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Old 2007-01-19, 01:48   Link #421
AndyTran
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If you want to ever learn Japanese, please PLEASE first learn hiragana and katakana well. That's the first step. Try to avoid using ever using romaji (like I'm going to use here ) And yes I know it's bad practice to add a space after every word and particle in a sentence but it's easier to see for those who can't split up words and particles yet.

Grouping Verbs
First of all you need to know the difference between ichi-dan verbs, go-dan verbs, and special verbs.
Ichi-dan verbs, my teacher calls it group 2 verbs, are typically verbs that end in eru or iru. So verbs like taberu, hanaseru, miru, and kiru are all ichi-dan verbs
Go-dan verbs, my teacher calls it group 1 verbs, are pretty much all the verbs that AREN'T ichi-dan verbs. They'll always end with u (う) syllable at the end like ku (く) or su (す). Some examples are nomu, tobu, fuku, and kaku. However you have to beware of some sneaky Go-dan verbs that LOOK like ichi-dan but aren't. verbs like kaeru, shiru (to know), iru (to need), and hairu (to enter) are all go-dan but look like ichi-dan
Specials are just ones you gotta remember. They just have their own conjugations. Some of them people before me have already stated. Suru, iku and kuru being the most common

Conjugating
For conjugations there are 5 main groups
Mizenkei - most commonly used for negatives
Rentaikei - Commonly called "Dictionary Form" and is usually the base for conjugations
Renyoukei - My teacher calls it "stem form" but it's what you use for desu-masu form and various other grammar patterns
Izenkei - Commonly called "Hypothetical Form" and as such is mostly used for "if" statements
Meireikei - Commonly called "Command Form" and is, well, a blunt way to give commands (if you want to ask someone to do something, there are better ways than command form)
There's also te (て) and ta (た) forms in which I don't know what group they're in but te and ta are both essential. Their conjugations are mostly all special so too bad

To make it a bit easier, those five groups are basically conjugated and sorted in a i u e o ending form respectively. Meaning:
Mizenkei (Negative) is usually ended in the sound a (あ)
Renyoukei (Stem) is usually ended in the sound i (い)
Rentaikei (Dictionary) is usually ended in the sound u (う)
Izenkei (Hypothetical) is usually ended in the sound e (え)
Meireikei (Command) is usually ended in the sound e (え yes e not o. Breaks the pattern but oh well)

We'll be using Rentaikei as the base for all conjugations since that's just how it goes.

Mizenkei

Mizenkei Ichi-dan:
Not much to do here. Just get rid of the ru (る) at the end of the verb.
taberu --> tabe

Mizenkeu Go-dan
Change the last u (う) form syllable of the word into its a (あ) equivalent.
naku --> naka ; furu --> fura
Note that when the last syllable is just う, change it into wa (わ)
tatakau --> tatakawa

Mizenkei Uses:
As I've already said, its most common use is for plain form negatives. Just slap nai (ない) after the mizenkei form.
taberu would mean "to eat", tabenai would mean "to not eat".
naku would mean "to cry", nakanai would (roughly) mean "to not cry".
tatakau would mean "to fight", tatakawanai would mean "to not fight".

There's also passive form by slapping rareru (られる) after a mizenkei, but I'm too lazy to explain that. Let's just say it's the difference between
"I'm going to kick the dog" and "the dog is going to be kicked by me"
"Watashi wa inu o keru" and "Inu wa watashi ni kerareru"
"わたし は いぬ を ける” and "いぬ は わたし に けられる”
The rareru (られる) form can also refer to potential. In other words a english "can".
so the above "Inu wa watashi ni kerareru" can also be translated as
"I can kick the dog" Whichever translation to pick is based on the context, but I'd say the potential form is far more likely to occur
As a side note, the potential form of suru (する) is dekiru (できる)


Renyoukei
Renyoukei Ichi-dan
Once again, just chop off the ru (る) at the end of the verb and you have the Renyoukei form. Whee

Renyoukei Go-dan
To change from Rentaikei (Dictionary) to Renyoukei, just change the ending u (う) into its (い) counterpart.
nomu --> nomi ; kiku --> kiki

Renyoukei Uses
There are a plethora of different things that involve Renyoukei, but the one a learner should be most associatied with is the polite masu form. If you ever talk to someone you don't know in Japanese, you should ALWAYS begin with desu-masu form and as such, Renyoukei should become second nature. To put something in masu (ます) form, just take the Renyoukei and slap, well, MASU after it.
kiku --> kikimasu ; kakeru --> kakemasu
If you want polite past masu form just put mashita (ました) after the Renyoukei. This is masu form except it's (duh) for the past. It's actually just masu turned into ta (た) form but whatever not important.
dekiru --> dekimashita ; okiru --> okimashita


Rentaikei
Rentaikei Ichi-dan & Go-dan
Wait, if we're using Rentaikei as the base of conjugating into other forms, there's no reason we'd need to know how to conjugate Rentaikei into Rentaikei (unless of course you're in Soviet Russia in which Rentaikei conjugates YOU! okay not funny).
Either way I'll just squeeze in te (て) and ta (た) form into here for jollies

Rentaikei Uses
Jesus Rentaikei is required in a gajillion grammar patterns. Oh well, the most important thing to know is that in plain form when you're talking to closer friends in a more colloquial outlook, just using words in their Rentaikei form is good enough. Also instead of using desu (です)to end every sentence, in plain form if a verb ends the sentence do not add anything after. If it's a noun ending, however, use da (だ) instead of desu. Example Sentence in plain form:
"I'm coming. Your party"
"watashi wa kuru. Anata no paachi da"
"わたし は くる。 あなた の パーチ だ"


TE (て) & TA (た) Forms
This one is probably gonna be the hardest to memorize. That's because the conjugation is completely dependant on the last syllable for go-dans. To make it easier, te and ta have basically the same conjugations except that instead of te, it's ta or instead of ta it's te. Sounds confusing but if you look at the table below you'll see what I mean.



Te Uses
Progressive form is a very common use for te form. Progressive meaning along the lines of "in the act of doing". Example would be
"I am going to clean my room" and "I am cleaning my room"
"Heya o soujishimasu" and "Heya o soujishiteimasu"
"へや を そうじします” and "へや を そうじしています”
Basically just take the te form and add on iru (いる) or imasu (います). This iru means to exist and is therefore ichi-dan (not to be confunsed with the go-dan iru which means to need).

Polite command also requires te form. Just use te form of the verb and add kudasai (ください). This form is much more used to ask for someone to do something than command form explained later(unless you're watching a shounen anime full of badass dudes that try to speak as rough as possible)
"Please kill"
"koroshitekudasai"
"ころしてください”

Ta Uses
Past plain form is why one would usually need ta form. If you wanted to say something in past but remain in plain form, just end the sentence with the ta form of the verb. Simple no?
"I went left"
"hidari ni itta"
”ひだり に いった”

A way to say "if" is also why ta form is important. just add ra (ら) to the end of the ta form to make an if statement. It's very similar to the hypothetical form explained later. What the difference in use is? I really don't know. Also to note, if a sentence ends in a noun or noun adjective, the equivalent to this form would be putting nara (なら) at the end of the sentence replacing da or desu


Izenkei
Izenkei Ichi-dan
Gasp! You don't just chop off ru to put a ichi-dan into izenkei! Instead just change the ru at the end into re (れ)
kiru --> kire ; keru --> kere

Izenkei Go-dan
Same as ever. Just change the ending u (う) syllable into its e (え) counterpart
hanasu --> hanase ; oyogu --> oyoge

Izenkei Uses
It's real use is just add an "if" to you statement. Just take the Izenkei, and ba (ば) to the end of it and there you go, a hypothetical.
"If I sleep now, I can wake up early tomorrow"
"Ima nereba ashita, hayaku okiraremasu"
"いま ねれば あした、 はやく おきられます”

Though it still uses if, another really common use of izenkei is the "must do something" grammar pattern. this basically takes the hypothetical of nai (ない) your plain form negative and then slapping on either naranai (ならない) and ikenai (いけない) both roughly meaning can not/ should not happen. so if you were to use a negative "if" statement and a followup "cannot happen", a weird translation would come up "if verb does not happen, that instance should not happen" or in other words "I need to verb!" The completed conjugation would of course have to be put on a mizenkei verb since you're using nai. Confusing explanation but let's hope an example can clear it
"I have to walk"
"Arukanareba naranai" or "Arukanareba ikenai"
"あるかなれば ならない” or あるかなれば いけない”
As a side note that whole fat nakereba naranai is often colloquially shrunk down to nakkya naran/iken or even shrunken down further to just nakkya (なっきゃ)

Meireikei
Meireikei Ichi-dan
Like always, just cut off ru and you're done

Meireikei Go-dan
Just like izenkei (hypothetical form) change u (う) into e (え) equivalents and you have meireikei
fuku --> fuke ; hiku --> hike

Meireikei Uses
Commanding others in a very very rough manner. If you were to talk to your boss in this form, and you weren't his good buddy, then get ready to get fired (or maybe just looked at weird). Strangely enough, you don't need to add anything this time around. It IS extremely common to end a Ichi-dan Meireikei with either ro (ろ) or yo (よ) with ro being more direct (and therefore rude) than yo. But just preferably use te+kudasai form instead; command in Meireikei to a stranger or someone you don't know will make you look like an idiot. Here's a common statement and a good example
"go die"
"shine"
"しね”

There you have it. The 5 primary forms of conjugation. Learn the differences of all these conjugations and you're path to learning grammar patterns becomes infinitely easier.
Note that there are 2 more forms of conjugation but they're never used anymore and is just classical Japanese.
If anyone wants me to add anymore grammar patterns to their specific verb forms just ask. I'll be thankful for any suggestions and mistake checks too!
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Last edited by AndyTran; 2007-05-07 at 02:25. Reason: whoops
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Old 2007-01-20, 03:10   Link #422
Ledgem
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Just for reference to aspiring Japanese learners, I'm in my third year of Japanese study and we never learned the classification terms (izenkei, renyoukei, etc.) so don't get too hung up over it. Do pay attention to what the rules are, however, as those are the very basics of Japanese grammar. Once you have those down, you start building on top of them.

For reference, the program here at the University of Southern California uses なかま1 for Japanese 1 and 2, and なかま2 for Japanese 3 and 4. For "Advanced Japanese 1" we use "An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese" from the Japan Times. Friends at other schools seem to use げんき or ようこそ!for their textbooks.
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Old 2007-01-20, 04:36   Link #423
Jewelray
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
J
For reference, the program here at the University of Southern California uses なかま1 for Japanese 1 and 2, and なかま2 for Japanese 3 and 4. For "Advanced Japanese 1" we use "An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese" from the Japan Times. Friends at other schools seem to use げんき or ようこそ!for their textbooks.
I still think that JSL has the best conversations and and situations (well, if you want a good laugh, that is.)

Brown-san: Taxi driver, can you make a u-turn here?
Driver: Well, it's dangerous, but ok.

You know it's a bit outdated when it has ワープロ and ソビエト for vocab...

But really, I love JSL. Sue Brown is a total marysue of the author.

"ふろしき?とても便利ですねぇ"
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Old 2007-01-22, 00:54   Link #424
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Agreed that some of the most ridiculous and unrealistic examples are usually given. I love my "Business Japanese" text book which has very little relevance to anything. Makes out life in a Japanese company to you being the tea-serving photocopying office monkey. Where's the part on how to control a meeting or hand out instructions to the newbies??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jewelray View Post
Brown-san: Taxi driver, can you make a u-turn here?
Driver: Well, it's dangerous, but ok.
Me: Can you take a right here?
Driver: Not really [its a one way street, and cutting through traffic], but I will anyway *grins like an idiot*

ワープロ still gets some use in Japan, mainly among the older crowd and those who see computers as those untamed evil beasts, that they type things into and it prints it out.

Me: "You never save???"
Guy: "No, why? I just type it, print it out and thats that"
Me: "But what if you want to change something?"
Guy "Don't be silly, I just type it again"



Gotta love working IT.
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Old 2007-01-22, 02:52   Link #425
Ledgem
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Out of curiosity, what is used in place of ワープロ? It's all I've heard from my instructors with reference to word processing.
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Old 2007-01-22, 03:59   Link #426
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
Out of curiosity, what is used in place of ワープロ? It's all I've heard from my instructors with reference to word processing.
I don't get what you mean but, ワープロ is short for ワードプロセッサー, either word processing machines (like typewriters) or word processing software, and its also applied to computers (in the place of パソコン or パーソナルコンピューター), mainly from people who moved over from dedicated word-processing machines or people who just see computers as advanced typewriters.
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Old 2007-01-22, 04:31   Link #427
Vexx
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Originally Posted by FatPianoBoy View Post
Oh. Yeah, definitely. In the little translating that I've done, I found out very quickly that literal translation very rarely makes sense.

@Vexx: I think a friend of mine has the book you speak of. It's made by Kodansha (best Japanese language books ever made) and is called "Basic Japanese Sentence Particles" or something like that. I've been meaning to get that, along with "Basic Japanese Sentence Patterns."
Aye, thats it (I have both books actually) ... I have this silly pile of books --- usually about a 1/3 to a 1/2 of each book is useful --- those two have been quite useful though. I always found it interesting that people (and teachers) make such a big deal out of particles but when they're really not a big deal if you can grok their meta-purpose

As I like to say, "the first thing you must do when learning a language ... is stop asking *WHY?* It just is." And the more you know about the axioms of the culture, the more obvious the 'why' is anyway.
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Old 2007-01-22, 12:13   Link #428
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ewok View Post
I love my "Business Japanese" text book which has very little relevance to anything. Makes out life in a Japanese company to you being the tea-serving photocopying office monkey.
The author of JSL must have had a really bad experience (or maybe a typical experience?) at a Japanese company because she pretty much says in the notes for the conversations that that is exactly what any foreigner (especially a foreigner woman) working in Japan will ever be doing. Don't even think about being respected.... just go bring Mr. Tanaka his tea, and don't correct his incorrect english unless it's so bad it'll make the company look bad. (because they didn't hire you, the english speaker, to help people with their english?)

But she seems to be a bitter person in general. When she wasn't trying to convince people not to work in Japan, she was making low blows at Hepburn romanization in favor of her preferred method (which was actually really funny to read...)
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Old 2007-01-22, 20:30   Link #429
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jewelray View Post
The author of JSL must have had a really bad experience (or maybe a typical experience?) at a Japanese company because she pretty much says in the notes for the conversations that that is exactly what any foreigner (especially a foreigner woman) working in Japan will ever be doing. Don't even think about being respected.... just go bring Mr. Tanaka his tea, and don't correct his incorrect english unless it's so bad it'll make the company look bad. (because they didn't hire you, the english speaker, to help people with their english?)

But she seems to be a bitter person in general. When she wasn't trying to convince people not to work in Japan, she was making low blows at Hepburn romanization in favor of her preferred method (which was actually really funny to read...)
I tend to use rather poor romanization (ワープロローマ字, just because I spend allot of time using a PC to work), but Hepburn is more or less the accepted system, and any problems that it has are faults of the English language and not of the system or the Japanese language. (IMO - that the pronunciation of some Japanese is too subtle or cannot be accurately represented in roman characters with traditional English soundings).

I just plain don't agree with allot of the stereotypes in the business books - I train and manage people who are "lower" than me. I've had my boss call me up a few times and ask me nicely to explain some English terms to him (for example differences between Installation, Design, Deployment, Commission, Procurement, etc). I don't even know where the damn kettle is so making tea is out of the question I have a mate who works in for a travel shop and he says its no different to when he worked in London. I know people who work for Apple and Microsoft who say its little different. Lawyers, truck drivers, self-employed people, nothing spectacularly different.

There are some things that are different such as more emphasis on business cards, correct language to superiors, etc, its really not all that different.
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Old 2007-01-22, 20:49   Link #430
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Japanese is weird, why do you need to know two types of alphabet? Not only that you have to know kanji . Do you really have to that many kanji? I know about 20 kanji like fire, water one through ten, white, sky, earth, and such.
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Old 2007-01-22, 21:32   Link #431
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Japanese is weird, why do you need to know two types of alphabet? Not only that you have to know kanji . Do you really have to that many kanji? I know about 20 kanji like fire, water one through ten, white, sky, earth, and such.
I dunno... why do you need to learn lower and upper-case letters in English? Because that's how the writing system works.
Do you need to know kanji? No, if you don't mind being illiterate.
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Old 2007-01-22, 23:36   Link #432
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hyperlion View Post
Japanese is weird, why do you need to know two types of alphabet? Not only that you have to know kanji . Do you really have to that many kanji? I know about 20 kanji like fire, water one through ten, white, sky, earth, and such.
Like, why do you have silent letters in English? If you don't say it, its useless right? And why do you use spaces? Its just an empty space!

Japanesewithoutkanjiislikereadingwritinglikethis.I tsreallyhardtoread.
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Old 2007-01-23, 00:12   Link #433
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Japanese is weird, why do you need to know two types of alphabet? Not only that you have to know kanji . Do you really have to that many kanji? I know about 20 kanji like fire, water one through ten, white, sky, earth, and such.
Why bother having both katakana and hiragana?

Well...I guess that could be a good question, but like Vexx said, just don't ask why. Languages develop over time, they're not created like programming code or something.

Besides, it takes all of like two weeks to learn katakana. It's not that complicated.

And do they need kanji? Yes, absolutely. Because of the phonetic alphabet, the possibility of mistaking words becomes much higher if kanji is not used. And since one kanji takes the place of several kana letters -- take a newspaper, imagine it about four times as thick, and that's what it would be like without kanji. (It would probably take way longer to read, as well.)

Yeah, it kind of sucks while you're learning it, but when you start to be able to read and recognize some it makes so much more sense why they use kanji.
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Old 2007-01-23, 01:08   Link #434
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Chinese is a language composed purely of tens of thousands of characters, each with unique readings and meanings. That to read Japanese you only need to know around 2000 is a very good thing
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Old 2007-01-23, 12:47   Link #435
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Originally Posted by Ewok View Post
I tend to use rather poor romanization (ワープロローマ字, just because I spend allot of time using a PC to work), but Hepburn is more or less the accepted system, and any problems that it has are faults of the English language and not of the system or the Japanese language. (IMO - that the pronunciation of some Japanese is too subtle or cannot be accurately represented in roman characters with traditional English soundings).
For practical uses, I agree Hepburn makes much more sense. JSL uses the other type of romanization (forgot the name, the one where ti=chi) because the actual book itself is all in romaji (one one the huge downsides to JSL and probably the reason most schools don't use it.) The books take a very scholarly approach to everything and it loves huge, complicated explanations so not surprisingly the book favors the more complicated system. But it helps with the ridiculous explanations to keep things constant because it is closer to the japanese way of viewing the language.

Personally, I don't like it so much. If you are going out of your way to understand the language to that degree, you may as well learn hiragana. It's a real pain when I have to email my Japanese professors (the school email program doesn't support japanese fonts) because I keep switching back and forth between Hepburn and the version we learned and nothing is consistent.
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Old 2007-01-23, 23:16   Link #436
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I'm a big fan of teaching the language IN that language - I learnt Japanese from a Japanese teacher who didn't speak English except to explain individual words. Sure the first year is hard, but the constant exposure to Japanese is what helps, and without English (or romaji) complicating matters things move much smoother.
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Old 2007-01-25, 03:07   Link #437
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In response to Ewok, Jewelray originally wrote "You know it's a bit outdated when it has ワープロ and ソビエト for vocab..." to which you replied

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ewok View Post
ワープロ still gets some use in Japan, mainly among the older crowd and those who see computers as those untamed evil beasts, that they type things into and it prints it out.
I mistook you both to mean that the term ワープロ was outdated. However I see that Jewelray meant that it's much more common and no longer need be included as special vocabulary to learn (I think?)

As for kanji, it'll be interesting to see how Japan copes with the future (China as well). Western language-based technology is largely responsible for bringing some weaknesses of the picture system to light. I can remember asking a Japanese teaching assistant of mine how many kanji he knew, back when I was just starting to learn kanji. He said that he knew around 2,000, but he could only remember how to write perhaps 300 of them. I'm not sure how long he'd been in America, but it couldn't have been more than four or five years, if that.

One of my friends studied abroad in Japan last semester. She was with some Japanese friends and forgot how a certain kanji character looked. So she asked one of her friends to write it for her, and, as she told it, he couldn't remember. Instead, he whipped out his cellphone, input the phonetics, scrolled through the kanji until he reached the right one (recognition is easier than recollection, in my opinion), and then showed it to her. College student.

Perhaps in the past, when writing by hand was performed more regularly, keeping the characters fresh in one's mind was much simpler. But now, with computer-based input, we're all pretty much working off of recognition of characters. It really weakens our ability to write it later. What happens when you can only write in your language through a computer? Maybe nothing, but it's certainly an interesting thought.
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Old 2007-01-25, 10:43   Link #438
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
I
I mistook you both to mean that the term ワープロ was outdated. However I see that Jewelray meant that it's much more common and no longer need be included as special vocabulary to learn (I think?)
The book uses waapuro to refer to those things that people used instead of typewriters before computers, not like MSWord or computer applications like that. I don't know when those fell out of use, but I know I have never even seen one. Maybe the word has come to mean the computer program as well, but no one uses word processions anymore, making waapuro, as it refers to the machine, an outdated word.
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Old 2007-01-25, 23:07   Link #439
Ewok
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@Ledgem

That is a very good point, but I don't think it shows a weakness with ideogram based writing systems (Kanji are not pictograms, they convey ideas, not set reading like roman characters - ie. A is A. 日 is a sun, but has several readings).

Handwriting ability among English speakers, especially younger people, is often in the news. Inability to spell (thanks to overuse of slang or over-reliance of spell checkers), and inability to write (neatly) are often pointed out. So its not just the Japanese that are having trouble.

With the basic set of kanji being around 2,000 characters (the joyo kanji list being 1,945 kanji), and many more specialised kanji in common use, its not unusual to expect people to forget a few. But in modern times where practically everything is typed, and only the most basic things are written, its not unusual for people who have left school to forget the less used kanji when it comes time to write.
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Old 2007-01-31, 00:30   Link #440
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I'd have to say kanji makes the language a LOT harder since you have to remember basically double for each word (hiragana spelling and kanji spelling per word). But on the bright side, it makes it WAY easier to read things especially since Japanese lacks spaces. Not only that, it gives a big leniency towards word creation. A lot of words and names are just kanji with onyomi (sometimes kunyomi and naori, usually furigana is placed first to give exact pronunciation) readings but since each kanji has a meaning, with the context of the sentence, a more vivid representation can be made by writers. You also can't forget the aesthetics as well. Calligraphy is there since kanji, well, sometimes kinda look awesome. Of course kanji is STILL a bastard to learn .
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