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Old 2010-09-26, 00:52   Link #3181
Kudryavka
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Well, kanji is a lot more complex than kana. I assume your textbook goes over the history of kanji, the various readings?

As for lack of spaces, just gotta learn to deal. One of those things where you avoid it by learning it.
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Old 2010-09-26, 02:32   Link #3182
Raiga
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Kanji helps with the lack of spacing. Once you get more used to Japanese grammar, it's a lot easier to spot word boundaries. Nouns are generally followed by a particle to indicate their function in a sentence, adjectives end in い or な while verbs can be followed by all sorts of 送り仮名 (okurigana) to indicate their conjugation. Kanji actually help by condensing meaning into one unit. Far easier than dealing with a string of phonetic symbols. Of course, often times there will be long strings of kanji that you just sorta have to slog through, but that usually only happens with long official names. Mostly there will be kana to space out the kanji, give you breathing room, and tell you where word boundaries are.

As for learning kanji, I'm not sure how your text teaches it, but the way to go is to understand the more complex kanji as being made up of common parts and components. It's easier to remember a complex kanji this way; instead of thinking of it as fifteen different strokes, you can think of it as 3 or 4 sub-parts, plus a few extra strokes if needed. The brain deals with "chunks" of information much more efficiently; just like when you are fluent with English, you read words as the whole word, and don't really see the individual letters if you're reading quickly. That's because your brain "chunks" the information together; rather than seeing "w-o-r-d" you see the single unit "word." If you do the same for kanji it will become far easier.

There are pretty strict rules for writing strokes and such, as well as very common components such as the box/frame. 口 is written first with a vertical stroke on the left, then a single bent stroke that goes along the top and right side and ending with a small hook pointed inwards, and finally with a horizontal stroke at the bottom, slightly above the bottom of the vertical strokes. Three strokes, and this frame forms the basis for kanji like 日 and 目 and 国 and so forth. All written with the same three strokes.

Therefore if you start with basic kanji such as 人土工口日天小大王女子 (to name just a few!) you can then see how they join together with other parts to make more complex kanji such as 全 or 好 or 今 or 朝 etc.

Just to give one last example (using the last kanji I mentioned):



You can think of this as twelve strokes that you have to memorize. Or you can think of it as being made up of four smaller kanji: 十 meaning "ten" (x2), 日 meaning "day/sun," and 月 meaning "month/moon."


日月



Incidentally this means "morning." The tens don't really contribute to the meaning, but can you see how this sort of represents the border between day and night (the sun and the moon)? If you start simple, internalize the basic kanji, and work your way up, you'll have a much easier time (not that it won't be hard!). In fact, after a certain point you'll even be able to roughly guess the meaning of kanji you've never seen before!
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Old 2010-09-26, 11:37   Link #3183
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This helps a lot, but in everyday life, how are they used, and how are they meant to be read?
From the way you described it, I understand that each symbol represents a word/object, and not sounds like Hiragana/Katakana あいうえお/アイウエオ. Is that correct? what about when writing? If I were to write a letter or receive a hand written letter, do those contain Kanji?
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Old 2010-09-26, 12:56   Link #3184
Kudryavka
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thevil1 View Post
This helps a lot, but in everyday life, how are they used, and how are they meant to be read?
From the way you described it, I understand that each symbol represents a word/object, and not sounds like Hiragana/Katakana あいうえお/アイウエオ. Is that correct? what about when writing? If I were to write a letter or receive a hand written letter, do those contain Kanji?
Kanji is integrated into everyday life; kanji actually was conceived first, and kana has evolved from various kanji. The way I learned it, Japanese has been a spoken language for millennia, and Chinese characters were "borrowed" and used by Japanese merchants. At first, the merchants had to be fluent in Chinese (Chinese was the language of business in East Asia at the time) to do well; the Japanese later put their own pronunciations on the Chinese symbols, and thus was born the Japanese readings of Chinese symbols.

In short, kanji are useful shortcuts to writing (can be crudely compared to English contractions). Kanji are sinographs, so yes they represent ideas.
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Old 2010-09-26, 13:04   Link #3185
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Komari View Post
Kanji is integrated into everyday life; kanji actually was conceived first, and kana has evolved from various kanji. The way I learned it, Japanese has been a spoken language for millennia, and Chinese characters were "borrowed" and used by Japanese merchants. At first, the merchants had to be fluent in Chinese (Chinese was the language of business in East Asia at the time) to do well; the Japanese later put their own pronunciations on the Chinese symbols, and thus was born the Japanese readings of Chinese symbols.

In short, kanji are useful shortcuts to writing (can be crudely compared to English contractions). Kanji are sinographs, so yes they represent ideas.
Hmm.. Thanks for the information Komari
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Old 2010-09-26, 13:41   Link #3186
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It might help me understand fully if I can see an example and an explanation of all the ins and outs of that example....
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Old 2010-09-26, 14:54   Link #3187
Raiga
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English contractions... well that might be one way to think of them but I'd stay away from that comparison. Really there's no English equivalent or even near approximation of the role of Kanji.

Kanji are used for nouns and the main bodies (meaning-containing parts) of verbs and adjectives. They carry the ideas and lexical meanings, while the hiragana fill in the gaps and relate the words grammatically. For example:

難しい is an い-adjective meaning "difficult" (read むずかしい). The kanji 難 is the part that really represents the idea of "difficult," whereas the okurigana しい indicate that the word is an adjective and allow you to add adjective endings onto the word. For example, if I wanted to say "not difficult" I would change 難しい to 難しくない (むずかしくない) or if I wanted to say "was difficult" I would change 難しい to 難しかった (むずかしかった). Verbs are pretty much the same as い-adjectives when it comes to kanji/okurigana.

Now, if I wanted to use the same kanji as a noun, I could have for example 難度 (read なんど) meaning "difficulty level." As a noun, this would most likely be followed by a particle such as は、の、を、に、へ or so on. For example, if I wanted to say "the difficulty level was difficult" (a silly sentence but bear with me) it would be something like 難度は難しかった。

Now, how do I know that 難 is read なん in the noun but むずか in the adjective? Well the rule is usually, in nouns and kanji compounds (more than one kanji next to each other) the Chinese reading (on'yomi 音読み) is used, whereas in verbs and adjectives and oftentimes single-kanji nouns, the native Japanese reading (kun'yomi 訓読み) is used. For the character 難, なん is the Chinese on'yomi, while むずか is the native kun'yomi reading.

Finally an example sentence:

昨日私は大きくて綺麗な花火を見ました。

昨日 (kinou, adv. "yesterday")
私は (watashi wa, noun+particle "I [topic]")
大きくて (ookikute, い-adj.+okurigana "big (and)")
綺麗な (kirei na, な-adj.+particle, "beautiful [describes]")
花火を (hanabi wo, kanji compound noun + particle "fireworks [direct object]")
見ました (mimashita, verb+okurigana "saw")。

The particle は indicates that the noun before it is the topic/context of the sentence (we are discussing things relevant to "I"). な connects the な-adjective that comes before it to the noun that comes after it. "Beautiful" is describing "fireworks." を indicates that the noun that comes before it is the direct object of the verb (what did I see? I saw fireworks hence "fireworks" is the direct object of the verb "saw").

Now, Japanese is pretty flexible, and especially when you're still learning, many words that technically have Kanji will be written with hiragana or sometimes katakana (for emphasis). Many introductory textbooks also write Japanese spaced; for example, the above sentence might look like きのう わたしは おおきくて きれいな はなびを みました。 All I can say is... if you work hard and stay interested, you'll get used to it pretty soon.

As you get more familiar with Japanese grammar, the writing system and use of kanji and kana will naturally start to make sense. For now there's not much more I can explain without regurgitating everything I've learned about Japanese grammar so far.
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Last edited by Raiga; 2010-09-26 at 15:10.
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Old 2010-09-28, 10:58   Link #3188
risingstar3110
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It would be great if someone here can give me some good (and fairly basic) lines for the start and end of a semi-formal and short Japanese presentation.

Maybe a bit about introduction myself in Japanese and so. As long as the ending is not about asking "shitsumon ga arimasu ka..." because i will prefer not to have any questions...

Many thanks in advance
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Old 2010-09-28, 16:27   Link #3189
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Quote:
Originally Posted by risingstar3110 View Post
It would be great if someone here can give me some good (and fairly basic) lines for the start and end of a semi-formal and short Japanese presentation.

Maybe a bit about introduction myself in Japanese and so. As long as the ending is not about asking "shitsumon ga arimasu ka..." because i will prefer not to have any questions...

Many thanks in advance
To formally introduce yourself you would say:

はじめまして
(your name)です (Hajimemashite, (your name)-desu) Nice to meet you/hello, I'm (name goes here).

To ask someones name:

おなまですか
(Onamedesuka) What is your name?

Hope this helps a bit
You might want basic vocabulary if your giving a presentation...
What words do you think you'll need?
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Old 2010-09-28, 17:12   Link #3190
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thevil1 View Post
To formally introduce yourself you would say:

はじめまして
(your name)です (Hajimemashite, (your name)-desu) Nice to meet you/hello, I'm (name goes here).

To ask someones name:

おなまですか
(Onamedesuka) What is your name?
So dizzy from trying to understand it
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Old 2010-09-28, 17:24   Link #3191
thevil1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hooves View Post
So dizzy from trying to understand it
What's wrong with it?
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Old 2010-09-28, 17:34   Link #3192
Raiga
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thevil1 View Post
To formally introduce yourself you would say:

はじめまして
(your name)です (Hajimemashite, (your name)-desu) Nice to meet you/hello, I'm (name goes here).

To ask someones name:

おなまですか
(Onamedesuka) What is your name?

Hope this helps a bit
You might want basic vocabulary if your giving a presentation...
What words do you think you'll need?
"Name" is actually 名前(なまえ) so using your wording that would be お名前は何ですか(おなまえはなんですか)。

For an intro I'd use something like はじめまして、[name]と申します。どうぞよろしくお願いします。 But I'm not too sure what you'd use in this situation. Especially if you're giving it to your class, you're probably not meeting them for the first time, so perhaps a こんにちは、[name]です would do the trick. For the end, I'm not sure? 以上です(いじょうです) maybe? Or if your presentation has a natural ending point I'm sure that would be fine.
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Old 2010-09-28, 20:55   Link #3193
risingstar3110
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Thank you everyone

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raiga View Post
"Name" is actually 名前(なまえ) so using your wording that would be お名前は何ですか(おなまえはなんですか)。

For an intro I'd use something like はじめまして、[name]と申します。どうぞよろしくお願いします。 But I'm not too sure what you'd use in this situation. Especially if you're giving it to your class, you're probably not meeting them for the first time, so perhaps a こんにちは、[name]です would do the trick. For the end, I'm not sure? 以上です(いじょうです) maybe? Or if your presentation has a natural ending point I'm sure that would be fine.
以上です would be handy. I don't want people to look at me, wondering if i have just forgotten the rest of the presentation.

But should i have an "dakara, yoroshiku onegai shi masu" after the introduction (of name and "watashi wa ganbarareru") if it's an presentation in front of a class?

You are my saviour
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Old 2010-09-28, 21:51   Link #3194
Raiga
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I'm really unsure of the details of your assignment so I don't really know what would be appropriate... I'm still learning myself, for that matter, so it might be best to wait for someone else with more experience.
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Old 2010-09-28, 23:07   Link #3195
Kudryavka
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Quote:
Originally Posted by risingstar3110 View Post
Thank you everyone


以上です would be handy. I don't want people to look at me, wondering if i have just forgotten the rest of the presentation.

But should i have an "dakara, yoroshiku onegai shi masu" after the introduction (of name and "watashi wa ganbarareru") if it's an presentation in front of a class?

You are my saviour
I'm not sure about saying "I'm doing my best!" in a presentation, but okay. Maybe "Watashi wa ganbaremashita!" at the end?

I would drop the "dakara". It's probably acceptable, but just "Yoroshiku onegaishimasu" works fine. It's an assignment, so you want to use what you know and get a good grade, try not to reach into a dark abyss of more advanced language skills. I'm an overachiever like yourself, learned it the hard way.
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Old 2010-09-29, 02:35   Link #3196
ryohei
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はじめまして。[name]と申します。
Hajimemashite [name] to moushimasu.
Nice to meet you, I'm [name].

[place]から来ました。
[place] kara kimashita.
I'm from [place]

(more detail information or comments.)

拙い日本語ですみませんがよろしくお願いします。
tsutanai nihongo de sumimasen ga yoroshiku onegai shimasu
I'm sorry for my poor Japanese.(yoroshiku... is difficult to translate. it's magic spell.)

*neck bowing*
end

"yoroshiku... + bowing" makes Japanese feel "His speech has finished." strongly.


Even if your Japanese is very good you had better say your Japanese is poor, because it is honorific expression.
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Old 2010-09-29, 03:03   Link #3197
risingstar3110
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryohei View Post
はじめまして。[name]と申します。
Hajimemashite [name] to moushimasu.
Nice to meet you, I'm [name].

[place]から来ました。
[place] kara kimashita.
I'm from [place]

(more detail information or comments.)

拙い日本語ですみませんがよろしくお願いします。
tsutanai nihongo de sumimasen ga yoroshiku onegai shimasu
I'm sorry for my poor Japanese.(yoroshiku... is difficult to translate. it's magic spell.)

*neck bowing*
end

"yoroshiku... + bowing" makes Japanese feel "His speech has finished." strongly.


Even if your Japanese is very good you had better say your Japanese is poor, because it is honorific expression.
Very good? How's about "My Japanese is terrible so don't throw me out of the window" (i will prefer to say so before thinking mine is good enough)....

OK thank. The "tsutanai nihongo de sumimasen ga" gonna be hard to remember. But it do make sense
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Old 2010-10-07, 12:30   Link #3198
thevil1
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I know that Kanji are chinese characters, but how similar are the Japanese uses of Kanji from the original Chinese uses of it.
In other words, If I know Kanji, how much Chinese would I theoretically be able to understand?
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Old 2010-10-07, 13:53   Link #3199
Raiga
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Put it this way: if you decide to start learning Chinese after becoming fluent in Japanese (and in using kanji etc.), you'll have an advantage, but don't expect to understand anything off the bat.

Chinese and Japanese have drastically different grammar and to a lesser extent very different phonetics (especially when it comes to tones in Chinese). Most kanji (hanzi in Chinese) mean about the same thing or refer to similar general ideas, so you may be able to get the gist of a passage of Chinese text, but I doubt you'll be able to get more than a vague, general idea.

There are definitely similarities in kanji and hanzi pronunciations (note: only similarities) but over a millennium has passed since Chinese characters were first introduced to Japan. There has been plenty of divergence in that time, since both Chinese and Japanese have been developing and changing in their own separate directions. Furthermore, what Japanese gained from Chinese was essentially only vocabulary and a writing system; the grammar didn't change much at all. You'll still have to learn a completely new grammatical system if you want to learn Chinese.

Think of it this way: imagine somebody decided to create a new language, and took all the nouns and adjectives from English. However, they came up with all the verbs themselves, and also came up with plenty of new nouns and adjectives. What's more, although they write the English nouns and adjectives the same way, they pronounce all of the letters a bit differently. Also, the words in a sentence are in a completely different order, and there are loads of new grammatical helper words that you've never seen before.

That's not at all what the relationship between Chinese and Japanese is but it's a good way to think about it.
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Old 2010-10-07, 19:32   Link #3200
Sing4ever9
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I'm having a tad bit of trouble in my Japanese II class when it comes to speaking the language. However, whenever I read or write Hiragana or Katakana (I'm also starting to catch on to a little bit of Kanji), I'm fairly good. For my friend, it's vice versa; she's good at speaking, not so good at writing and reading. My sensei said it was because I aim for accuracy more than my friend does (I do, I'm just a perfectionist like that XD).

You see, whenever I try and speak it, I always hesitate because I'm unsure about the placement of the words. I know that it goes subject object verb, but somehow it all jumbles up in my head. Is there anyway I can help make myself unconfused?
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