On studying Japanese

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schadenfreude
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On studying Japanese

Postby schadenfreude » Fri Feb 03, 2017 1:08 am

Last March I decided it was time to start learning Japanese. I didn't know where to begin, so I hit up my local library and got a few books. Meanwhile, I was surfing the internet looking for tips, and I stumbled upon All Japanese All The Time. In case you're not aware, it's a site made by a dude from Kenya who taught himself Japanese in 18 months by listening to Japanese audio from movies and TV shows almost 24/7 (yes, even while sleeping while wearing headphones) coupled with using SRS software to study Japanese sentences and thus learn kanji readings and grammar. He did all this while an undergraduate studying computer science I believe (and not taking any Japanese courses), and at the end he interviewed in Japanese for a job in Japan and was hired. Who knows if there's really more to the story than that, but there it is.

I've found many people on the internet who have followed this system with great success. I've been doing something similar myself, but not nearly as hardcore. Here it is:

  • Since last March, every day I listen to something in Japanese while I work or do housework or whatever. I don't listen while I sleep though (I have enough trouble falling asleep as it is, so I don't want to make it worse!). Lately I've been listening to video clips from Shenmue that I downloaded off of YouTube, which is really helpful because the videos have Japanese subtitles in case I want to review the text for a spoken sentence
  • I then got Heisig's Remembering the Kanji (just the first book, which comprises jouyou kanji plus a few additions) and "finished" the book in about 3 or 4 months. As I learned the kanji, I input them into my SRS (Anki) and still practice them to this day, every day
  • Next, I got the Genki series of grammar books and started reading those to learn grammar, plus I inputted sentences from the book into Anki, with the Japanese sentence on the front and the definition of one word on the back in English. The idea is that each new sentence should contain one new word or grammar concept. I also made sure the sentences used kanji where appropriate (beginning books tend to be light on kanji, which is bad for me because at first I couldn't understand anything without kanji)
  • After making 1,000 Japanese-to-English cards, I took the insane route recommended by many people on the internet and started making Japanese-to-Japanese cards — the same as the J-E cards, except the one definition on the back is in Japanese. I usually get definitions from http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/ and often use their example sentences on my cards. The sentences I acquire come from native sources, like Japanese books or video games (I'm currently playing Shenmue and acquire sentences from it)

The crazy J-J thing is brutal and hard to recommend unless you're a masochist, but I've convinced myself that I'm in this for the long haul and am sowing seeds for the future. In the worst case, if I decide to abandon it, I've still learned readings for various kanji and kanji expressions, even if I don't understand their definition.

The main problem with this system is — no surprise — that I suck at writing and speaking since I never practice either one. I don't mind though because my main goal is to be able to play games and read some books in Japanese, and being able to speak is incidental to that (writing seems less useful). I plan to go to Tokyo again this summer, so I might start some speaking practice before then.

Anyway, I'm wondering how other people here are studying the language. Did you learn in classes or self-study exclusively? What do you do today to maintain your skills?

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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby layzee » Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:32 pm

There's more to any story. Always. You already pointed out a contradiction: How can he spend "18-24 hours a day doing something, anything in Japanese" while being a full-time university student? 24 hours a day learning Japanese? Seriously? If we assume he was being hyperbolic here for comedic purposes (which would still be a bad thing because this is from his "About" page and one shouldn't sell false/unrealistic hopes to potential customers of his product), then 18 hours is still pushing it. That leaves 6 hours for sleep, where he cannot learn Japanese unless he manages to dream the same dream every night: being in a Japanese class. In that 18 hours, he would be learning Japanese while eating, while on public transport, while taking a dump, and while not paying any attention to his "non-Japanese" girlfriend. All that I can accept (the girlfriend probably wouldn't). But what does he do when he is physically at his computer science lectures and tutorials? Learn both at the same time? Simultaneously listen to both his professor and a Japanese audio book? Ridiculous.

For this reason and more, AJATT is a bit of a love/hate thing with people on the Internet. I lean more towards indifference and slight to moderate negativity (e.g. I'm not a fan of his self-help/life coach style of writing and he also takes way too long to make his point).

The thing is, if we summarise his collection of dense blog posts, then we get three basic concepts: immersion, SRS (e.g. flash cards) and motivation (e.g. have fun learn Japanese). If we put it this way, then it's very hard to disagree. I think most of us do some variation of "AJATT", even if we don't call it that. Long story short, if one is to use AJATT, then one should do so in a realistic manner, taking the good out of it while avoiding the not-so-good, and taking into account one's own circumstances that may impact on one's Japanese-language journey (e.g. work, study, volunteering, taking care of dependents, etc...) and to adapt accordingly. Burn out is a very real thing.

Anyway, enough about AJATT. Sounds like you're making pretty good progress if not even 1 year has passed yet. I'm sure you're ahead of people who are enrolled in Japanese classes in university in the same time period. I'm far too lazy to make flash cards from scratch though there certainly are benefits to doing so (you're more likely to remember faster the contents of the flash cards you make than someone else's). And reading J-to-J definitions at this pretty early stage does seem masochistic. I can imagine you looking up the definition of words while you're reading the definition of that other word in some sort of definition inception. I think it would be a lot more efficient if you get sufficient amounts of vocabulary under your belt first.

As for me, my story begins when I was a kid and I got a Nintendo console (the original first one). When I beat games like Mega Man and The Legend of Zelda (yes, legitimately, somehow), I would notice unusual non-Anglo names in the staff rolls which I would learn later that they were Japanese names and I was playing Japanese games. When I finished primary/elementary school, I was given a compulsory option of taking up a new language in junior high school: Italian, German or Japanese. I decided to do Italian because who doesn't like pizza? Just kidding, I chose Japanese. However, I didn't have any desire to actually learn it so I half-assed my way through it (managed to learn to read/write hiragana without trying, and to a lesser extent katakana). Fast forward to the important years of Year 11 and Year 12 where I decided to "get serious" about school and decided to choose Japanese again. That was a massive failure (because I sucked at Japanese and/or because I had close to zero motivation) and at the advice of one of my teachers, I dropped it.

Fast forward again years later, and two things happened: I decided to learn Japanese for real this time and I found out about the existence of James Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji" books. I don't know which happened first but it doesn't matter, they're both linked. The Kanji has always been the main barrier preventing me from understanding Japanese and RtK helped break it down. Here was my Japanese learning path:

    Completing "Remembering the Kanji" 6th Edition (2200 Kanji) as quickly as possible - I think it took me almost exactly 3 months, which was also the recommended timeframe. Used in conjunction with Anki (flashcard program).
    Reading Tae Kim's "Japanese Grammar Guide" at the same time as doing RtK - A guide written by an American-Korean guy. does for grammar what RtK does for Kanji. Everything is presented and explained in an easy-to-understand way and everything grammar-related (e.g. conjugations, particles, etc) would automatically click in my head. Reading about those same concepts in a different average Japanese textbook, my eyes would just glaze over.
    Completing "Core 2000", then "Core 6000", then "Core 10000" premade vocabulary flashcard decks - Done straight after RtK while the Kanji is still fresh in my mind. These are basically a set of 10,000 vocabulary cards which I use with Ankidroid (Anki from Android phones) so I can review them anytime, anywhere. And I review them religiously every day to this day. Also some Android Japanese dictionary phone apps can automatically create Anki flashcards. For example, if I'm playing a game and a Kanji word that I'm not familiar with comes up, I'll start the Japanese dictionary and handwrite the Kanji or search by reading (if you do the aforementioned core decks, you should be fairly well equipped to take educated guesses of the reading), then the definition comes up. If I think it's a useful word, then I'll press a few buttons, and an Anki flash card will generated for review later.
    A Dictionary of Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Grammar - The holy trio grail of Japanese grammar reference books. I'd say my understanding of the grammar items contained within cover good breadth, but not depth. These books are pretty expensive but I managed to grab all three for a decent price from eBay, even going as far as to meet the seller in real life and pay for the items immediately instead of letting the auction run to the end (and risk competing with other bidders!).

At present time, I've basically forgot all the RtK keywords (not necessarily a bad thing). I also forgot how to write Kanji. Naturally, because I don't really have a reason to write Kanji apart from looking it up in dictionaries (I know the stroke order at least). Isn't it the case that even Japanese people are slowly forgetting how to write Japanese, or is it just an urban myth? I do a decent job of typing Japanese though. Very useful, if you have a decent vocabulary (e.g. Core 6000) and grammar. For example, communicating with sellers of Yahoo!Japan Auctions. I'm sure my Japanese sounds non-native though, ranging from "Me Love You Long Time" to "Seller-sama, could you possibly do me the favour of telling me if your prestigious 御game/おgame comes with the 御/おinstruction manual, mayhaps? Moushiwakegozaimasen (sorry) for the trouble I have caused you. Please accept my sincere kowtow m(_ _)m". But hey, whatever gets my message across right?

Also, outside of Anki, I don't really study Japanese anymore, I'd rather just use it. Not to say I'm fluent, I'm nowhere near. I'd probably fail JLPT N2 (not that I plan on doing any JLPT tests). I just know enough to serve my purposes: playing Japanese games and game-related things (e.g. reading game guide books). The reason I learnt (and continue to learn) Japanese in the first place. I don't care about writing Japanese, and I don't care about speaking Japanese. And I doubt Japanese people would care to speak with me either (you can speculate as to why). I don't care about living in Japan (if I was born in a not-so-good country, then my opinion would be very different). I would like to understand spoken Japanese though (because not everything has Japanese subtitles). That's my biggest challenge right now.

Finally, to answer your question, technically I am like 2% class taught and 98% self-taught but in practice, it might as well be 100% self-taught.
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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby schadenfreude » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:23 pm

layzee wrote:How can he spend "18-24 hours a day doing something, anything in Japanese" while being a full-time university student?


He's referring to passive listening of Japanese. And yes, if he does this while he sleeps, some of it will drip into his dreams. Haven't you ever had an external stimulus be incorporated into your dream? The brain is very good at concocting an explanation!

layzee wrote:Simultaneously listen to both his professor and a Japanese audio book?


Yep, this is pretty nuts. I read a lot of dense writing like philosophy in my spare time, and I need silence to handle it; I can only read low-IQ stuff like news and politics :whack: while listening to Japanese. But again I think he's just referring to passive listening. He probably turned the volume way down while in class. So yes, he was "listening" to Japanese at least 18 hours a day, but what I question is the value of this obsession. I think the main value is not in what he learns from it (which is probably very little for the vast amount of hours invested — active listening is FAR more useful than passive listening) but in how it builds his willpower to study. As in, he's "always" jacked into Japanese — no exceptions, no excuses, no tergiversating (a nice word I learned from his blog). That's one way to prevent burning out, even if it doesn't work for us.

layzee wrote:I'm not a fan of his self-help/life coach style of writing and he also takes way too long to make his point


Yep, that's why I'm glad I discovered the site, got the gist of his method, and then got the fuck out.

layzee wrote:I'm sure you're ahead of people who are enrolled in Japanese classes in university in the same time period.


:) Thanks for the ego stroke, but recall that I can't speak or write for shit. Compared to a student, I'm probably way better at reading and kanji knowledge but far worse at speaking and writing (maybe listening too, since the students probably listen to lots of simple dialogues in class whereas I listen to stuff 90% of which I don't understand). I'd still prefer to be where I am than where they are. Plus I assume upper levels of these courses focus on preparing you for tests, of which I do not give any shits.

layzee wrote:And reading J-to-J definitions at this pretty early stage does seem masochistic. I can imagine you looking up the definition of words while you're reading the definition of that other word in some sort of definition inception. I think it would be a lot more efficient if you get sufficient amounts of vocabulary under your belt first.


The thinking is that the Heisig keywords for the kanji give you enough of a clue as to the meaning of new vocabulary words — as long as they're written in kanji. This usually works, but there are many situations where the keywords of the individual kanji in an expression don't make sense together, and even from what little I understand of the Japanese definition of the word, I can tell it has a different meaning. But humor me and let me continue this thanatophoric experiment for a while longer; I am a willing guinea pig.

layzee wrote:The Legend of Zelda (yes, legitimately, somehow)


We had a lot more patience and time on our hands back then!

layzee wrote:Reading Tae Kim's "Japanese Grammar Guide"


I started with this one for grammar, but gave it up after a few chapters and used the Genki books instead. I think the example sentences in Genki are a lot better than Kim's — and I needed high-quality sentences to enter into Anki. But I'm planning on reading through it sometime soon, maybe even several times to make it stick better.

layzee wrote:Completing "Core 2000", then "Core 6000", then "Core 10000"


Correct me if I'm wrong, but when I looked into using these, I recall many of the cards being just vocabulary — i.e., one word with its definition, and sometimes going from English on the front to Japanese on the back, which seems like madness to me — and of the ones with full sentences, the definition on the back was a full English translation of the sentence. I understand my masochism when going to J-J cards after only 1,000 J-E, but doing 18,000 cards without Japanese immersion — and without all of them being full sentences — seems nuts to me. Maybe more masochistic than the madness I am undertaking. :D

layzee wrote:If I think it's a useful word, then I'll press a few buttons, and an Anki flash card will generated for review later.


I need to start doing something like this. Creating cards takes way too much time. But I'm guessing you're creating just a vocabulary card and not a full sentence card?

layzee wrote:Isn't it the case that even Japanese people are slowly forgetting how to write Japanese, or is it just an urban myth?


It's highly logical given that computers do the writing for us. I've heard that even here in the US, kiddies are getting worse as spelling because they rely on their computers and phones to auto-correct their text. Being able to read correct English and Japanese/kanji is one thing, but being able to reproduce it from memory is another. But this only matters if you need to write something by hand, which is obsolescent today. The most I do these days by hand is sign the receipt when I pay with my credit card — and if you're not aware, you don't even have to sign your name correctly: you could draw the Triforce symbol and it's still accepted as a valid signature.

This reminds me of a funny story: I write "CHECK ID" on the signature part of all of my credit cards as a last-ditch security measure in case they are stolen (the idea being that the cashier will ask to see ID and then realize the thief's ID doesn't match my name on the card). But while I lived in China, they check your credit card purchases by comparing your signature on the receipt to your signature on the card. The problem here is of course that the name I sign on the receipts wasn't "CHECK ID", and after some confusing situations, I started signing my receipts with "CHECK ID" to make it match the signature on the card. Of course almost all of these people don't know English, so "CHECK ID" is as valid of a laowai name to them as "John Smith".

layzee wrote:But hey, whatever gets my message across right?


Yep. Sounding native is definitely not my goal — and once they see this white skin, thoughts of nativity go out the window anyway.

layzee wrote:playing Japanese games and game-related things (e.g. reading game guide books). The reason I learnt (and continue to learn) Japanese in the first place. I don't care about writing Japanese, and I don't care about speaking Japanese.


Same here. It's what keeps me motivated!

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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby layzee » Sat Feb 04, 2017 2:13 pm

schadenfreude wrote:He's referring to passive listening of Japanese. And yes, if he does this while he sleeps, some of it will drip into his dreams. Haven't you ever had an external stimulus be incorporated into your dream? The brain is very good at concocting an explanation!


I rarely remember my dreams but I think there were times where the music playing on the TV becomes the soundtrack of the dream I'm dreaming, if that counts as external stimulus. And very rarely, the last thing my brain is thinking about before I fall asleep becomes the topic or part of the topic of my subsequent dream. For the most part though, my dreams are completely out of my control.

schadenfreude wrote:
layzee wrote:Simultaneously listen to both his professor and a Japanese audio book?


Yep, this is pretty nuts. I read a lot of dense writing like philosophy in my spare time, and I need silence to handle it; I can only read low-IQ stuff like news and politics :whack: while listening to Japanese. But again I think he's just referring to passive listening. He probably turned the volume way down while in class. So yes, he was "listening" to Japanese at least 18 hours a day, but what I question is the value of this obsession.


There's also the issue of effectiveness. Putting 100% of your concentration on Japanese for one hour means you (ideally) get the full hour benefit of what you learned in that one hour. Doing the same thing on computer science, philosophy, underwater basket weaving, or what-have-you, means you also get the same benefits. But if you divide your attention and do both things at the same time, even for two hours, I question whether you are truly absorbing anything and everything. I think this "division of attention multi-tasking" works better with a combination of mental and physical subjects (e.g. learning a musical instrument at the same time as learning a language). But anyway, whatever works for him, works for him.

schadenfreude wrote:
layzee wrote:Reading Tae Kim's "Japanese Grammar Guide"


I started with this one for grammar, but gave it up after a few chapters and used the Genki books instead. I think the example sentences in Genki are a lot better than Kim's — and I needed high-quality sentences to enter into Anki. But I'm planning on reading through it sometime soon, maybe even several times to make it stick better.


Actually, I've read Genki too. I just thought I'd highlight Tae Kim's "revolutionary" guide in particular. Learning from different sources explaining the same concepts in different ways can help.

schadenfreude wrote:
layzee wrote:Completing "Core 2000", then "Core 6000", then "Core 10000"


Correct me if I'm wrong, but when I looked into using these, I recall many of the cards being just vocabulary — i.e., one word with its definition, and sometimes going from English on the front to Japanese on the back, which seems like madness to me — and of the ones with full sentences, the definition on the back was a full English translation of the sentence. I understand my masochism when going to J-J cards after only 1,000 J-E, but doing 18,000 cards without Japanese immersion — and without all of them being full sentences — seems nuts to me. Maybe more masochistic than the madness I am undertaking. :D


I should clarify, I don't really do the whole sentences thing. One of my main personal goals was to increase my vocabulary to the extent that I don't need to use a dictionary much. So I'm a bit of a masochist myself like you, just in a different way. My logic was a bit of short-term pain (memorising as much vocabulary as possible, using what I learned from Heisig, as a foundation), for medium to long-term gain (reading stuff without using a dictionary too much).

As for the Core series, it recommended (by users of this forum) to do the Core decks at the same time or straight after doing the Remembering the Kanji book (which this forum is based on). The front of the card has a vocab word (in hiragana, katakana, or Kanji), a Japanese sentence, and an audio of that sentence. For me, to "pass" this card, I need to get the English meaning right and the reading right (if the vocab is in Kanji). Getting the reading right is pretty important but I give myself some leeway when it comes to the English meaning - like I said, I want as many vocab as possible and I don't want to be slowed down by nuance/semantics too much.

Furthermore, this "optimised deck" implements your aforementioned i+1 "idea [...] that each new sentence should contain one new word [...]." If I remember correctly. the very first vocab is 「これ」and the sentence should be 「これはペンです」. You can't get any more basic than that. Then, theoretically-speaking (I personally haven't confirmed it), the later sentences should have gradually increasing difficulty e.g.「これはいいぺんです」. The vocab goes from the easiest and/or most common vocab first (numbers, colours, etc) to more complex and abstract and random Kanji later.

So with all this in mind, I don't think Core is as masochistic as it may first appear. I would even call it very efficient for people with particular goals (e.g. fast vocab cramming). The audio for each card might also be of reasonable educational value.

schadenfreude wrote:
layzee wrote:If I think it's a useful word, then I'll press a few buttons, and an Anki flash card will generated for review later.


I need to start doing something like this. Creating cards takes way too much time. But I'm guessing you're creating just a vocabulary card and not a full sentence card?


Nope, I don't do sentences (apart from the ones that came with Core 10000). Depending on the app, a few may have sentence lookup/adding capabilities but I haven't checked.

schadenfreude wrote:
layzee wrote:Isn't it the case that even Japanese people are slowly forgetting how to write Japanese, or is it just an urban myth?


It's highly logical given that computers do the writing for us. I've heard that even here in the US, kiddies are getting worse as spelling because they rely on their computers and phones to auto-correct their text. Being able to read correct English and Japanese/kanji is one thing, but being able to reproduce it from memory is another. But this only matters if you need to write something by hand, which is obsolescent today. The most I do these days by hand is sign the receipt when I pay with my credit card — and if you're not aware, you don't even have to sign your name correctly: you could draw the Triforce symbol and it's still accepted as a valid signature.


"If you don't use it, you lose it" in action. Actually I'm a bit of a spelling nazi myself and I basically disregard/ignore any Internet opinion that has bad spelling, grammar etc (leeway given to English-as-a-Second-Language people). And what's interesting about the auto-correct thing is that, people have good spelling these days, just the wrong good spelling. e.g. "I will defiantly complete Akumajou Dracula: Rondo of Blood in one credit" (correct word: definitely). The nice thing about Japanese is that "spelling" mistakes are pretty rare and usually involves the wrong Kanji with the same reading.

But anyway, I don't mind this brave new world of no Japanese Kanji handwriting. Convenient for me, 'cos I can't write to save my life. I'd say my handwriting style is okay, I just can't reproduce it at command (e.g. "Write the Kanji for dragon...NOW!"). I'll try the triforce signature the next chance I get.

schadenfreude wrote:
layzee wrote:playing Japanese games and game-related things (e.g. reading game guide books). The reason I learnt (and continue to learn) Japanese in the first place. I don't care about writing Japanese, and I don't care about speaking Japanese.


Same here. It's what keeps me motivated!


If you want to keep your motivation up, trying playing a game in Japanese (ideally, one that you've played before in English). Then give up playing that game when you realise it's outside your comprehension. Then study Japanese for a few months/half a year, and come back. There WILL be positive results. For me, even just the early period of understanding how to navigate the game options/menus (and not everything is in katakana) were motivating.
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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby schadenfreude » Sat Feb 04, 2017 10:06 pm

layzee wrote:For the most part though, my dreams are completely out of my control.


You should look into lucid dreaming. I've used it to "play" Grand Theft Auto "for real" many times. :D But make sure you're actually dreaming: two good tests are to verify that light switches work or check clock faces, both of which are almost always fucked up in dreams.

layzee wrote:I should clarify, I don't really do the whole sentences thing.


For me, the significant benefit of sentences is that they give me an example of how a new vocabulary term is used. Consider that as native speakers, the vast majority of words we've learned we absorbed passively from sentences we read out in the wild. I find learning new English words is much easier when I have a definition plus an example sentence, so I'm trying to replicate that same pattern for Japanese.

layzee wrote:And what's interesting about the auto-correct thing is that, people have good spelling these days, just the wrong good spelling.


I dunno man, I see people write "wierd" and "greatful" and "independant" and other travesties often enough that I wonder if they made it through high school.

layzee wrote:If you want to keep your motivation up, trying playing a game in Japanese (ideally, one that you've played before in English). Then give up playing that game when you realise it's outside your comprehension. Then study Japanese for a few months/half a year, and come back.


You must not be following our adventures in the "WTF are you playing bro" thread! I'm playing the Japanese version of Shenmue right now and will follow it up with the sequel. And there is no giving up or returning for me: there is only fighting through it, absorbing as much as I can, and then moving on to the next Japanese game. If I want to test my knowledge of my understanding of Shenmue dialogue in the future, there are YouTube videos of people playing through the game that I can use. But these are both games I've played in the past (though 10+ years ago), so I'm not as concerned about missing details. I'll probably do this with a few more games I've already played before I try something for the first time in Japanese.

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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby layzee » Sun Feb 05, 2017 1:20 pm

schadenfreude wrote:
layzee wrote:For the most part though, my dreams are completely out of my control.


You should look into lucid dreaming. I've used it to "play" Grand Theft Auto "for real" many times. :D But make sure you're actually dreaming: two good tests are to verify that light switches work or check clock faces, both of which are almost always fucked up in dreams.


wikipedia wrote:A lucid dream is a dream during which the dreamer is aware of dreaming. During lucid dreaming, the dreamer may be able to exert some degree of control over the dream characters, narrative, and environment.


Okay, you just reminded me of a nightmare I had. Thanks for reminding me (no sarcasm), even though it's scary. It's a bit hard to explain in words but... I dreamt that "Dream Me" woke up and and Dream Me opened his eyes. So far so good. The perspective/viewpoint was sideways (since Dream Me was still in bed lying on his side). Then Dream Me got out of bed... but the viewpoint did not change. Dream Me was walking around the room, touching the environment, but the first-person perspective was still the sideways view (as if Dream Me didn't get up from the bed). It's as if the image that the Dream Me was seeing through his eyes became frozen/fixed, like a frozen computer. Anyway, my point is that the Real Life Me was indeed aware that I was dreaming, and I was sending messages to the Dream Me. And the message was "WAKE UP FROM THIS NIGHTMARE! WAKE UP! WAKE UP!"

And I've had multiple dreams where I woke up, and it took me several tries until Real Life Me finally woke up. What happens if my brain can't tell the difference between a real wake or a fake wake. A coma? :scared:

As for light switches, I've never tried that in my dreams. I may or may not have checked my clocks (can't remember). I can barely control Dream Me, let alone flick a switch - half the time I'm crawling or taking tiny steps (which makes sense since Real Me is in bed, immobile).

This is now wildly off-topic but who cares about the rules eh.

schadenfreude wrote:
layzee wrote:I should clarify, I don't really do the whole sentences thing.


For me, the significant benefit of sentences is that they give me an example of how a new vocabulary term is used. Consider that as native speakers, the vast majority of words we've learned we absorbed passively from sentences we read out in the wild. I find learning new English words is much easier when I have a definition plus an example sentence, so I'm trying to replicate that same pattern for Japanese.


I certainly agree, context is key, and context helps memorisation. When I say I "don't do sentences" what I meant was I don't formally study sentences (e.g. on Anki), but I do get the context "from the wild".

schadenfreude wrote:
layzee wrote:If you want to keep your motivation up, trying playing a game in Japanese (ideally, one that you've played before in English). Then give up playing that game when you realise it's outside your comprehension. Then study Japanese for a few months/half a year, and come back.


You must not be following our adventures in the "WTF are you playing bro" thread! I'm playing the Japanese version of Shenmue right now and will follow it up with the sequel. And there is no giving up or returning for me: there is only fighting through it, absorbing as much as I can, and then moving on to the next Japanese game. If I want to test my knowledge of my understanding of Shenmue dialogue in the future, there are YouTube videos of people playing through the game that I can use. But these are both games I've played in the past (though 10+ years ago), so I'm not as concerned about missing details. I'll probably do this with a few more games I've already played before I try something for the first time in Japanese.


Oh I did but I forgot you were the same person. I assume that the characters of Shenmue speak a decent amount of casual speech (Tae Kim's Grammar Guide can help a bit with that) and it sounds like the type of game that would have gangsta/ruffian-type characters with course/rough slurred ways of talking. 「こりゃ」instead of 「これは」for example. I'm still WIP on that, you won't find explanations for those in your average Japanese text book. No doubt it would also have a token kansai-ben or other dialect character. I'm pretty weak on that aspect of Japanese.

Let us know how your progress goes.

Since you're playing too, shout-out to Akumajou Dracula: Gekka no Yasoukyouku's (C:SotN) Japanese voice acting. I've always loved it, and you can feel the passion in the very first dialogue between Richter and Dracula.
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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby schadenfreude » Mon Feb 06, 2017 11:53 pm

layzee wrote:And I've had multiple dreams where I woke up, and it took me several tries until Real Life Me finally woke up.


This and your preceding story sound a lot like sleep paralysis, which I have experienced many times in my life. Sometimes I can make out figures in the room, but as I slowly gain control of my body, the figures just turn out to be shadows on the wall. I've read that sleep paralysis is a probable explanation for many ghost and alien abduction stories, and from what I've experienced, I definitely buy that.

layzee wrote:This is now wildly off-topic but who cares about the rules eh.


Well, I care about the rules. I am still waiting for Gaijin Punch to come in here and at least warn us. Surely I deserve some punishment for my bullshitting.

layzee wrote:[Shenmue] sounds like the type of game that would have gangsta/ruffian-type characters with course/rough slurred ways of talking. 「こりゃ」instead of 「これは」for example.


Hm, I haven't noticed this one, at least not in the subtitles. Maybe a character has spoken it that way, but the subtitled line still said これは. I hope that in cases like this I'll be able to figure out the speech from context, but some of the ruffian speech is hiragana-only, which is anathema for me.

layzee wrote:Let us know how your progress goes.


Yep, will do. Thanks for your replies and ideas!

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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby Gaijin Punch » Mon Feb 13, 2017 8:42 pm

I can really only comment on my own methods, which are very traditional. That being said, I first started studying Japanese (fuck me) 24 years ago... this might crush your spirit, but I never stopped studying, really... only stopped actively studying. I read Japanese books now, and take quite a few notes.

Having said that, back then, you had a couple of options: classes, and watch a shit ton of anime. And this was the analogue days. I used to subtitle... with fucking laserdisc and an amiga! What did that mean? Anything you subtitled, you saw at least 3 times in a row... maybe 4 or 5. I really think that repetition helped.

These days? You have all kinds of shit. A million different programs, Skype tutors, online butt buddies, games, weebo Youtube channels. You name it. Are any of them worthwhile? No idea... everyone learns differently and it took me until I was 38 to realize that (and I'm not talking about just Japanese). So, you basically need to figure out what works for you. I highly recommend finding someone that doesn't mind hearing you butcher the language. Plenty of online resources for finding those people. Ultimately, that's what's required. After that, you need to seriously consider spending time in Japan. 3 months at least, but don't expect to have that "a-ha" moment until after a year, unless you are blessed with languages, which you likely won't realize you are on your second. Also, Japanese is one of those languages where the "plateau" is really painful to overcome.

I think the main thing is repetition. I doubt I will shock anyone with that. For me, it was flash cards with vocab/kanji. The grammar I didn't find too hard. It was taught in school, and you can see a lot of it used in manga. The higher level stuff usually just comes out in peridocials and novels.
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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby schadenfreude » Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:39 pm

Ah, the man himself! I was hoping you would reply.

Gaijin Punch wrote:this might crush your spirit, but I never stopped studying, really... only stopped actively studying.


Nah, no crushing here. I'd say that even in our native language we never really "stop" studying: we just switch from active to passive studying. I have no idea how far I want to take my Japanese learning, but I have accepted that there technically is no "end" to learning it.

Gaijin Punch wrote:I used to subtitle... with fucking laserdisc and an amiga! What did that mean? Anything you subtitled, you saw at least 3 times in a row... maybe 4 or 5. I really think that repetition helped.


You'll have to school me on this a bit. Regardless of medium used, wouldn't you have to watch the video several times to make sure your subtitles are displayed at the appropriate times?

A question for you: How easy is it for you to watch a video in Japanese without Japanese subtitles? I am finding that even in my early days of studying, the large number of homophones in this language makes subtitles indispensable, because the kanji in them will differentiate homophones that clash in my mind. I know even English has homophones, but it's not nearly as bad as Japanese, with its relatively limited number of consonants and vowel sounds. I guess as you improve in the language, the homophones matter less because you can disambiguate based upon the topic of the conversation. But I can imagine that when a new subject is introduced, there might be initial confusion unless there is a detailed description of the subject.

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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby zinger » Tue Feb 14, 2017 9:18 pm

Gaijin Punch wrote:I used to subtitle... with fucking laserdisc and an amiga!


Haha, that's so cool! Man, I really miss when 80's/90's technology was still new. :)

Anyway, I studied Japanese full-time for two years at university, mostly in Sweden but also a couple of months in Japan. I was an incredibly ambitious student at that time, with pretty much perfect test results, so I have a pretty solid foundation and feel for the language, and have practiced tons and tons of kanji, conversation, writing, reading (both modern and classical literature, as well as newspapers), oral presentation, advanced grammar and so on. Tests results don't necessarily mean a lot when it comes to language of course, and I really upped my conversational skills during my time in Japan.

It's been several years now since I studied full-time though, and I think I've lost much of what I once knew, especially kanji and kango along with it). Since then I've practiced kanji occasionally, but I keep forgetting them since I don't really have time to study regularly or read Japanese books at the moment (I have an exam on cognitive neuroscience coming up!). I do play Japanese language games of course, and I can often manage well enough if I have my denshi jisho at hand (have you considered getting one schadenfreude?). Other than that, there are people in Japan that I'm still in contact with and write every other week or so (e-mail/Facebook). I'm seriously considering moving to Japan for a year or so, to boost my skills a bit more and maybe learn all the jooyoo kanji with the Heisig method.

The approach my professors took when teaching kanji was more in-depth for every single kanji, like we had to learn the historical development of most characters and their radicals, and there was a very strong emphasis on learning related kango rather than just learning as many characters as possible. That was an incredibly fun way to study which gave me a good understanding of how the language worked structurally (and the "stories" I used to remember the kanji made sense etymologically), but I think I only learned something like 600-700 kanji during those two years. So now (if I go back to Japan for a longer period of time) I'm thinking maybe I should try RTK, just learn the rest of the jooyoo characters and then let my twitter feed (which is probably 70% Japanese), Japanese games and the occasional novel provide me with study material.

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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby schadenfreude » Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:01 am

zinger wrote:I can often manage well enough if I have my denshi jisho at hand (have you considered getting one schadenfreude?)


I haven't considered it because these days I try to avoid having electronic devices with only one function. For example, I considered getting a Kindle or a tablet for dedicated book-reading, but then I got a new phone and realized that it is sufficient for that purpose.

What advantages does having one give me? Maybe you can give me a sales pitch.

zinger wrote:and maybe learn all the jooyoo kanji with the Heisig method.


Definitely do this; I can't imagine learning them any other way. Since you already know a lot of them, it shouldn't take you long to make it through the book. Here's a sweet site that has a list of all the RTK1 kanji (and even RTK3) along with user-submitted stories in case you're having trouble creating some for yourself: http://hochanh.github.io/rtk/.

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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby Gaijin Punch » Thu Feb 16, 2017 5:13 am

schadenfreude wrote:You'll have to school me on this a bit. Regardless of medium used, wouldn't you have to watch the video several times to make sure your subtitles are displayed at the appropriate times?


With digital, you can get it down in 2 goes I think. Generally you use something to give visual queues when the dialogue starts. Obviously it's not 100% due to other noises, but I think it works well. YOu can also go back a few frames and play again to make sure the timing works. With analogue, you basically watch everything 3 times, and that's if you're good (which I was. ;)).

A question for you: How easy is it for you to watch a video in Japanese without Japanese subtitles?


Depends on what it is. Ghost in the Shell? I get very little of it due to not having the political vocab. Also, as characters get more country-side-esque, the less I get. I watched Fukushuu Suru ha Ware ni Ari recently. Maybe it was b/c it's only a few years older than me... maybe b/c they just used slang... maybe it's just the way it was written, but I absolutely needed the subtitles. Something that falls into a Tokyo-based drama, I'm find without. I watched 2 Kore-eda movies recently and while I had the subtitles, I ignored them most of the time.

But yeah, the homophones will fuck you. There are tons. Japanese is all about context. You learn that quickly when you see how they omit words randomly

What's the Heisig method?
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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby layzee » Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:23 pm

Gaijin Punch wrote:I think the main thing is repetition. I doubt I will shock anyone with that. For me, it was flash cards with vocab/kanji.


Would that be physical flash cards? I think most us take digital flash cards (and its unique benefits) for granted! I honestly cannot comprehend writing and organising my own paper flash cards.

zinger wrote:The approach my professors took when teaching kanji was more in-depth for every single kanji, like we had to learn the historical development of most characters and their radicals, and there was a very strong emphasis on learning related kango rather than just learning as many characters as possible. That was an incredibly fun way to study which gave me a good understanding of how the language worked structurally (and the "stories" I used to remember the kanji made sense etymologically), but I think I only learned something like 600-700 kanji during those two years.


Would you say you learning Kanji with its history/etymology years ago helped your long-term memorisation process (of the Kanji)? For example, 2 or 3 years later, you're trying to remember the meaning of a Kanji/vocab and then "eureka!", you remember your professor saying something about the origins of this Kanji long ago and thanks to that, the memories start coming back and you understand. Did something like that happen?

At one point early on, I was looking at the various ways to learn Kanji and I considered studying each Kanji's etymology (to help the Kanji "paint a picture" and assist memorisation) but I dropped it since: 1) I feared that studying a Kanji's history might become a digression from my goal (understanding Japanese) and time would better be spent elsewhere, and apparently, often the history of the Kanji has little or nothing to do with how it is used today, and 2) I don't really care about Kanji in the first place - for me, they're just a tool, a means to an end (understanding Japanese).

schadenfreude wrote:Definitely do this; I can't imagine learning them any other way. Since you already know a lot of them, it shouldn't take you long to make it through the book. Here's a sweet site that has a list of all the RTK1 kanji (and even RTK3) along with user-submitted stories in case you're having trouble creating some for yourself: http://hochanh.github.io/rtk/.


Do you plan on doing RTK3? I didn't because apparently the 1000 or so Kanji there are of limited use (i.e. of marginal benefit) and after I finished RTK1, I couldn't wait to start learning Japanese, proper. Also, RTK1 6th edition has 2200 Kanji, and about 100 of those came from RTK3 (RTK1 5th edition has about 2100 Kanji).

Gaijin Punch wrote:What's the Heisig method?


Long story short, the Heisig method is about creating pictures/stories (mnemonics) out of Kanji to help memorise said Kanji.

If y'all want the long story... you (Gaijin Punch) earlier stated that you learned Japanese the "traditional" way. If I was to take a guess, you learned the Kanji the same way Japanese students in Japan learn Kanji: they learn the Kanji in a roughly defined order (more common Kanji first e.g. numbers, days of the week etc...) and brute force rote memory it (repeatedly writing and rewriting a Kanji until they memorise it... maybe).

Heisig however states that what works (or "works") for Japanese people learning Japanese is not necessarily optimal for non-Japanese non-Chinese (let's be honest, they have a massive advantage) people learning Japanese. He thinks a better approach would be to:

    1. Radicalise the Kanji - first he breaks every Kanji into pieces (i.e. radical or "element"). These pieces will be given "key words" and will become building blocks for Kanji. Some radicals are Kanji themselves, while other radicals don't really have a meaning (or a very vague one), hence a key word to identify them. Side note: Apparently radicals are something most Japanese people don't even consider/are aware of while they're learning it. Is that true?
    2. Each Kanji is also given a "key word". These key words are sometimes the meaning of the Kanji themselves while some Kanji's key words only have a vague connection to its meaning or none at all. The point of this is to given each Kanji/radical a unique key word so that... see next point.
    3. So that we can create a story out of the Kanji using the key words. The idea is that instead of a Kanji being a 25-stroke Lovecraft-esque mess, it is now a Kanji comprising recognisable "elements" and "key words". It's about finding a method to the madness.
    4. Writing can help one memorise a Kanji. It gives you a sort of physical "feel" of it. Even so, Heisig recommends only writing any Kanji three times or so, in contrast to the 100+ times that Japanese students do.
    5. Last but not least, we, as non-Japanese adults, might be better off using a different Kanji order than what Japanese students in Japan use. First, instead of being thrown a bunch of new random (but common use) Kanji, we only build Kanji with the radicals we already know. Secondly, Japanese students in Japan (by virtue of being born in Japan being immersed in Japanese 24/7) can comprehend "complicated" (in terms of stroke number) Kanji like「曜」but by virtue of being, you know, kids, they are not as able to comprehend the more complicated, the more abstract vocabulary. In contrast, adults should have no problems with vocabulary which is why in Heisig, you will learn, for example「賄」(bribery, a concept kids may or may not understand, and a Kanji not on the education kanji list) early on, and「曜」doesn't appear until much later, well into the 500s. Also, strange, esoteric, seemingly useless words appear early on, for the sake of introducing building blocks. Also, because of this revised order, you'll end up with similar looking Kanji in quick succession e.g. 銑, 鉢, 銅, 釣, 針, 銘, 鎮. Since they're all conveniently presented as thus, it's easier to tell the difference between them.

A common complaint of the RTK books, or a perceived "flaw" of them, is that it doesn't properly teach the meaning and doesn't teach readings at all. I think this is an invalid critique because that's not what RTK is meant to be used for and it doesn't claim to do those things. I think it's about "divide and conquer" and "breadth first, depth later". Kanji is the main psychological barrier for most Japanese learners and RTK is just the helpful first step to help overcome it. What it does intend to do is right on the front cover: "A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters".

zinger stated that he was an "incredibly ambitious (Japanese) student" yet he learnt "only" 600-700 kanji in those two years (not dismissing his efforts, I'm sure he has or had perfect knowledge of those 700 Kanji) i.e. he has or had the "depth". RTK however recommends having a shallow-ish understand of 2200 Kanji in three months (i.e. breadth) and while those Kanji is still fresh in the mind, it is up to the student to take the next step (e.g. vocabulary flash cards, immersion, etc).

I guess it should be noted that Heisig's method isn't that unique or original. It's just making up stories with Kanji basically and he's hardly the first to do it. But for me, the biggest value to his book is the Kanji order. I like to know how many Kanji I've learnt and how many more there are to go. e.g. "I've reached Kanji number 1100, the halfway point, only 1100 left!" It's also a nice way to overcome the "all these damn Kanji look the same" mindset. Common use Kanji not appearing early isn't a problem for me. Common use Kanji is... well, common, in books, games, manga, websites, etc... so I'd end up soaking it up passively/without trying, due to its frequent appearance.

Click here for more of Heisig's rationale/history behind the book.
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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby zinger » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:43 pm

schadenfreude wrote:
zinger wrote:I can often manage well enough if I have my denshi jisho at hand (have you considered getting one schadenfreude?)


I haven't considered it because these days I try to avoid having electronic devices with only one function. For example, I considered getting a Kindle or a tablet for dedicated book-reading, but then I got a new phone and realized that it is sufficient for that purpose.

What advantages does having one give me? Maybe you can give me a sales pitch.


Yeah, I know what you mean. I tried to find a different solution for my smart phone at first, but at least at the time there were no good alternatives (that I knew of). I mostly use it for looking up kanji that I don't know the meaning, pronounciation of (you can simply draw the kanji like on a DS), and the dictionaries I have on it are more comprehensive/detailed and in at least in some respects easier to use than many others. But actually, for someone who already knows most kanji it might not be so useful.

layzee wrote:
zinger wrote:The approach my professors took when teaching kanji was more in-depth for every single kanji, like we had to learn the historical development of most characters and their radicals, and there was a very strong emphasis on learning related kango rather than just learning as many characters as possible. That was an incredibly fun way to study which gave me a good understanding of how the language worked structurally (and the "stories" I used to remember the kanji made sense etymologically), but I think I only learned something like 600-700 kanji during those two years.


Would you say you learning Kanji with its history/etymology years ago helped your long-term memorisation process (of the Kanji)? For example, 2 or 3 years later, you're trying to remember the meaning of a Kanji/vocab and then "eureka!", you remember your professor saying something about the origins of this Kanji long ago and thanks to that, the memories start coming back and you understand. Did something like that happen?


Hmm, not really in the way you describe, not that I can remember at least. But I find etymology really intriguing in a way that keeps me interested in and creative with the language, which also helps me in my learning-process -- not just with Japanese, I look up stuff like this for English and Swedish all the time! I wrote my bachelor's thesis (Japanese linguistics) in my fourth semester, and after that I decided to take a break from Japanese, but if I had decided on getting a master's degree in the subject (which I was planning to at one point) I think I would have happily continued to study in that rigorous manner. I really liked going in-depth and being very thorough, and I felt that Japanese culture and history really came alive for me taking this approach. But now, considering I am busy with many other things, I'll obviously have to change my priorities if I want to at least be able to learn kanji simply as a tool (as you put it).

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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby schadenfreude » Fri Feb 17, 2017 3:22 am

zinger wrote:I mostly use it for looking up kanji that I don't know the meaning, pronounciation of (you can simply draw the kanji like on a DS), and the dictionaries I have on it are more comprehensive/detailed and in at least in some respects easier to use than many others. But actually, for someone who already knows most kanji it might not be so useful.


Yeah, doing the Heisig method was useful because I still have all my flashcards from it (and still do daily reviews), so when I encounter a kanji whose meaning I can't recall, I can sort of piece my story together and search for it within my cards. Failing that — or if it's a kanji I've never seen before — I attempt to draw the kanji in this Google-made Japanese handwriting app I have on my Mac. Notice I wrote "attempt" because most of the time the suggested results don't contain the correct match. Usually after a few tries I'll find the one I want.

Probably my best use for the electronic dictionary would be the dictionary itself, but so far I'm content with using http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp and haphazardly guessing at meanings (though there's also an English section there too). Also, I forgot to mention that I use this Chrome plugin called rikaikun (there's also a Firefox version I believe) that shows the pronunciation of kanji if I hover over them, plus provides the dictionary definition (which can be toggled on or off). Even cooler, if I type a word in kana in my browser and hover over it, rikaikun will suggest possible kanji for those kana. So far, all these tools have helped me immensely in my studies.

layzee wrote:Do you plan on doing RTK3? I didn't because apparently the 1000 or so Kanji there are of limited use (i.e. of marginal benefit) and after I finished RTK1, I couldn't wait to start learning Japanese, proper. Also, RTK1 6th edition has 2200 Kanji, and about 100 of those came from RTK3 (RTK1 5th edition has about 2100 Kanji).


No plans; we are in agreement here. However, I did pull some kanji from RTK3 into my kanji deck. This fine gentleman (who was also inspired by AJATT) recommends removing many kanji from your RTK deck but also adding a few from RTK3. In the end, I'm down to 1,910 kanji in my deck, and I get about 50 reviews a day, which takes me about 15 minutes to review. Not bad. I usually do them while resting between exercises on my workout days to be time-efficient. I also draw the kanji in the air to practice the stroke order; this is the only "writing by hand" I do in Japanese these days — other than decks for hiragana and katakana, because it's funny that no matter how many times I read hiragana, if asked to draw some from memory, I sometimes make little mistakes.

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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby layzee » Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:48 pm

zinger wrote:Hmm, not really in the way you describe, not that I can remember at least. But I find etymology really intriguing in a way that keeps me interested in and creative with the language, which also helps me in my learning-process -- not just with Japanese, I look up stuff like this for English and Swedish all the time!


If that's your passion, then certainly more power to ya.

schadenfreude wrote:Failing that — or if it's a kanji I've never seen before — I attempt to draw the kanji in this Google-made Japanese handwriting app I have on my Mac. Notice I wrote "attempt" because most of the time the suggested results don't contain the correct match. Usually after a few tries I'll find the one I want.


Would you say it's more of a flaw in Kanji recognition function of the app or your own handwriting? Although I don't write much, reading RTK has been particularly useful to me for stroke order (i.e. stroke numbers, stroke direction, the "top-to-bottom left-to-right" principle of radical placement).

Some Kanji recognition sites/programs are more strict than others. Consider Nintendo's own Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten DS, a Japanese dictionary for the Nintendo DS. Before I got a smartphone, I used this and I was often amazed by how well it could detect a Kanji, despite the writing being a complete rush job mess.

layzee wrote:No plans; we are in agreement here. However, I did pull some kanji from RTK3 into my kanji deck. This fine gentleman (who was also inspired by AJATT) recommends removing many kanji from your RTK deck but also adding a few from RTK3.


Certainly, a few/some of the Kanji on RTK's list is a bit iffy in terms of actual usefulness. I read that apparently a little bit over 1000 Kanji (out of the official 2000 or so jouyou/common use Kanji) covers about 90% of what you will read. So I'm sure a student seeking efficiency in one's Kanji's learning can ignore a small portion of them.

Anyway, interesting choices that fine gentleman has made in regards to which RTK Kanji to throw out. Since we're both learning Japanese for the sake of Japanese video games, I thought I'd just offer a quick run down of the top of my head on some stuff I'm seen:

0288 軌 rut - is the first Kanji from Nihon Falcom's 英雄伝説空の軌跡 (The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky).
0304 冠 crown - at one point you recover the stolen 王冠 back to a king in Taito/Natsume's RPG Estpolis Denki 2.
0426 霜 frost - I'm quite sure I've seen this in various RPGs that have ice-elemental attack magic.
0521 蝶 butterfly - is a Kanji used in Tecmo's 零 紅い蝶 (Zero: Crimson Butterfly) as well as the name of the theme song.
0536 竜 dragon - which is the simplified version of 龍. Who represents the dragon better than Ryu from Street Fighter? He uses the hurricane kick or 竜巻旋風脚 (or Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku). Or my interpretation of it when I played Super Street Fighter 2 on SNES, as a kid: tablayblitopgkdfbnfgablah. Oh and there's ブレスオブファイア 竜の戦士 (Breath of Fire: Dragon Warrior). Which is also a Capcom game. Who is also called Ryu. But is a literal dragon.
1177 斗 Big Dipper - more popular as an anime than a game but... 北斗の拳 (Fist of the North Star).
1342 羅 gauze - Name of the environment destroying megacorp in Final Fantasy VII: 神羅 (Shinra). Maybe this doesn't really count though as it's just ateji. Actually now would be a good time for me to Google why Squaresoft used those two Kanji.
1591 琴 harp - Gilbert (JPN)/Edward (ENG) uses it in Final Fantasy IV. Then again, that game is hiragana only... but I'm sure they would've used it if they could (e.g. FFVI).
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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby schadenfreude » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:07 pm

layzee wrote:Would you say it's more of a flaw in Kanji recognition function of the app or your own handwriting?


It's hard to draw a kanji using my laptop's trackpad, but I do the best job I can, with the correct stroke order to boot. Maybe sometime I'll try using a mouse to see if I get better results. But many times I'd say my drawings are pretty damn good, but it gives me similar-looking kanji and not the one I'm looking for.

layzee wrote:I read that apparently a little bit over 1000 Kanji (out of the official 2000 or so jouyou/common use Kanji) covers about 90% of what you will read.


Yeah, from a Reddit post, I found this esoteric-looking web page that ranks kanji by frequency and even includes cumulative frequency. I'm assuming the author generated the list by analyzing newspapers and such.

http://nozaki-lab.ics.aichi-edu.ac.jp/n ... kanji.html

[EDIT: The above link attempts to load and then eventually times out. I found a nice research paper with similar results; the corpus they used was an entire year's worth of newspaper text from 1993]

Some fun facts from it:

  • 151 most common kanji will get you above 50%
  • 398 gets you over 75%
  • 500 -> 80.7%
  • 1000 -> 94.6%
  • 2000 -> 99.72%
  • 3000 -> 99.97%

You'll observe this long-tail phenomenon for all languages and their word frequencies, of course, but utilizing this knowledge is particularly useful for Japanese (and Chinese) because it helps you focus your studies on more prevalent ideograms.

layzee wrote:So I'm sure a student seeking efficiency in one's Kanji's learning can ignore a small portion of them.


I found the fine gentleman's post after completing RTK1 and practicing all those kanji for at least a few months, so I still remember most of the ones he recommends to remove — and I remember all of the ones you posted. Whether or not they're in my kanji deck, I'll end up learning them if I come across them in my studies. The idea of the kanji deck is to be good enough at these kanji that you can reproduce them from memory, and if you want to be efficient with your studies, you should consider limiting this to only the most common kanji. I have no plans to become a Japanese linguist and thus don't care to practice drawing thousands of kanji from memory.

But passive memory is powerful; for example, I can still recognize 鬱 and remember its meaning, though I'd fuck it up a bit if you asked me to draw it from memory (I must admit it is a damn cool kanji, but I'm sure there are many others that fit into this category of "cool, but not too practical to know how to draw perfectly"). And also, if you don't think you'll ever be handwriting kanji, then you can probably skip Anki reviews for them altogether, since I think the emphasis is to keep your kanji production skills sharp, which may start to drift if you're only reading them and letting your electronics draw them for you. But my thinking is that this reproduction practice will increase my recognition skills as well (since it forces my brain to think about them and draw them) — plus it's only 15 minutes of my time every day, which will only decrease with time as I improve — so I plan to stick with it.
Last edited by schadenfreude on Mon Mar 06, 2017 7:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby Gaijin Punch » Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:34 am

Flash cards


i'm old, so they were on paper. Very small paper with a hole in them, and then put on a key ring looking thing. I had loads of those. Now, I'd use digital but I don't know if it would stick as well.

Heisig


I'm familiar with that, but I don't think that it would work better for me than the way I did it. Maybe, but probably not. That seems like a shit ton of extra fluff to remember for each character, and a lot of it doesn't line up or make a lot of sense. Not to me, anyway.

By the time I was studying in Japan, I had finished 3 years of University. So I started reading manga and writing down vocab words. Not characters, but words, and learned them in context. I'd make mental notes of the the meaning but I wouldn't give a single character it's own card unless it was a word. Ideally, you'd have a few words with overlapping kanji. I found that worked well for me.

Disclaimer: I suck dick at stroke order, and I probably should know a bit more about the individual characters.

2200 characters


Okay, so again, if you know 2200 characters, you are probably higher than most Japanese college students. You just don't need this many in your head unless you're reading classic literature. If your'e reading ebooks or internet, even less of a need. What you DO need is vocab (see above). The JLTP N1 has you "responsible" for I believe 1800 characters, but the daunting part is the 20,000 vocab words. And of course the reading comprehension that sticks it up your ass.
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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby Magic Knight » Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:07 am

I went for an interview in a top Japanese organisation in January. I have all the necessary experience so they hammered me on how well I could read Japanese - I don't have any actual qualifications, so I was convinced I didn't get the job. Well the next morning an email arrived and amazingly, I got the position. My best guess is that nobody else applied... anyway I'm now trying to bulldoze my way through the JLPT grammar to pass the test next time it comes up, since I may need it to have my contract renewed.

As GP just mentioned, it's vocabulary you want. I finished the Heisig book in nine weeks in 2009 (I could write all 2,000 from memory), but you have to immediately forget learning individual kanji and go to vocabulary. Some of his translations are bizarre and really don't help with reading. It's a good way to learn to recognise the kanji, certainly I know immediately if I see a character not on the Joyo list.

As for the JLPT, I really struggle with the reading of passages. I can understand what it says, but figuring out the answer is another matter entirely. The vocab you either know of don't know, listening is extremely easy if you've lived here for a long time.

If you're learning for games you won't have the same issues, because the test - which organisations here have decided is the be-all and end-all despite its alarming inadequacies - is deliberately trying to make life difficult for you. In researching my book I read a lot of magazines (thousands) and they're no problem. I have a few academic books and they are a few different proposition, as is people's names. I've had to travel the country to meet people to ask them directly how they pronounce their names.

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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby EOJ » Wed Feb 22, 2017 2:43 am

It is possible to learn to read and write in Japanese by yourself with minimal resources, though it takes a lot of time and dedication. If you want to learn to speak and comprehend properly, you need to interact with a native speaker regularly. The best way is to live in Japan for at least a year and speak it daily. That's the only way you're going to get the pragmatics and phonology to a level where you don't sound like a weirdo.

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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby schadenfreude » Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:17 pm

Gaijin Punch wrote:Now, I'd use digital but I don't know if it would stick as well.


Because on paper you'd be writing the cards out by hand, whereas on the computer you're either typing it or copying it from someone else? The main difference I've noticed between the two is that the former forces me to read my poor handwriting plus makes my wrist hurt (who writes regularly by hand these days?).

Gaijin Punch wrote:That seems like a shit ton of extra fluff to remember for each character, and a lot of it doesn't line up or make a lot of sense. Not to me, anyway.


I was a skeptic before I began and continued to be skeptical as I worked through the first 100 or so kanji — the story-creating and drawing pictures in my head seemed like a waste of time for characters I was easily able to memorize without any tricks. But once I got to many hundreds of characters, it started to feel overwhelming, and the visual clues I made in my head made recalling characters easier. Still today I amaze myself when one of my kanji flash cards is due, the keyword seems unmemorable at first, and then in a few seconds it hits me and I can draw the character perfectly from memory — despite not having seen the kanji in several months.

The Heisig method got me interested in memory tricks, and I read some books about how people use these techniques to memorize people's names at parties or phone numbers or n digits of pi and so on. Most of it is impractical in computer-driven modernity, but from the memory tricks I learned how to memorize things like my grocery list and the order of a deck of cards. The deck of cards trick is mostly a novelty, but it's very helpful when playing a game like Rummy, where memorizing what cards have been discarded and picked up is beneficial.

Back to kanji — the advantage of the stories isn't that you'll remember them forever; it's simply a trick to get your brain to draw a picture and associate it with the kanji. Eventually you'll forget the story and the picture, but the kanji will remain. Humans have powerful visual memories; it's much easier to memorize something if you can draw a vivid image in your brain, and that's essentially what you do with the Heisig method.

Gaijin Punch wrote:Okay, so again, if you know 2200 characters, you are probably higher than most Japanese college students. You just don't need this many in your head unless you're reading classic literature. If your'e reading ebooks or internet, even less of a need. What you DO need is vocab (see above).


Magic Knight wrote:As GP just mentioned, it's vocabulary you want. I finished the Heisig book in nine weeks in 2009 (I could write all 2,000 from memory), but you have to immediately forget learning individual kanji and go to vocabulary.


Yep, that's what I'm doing. Maybe the long discussion layzee and I had about kanji and the Heisig method distracted you guys, but I'm "done" with learning kanji out of context: all I do today for strict kanji studying is continue to review the ones I learned so I won't forget them. But the bulk of my studying (1-2 hours a day) comes from reading and listening to native material and learning Japanese sentences with new vocabulary in them.

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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby Gaijin Punch » Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:40 am

Magic Knight wrote:As for the JLPT, I really struggle with the reading of passages. I can understand what it says, but figuring out the answer is another matter entirely. The vocab you either know of don't know, listening is extremely easy if you've lived here for a long time.


パターンで学ぶ

This is for L1, but I think it still applies. The only reason I passed it back in 2006.
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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby Gaijin Punch » Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:42 am

schadenfreude wrote:Because on paper you'd be writing the cards out by hand, whereas on the computer you're either typing it or copying it from someone else? The main difference I've noticed between the two is that the former forces me to read my poor handwriting plus makes my wrist hurt (who writes regularly by hand these days?).


Just for ease and portability, really. I do this w/ Spanish which I'm failing miserably at... which is kind of embarrassing.
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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby schadenfreude » Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:03 am

I studied Spanish for my four years of high school (the only foreign language offered at my small school, in fact), and what do I have to show for it today? I can pick out some words in a Spanish text, but forget writing or listening. Though when I played Biohazard 4 many years back, I could understand some of the things the villagers said (e.g., "Morir es vivir, morir es vivir"). That was kinda cool. :whack:

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Re: On studying Japanese

Postby Gaijin Punch » Sun Mar 05, 2017 3:05 am

I went to Cuba recently, and quite honestly, even w/ the accent that I was totally not ready for, I was able to get some basic ideas across... something that took serious years in Japanese.
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