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Old 2007-02-25, 02:30   Link #501
Spectacular_Insanity
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tiachopvutru View Post
Ah, I think I understand better now.

So, what would be good one to start with? Also, what do you think is hardest about Japanese..? X_x .... Just wondering
Are you referring to which book to start with? I'd suggest Genki. It's really good for begginers. I know I got a lot out of it. It can't explain nuances very well (Nakama does that well, IMHO), but it's good for the basics and getting a feel for the language.

Kanji is easily the most difficult part of the language. The basic structure and grammar is actually a bit easier than some languages, and except for the extensive conjugation for various types of words (i-adjectives, na-adjectives , nouns, and verbs), it's all pretty straightforward.
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Old 2007-02-25, 02:37   Link #502
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatPianoBoy View Post
Counting words (seriously, why is the kanji for 'book' the counter for long, slender objects? Books are neither long nor slender)
After two years I still don't know the days of the month...
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Old 2007-02-25, 02:57   Link #503
Spectacular_Insanity
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Originally Posted by Jewelray View Post
After two years I still don't know the days of the month...
Hmmmmm.... er.... mikka, yokka..... kokonoka..... tou? I guess even after 3 years, I can't remember either!

And another thing I find difficult about japanese is the lack of spaces between words if you're reading real Japanese. So, if you aren't familiar with a word, you're pretty much screwed because it could be anything...
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Old 2007-02-25, 06:53   Link #504
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Quote:
And another thing I find difficult about japanese is the lack of spaces between words if you're reading real Japanese. So, if you aren't familiar with a word, you're pretty much screwed because it could be anything...
That's a problem learning kanji helps to solve, since when reading something with kanji + kana vs something with kana alone, the kanji help the sentences feel more organized and less chaotic. Even if you don't understand the kanji, you can at least single out which is the word you don't understand (instead of getting it mixed up with the others like it happens to me when I read kana-only phrases).
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Old 2007-02-26, 02:03   Link #505
Xess
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Yeah, reading kana alone with no spaces is practically impossible. It's akin to writing this very sentence with no spaces. And having no kanji is like having phonetic spelling in English. The only way you can tell the difference between "Redbook", "red book" and "read book" in English is through stress. Since there isn't any stress in spelling, variations in spelling goes a long way. J

ust like English, Japanese has an incredible amount of homonyms. But they have a high pitch and low pitch sound to differentiate similar sounding words. That's also absent in the writing system, so the kanji definitely goes a long way to remove ambiguity. And these reasons are probably major reasons why English and Japanese writing have remained the way they were for quite a long time.
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Old 2007-02-26, 06:16   Link #506
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I don't really buy the "it'd be hard to differentiate words without kanji" argument.

Take Hebrew, for example. Written hebrew doesn't even write any VOWELS. And yet that's the norm for that language. People don't seem to have any trouble reading.

Plus, there's been a hiragana-only newspaper in japan since the education reforms back in the late meiji era. I think it's more a function of societal ridgidity than of functionality that written Japanese has remained as it has. Language reform is slowly, VERY slowly taking place.
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Old 2007-02-26, 07:41   Link #507
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quarkboy View Post
I don't really buy the "it'd be hard to differentiate words without kanji" argument.

Take Hebrew, for example. Written hebrew doesn't even write any VOWELS. And yet that's the norm for that language. People don't seem to have any trouble reading.

Plus, there's been a hiragana-only newspaper in japan since the education reforms back in the late meiji era. I think it's more a function of societal ridgidity than of functionality that written Japanese has remained as it has. Language reform is slowly, VERY slowly taking place.
It's not impossible to read hiragana-only text, but it is somewhat confusing for non-native speakers. Children's books are written using very little or no kanji at all.
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Old 2007-02-26, 07:50   Link #508
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Quote:
I don't really buy the "it'd be hard to differentiate words without kanji" argument.

Take Hebrew, for example. Written hebrew doesn't even write any VOWELS. And yet that's the norm for that language. People don't seem to have any trouble reading.

Plus, there's been a hiragana-only newspaper in japan since the education reforms back in the late meiji era. I think it's more a function of societal ridgidity than of functionality that written Japanese has remained as it has. Language reform is slowly, VERY slowly taking place.
You can't compare an outsider learning a language with a native, who has heard that language since the day he or she was born. Unless you know every single word that's being said in a kana-only phrase, chances are that you'll get a tougher time reading it. Native Japanese don't have any trouble at all because they've heard those words and sentence structures all their life, and can single out words pretty easily. And I agree, it's not impossible, I own a couple of children's book that are written only in kana, but trying to single out a word I don't understand when there are more than one in a sentence can be very difficult.

Besides, that sort of comparisons between languages is pointless--languages are pretty much unique all over the world, even more when comparing two languages with completely different bases.
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Old 2007-02-26, 14:23   Link #509
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quarkboy View Post
I don't really buy the "it'd be hard to differentiate words without kanji" argument. (...)
Well, of course the language could be structured in a different way.
The thing is just...it's not. I don't see the use of contemplating about a different writing system; if you want to learn the language then bear with it (and if you don't it doesn't matter either way), it's not like anything's going to change anytime soon.
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Old 2007-02-26, 19:07   Link #510
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectacular_Insanity View Post
Hmmmmm.... er.... mikka, yokka..... kokonoka..... tou? I guess even after 3 years, I can't remember either!

And another thing I find difficult about japanese is the lack of spaces between words if you're reading real Japanese. So, if you aren't familiar with a word, you're pretty much screwed because it could be anything...
You're attempting to count to ten, not speak the days of the week.

- Getsuyobi
- Kayobi
- Suiyobi
- ...uh..mokuyobi?
- Kinyobi
- Doyobi
- Nichiyobi

Oh, and to count to ten:

Hitotsu
Futatsu
Mittsu
Yottsu
Itsutsu
Muttsu
Nanatsu
Yattsu
Kokonotsu
Too



Quote:
Originally Posted by Quarkboy View Post
I don't really buy the "it'd be hard to differentiate words without kanji" argument.
But once you know the kanji, it seems much easier to read.
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Old 2007-02-26, 21:25   Link #511
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Allot of whats being talked about on this page and the last are related only to basic Japanese, at a more native level many of the things you talk about either make sense, or don't matter. For example:

Sentence structure - this is not fixed, in the same was as English there are many ways to structure a sentence and still keep it grammatically correct and logical. Its only at the basic level where you use a fixed pattern that it seems like its always the same.

Simplicity and irregularities - I wouldn't say Japanese is simple or easy - it has allot more logic and sense behind many aspects of its grammar and vocabulary structure, but if you spend some time studying the language you take for granted you'll learn its the same here Many irregularities exist, you just haven't been exposed to them yet.

Counting - its a pain, just learn it all

Using Japanese is no different to using English - you need to have an understanding of grammar and a pool of words you can use to be able to receive and convey information and ideas. If you don't know a word or concept, use what you do know to explain it. If you hear something you don't know, as for an explanation.
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Old 2007-02-26, 22:08   Link #512
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Quote:
You're attempting to count to ten, not speak the days of the week.
No, actually, if you want to count the days of the month like April 1st, 2nd, 3rd, you actually have to use the counter for days which is pretty similar to the generic counter (一つ、二つ、三つ...) but replace the つ with っか. Of course, the counter has exceptions of its own.
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Old 2007-02-27, 00:30   Link #513
Xess
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The ones in hiragana only tend to have spaces though. But to me, hiragana only, with no spaces is akin to writing in English with no spaces, phonetic spelling and no caps. I'm sure if you had learnt to read without spaces and phonetically your whole life, you could, but I doubt it'd be very efficient. How could you tell the difference between, say "as in" or "a sin"? Or in Japanese, what's "niwatori"? If it was spoken, I'd know in a flash. If it's written, then who knows.

I'm sure the reason why the Japanese never changed to a pure hiragana system is because the old one works and it works better. And perhaps someone who knows Hebrew could tell us why the writing system works? I doubt it's the rigidity of society that's preventing change. Both the Chinese and Japanese writing system have gone through simplification. The Chinese script was dropped in favour of the Latin script for Vietnamese. And the Koreans too, don't use Hanja very much but favour Hangul more. The systems can change. But perhaps we have to look deeper into the reasons why they don't.
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Old 2007-02-27, 00:50   Link #514
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Consider this - if you wrote wholly in hiragana but used katakana for grammar specific terms (or even just particles) you would end up with something that is highly readable without spaces - but still nowhere near as easy as reading with kanji. Until you've skim read a newspaper or had to filter through 200 emails to find one thing do you understand what kanji represent.
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Old 2007-02-27, 00:55   Link #515
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Indeed. I'm beginning to get the impression that several here are going through that "why do I have to learn this?/why do they have to make it so hard?" phase of learning. The only advice I can offer is that the faster you just suck it up and accept it, the faster you'll progress. I assume you know very few or no kanji, as no one who knows a considerable amount (more than a hundred) would question the usefulness of it.
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Old 2007-02-27, 04:33   Link #516
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You begin learning the moment you stop asking "why" ......

The cool thing about kanji is they come with their own built-in cultural references, footnotes, and puns. The bad thing is that they come in the form of a blizzard of snowflakes.

If all you want to read is teen level manga (which is a fair accomplishment in itself), you only need to start learning the K-12 series of kanji by grade order (about 2000 by grade 12) and you can probably get by with a few hundred carefully chosen ones and look the others up.

Find a book that teaches kanji in the grade order that japanese students learn it - and flashcard level up. Most manga use a fraction of those and the better ones supply furigana support to help in the reading.

In the classes I've taken -- the biggest problem for the teacher is teaching the students how their OWN language works because they lack the basic linguistic knowledge (S V O vs S O V for example) - many have no idea what a direct or indirect object is. If you're learning via immersion, of course, who cares? But most learn by using their primary language as a jump-off point to compare to.

note: as far a s th e nospa ce iss ue g oes - onc eyou hav eabig enou ghvocab ulary anda sens eofthe word patt ern that pro blem vanishes.
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Old 2007-02-27, 06:31   Link #517
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Quote:
In the classes I've taken -- the biggest problem for the teacher is teaching the students how their OWN language works because they lack the basic linguistic knowledge (S V O vs S O V for example) - many have no idea what a direct or indirect object is. If you're learning via immersion, of course, who cares? But most learn by using their primary language as a jump-off point to compare to.
In fact, the only reason why I think the grammatical structure of your own language should be taught at school is to learn other languages. I can't see other usefulness beyond that. But once you've got it, it becomes a lot easier to learn a language. Most of my Japanese-learning classmates have got no clue about grammatic, something I have learned due to the punishment of 4 years of Latin at high school (if you intend to learn Latin without any knowledge of grammatic, you'd better not start). And it shows.
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Old 2007-02-27, 07:28   Link #518
teachopvutru
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Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
note: as far a s th e nospa ce iss ue g oes - onc eyou hav eabig enou ghvocab ulary anda sens eofthe word patt ern that pro blem vanishes.
'

After reading that sentence, one should probably understand what u mean (I did too )
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Old 2007-02-28, 05:18   Link #519
Xess
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As far as the spaces thing go, or even if the spelling were to be jumbled up, most natives could probably read most sentences of the sort. However, it's proven that reading speed does slow down slightly, showing that good spelling is important.

This one is harder to read I think:
a sf arasthe nos paceis sue goes - on ceyouha veabigenou ghvocabul aryanda se nseoft hewo rdpat ternth atpr obl emvan ishes.
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Old 2007-02-28, 05:32   Link #520
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reminds me about words with randomized order letters.
Quote:
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe. ceehiro.
from this page
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