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Learning Japanese

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Been studying japanese on my own ( started 1 week ago ) i already learned all the Kana but im dont know exactly what to do next. I'm reading the Tae Kim Grammar Guide right now, doing pretty good... But i was wondering if i should first go through the vocabulary, ( JLPT things ) even Tae Kim having all the words used displayed in the guide, or if i should just finish my grammar studies and then go to JLPT. What do you guys think i should do ? Would gadly accept some advices on what to do during my studies.

 

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I am not a reference at all but maybe that I can help.

I love the VN format since you have all the time you want to translate, you have voices (most of the time) and it has a story so you actually want to understand. (BTW, I learned English thanks to this)

Firstly you need to at least understand the basic of the grammar, enough to be able to translate a sentence using a website like https://jisho.org/ (I use it all the time when playing Japanese VN), by basic I really mean the basic, reading grammar guide during 5 hours would be horrible. You can try to find a simple VN and read it at your own rhythm, you'll end by finding some grammar patterns by yourself and get some automatism.

Kanji are important, I do have an iOS app called "Kanji!" which uses flashcards and have a writing exercise. But most of the time you'll use Jisho since I cannot really ask you to learn 2000 kanji before starting reading anything

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Learning kana → reading tae kim's grammar guide with some memorization → slowly (very slowly at first) going through VNs in Japanese is definitely a working method for some people. When reading the VN there are tools called text hookers (rec: Textractor) that automatically take the text out of the VN so you can look up words in Japanese. Lookup can be done on jisho.org but this is inconvenient and low power compared to either sending to a browser addon for mouseover lookup (rec: nazeka if you can use firefox at all, yomichan in chrome - yomichan is more annoying to setup due to no integrated reader) or using an automatic parser (rec: Translation Aggregator's JParser view w/ mecab; a bit annoying to set up). Just reading while trying to comprehend using lookups and your grammar knowledge (and completely avoiding automatic translation such as google translate if possible) is enough to get pretty good at the language with enough exposure.

Some things you can add to either aid memorization or ease of starting are some kind of kanji study (learning speed / quick-ish: RtK1; speed + vocab, slower: KKLC), and vocabulary study (usually flashcards w/ anki, 1-2k cards max pls). However, none of these are strictly required.

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Zaka pretty much nailed it as far as self-study goes.

I'm just here to say that if you have the opportunity, consider taking actual Japanese classes. While I know some people have gained complete literacy purely through self-study. There is a reason why classes are the most standard way to learn a language, because they are the most effective method for most people. And if you take classes and supplement them with serious self-study, then you get the best of both worlds. The two methods combined really will do wonders for you. In particular classes are an excellent place to practice speaking. A lot of people I know who only practiced reading via self-study often struggle with speaking it. Which may not seem of much interest to you now, particularly if you just want to read VNs. But at least I've found being able to speak the language quite rewarding; and if you ever visit Japan it will make your visit that much better.   

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I don't want to sound obvious here, but have you ever learned another language before Japanese? If yes, try to remember how you did that, and replicate most of the steps you found effective to Japanese, when you learn the first language the others become easier ;), anyway, each one here gave good advices, the only thing different in Japanese is their different writing system, so you'll need to read A LOT, this actually is what outrages me the most about the language, they have more than one thousand symbols being used in written texts, I find this absurd especially for foreigners, I read somewhere that the Japanese people wanted at some point to use the Latin alphabet in order to facilitate people's lives, but no, the government had to step in and force them to continue using kana, GRRRRR, this makes me really mad, I hope in the future the Japanese government will make kanji optional rather than mandatory.

Edited by Soul Hunter

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In the beginning every JP learner moans that we should get rid of kanji, (and, as shown above, some would want to axe kana as well :o ), but afterwards most start to appreciate them. They actually make texts easier to read (provided you know the words of course) - longer kana-only texts are very tedious to read, since they are difficult to parse. And then there's an awful lot of homophones.

Edited by adamstan

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Japanese would not work without Kana, the way the language is built up I simply don't see a way where they could change it to the latin alphabet without doing lots of fundamental changes to the entire language. Anyone who want to learn japanese should just understand that kana are needed and that it is stupid to try to justify not using it.

Edited by bakauchuujin

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3 hours ago, adamstan said:

In the beginning every JP learner moans that we should get rid of kanji, (and, as shown above, some would want to axe kana as well :o ), but afterwards most start to appreciate them. They actually make texts easier to read (provided you know the words of course) - longer kana-only texts are very tedious to read, since they are difficult to parse. And then there's an awful lot of homophones.

You only appreciate them because you start reaping the fruits of your labor. All in all it's a very selfish notion, but very human. Whether or not all those symbols are actually practical is rather doubtful. You don't need it in English and you'd probably don't really need it in Japanese either, but it is what it is.

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13 minutes ago, Stormwolf said:

You only appreciate them because you start reaping the fruits of your labor. All in all it's a very selfish notion, but very human.

No, that's not it. I really find kana-only texts harder to read - especially since they don't contain spaces. Parsing anything beyond simplest sentences becomes nightmare. Is that character a particle? A part of the previous word? A part of the next one? A word on its own? Etc etc.

13 minutes ago, Stormwolf said:

Whether or not all those symbols are actually practical is rather doubtful.

Incidentally, the only people who seem to raise such doubts are the ones who don't know them and don't want to learn :P So it seems they aren't going away anytime soon ;) They seem useless only from outside. Once you get familiar with them - and with Japanese in general - their usefulness becomes obvious.

And actually, it seem to be the case with most of the hard to learn things - students keep saying all the time "Why do I have to learn all this useless shit!?" about almost anything.

And, general consensus seems to be that getting rid of current Japanese writing system would create more problems than it would solve.

Edited by adamstan

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All I will add is an under-appreciated resource: Weblio example sentences. You'll often come across grammar that you can't simply look up in Tae Kim or a dictionary, either because it's some obscure wordplay or there's a complicated combination of bits of grammar. To search a very large database of translated example sentences to weed out the meaning of this grammar, copy&paste it into the search bar here, surround it in quotation marks, and press enter.

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4 hours ago, adamstan said:

No, that's not it. I really find kana-only texts harder to read - especially since they don't contain spaces. Parsing anything beyond simplest sentences becomes nightmare. Is that character a particle? A part of the previous word? A part of the next one? A word on its own? Etc etc.

Incidentally, the only people who seem to raise such doubts are the ones who don't know them and don't want to learn :P So it seems they aren't going away anytime soon ;) They seem useless only from outside. Once you get familiar with them - and with Japanese in general - their usefulness becomes obvious.

And actually, it seem to be the case with most of the hard to learn things - students keep saying all the time "Why do I have to learn all this useless shit!?" about almost anything.

And, general consensus seems to be that getting rid of current Japanese writing system would create more problems than it would solve.

Take that argument and stuff it. You're old enough to know that some things are self explanatory when you know the gist of something. Same stupid argument like "you don't know black ops 10 is bad, you haven't even played it" But the thing is, your experience gives you insight even if you don't know the specifics. Experience in this case is exposure to the language over a very long time.

I only said it because even japanese students seem to study their language until waay late with their kanji's (many seem to even struggle with it), and japanese sentences can be very easily misunderstood and generally open to interpretation, making it impractical.

Edited by Stormwolf

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9 hours ago, adamstan said:

In the beginning every JP learner moans that we should get rid of kanji, (and, as shown above, some would want to axe kana as well :o ), but afterwards most start to appreciate them. They actually make texts easier to read (provided you know the words of course) - longer kana-only texts are very tedious to read, since they are difficult to parse. And then there's an awful lot of homophones.

Sorry man, I wanted to say kanji (my brain got some ERROR, but I edited my comment), but making kana optional for Japanese people would be good also, I disagree with what people stated in this thread that kana is more useful to japanese than romaji (if you think like that, then give me some arguments), and the reason is the lack of space between words, but aside from that they're pretty much the same as latin letters, only meaning sounds, I find kana worse than say, korean hangul, because they use two systems, hiragana and katakana, instead of using only one of them, this is my bigger problem with kana, since this only overcomplicate things. But you can learn it fast in a couple of days, it's not THAT BIG of a deal, but when it comes to kanji? Pfft, this is THE WORRSSTTT, I hope in the future kanji will be only optional in Japanese texts, in order to facilitate our lives.

Edited by Soul Hunter

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Many words in japanese would be written the same way using the alphabeth or hiragana as each other and without kanji you would not be able to figure out the word 

For instance if I write the word kami there is no way of knowing what that means without already knowing what I intended with it. Now if I write 神, 紙, 髪 or any of the other meanings it could have people who know japanese would understand it.

Yes kanji is far more advanced than the alphabeth, however there are structural things about the language that differs greatly from other languages, just because other languages works with the alphabeth does not mean it will work with japanese. Even if they did stuff like add space between words which at the very least would enable you to know when the words started or ended without the kanji there are still numerous problems with getting rid of kanji. Basically if you want japanese to get rid of kanji you would either have to make a new language for japan force them to use it and call it japanese or you would have to make a new writing system from the ground up less complicated than kanji but still serving the functions it does in japanese.

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Many words in japanese would be written the same way using the alphabeth or hiragana as each other and without kanji you would not be able to figure out the word 

This is what we call homonyms, it happens often in English but we're able to figure out the word because context, it would be the same in japanese, if what you say is true then in the spoken language people would misunderstand each other often since there is no kanji to guide them.

Quote

Yes kanji is far more advanced than the alphabeth, however there are structural things about the language that differs greatly from other languages, just because other languages works with the alphabeth does not mean it will work with japanese

I disagree, what structures are you talking about? If it is about the homonyms then no, I disagree because of the above reasons, if it is the phoneme then also no, my mother language for instance has very similar sounds to Japanese, and the language works just as fine with the latin alphabet.

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there are still numerous problems with getting rid of kanji

What problems? Please state them.

Quote

Basically if you want japanese to get rid of kanji you would either have to make a new language for japan force them to use it

No man, please understand, what I want is for the Japanese government to make the traditional writing system OPTIONAL for its people, OPTIONAL, so they can use the Latin alphabet IF THEY WANT, right now Japanese people are FORCED TO USE kana and kanji, and this is what I find wrong, or at least, a nuisance for both Japanese people and for foreigners who want to learn their language.

Edited by Soul Hunter

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I don't want to have any power either way, I want for Japanese people to choose whatever writing system they want, including Latin, Russian, Korean, whatever, instead of forcing them to learn and use the traditional system, I want them to be given a choice, which they will face everyday, and not "let's make a referendum and see what system we'll make mandatory for the next 50 years", no, it has to be a free option in every moment, and then people will start deciding what will be better and easier for their lives.

Banishing kana and kanji is out of the question for me, no, it should be OPTIONAL ;) .

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Do you really seriously believe that Japanese people in general feel "opressed" by their writing system?? Or is that perhaps just your bias as foreign learner speaking?

Edited by adamstan

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"Oppressed" is a strong word in this case, but just to clarify, yes, I believe if they were given the choice to choose between the traditional system and the western system then a lot of them would choose the western because I believe it would be easier for them in international relations, companies etc, for example you see a lot of companies in Japan using Latin letters in their logo (SONY, nintendo, Sega, Honda), but I honestly don't know, I just guess they would start using the Latin alphabet, the younger ones in Japan don't even know how to write Kanji manually, despite the government making mandatory the calligraphy classes because "they NEED to know because yes".

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3 minutes ago, Soul Hunter said:

"Oppressed" is a strong word in this case, but just to clarify, yes, I believe if they were given the choice to choose between the traditional system and the western system then a lot of them would choose the western because I believe it would be easier for them in international relations, companies etc, for example you see a lot of companies in Japan using Latin letters in their logo (SONY, nintendo, Sega, Honda), but I honestly don't know, I just guess they would start using the Latin alphabet, the younger ones in Japan don't even know how to write Kanji manually, despite the government making mandatory the calligraphy classes because "they NEED to know because yes".

In that case I think the easier solution for them would just be to scrap japanese and go over to english as their new native language or an optinal native language meaning they don't have to learn japanese at all.

Edited by bakauchuujin

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34 minutes ago, bakauchuujin said:

In that case I think the easier solution for them would just be to scrap japanese and go over to english as their native language.

Yes, just to take things further, I believe EVERY COUNTRY in this world should make optional to its people which language they should learn, and then people would choose the best option for them, independently of what language they would choose, if it happens to be English, so be it, in the Japanese case, if they just want to change the writing system, awesome, if they want to learn English, awesome, if they don't change anything, awesome, I will only have to accept in this case, but switching Japanese to English would take  A LOT of time, cultural changes this large take a lot of time, or don't even happen, so I find this unlikely, changing the writing system is feasible since they already have to learn the Latin alphabet either way (it's mandatory also for them, but what they must use normally is the traditional system), and even this would take a lot of time, you would need to see more foreigners going there and build their schools, their structure, become closer to Japanese people, some of them would try to build companies to make easier to hire foreigners, some others would be conservative and would keep their distance from this type of thing, a lot of things would happen, these things is what built the world as we know right now, and continue building.

Edited by Soul Hunter

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13 hours ago, Zakamutt said:

Some things you can add to either aid memorization or ease of starting are some kind of kanji study (learning speed / quick-ish: RtK1; speed + vocab, slower: KKLC), and vocabulary study (usually flashcards w/ anki, 1-2k cards max pls).

Wow, thanks for the advices ! I will keep reading Tae Kim Grammar Guide and once i finish i prob going to JLPT ( Or trying my best on some untranslated VNs ). Anyway, do you have some examples of easier VNs to start off ?

 

5 hours ago, Fiddle said:

search bar here, surround it in quotation marks, and press enter.

That looks really usefull ! Thanks <3

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