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Learning Japanese for VN reading?


Hayashi
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I have always been seeing people complaining about translation patches and stuff like where is the 18+ release. And was wondering, the time people spent on doing nothing but waiting for patches can be used to learn Japanese instead, so why not just do it?  It's never too hard to learn anything really, just be committed and stick to what you are doing, then one will eventually reach their goal.

I won't be able to give input on this as I am half Japanese, so learning it as a foreign language doesn't apply to me. But what do you guys think?

Learning Japanese just for VN reading or too much effort for a hobby? 

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Well I started learning Japanese just to read VNs and then at some point it kinda became like a personal goal.

If you really enjoy doing something you don't see it as a tedious task, like you said, once it became a hobby is just a fun thing to do, for instance like it would be learning to play an instrument, it takes a lot of time and effort but people don't feel or see it that way, learning is also part of the process and they are having fun while doing it. The same thing applies to learning a language not just Japanese.

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learning Japanese was highly tedious the first few months. Afterwards it just became a fun hobby. In my mind at the time, I read so many vn's in eng. So I might as well just use my time somewhat more productive. So I learned jp while reading vn's.

For others I know. Reading slowly in jp is horrible. So depends on the person.

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I may be one of the rare people that does this but... I play eroges in Japanese without having learned Japanese before or use any form of translators. The only thing I use is Mecab dictionary. I read the text in romaji, my reading speed is decent, whatever word I don't know I use Mecab, after having played so many games, my need to use Mecab is decreasing.

So, yeah, I am an example of being able to play VN in Japanese without machine translator OR learning Japanese.

How do I understand what I'm reading even if its in Romaji? It came from experience of watching anime, majority of it was Detective Conan. Rewatched the entire show like 3 times, taught me quite a bit about spoken Japanese, which benefited me in reading romaji.

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machine transliterate everything in romanji with a text hooker... doesn't seem a bad idea, after all... is it feaseble? Will The machine transliteration be accurate?

One Vn I'd really want to read is Machi from Chunsoft, maybe I'll try to set everything up one of those days (saturn emulator, text hooker, transliterator... all this crap working togheter...)

Once the text is in romanji I shoul be able to read it with a vocabulary, it will be a slow and frustrating process anyway...

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10 hours ago, Kiso said:

I have always been seeing people complaining about translation patches and stuff like where is the 18+ release. And was wondering, the time people spent on doing nothing but waiting for patches can be used to learn Japanese instead, so why not just do it?  It's never too hard to learn anything really, just be committed and stick to what you are doing, then one will eventually reach their goal.

I won't be able to give input on this as I am half Japanese, so learning it as a foreign language doesn't apply to me. But what do you guys think?

Learning Japanese just for VN reading or too much effort for a hobby? 

It's hard to call learning japanese as an adult "hobby". The learning curve is step and requires a lot of effort within the first couple of months (provided, you're learning it and making progress); something, most adults aren't capable to pull off due to massive time constraints, work and little spare time on hand. On the other hand, once you pass those first couple of months and learn the basics (kana, basic kanji, vocabulary), it becomes less tedious and more feasible.

Would I recommend learning japanese just to be able to read vn's? No. Would I recommend learning japanese, if you're either a huge japanophile or a fan of japanese popculture? Yes. If you're interested to make another step and move on from translated works to read manga, vn's, play games and watch anime in their native language, you should consider learning japanese. It's because most of the stuff we get translated is usually shit and we often miss on things, that are really worth it. That's when knowing japanese comes in handy.

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I learnt Japanese to play VNs and now translate them as a hobby. But then I also loved Japanese anime, manga, light novels, novels and films, so the desire to learn was strong. Very glad I did it but then even after many years I know that I'm still not very strong at translating. It's a bastard of a language and incredibly fascinating language at the same time.

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From what I have heard, most people are saying it's not worth it - learning Japanese only to be able to read VNs ... And personally, I can understand why that is, first of all - Reading visual novels is just a hobby and a form of entertainment that may or may not hold you interested into it long enough and considering how much time is necessary to become fluent in it (from what I have heard, CIA calls it the "hardest" language to become fluent in or something like that) and wasting that much time just to be able to read VNs is kind of a wasted effort if you are just going to ditch it one day, that's why it's only recommended to people who are generally interested in more Japanese-related entertainment like manga, anime, etc. And besides, who knows whether it will pay off in the end, you might even discover that once you have learned the language you don't have interest anymore in the VNs, that's all very much possible.

On the other hand, there are people out there, like me, who are impatient and would like to be able to read these VNs for themselves, not to be dependant on somebody else's translation and possibly enjoy it even more in its original Japanese language form (I have heard many Japanese sentences lose some of the meaning when translated to English). I have started my journey of learning (more like trying to learn xD) Japanese back by the end of the last year and to be quite honest, sometimes I find it fun to learn and sometimes I just become frustrated at some complicated stuff in Japanese, after all, Japanese is an exotic language and it really needs a strong dedication to learn it. I don't know whether I will make it till the end but I plan on learning it enough in order to be able to at least grasp some basic meaning of Japanese and I know I am probably just wasting my time but honestly, sometimes it can be fun, despite its quirks, Japanese can be fun to learn, and it doesn't feel boring like learning some other languages :)

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On 8/28/2016 at 8:38 PM, Kiso said:

I have always been seeing people complaining about translation patches and stuff like where is the 18+ release. And was wondering, the time people spent on doing nothing but waiting for patches can be used to learn Japanese instead, so why not just do it?  It's never too hard to learn anything really, just be committed and stick to what you are doing, then one will eventually reach their goal.

I won't be able to give input on this as I am half Japanese, so learning it as a foreign language doesn't apply to me.

What you said sort of reminded me of

"If they have no bread, let them eat cake"

"If they have no [patches], let them [read Japanese]"

 

Even though it might seem like learning something new only takes motivation and dedication, I think it also depends on other factors like your prior experience, your environment, your current place in life, amount of free time and resources at your disposal. 

For example, say there was a person who knows Chinese (prior experience with Chinese characters), with reasonable free time and lives in an area where Japanese classes are being offered. Compare this to someone else with no background in Japanese aside from watching anime, lives in an area where there are no classes for Japanese and is still a student who needs to spend time on his other studies. 

Do you think it would be easy for the second person to learn Japanese? 

I agree that the second person would eventually learn Japanese but that person clearly lacks a lot of the resources to do so efficiently and I think it's because of some of these factors that other people shy away from learning Japanese. 

 

However, at the end of the day, I would have to say it all comes down to how much you love visual novels/animes/manga/Japanese otaku culture in general. Because all of those factors are secondary to motivation for learning. Imagine it like this, learning Japanese is like climbing a mountain and it is those secondary factors that decide the height of that mountain. Some people have a nice gentle climb to reach the top but others have a steep, intimidating climb ahead of them. And it all depends on how much you want to see the view at the top. Some people are satisfied with photos (patches), some people are satisfied with trying to take a car (machine translation lol), but some people want to see the view magnificent view at the top with their own effort. 

For me, anime/visual novels have been a great part of my life and since they are a part of what makes me myself, I decided to learn Japanese so that I could enjoy it just a bit more.

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About learning Japan, I think learning a little bit of katakana and hiragana wouldn't too bad here (Wiki could help too). But about kanji, it would be hard here because you'll need at least to know around 1,000 kanji at the beginning of middle school while we also had around 50,000 kanji iirc.

Although learning Japan here would be preferable to read untranslated VN, but I think I would not do that because right now I was quite satisfied with translated VN catalogue here now and if I already fluent in Japan that would mean that my backlog will be increased a lot here, and my backlog here to be very honest was already handful enough.

Oh, speaking about learning Japan from anime, I think part of it would be my experience from reading and listening the spoken title there. It could help a little here, although to be honest only children anime that had big title screen there (The title also had of how to read it in katakana and hirgana if it had kanji). The medium here for me was Pretty Cure title. That's all for my little experience here.

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There being 50,000 kanji doesn't really have much on a bearing on how many are actually used. Still a large number though; I think 2136 something have been gone through by the end of high school, and most visual novels use at least like 200 more. Not necessarily a huge problem with text hookers though.

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1 hour ago, Zakamutt said:

There being 50,000 kanji doesn't really have much on a bearing on how many are actually used. Still a large number though; I think 2136 something have been gone through by the end of high school, and most visual novels use at least like 200 more. Not necessarily a huge problem with text hookers though.

Indeed, if you are going to learn Japanese strictly for reading VNs, learn the kana + all the grammar inside out, and you are good to go.

Text hookers, which will let you look up words/kanji you don't know, and let you read furigana, (small hiragana/katakana symbols displayed above the kanji, telling you how it's read,) will make it quite simple. For instance, let's say you know what なまえ (namae=name) means, but you don't recognize 名前, you can the read the furigana spelling and kind of skip the kanji. This is not a recommended method of learning Japanese, but if you literally just want to be able to get through unTLed VNS, then it should be enough for at least easy - medium VNs.

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People usually have the wrong view of learning Japanese for visual novels:

You don't learn Japanese so you can read untranslated visual novels. Instead you read untranslated visual novels as an excercise for learning Japanese.

So you don't waste your time on reading porn light fiction anymore, you spend your valuable spare time for something useful and educational and still have fun at the same time.

Hint: Might also help to convince your parents to buy you tons of eroge... :ph34r:

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Basically, back when there were still huge numbers of cool console games that never made it out of Japan (like, for PS2), I got sick and tired of not being able to play them.  Eventually I sat down and said "Which would I prefer?  To get to the end of my life, and look back and say "I always regretted never learning Japanese", or "Damn, those years spent learning Japanese were a total waste of time!""  I figured I was more afraid of the former than the latter, and that's around when I enrolled in Japanese classes at a community college I found near work.

I'm ... not so good at memorizing large lists, so I have a lot of trouble learning vocab and kanji.  And I haven't been the most persistent.  But I can follow along a lot more than I could before, and given lookup tools to tell me what vocabulary means, I can generally figure out what stuff means if I can copy/paste into (say) Jisho.org.

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On 8/31/2016 at 3:03 AM, ChaosRaven said:

People usually have the wrong view of learning Japanese for visual novels:

You don't learn Japanese so you can read untranslated visual novels. Instead you read untranslated visual novels as an excercise for learning Japanese.

So you don't waste your time on reading porn light fiction anymore, you spend your valuable spare time for something useful and educational and still have fun at the same time.

Hint: Might also help to convince your parents to buy you tons of eroge... :ph34r:

Regarding your hint, I did that already. Rip 100kYen~ Only on Grisaia stuff

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  • 6 months later...
On 29/8/2016 at 6:17 AM, Deep Blue said:

Well I started learning Japanese just to read VNs and then at some point it kinda became like a personal goal.

If you really enjoy doing something you don't see it as a tedious task, like you said, once it became a hobby is just a fun thing to do, for instance like it would be learning to play an instrument, it takes a lot of time and effort but people don't feel or see it that way, learning is also part of the process and they are having fun while doing it. The same thing applies to learning a language not just Japanese.

I have learned the kana.

What should I do next??? (Please don't tell just to learn Kanji, but elaborate)

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7 hours ago, Light Darkx said:

I have learned the kana.

What should I do next??? (Please don't tell just to learn Kanji, but elaborate)

I would recommend reading (to remember it better you can try taking notes, etc whilst doing so - I did, but on the other hand I found school a fun activity) Tae Kim's Guide to Japanese Grammar. Other than that, you might want to try immersion if you aren't already - for example if you use Twitter, try to read the occasional Japanese tweet you see (something like rikaisama is useful to make this easier). Just by being in weeb enough vn reading communities you can get some immersion; if someone writes something in Japanese (ok, probably broken-ish japanese, but it won't matter much at this stage) try to decipher it, etc. I'm not sure how generalizable this advice is but it's helped me get a baseline level of constant Japanese practice even though I tend to be lazy about anything more formal.

There is another route I might recommend if you are a very hardcore person; you could pick up Remembering the Kanji 1 and start going through it, using spaced repetition software such as Anki to revise. The disadvantage is that this will teach you very little Japanese that is functional on its own. You will learn to associate one meaning for each of the 2136 kanji Japanese people learn in (non-uni) school, and to be able to when given this meaning write the appropriate kanji. Association the other way usually follows, if imperfectly. You might end up feeling like you just spent 3 months learning something for little gain, though this was not my experience (note that the author of RtK dvocates not spending time studying Japanese vocabulary, grammar etc before having gone through his kanji course. I'm not sure if that's the correct decision, as the structure of the information from grammar vs kanji knowledge is somewhat different.) The advantage is that a lot of my friends are horrible terrible at reading kanji, and while I'm no expert, I'm at least ok at it. There are also some fringe benefits where you can read handwritten kanji / handwritten-style fonts easier and use handwriting instead of radical kanji search when looking them up electronically (very useful if you want to transcribe manga). I may be an unusual case for other reasons than having done RtK; my long-term memory has always been good, and I am mentally weird.

Do not take this as the gospel: what I've just said worked for me, but I'm not exactly a normal person. Everyone learns in their own way and if something isn't working for you try something else.

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15 hours ago, Light Darkx said:

I have learned the kana.

What should I do next??? (Please don't tell just to learn Kanji, but elaborate)

Personally I would recommend learning vocabulary n5  (or memrise)  and then start reading  Tae Kim's Guide to Japanese Grammar and as you learn the guide keep learning vocabulary until you die xD (you dont stop learning vocabulary ever)
Learning grammar without knowing the vocabulary is not fun, you can do it but it's not something I would recommend. 
Once you know everything on tae kim's guide use http://www.imabi.net/ (or you can use "a dictonary of japanese grammar" inter and advance)  

I would say that once you reach the Special Expressions part in tae kim's guide you can read a simple VN without trouble (something like https://vndb.org/v5700), bear in mind that even the simplest vns out there will have some hard grammar parts, for example 120 yen is really easy but there are still some "hard" parts.

Learning kanji alone is in my opinion a waste of time at first, I don't recommend it, it didnt help me but then again just because it didnt work for me doesnt mean it'd be the same for you.  

 

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18 hours ago, Light Darkx said:

I have learned the kana.

What should I do next??? (Please don't tell just to learn Kanji, but elaborate)

Start slow. Study Tae kim's guide and/or Genki 1+ Genki 2

If you don't know enough vocab, stop and study the vocab, and then go back to studying Grammar. Studying grammar is hard, don't expect for it all to sink in on the first time. Come back and review the grammar items (Genki is better for reviewing that Tae kim, because the grammar is organized into easy to reference items.

To give some perspective, it probably takes in the range of 80-100 hours or 1.5-4 months to go through Tae kim up to and including Essential Grammar / Genki 1+Genki 2 and an appropriate amount of vocab (like 250 words), for the beginner. The start is where you have to get used to basic conjugation, kanji, learning vocab, and Japanese grammar, and so it's normal for things to feel slow and hard.

Go and study a bunch for starters, and then you can come back with more questions about what to do.

Edited by Chronopolis
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Personal perspective regarding vocabulary: it's possible to go without studying vocabulary, grammar only, directly into reading untranslated visual novels using text hookers and dictionary lookup. This is useful if you feel very unmotivated by the task of studying vocabulary lists. It does make the initial experience fairly brutal as you have to look up almost every word (grammar guides still use some Japanese words, so you may recognize them, but this is unreliable and incomplete to a greater extent than a 250 word list might be). It's how I did it, though, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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