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AustriaVNFan

A question to those who read untranslated Japanese VNs

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I am really curious about this:

There seem to be quite a lot of people here that read VNs in Japanese. I would like to ask you a few questions:

  • Why did you learn Japanese (just because of VNs or do you have Japanese roots or whatever...)?
  • How long did you learn Japanese before you started reading VNs in that language?
  • How hard did you find your first few untranslated VNs?
  • Do you use text hookers or similar tools to read the VNs or can you read them with just seeing the text?
  • Any other interesting info on that topic?

Looking forward to your answers! :)

Edited by AustriaVNFan

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1. I never learned Japanese, although I can understand spoken Japanese after all these years of cultivating Japanese atmosphere around myself

2. Watching anime since around 2008, reading VNs since 2014 or so. Ran out of translated VNs, so had to move forward to terra incognita.

3. Don't remember first untranslated one. Might be Kikokugai, but I was not aware of translation, so had to translate it myself with mecab+edict and trying to grasp speech. It's not that difficult to understand provided that it's voiced and has mostly action scenes.

4. All those word-by-word translations are waste of time, and I doubt it really helps learning language. I use ITHVNR+Translation Aggregator (Bing/Yandex machine translation). Google neuro translation introduced in November 2016 made the whole world change for me. It translates not words, but sentences, and it drew translation to a whole new quality level rendering engines that still use word-to-word translation obsolete.

5. We're living in the age post google (and now also Bing and Yandex) neuro translation revolution. It's absolutely the best time to live. There's no need to spend half of your life to learn the language now. Start right away and pick up audio skills automatically in the meantime. It really grieves me when people consider google machine translation piece of crap like it used to be prior to November 2016.

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1. Mainly because I like anime and manga, at the time I hadn't even started reading VNs.

2. About half a year, started reading Nisekoi Yomeiri on PS vita as japanese practise.

3. Somewhat difficult mainly because Nisekoi Yomeiri which was my first japanese VN as well as my first VN have this small gameplay element where you need to a few out of like 5 or 6 hiragana to make a word as an answer to something in the VN, didn't happen often but did make it harder.

4. Don't use text hooker.

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28 minutes ago, kivandopulus said:

It really grieves me when people consider google machine translation piece of crap like it used to be prior to November 2016.

For Japanese it still is, because it is unable to grasp the context, and it can change everything when translating from Japanese. So yes, it tries to translate sentences instead of a single words, but still often produces complete garbage - that is even more misleading, because often looks almost like normal english :P

As for the OP's questions:

1. Yeah, one of my main reasons was to be able to read untranslated VNs

2. I started learning a year and few months ago, and attempted my first simple untranslated read (Hanahira) recently.

3. Hanahira was quite easy, but has some slangy/casual speech patterns that sometimes threw me off a bit.

4. Yes, I use text-hookers for two reasons - 1. my vocabulary has big holes in it, so I use text-hooker as a dictionary (but don't rely on it to translate sentences), and 2. Some fonts used in VNs are difficult to read for me (Like the ToHeart I'm reading now, and low resolution doesn't help either). Chiitrans' output window provides nice and clean easy to read alternative.

 

Edited by adamstan

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31 minutes ago, adamstan said:

For Japanese it still is, because it is unable to grasp the context, and it can change everything when translating from Japanese. So yes, it tries to translate sentences instead of a single words, but still often produces complete garbage - that is even more misleading, because often looks almost like normal english :P

Somehow I never perceive translated result literally. I still transform it in my head. And if it's a spoken line, it's enough just to listen to it. If an important line makes no sense, I still break it into parts of speech and translate word-by-word. I'm mostly interested in the stories, thus in sentence composition, nouns and verbs which is usually handled by machine neuro translation brilliantly. I agree that it's not good enough enjoy the text and it can break the atmosphere.

Edited by kivandopulus

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2 hours ago, AustriaVNFan said:

I am really curious about this:

There seem to be quite a lot of people here that read VNs in Japanese. I would like to ask you a few questions:

  • Why did you learn Japanese (just because of VNs or do you have Japanese roots or whatever...)?
  • How long did you learn Japanese before you started reading VNs in that language?
  • How hard did you find your first few untranslated VNs?
  • Do you use text hookers or similar tools to read the VNs or can you read them with just seeing the text?
  • Any other interesting info on that topic?

Looking forward to your answers! :)

1) At the start I just wanted to read VNs and LNs that weren't translated, though I quickly got interested in translation, which is what kept me going even after reaching a "decent enough" level. Over four years later and here I am, translating VNs. Yay.

2) It only took a few months to start reading my first unTLed game, but it was slow and... pretty messy. I didn't feel comfortable reading a game fully without major issues until a good year of studying.

3) The first few? Very hard. But, I got through them regardless, and I learned lots from them.

4/5) No. I did use those for a while when I was new, but I stopped using them once I felt like they turned into more of a crutch than an aid. More often than not I'd end up trying to read the furigana over the kanji compounds in the text hooker before I even looked at the kanji, even if it was a word I knew. This is obviously fairly pointless. In my opinion, text hookers should only be an aid in the beginning, when you really don't know much vocab at all. Once you start getting a bit more into it, you should ditch the text hookers, and start looking up stuff manually. Yes, it's slow at first, but it's absolutely the best way to learn and remember what you learned.

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  1. After watching anime and reading VN's for a few years I ended up with a light grasp of spoken Japanese. Due to that, whenever I wasn't preoccupied I would end up puzziling grammar together in my head and such. So I decided to make a serious effort to learn.
     
  2. If you don't count when I was just learing through exposure, then probably like a month or so.
     
  3. The first one would have been Hoshimemo, I read a bit of it to test how well I would do. That was back when the fanTL came out around 2012.
    Since I hadn't learned much kanji then I had to look up almost every word, which was pretty damn tedious. There were also a few places where I just couldn't understad the sentences as a whole.
     
  4. I use ITH and an empty html page with a textbox + Rikaichamp and I really shouldn't because:
    24 minutes ago, Dergonu said:

    More often than not I'd end up trying to read the furigana over the kanji compounds in the text hooker before I even looked at the kanji, even if it was a word I knew.


     

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36 minutes ago, Dergonu said:

More often than not I'd end up trying to read the furigana over the kanji compounds in the text hooker before I even looked at the kanji, even if it was a word I knew.

+1, I already observed it too, even though I'm at the beginning of my reading adventure.

Therefore (I almost typed "だから" here ;)) I just decided to switch off furigana in Chiitrans  ;)

Edited by adamstan

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5 hours ago, AustriaVNFan said:

I am really curious about this:

There seem to be quite a lot of people here that read VNs in Japanese. I would like to ask you a few questions:

  • Why did you learn Japanese (just because of VNs or do you have Japanese roots or whatever...)?
  • How long did you learn Japanese before you started reading VNs in that language?
  • How hard did you find your first few untranslated VNs?
  • Do you use text hookers or similar tools to read the VNs or can you read them with just seeing the text?
  • Any other interesting info on that topic?

Looking forward to your answers! :)

1) Learned grammar and basic vocab in high school, learned the rest as I went along

2) I was fansubbing anime before I ever began to play VNs... so about nine years?  ten?  Something like that

3) My first untranslated VN was Jingai Makyou, which is one of the hardest out there, so it was probably about as slow of goingas  you'd expect.

4)  I generally have a parser (furigana) on even if I'm not using it, simply because it takes too much time to read a VN without it...  about two or three times as much.  With books I have no choice but to do without, though. lol

 

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1) I lived in Japan for some time, so learning the language was my top priority at the start.

2) Two and a half years, but only cause I was not interested in Visual novels before.

3) It was easy, I was already at JLPT N1 level and studying intensively, the kanjis was not complicated either, so no trouble in my first reading.

4) No, and never used.

 

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  1. Honestly, I wanted to read Dies Irae and Muramasa + a few Light novels.
  2. As soon as I finished learning hiragana and read Tae Kim's guide, so about 2-3 weeks. My first untranslated VN was Hanahira and according to MAL I have completed over 800 anime series, majority of which were subbed.
  3. I am used to studying languages. English is my 2nd one while Japanese is 4th. I didn't find spoken parts hard, but kanji is still a pain.
  4. I always use such programs. They save a lot of time while reading. My favorites are Chuunige and they contain a lot of stuff that are rare terms, which would be annoying to search.

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5 hours ago, kivandopulus said:

1. I never learned Japanese, although I can understand spoken Japanese after all these years of cultivating Japanese atmosphere around myself

2. Watching anime since around 2008, reading VNs since 2014 or so. Ran out of translated VNs, so had to move forward to terra incognita.

3. Don't remember first untranslated one. Might be Kikokugai, but I was not aware of translation, so had to translate it myself with mecab+edict and trying to grasp speech. It's not that difficult to understand provided that it's voiced and has mostly action scenes.

4. All those word-by-word translations are waste of time, and I doubt it really helps learning language. I use ITHVNR+Translation Aggregator (Bing/Yandex machine translation). Google neuro translation introduced in November 2016 made the whole world change for me. It translates not words, but sentences, and it drew translation to a whole new quality level rendering engines that still use word-to-word translation obsolete.

5. We're living in the age post google (and now also Bing and Yandex) neuro translation revolution. It's absolutely the best time to live. There's no need to spend half of your life to learn the language now. Start right away and pick up audio skills automatically in the meantime. It really grieves me when people consider google machine translation piece of crap like it used to be prior to November 2016.

Why do you review untranslated games if you can't read Japanese?

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1. Learned Japanese because I've read a lot of translated VN's that I ran out of them interesting titles to read that I got bored. Was tired waiting for translations and just went fuck it and learned the language.

2. It took me a few days to get the basics (considering I can focus and study incredibly fast that was quite slow). It took me 1 day to memorize the Kana and another day to atleast skim through the Tae Kim grammar book. At that point, I had probably the reading skill of a japanese 2 year old and I gradually got better after reading untranslated VN's nonstop.

3. First untranslated game was Cocoro@Function. The grammar itself wasn't the problem but considering you just recently learned the alphabet, you would be reading INCREDIBLY SLOW. IT WAS FRUSTRATING BUT I SURE AS HELL WASN'T GONNA LET MY 2 DAYS WORTH OF EFFORT GO TO WASTE. Although I dropped C@F because it was uninteresting for me, the next game I played which I also sadly dropped was Clover Days. I could understand the novels at this point and also dropped it because it wasn't interesting for me. Not sure about my third VN but it was the first jap VN I actually finished and I read it better and faster. I think that VN was Making*Lovers or Riddle Joker, not sure which.

4. I skipped trying to learn Kanji and just relied on text hookers. I can recognize most basic Kanji and know them just through conditioning. Although at this point, I fucked myself since I can recognize them but not write one.

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i used to read japanese vns... then i switched to windows 10. :komari: 

 

with text hooker its not entirely impossible to read untled vns. :rimu: but was still rough. a bit of knowledge with the spoken language can help piece together what was happening with scenes.

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  1. Because English translations hardly ever break 7/10 in terms of quality and licensing from 2017 onwards has sucked ass for the most part. It was specifically Anime Boston 2018 with Mangagamer's panel that convinced me I had to learn JP in order to truly enjoy the medium again.
  2. Like a month and a half. Finished the entirety of Tae Kim's Grammar Guide before starting with Umi Kara Kuru Mono.
  3. I found Umi Kara to be quite taxing and difficult. Tasogare no Sinsemilla was a chore, mainly due to a boring common route, but the language became progressively easier to read. I pretty much got grammar down during my 3rd finished VN in KareHana.
  4. I use a combination of Textractor + Chiitrans to read. My vocab still isn't that good, so I'm probably gonna be using it for a while.
  5. Through reading untranslated VNs, my passion for the medium has been reignited. Would definitely recommend learning the language as it opens up a ton of options for reading.

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  • Why did you learn Japanese (just because of VNs or do you have Japanese roots or whatever...)?
    I wanted to be able read Japanese VNs. Which is a good reason, actually. Anyone saying you need something more 'substantial' or 'useful' as your reason is wrong.
  • How long did you learn Japanese before you started reading VNs in that language?
    That's a complicated question. First I learnt the kana (easy) and read some of Ixrec's (bad) guide to japanese so I had some limited grammar knowledge. A lot of the time was spent doing RtK1 for like 1.5 years because I'm not good at doing things regularly when they're hard, which making up kanji stories was. I didn't want to go for grammar before I had some solid kanji shape memory though. I got through tae kim's guide in a few months and started reading Amairo Islenauts with a text hooker dictionary lookup setup during that.
  • How hard did you find your first few untranslated VNs?
    Fairly difficult, especially at the start. It's hard, though rewarding, to go in with very low vocab like I did; putting it all together with like 4 words you're not sure of the meaning of in the current sentence means keeping a lot of elements in memory when you're also puzzling out the grammar, context, and word boundaries.
  • Do you use text hookers or similar tools to read the VNs or can you read them with just seeing the text?
    I p much always have a text hooker up for dictionary lookup, with a secondary outlet onto an html hooking page in case edict isn't good enough and kenkyuusha is (rare, but it happens). I don't do the thing where you look at the hooker first unlike certain other weaklings, so I've never felt much need to wean myself off it - not that it'd be quite viable to do so for many of the VNs I read right now anyway. I've tried reading without a hooker and vocab does not stick better when I have to look it up manually in my experience. I could see it happening if you were looking up very few words and simultaneously had a look-at-hooker-first habit.
  • Any other interesting info on that topic?
    Anyone who says anything definitive about the effectiveness of any learning method's usefulness or proper usage is at high risk of being wrong due to individual differences. You have to try things out yourself.

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7 hours ago, tahu157 said:

Can a food critic review a food they haven't tasted?

A chauvinist approach again. I understand 99.9% of the Japanese text I read with machine translation + voice audition. I've seen such chauvinists in the past who say they'd read other reviews I collected (even reviews from densetsu), but not mine, since supposedly everyone else is 100% pro in Japanese. I'll definitely see more such people in the future. Good luck finding native Japanese to write reviews for you or writing them yourself after you learn language at 100%.

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23 minutes ago, Sayaka said:

So you review machine translations of VNs?

Not only review, but encourage everyone else to do so. As of now 80% of untranslated VNs don't even have descriptions, save for reviews. Those five people who actually know Japanese and do reviews focus only on recent games. Everyone else is just reading the same 200 translated VNs being offended by wrongly put commas etc trifles. Machine neuro translation is the best thing that happened to VN community since vndb creation and oh text hooker first release in 2003. Deny the progress, and the progress will deny you.

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  1. I started studying Japanese mostly for playing untranslated JRPGs (and killing time in high school), plus I generally liked Japanese media. I only found about VNs later.
     
  2. I think I tried after a year which went pretty awfully. I had gone through a language textbook + some Kanji by that point. The first VN I actually feel I got something out was somewhere after two years. 
     
  3. Hard, and really slow. But I've always been really good at putting unnecessary amount of effort in the things I happen like in the moment, so I it didn't really feel as "hard" or exhausting as it probably should have. Sona-Nyl was definitely not a good starting VN, but it helped me to love the language even more, and find my favorite writer.
     
  4. None. I used at the start, but I learned pretty fast that it really hampers your actually ability to actually read and recognise Kanji, and kinda makes you dependent some kind of assistance even outside VNs.
        
  5. What actually taught me to read Japanese properly were Japanese books. Real physical books. It's much harder to use any assisting tools with them, so that forced me to actually learn how to read properly, use context, etc. It was even more agonisingly slow at first, but now I'm pretty confident in my ability to read general Japanese fiction. In fact, they kind of took over and I've been more or less been reading books over VNs for the last few years or so.

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On 21.2.2019 at 4:27 PM, kivandopulus said:

1. I never learned Japanese, although I can understand spoken Japanese after all these years of cultivating Japanese atmosphere around myself

Wow, that's truly sugoi, after one and a half years of listening to Japanese VNs it's still very rare for me to understand longer sentences. I think I am able to tackle grammar and will be able to read ok one day but I still doubt I will ever seriously understand people

 

On 21.2.2019 at 4:54 PM, adamstan said:

and 2. Some fonts used in VNs are difficult to read for me (Like the ToHeart I'm reading now, and low resolution doesn't help either). Chiitrans' output window provides nice and clean easy to read alternative.

I am totally with you. To practice kanji I wrote a program that presented them to me in a certain font. And although I know kanji quite well by now as soon as the font is a different one it's so much harder!

 

20 hours ago, Clephas said:

3) My first untranslated VN was Jingai Makyou, which is one of the hardest out there, so it was probably about as slow of goingas  you'd expect.

Yeah, I saw in a post from you that it was way up there in difficulty with Toky Necro and such... Pretty nice feat that you managed to fight through it even though it was your first untranslated VN! :)

 

15 hours ago, VirginSmasher said:

Like a month and a half. Finished the entirety of Tae Kim's Grammar Guide before starting with Umi Kara Kuru Mono.

wow, I am amazed how many people here seemed to grasp that language after only such a short time. I still find it really difficult even after 1 and a half years. I am either doing something wrong or Japanese is just not made for my brain :(

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11 hours ago, Zakamutt said:
  • Why did you learn Japanese (just because of VNs or do you have Japanese roots or whatever...)?
    I wanted to be able read Japanese VNs. Which is a good reason, actually. Anyone saying you need something more 'substantial' or 'useful' as your reason is wrong.
  • How long did you learn Japanese before you started reading VNs in that language?
    That's a complicated question. First I learnt the kana (easy) and read some of Ixrec's (bad) guide to japanese so I had some limited grammar knowledge. A lot of the time was spent doing RtK1 for like 1.5 years because I'm not good at doing things regularly when they're hard, which making up kanji stories was. I didn't want to go for grammar before I had some solid kanji shape memory though. I got through tae kim's guide in a few months and started reading Amairo Islenauts with a text hooker dictionary lookup setup during that.
  • How hard did you find your first few untranslated VNs?
    Fairly difficult, especially at the start. It's hard, though rewarding, to go in with very low vocab like I did; putting it all together with like 4 words you're not sure of the meaning of in the current sentence means keeping a lot of elements in memory when you're also puzzling out the grammar, context, and word boundaries.
  • Do you use text hookers or similar tools to read the VNs or can you read them with just seeing the text?
    I p much always have a text hooker up for dictionary lookup, with a secondary outlet onto an html hooking page in case edict isn't good enough and kenkyuusha is (rare, but it happens). I don't do the thing where you look at the hooker first unlike certain other weaklings, so I've never felt much need to wean myself off it - not that it'd be quite viable to do so for many of the VNs I read right now anyway. I've tried reading without a hooker and vocab does not stick better when I have to look it up manually in my experience. I could see it happening if you were looking up very few words and simultaneously had a look-at-hooker-first habit.
  • Any other interesting info on that topic?
    Anyone who says anything definitive about the effectiveness of any learning method's usefulness or proper usage is at high risk of being wrong due to individual differences. You have to try things out yourself.

You seem to have the closest experience with learning Japanese to mine.

And I absolutely agree with your answer to my first question. If VNs or mangas are substantial enough for oneself to want to learn the language then that's as good a reason as any. I had always wanted to visit Japan for all my life but I always put it off being a bit scared of travelling to a country where I couldn't even read the letters. Then I luckily stumbled over VNs and they motivated me enough to start learning Japanese. It is a really cool medium to learn the language mainly because of the spoken Japanese. You can practice your reading, grammar and listening at the same time! Also because I slowly start feeling more confident I am finally planning that trip to Japan ^_^

and your answer to the second question: exactly how I did it as well! I put off seriously learning grammar until I had the kanji figured out. Some people told me that was not a good way, but then I told them exactly what you wrote at the end. Everyone learns differently and the most important thing is that you feel good with your way of learning

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10 hours ago, kivandopulus said:

A chauvinist approach again.

You don’t even know English, how would you understand Japanese

8 hours ago, kivandopulus said:

Everyone else is just reading the same 200 translated VNs being offended by wrongly put commas etc trifles.

You don’t even understand the basics of language or writing, how would you understand 99.9% of what you read

8 hours ago, kivandopulus said:

Deny the progress, and the progress will deny you.

That would be true if gaining the ability to read a poor approximation of something was progress but lmao

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