http://www.kawa.net/works/ajax/romanize/japanese-e.html
Here's a rather good tool for romanizing japanese. Not exactly sure how accurate it is but has sufficed for me so far.
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Old 2008-06-26, 13:46   Link #1599
Doughnuts
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Knowing which pronuncation to use for a given Kanji is where you need to have some knowledge of Japanese grammar, and where tools like escimo posted usually fail. A few examples to put into it and see how it's wrong:
"止まった" - Lists 4 different readings in dictionary-order, but with no indication on which to use. Had it checked the okurigana that follows it, it could work out the correct reading, "tomatta". The Mecab mode manages to pick out the right reading here, but what's with romanizing the sokuon as "tu". :S
"開く" - This can either be read as "hiraku" or "aku" depending on whether it's acting transitively or not. For example, if the を particle is present in the right place, it would be hiraku. The MeCab mode here messes up picking the wrong reading.
"光" - "hikari" can be written in Japanese as either 光 or 光り. The dictionary it uses only appears to know the latter reading, and romanizes the kanji as "hika".

Those are just a few of the errors I spotted in a single passage of text. The other main problem with it other than messing up readings, is the random-ish spacing between characters. It is only meant to give indication on the reading of a character, but it doesn't indicate the reading of a whole word, or it can't decide whether to attach a particle or detatch it. I foresee newcomers posting incredebly broken romaji all over the interwebz if you give them tools like that one anyway. I've seen tools that do a better job and even some that will give you detailed information on each part of a sentence. If any of use Opera, there's a little widget here: http://widgets.opera.com/widget/7982/ which I think does a decent job. I've seen some others, but I don't have the URIs right now. Anyway, there's no subtitute for learning the grammar and using a dictionary yourself.
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Old 2008-06-26, 15:56   Link #1600
Kyuusai
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nervous Venus View Post
Thanks for replying. About the etymology of kanji, are there any good books you can recommend on it?

As for how much kanji I actually know: About 50 basic ones, so far, that I learned through the chibi maruko chan comic book for elementary school kids, lol.
I haven't personally had a chance to examine them, but Mathias and Habein's The Complete Guide to Everyday Kanji and Henshall's A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters are two common textbooks that teach the kanji using a method based on the etymology of the characters.

There's no shame in learning from materials aimed at children. After all, you're studying the same things. Although it's not quite as dynamic as reading actual manga, the Kanji de Manga series is really not a bad approach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bungmonkey View Post
I'm on my way to getting hiragana down but I am absolutely terrible at writing them out by hand. My artistic ability is non existent. I can't even make stick figures look right . Guess I'll just keep practicing...
I second LiberLibri's advice. Practice using those methods.

Just as importantly, don't be discouraged. After all, you learned to write your own language, and at this point you probably don't consider writing in your native language "art". You can achieve the same with Japanese. It's all a matter of practice and attitude!

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiberLibri View Post
Be careful to select a proper counterpart though. I know a Chinese gentleman who speaks Japanese quite well but in a feminine way, for he has learnt the language from his girlfriend. D. Kahl speaks Yamagata-ben fluently; I admit dialects have their own beauty and should be respected, but if you are going to use your skill in business, for example, you should copy it from those speaking standard Japanese. In addition, note that not all natives are good speakers. Once I met an American who used only either "cool" or "fu*kin'" to evaluate everything.
Along these lines, I would like to ask a question: What speakers in common media would you and other Japanese speakers here recommend listening to in order to emulate when learning Japanese?

I always pay attention to what intonations, words, and speech patterns different demographics use--or don't use--and that helps me keep my language appropriate, but I'm really not sure who I can look to as a good standard of speech. Growing up immersed in the US and fluent in English, surrounded by US and British media, it was easy to find role models of English speech on television to balance the influence of the accents surrounding me in "real life". (Kelsey Grammar, who played Frasier Crane on "Cheers" and "Frasier" was one of my preferred targets for emulation.)

Are there any such "role models" in Japanese media, male and female, to recommend?
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