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Old 2012-02-02, 14:35   Link #1
warita
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Vienna
learning japanese by watching anime?

Hello guys,

we all watch animes and we all are interested in the japanese language and culture to some extent. And most of us have an ingrained aversion against dubs of any kinds, because lets face it, japanese can really put their heart into voicing the characters. With the english dub I often have the feeling the voice actors have the attitude: "Oh geez, I am voicing a lame cartoon character. I hope my family and friends wont find out..." or maybe it is a question of costs, I dunno. Either way, I love to watch my animes in original, because the quality is much better and also for me listening to japanese is half the fun of an anime.

Now.... I have been watching animes for the past 6 years and I remember how in the beginning I had the aspiration to become fluent in japanse in 2-3 years max. I thought that if I will watch anime on a daily basis, I must learn it quickly. It was an unrealistic ambition. Maybe, just maybe if japanese was an european language, I might have learned it by now, but japanese isnt an european language. It has a completely different structure and logic and without taking any classes, it is impossible to learn from just listening to it.

In the past there used to be a relatively active thread on my old forum about learning japanese. Some people where really enthusiastic about wanting to learn it and not only took classes at their university, but even learned kanjis. I admired that, I just dont have the patience to learn how to read and write in japanese.

I got into thinking about how proficient you can get from just listening to japanese. Sometimes, I watch my animes raw and I understand 80-90% of the conversations and in other episodes (even in the same anime) I barely know what the hell they are talking about. It really depends on the complexity of the dialogues.


So here are my questions:

1. Do you take any classes or try actively to improve your japanese?
2. Do you try to catch new vocabulary by closely listening to the japanese language while watching animes?
3. How good is your japanese after watching anime for several years? Do you think you will ever reach a level where you wont need subtitles?
4. What are your methods to work on your japanese? Do you use an online dictionary or write down vocabulary? laugh.gif
5. Do you care at all? I know a few people who dont bother with japanese at all and look at me like I am crazy for trying to learn it. But I think it would be really nice one day to be able to fully concentrate on the plot without having to switch between reading and watching. Also, it may be an ego thing with me. I just want to prove to myself I can do it, but at the same time I feel discouraged from taking classes in japanese, which would of course be the best way to get to where I want to be.

Let me know your thoughts biggrin.gif

Last edited by warita; 2012-02-02 at 14:50.
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Old 2012-02-02, 14:46   Link #3
warita
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hmm, funny, i didnt see it when I searched the forums... thanks....
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Old 2012-02-02, 14:56   Link #4
Zakoo
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Anime are going to help you on grammar sentence and some junction words but nothing much, without the proper knowledge that books and classes ( books only for me) you are going to understand japenese without understanding the mechanism behind which is kind of useless.

Last edited by Zakoo; 2012-02-02 at 15:24.
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Old 2012-02-02, 15:07   Link #5
solomon
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This is the same as with any other language, classes and interaction FIRST, Media second.

I do admit I picked up french watching Simpsons and Futurama dubs but I had to have traditional instructional books and tutorials along side.
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Old 2012-02-02, 15:25   Link #6
Dhomochevsky
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Hey at least I learned how to scream "BAKA" like a total nerd.

Really, you won't pick up much more than a bunch of phrases and common words. Things that can be used as stand alones mostly, because only that way you can even identify them.
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Old 2012-02-02, 15:47   Link #7
solomon
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Gawd even as a student I hated that...

But yea the man with the gun is right. If you don't study the language formally alone or in class/group you wont be able to identify ANY of what the characters are talking about or how the language works.

Especially with Japanese when you have so many different levels of formality!
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Old 2012-02-02, 15:54   Link #8
warita
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solomon View Post
But yea the man with the gun is right. If you don't study the language formally alone or in class/group you wont be able to identify ANY of what the characters are talking about or how the language works.
Actually, I watch some of my animes raw and it works. But it really depends on the anime. With some animes it works, with others it doesnt.
Sometimes I understand even up to 90%..... i think I could reach a point where i hardly need the subs, but the problem is, that my understanding is only intuitive. I understand what they just said, but if you asked me to repeat that sentence, i couldnt.
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Old 2012-02-02, 15:55   Link #9
MaiNoKen
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I think anime is a decent way to learn at a rather entry level of conversational Japanese. Language used in anime tends to be more day-to-day spoken Japanese. If there is one thing I do wish to say is that real Japanese tends to speak faster than it is in anime. Conversations in anime tend to be somewhat slower than usual.

I think anime has benefited my Japanese skill. If I have a recommendation, try to play a few import games with full dialogue and subtitles (in Japanese, not English). That way you pick up the words that are actually spoken - that helps pick up patterns of Japanese grammar and vocabulary as well. Among different games you may come across, I think import JRPGs are the best candidates.
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Old 2012-02-02, 16:06   Link #10
Dhomochevsky
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warita View Post
Actually, I watch some of my animes raw and it works. But it really depends on the anime. With some animes it works, with others it doesnt.
Sometimes I understand even up to 90%..... i think I could reach a point where i hardly need the subs, but the problem is, that my understanding is only intuitive. I understand what they just said, but if you asked me to repeat that sentence, i couldnt.
You understand them, or you get what's going on?
There is a huge difference between them. With good voice actors you can read the scenes just from the tone of their voices (and from watching the scene obviously) and "understand" everything, but that's not really a language skill.
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Old 2012-02-02, 16:21   Link #11
warita
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dhomochevsky View Post
You understand them, or you get what's going on?
There is a huge difference between them. With good voice actors you can read the scenes just from the tone of their voices (and from watching the scene obviously) and "understand" everything, but that's not really a language skill.
Well, I do have an impressive vocabulary, if thats what you mean. I made a list of vocabs I know and it came to around 350 words, but thats only the one I could spontaniously think of, so it could be easily the double.... also, I made that list like 2 years ago.... things changed since then. So I understand quite a lot of words.... and some of them I understand only subconsciously. Meaning, when I hear them in the right context, my mind supplies the meaning, but if you ask me how to say XY in japanese, I might not be able to say it.

For some reason I have a hard time picking up verbs.
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Old 2012-02-02, 18:54   Link #12
solomon
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You hit the nail there on why you're short changed just watching anime.

Verbs. It doesn't matter how many nouns and adjectives you know, if you cannot VERB em it's useless.

What's more Japanese is so based on relative formality. If you watch anime you'll talk like a young 13 year old dude on average or a no good street punk at worst with the way they speak in some anime.

Like I said it's good supplement but if you wanna speak to a wide variety of people ESPECIALLY in more professional/formal settings......you need more formal study.

You can get away with the whole media thing in western languages more because it's just much more casual here as opposed to Japan. You have to be careful picking up language from media in ANY language.

And we haven't even got into weither you want to be able to READ it or not.

For your questions;

1. I took it for 4.5 years in college, I read the Newspaper/watch news every day and am part of online language study community to help "keep in shape". Also sometimes I go to functions by my local Japanese American Society to actively converse (very uncommon though)

2. I do sometimes but not as often as I used to.

3. Because of both classes and anime it's pretty damn good for someone who hasn't been over seas yet. Japanese is a labyrinth of a language though. It depends on the anime, watching some shonen crap isn't a big deal. Watching Gundam or Ghost in the Shell or Kenshin however can be a little tricky due to formal/scientific/historical type words that are very specific not to mention various speaking styles.

4. Well I took classes for 4.5 years so I am pretty good. I really should practice more writing. I mainly watch anime and news and read the newspapers. Sometimes some books.

5. Are you in school? Can you afford it? If so then why not. IT"S FUN. Anime got me into Japanese after all. And if you work hard enough and are resourceful enough you CAN get work with it (mainly translating/interpreting type stuff). Sure Chinese is more trendy but choose something you are interested in.
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Old 2012-02-02, 19:43   Link #13
DonQuigleone
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While there is no replacement for classes, and genuine speaking experience with actual experience, watching Anime in Japanese will go a long way towards acclimatising your ear to the language, and likewise the tongue.

Compared to your peers with no experience of the language, you will find it fairly easy to recognise new words, and tell words apart. Likewise you'll probably be able to pronounce the language a lot better, particularly if you've picked up the habit of singing along to karaoke...

But I'll echo Solomon, if you don't want to sound like a 13 year old street punk trying to save the world, take a class.

Fun fact: "We have to save the world!" statistically occurs far more often in Anime then "Would you like to go out for a cup of coffee?"
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Old 2012-02-02, 20:00   Link #14
chikorita157
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From personal experience, the answer would be no. From years of watching Anime, I don't know an once of Japanese at all. Although Anime would help you on the casual conversation, you won't understand it without actually knowing the grammar rules. Also realize that Japanese is much more than just saying it as there is ひらがな, カタカナ and 漢字 (Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji).

The right way to learn Japanese is of course enrolling yourself for a course on the language or self-studying by getting some reputable textbooks designed for it. Genki series and Remembering the Kanji is probably the best way to get started if you want to learn the language seriously on your own.From almost four months of self-studying, I say that I know a bit more than when I started. Even so, you still have to practice and use it so you won't forget it.

One other thing: Never learn Japanese in romanji... this is a common mistake and you will never get used to reading the actual writing.
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Old 2012-02-02, 20:09   Link #15
DonQuigleone
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I'm not convinced that it's essential for foreign learners to learn Kanji. A significant number of learners only want to learn to speak it, and have little interest in reading it, beyond certain basic things. That would include me.

It's considerably easier to learn to speak Japanese without learning to read or write it.

And these days with transcription software becoming quite efficient, you may reach the stage where I can use transcription software that automatically transforms all japanese texts on any website, or any book, or any newspaper into Romaji so I never even need to touch Kanji, Hiragana or Katakana.

And the same software would do a good job of transcribing my writing back into Hiragana/Kanji (in fact isn't such a thing already used in Japanese phones and word processors?)
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Old 2012-02-02, 21:01   Link #16
Ledgem
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The more Japanese you know from studying or classes, the more beneficial things like anime or television shows will be. You'll recognize words, grammar, honorics, and special usages. If you're starting from scratch, you won't know what to make of those things (nor will you recognize what they are). You need a foundation to build off of, and simply taking in the language through an entertainment source alone won't give you the blocks you need to create it.
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Old 2012-02-03, 06:08   Link #17
warita
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I think you guys are right in a lot of things you said.... it is indeed nearly impossible to actualy actively learn japanese (as in to be able to speak and make sense) without taking classes.

But I am not sure, if I am so interested in an active use of japanese. Let me explain.... of course the best thing to do would be to take a course, learn the kanas and the kanjis and have a proper grammer book to learn from. But this sure sounds like a lot of work..... I mean I speak 4 languages, so I know what it is like to learn a foreign language and I think japanese must be even harder. In other words, one must compare the ammount of work&energy necessary with the subjective benefit of the endeaver..... and it begs the question: is it worth it?

What do I need japanese for? Now this is highly subjective opinion, everybody feels differently about it, but as for me.... I only need it for anime. I would like to reach a level where I can watch my animes raw without subtitles. I dont need to be able to read japanese (albeit that would be nice) and I dont think I will ever talk to people in japanese, unless I go to Japan for a vacation. But to study japanese just for a 2-3 weeks vacation is a bit of an overkill, especially considering how hard it is.

So to sum it up, I think that all I need is to be able to understand spoken japanese (in animes). I do agree though, that it is so much easier to learn the language, when you have some grammer base to build upon.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
I'm not convinced that it's essential for foreign learners to learn Kanji. A significant number of learners only want to learn to speak it, and have little interest in reading it, beyond certain basic things. That would include me.

It's considerably easier to learn to speak Japanese without learning to read or write it.

And these days with transcription software becoming quite efficient, you may reach the stage where I can use transcription software that automatically transforms all japanese texts on any website, or any book, or any newspaper into Romaji so I never even need to touch Kanji, Hiragana or Katakana.

And the same software would do a good job of transcribing my writing back into Hiragana/Kanji (in fact isn't such a thing already used in Japanese phones and word processors?)
And I so agree with this. I mean, I bought the grammer book "minna no nihongo" romanji-ban and I find it pretty useful so far. Personally, I dont think the book does such a great job of explaining the grammer so well... I have seen better books for spanish for example, but I like the fact it completely bypasses the need to learn the kanas, which were discouraging me from learning japanese for a long time. And even though I could imagine a better grammer explanation and better exercices, it is still better than nothing.

I do hear people discouring from learning romanji all the time. But I fail to understand the reason. I mean, where is the big difference if you learn the basics in romanji or in kanas?

Yes I know that you can only go so far with romanji, but if at some point you find that you want to go beyond the level romanji enables you to, you can always catch up on the kanas later on, right?
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Old 2012-02-03, 06:39   Link #18
candysimon2012
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I totally agree. I watch a lot of anime and I do learn simple and basic (but very helpful) Nihongo. I even learn Japanese manners, traditions, and superstitions. This is why I prefer watching subbed anime than the dubbed ones albeit the former being harder to find.
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Old 2012-02-03, 06:45   Link #19
Dhomochevsky
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About the romaji:
I see you're from Vienna. The thing with romaji is, that they seem to be much more useful for a german speaker, than they would be for a natural english speaker.
Whenever I see something written, that I identify as romaji, I automaticly switch over to german pronouncication, even if it's in the middle of an english sentence. That way the words come out with the right sound most of the time.
I can't actually speak japanese, but this enables me to get the sound of names, series titles ect right without problems.
If I'd use english pronouncication they would sound seriously wrong to the point of being unidentifiable. And from english dubs I've heard, I'd say english speakers have a tendency to do just that.

And this of course works the other way around too. If I hear a japanese word or name, I can easily identify the matching romaji, because it's exactly in the form I would write it down if it was an actual german word. Even though I still don't know what it means... but matching sounds to romaji is easy.
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Old 2012-02-03, 09:38   Link #20
DonQuigleone
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dhomochevsky View Post
About the romaji:
I see you're from Vienna. The thing with romaji is, that they seem to be much more useful for a german speaker, than they would be for a natural english speaker.
Whenever I see something written, that I identify as romaji, I automaticly switch over to german pronouncication, even if it's in the middle of an english sentence. That way the words come out with the right sound most of the time.
I can't actually speak japanese, but this enables me to get the sound of names, series titles ect right without problems.
If I'd use english pronouncication they would sound seriously wrong to the point of being unidentifiable. And from english dubs I've heard, I'd say english speakers have a tendency to do just that.

And this of course works the other way around too. If I hear a japanese word or name, I can easily identify the matching romaji, because it's exactly in the form I would write it down if it was an actual german word. Even though I still don't know what it means... but matching sounds to romaji is easy.
I don't know about that, part of the problem with English is that any syllable written down can be pronounced one of 5 or 6 ways. A Japanese Kana is always pronounced one way (occasionally 2 ways), making it pretty easy to memorise all the varying pronunciations, particularly if you've listened to a lot of Anime and have an instinctive grasp of how Japanese is pronounced.

In english "A" can be pronounced 3 or 4 ways ("Aw" "Aa" "Uh"etc.), In Japanese it's always "Aa". I think Americans may have a slightly more difficult time of it, because they seem to pronounce words like "Anime" as "Awnime", which has a totally incorrect A sound. In Ireland it's always "Aanime". To go from English to Japanese you only need to make your syllables a bit shorter, more abrupt and less "flowy". Fairly easy.

Compared to Chinese pronouncing spoken Japanese is easy. It would be very easy to replace every single Kana in Japanese with a 1-3 letter equivalent in Romaji/English.
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