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Japan UnderGround >> Advice for learning Japanese


4/26/04 9:35 PM
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Solidus
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Edited: 26-Apr-04
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 465
I've been trying to memorize hiragana and katakana for the past couple weeks also. I've done hiragana and have about half of the katakana done. It definitely is harder going from the romaji to symbol than vice versa, so I strictly practiced the harder way only. I can go through the flash cards much faster if I'm looking at the hiragana/katakana and translating to romaji, while I still get stuck for a little while when doing it the other way around. I'm starting an 8-week Japanese Level 1 course at the Boston Language Institute next week. It's only 2x a week, 1.5 hours each session, but I think the classes are very small, so I'll hopefully learn a good amount.
4/28/04 4:29 PM
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TheAx
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Edited: 28-Apr-04
Member Since: 12/18/2002
Posts: 281
http://www.mojio.net/japan/jkwe.html That is a cool site. You can test yourself on the Kana there.
5/4/04 8:42 AM
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IchbeinAuslander
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Edited: 04-May-04
Member Since: 02/03/2003
Posts: 27
Hey ax, I think he was saying "so des" not "sore" but good work. I've been studying japanese for almost 3 years it is a difficult language to say the least. Im fluent in spanish and I noticed that alot of words in japanese and spanish are pronounced the same, with different meanings of course. The one problem with speaking japanese with japanese people is that the more you learn the more difficult the conversations seem to become. I guess they figure you understand more than you know, but its a great way to learn. The other thing about learning japanese is that if you have a female teacher make sure you don't pick up her expressions and reactions. Alot of western guys in Japan learn japanese from their girlfriends and when they speak japanese they sound like girls. Other than that keep up the good work and good luck learning.
6/1/04 2:18 AM
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DemonClown
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Edited: 01-Jun-04
Member Since: 06/21/2002
Posts: 1552
TheAx - where do you live? You mentioned Tucson, are you in the AZ? Anyway, it is interesting to hear your progess - kind of retracing my own steps from years gone by. Any questions I'm sure people on the board can help out. And while you can learn kana on your own, I applaud you sticking to the method that works for you, which is what counts, in the end. I also think it's best you are learning the fundamental building blocks of the language first, as opposed to learning random phrases and not knowing the what's behind it all.
6/1/04 6:38 PM
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TheAx
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Edited: 01-Jun-04
Member Since: 12/18/2002
Posts: 346
Haha...I've heard the same thing about learning japanese from females. In fact, a female Japanese teacher told me this very problem. She said she was worried that she was teaching guys how to sound like a japanese female. Evidently there is a large difference between the two styles. DemonClown, yep! I'm in Tucson, Arizona. Well, I'm still sticking with it...although it has gotten difficult my schedule has gotten SO busy that I barely have time to study on my own. Without studying, I really can't improve very well. I learned all of the Hiragana and then moved onto Katakana...but then I didn't have time to study, so I didn't learn enough of the Katakana and I started forgetting some of the Hiragana. *sigh* It was very frustrating. At the same time, my teacher was eager to have me start learning Kanji...as he assumed that I would easily pick up Katakana since I learned Hiragana quickly. It's too bad that I've gotten so busy. I have learned numbers though...ichi, ni, san.... hyaku, sen...etc. He explained to me how to write each character (kanji) and how to chain them together to write longer numbers (like 2,095). It's weird...it's like writing 2 1000 9 10 5 (but in kanji). Very different than the english way. But it is similar to how we SAY our numbers. (2000 = two thousand). Next, he is going to teach me Monday, Tuesday, etc. I have learned the Kanji for Judo and Jiu Jitsu. The Kanji characters come from Chinese characters. They are basically the same, except for a few occassional changes and new characters. Obviously, Japanese people pronounce the characters differently than the Chinese do. Interestingly enough...I was told that "Judo" is the chinese way of saying the Kanji for Judo. There is a Japanese way to pronounce it. He said if I learned the Japanese version of saying "Judo" then that would be really impressive. I don't have my book with me, and I don't remember the pronunciation. When I find it, I'll post it...then you can be "hard core" ;)
6/1/04 6:50 PM
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TheAx
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Edited: 01-Jun-04
Member Since: 12/18/2002
Posts: 347
Oh, since I'm so busy...I'm also listening to Japanese tapes in the car to try to be more effective. Pimsleur's Japanese series. It's not bad. If nothing else, it gives me practice in listening to a native speaker. The people on the tapes tend to talk quickly. It is also improving my vocabulary, which is actually my weakest point in learning Japanese right now. I'm focusing on the kana characters and some simple kanji first...and how to pronounce things...and then I'm going to focus on vocabulary. I'll post updates. I hope things will start to slow down in my life so I can make more time for Japanese.
6/2/04 12:29 AM
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DemonClown
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Edited: 02-Jun-04
Member Since: 06/21/2002
Posts: 1563
Ax - Right now I live in Tokushima, Japan, but I'll be moving back to Mesa in August. And it is true about a difference between female and male speakers - stuff like which personal pronouns are used, endings of sentences, etc. As you'd expect, females tend to be much more polite and easier to understand than males.
6/8/04 2:23 PM
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TheAx
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Edited: 08-Jun-04
Member Since: 12/18/2002
Posts: 383
DemonClown...AHHH...what are you doing? You're in Japan...why would you come back to Arizona?? Unless of course your visa is expiring...or you are only there on vacation. What are you doing in Japan? How long have you been there? What is Tokushima like? ...... Ok, I found my notes on Judo. The pronunciation "Judo" comes frm Chinese pronunciation. The Japanese way of pronouncing those two kanji characters for Judo is "Yawara Michi". So... judo = yawara michi. This sounded crazy to me, because Judo doesn't sound very "chinese" to me. Then again, I don't know chinese. If I'm reading my notes properly, the Japanese style of pronunciation is called "on-yomi" while the chinese style of pronunciation is called "kun-yomi". I have a feeling that he meant that kun-yomi is the chinese-INFLUENCED way of pronouncing kanji, not that the chinese pronounce the kanji exactly like that. If anyone knows more about this than me, feel free to explain.
6/8/04 7:13 PM
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Sha Bi
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Edited: 08-Jun-04
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 136
kun-yomi = Japanese reading of a Kanji on-yomi = Chinese-origin reading "is the chinese-INFLUENCED way of pronouncing kanji, not that the chinese pronounce the kanji exactly like that." Sounds good to me. I imagine that the pronunciations were nearly identical 1500 years ago when Japan imported the Chinese writing system. Some words are still very similar, but the majority probably wouldn't be understood by people in the other country today. Maybe a Chinese-speaker would have more insight. Just as a bad example (since I don't know any Chinese), Tiananmen Square in Beijing is pronounced Ten'anmon in Japanese. I imagine when someone Chinese pronounces it is doesn't sound quite the same, but still, you see the similarities. Kanji is a fascinating subject. I wish I knew more.
6/10/04 6:45 AM
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HARDCASTLE
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Edited: 10-Jun-04
Member Since: 04/06/2004
Posts: 10
i strongly recomend The Compact Nelson Japanese-English Character dictionary, it's easy to use and very useful
6/29/04 1:05 AM
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zulrik
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Edited: 29-Jun-04
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 1695
cool info!
7/1/04 1:28 AM
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DemonClown
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Edited: 01-Jul-04
Member Since: 06/21/2002
Posts: 1685
Axman I've spent the last three out of four years of my life in Japan, I'm kind of Japan'ed out, if that makes any sense. Besides, I miss my family and friends back home. That and the job I do is totally inconsequential and unfulfilling. I could have stayed another year but I don't want to waste another year rotting out here in hickville. Tokushima is on Shikoku, so it's a fairly rural sort of place. Not a lot of options for training, or even hanging out. The people are nice, but you do get tired of feeling like such an outsider. I've been here in Tokushima for two years, and I spent 9 months in Nagoya as an exchange student. By the way, what you were saying about On-yomi and kun-yomi is more or less correct. Kun-yomi does at least resemble the Chinese way of pronouncing the characters. Kanji compounds often use the kun-yomi, and one kanji by itself (somtimes with hiragana after it) is usually read with the on-yomi. so like the word "to read" = ?? = is pronounced yomu. but if it's used in a compound, it can be pronounced 'doku' as in ?? = ondoku "reading aloud" So yo would be the on-yomi and doku would be the kun-yomi. I think.
7/1/04 5:42 PM
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Sha Bi
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Edited: 01-Jul-04
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 144
"yo" = kun (japanese reading) "doku" = on (chinese reading) easy to get them crossed up. :) I'm not sure exactly what it is, but it seems to me that many Japanese don't believe that a foreigner can EVER fit in. So almost as a self-fulfilling prophecy many end up never allowing us d I'm sure it is much more true of rural Japan. I'm no eto fully be part of Japanese life. I was in Tokyo, anxpert on japanese society though. Small town Anywhere is probably similar, so I don't mean to be too critical. I'd love to visit Shikoku someday, do you have any suggestions for places to see or any other general advice? I spent a year studying in Tokyo, so I can get around ok, but I know nothing about much of the rest of the country.
7/1/04 11:27 PM
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DemonClown
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Edited: 01-Jul-04
Member Since: 06/21/2002
Posts: 1694
Shit, kanji has always been and will continue to be my weak point. Hell, I'm lucky I know two damn readings for that kanji! :( Sha Bi, that's one of the big problems I had living here is coming to grips with me never fitting in. I know I could live the majority of my life in Japan and still most of the people would refer to me as 'that foreigner.' As an American it's hard to understand that way of thinking, but I've accepted it. That mentality and never wanting my child to endure Japanese education has cemented my resolution to not live here. To be honest, I've not made too many trips outside of my prefecture, but I'm going to fix that soon, before I leave. As for Tokushima, there are some decent mountain ranges here, and Naruto's whirlpools are mildly interesting. I forget what prefecture it is but there's supposed to be a pretty obscene sex museum in Shikoku too. Of course the big thing for Shikoku is the 88 Temple Pilgrimage, which is pretty cool if you are into otera. I've got number 12 in the town that I live in, and every now and again I will see a pilgrim plodding away in their white garb. Naoshima is also supposed to be a bit of a surreal island trip.
7/15/04 12:35 AM
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Sha Bi
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Edited: 15-Jul-04 03:41 AM
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 153
I don't have kids, but I hear you about the educational system. From what I've read and heard from friends, it can be pretty rough. The cram school system is a crazy part of it. I have heard that many (Japanese) kids who have to live abroad with their families during some or all of their school years, really have a hard time fitting in when they come back. Even in college they don't have a group in which they fit. Primary school is pivotal to finding one's place in society. On a side note, I have a Japanese film where a woman travels around the 88 temples of Shikoku in backwards order to bring her daughter back from the dead. I'll have to give that a shot some time. Still trying to figure out who I will bring back.
7/15/04 6:30 AM
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bush hog
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Edited: 15-Jul-04
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 148
Those of you working on your Kanji should check out the new Cannon Wordtank G50. Its best feature is it contains kanji stroke animations for almost all common kanji. Its a lifesaver when you cant remember the stroke order. Its not a perfect dictionary and its expensive, but its worth it I think. Oh, also it has the most extensive eiwa jisho of any denshi jisho I have seen yet. Lots of technical terms.
9/5/04 3:47 PM
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DemonClown
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Edited: 05-Sep-04
Member Since: 06/21/2002
Posts: 1789
Hey, this thread is still here! Sha Bi - the kids who live abroad and come back are definitely mind- fucked. Especially if they miss school, primary, junior, or otherwise. School seems to be the one universal experience Japanese people have, and the social bonds they form then seem to last so long. Girls, especially seem to have trouble fitting in when they get back, since they have probably gotten a bit, uh, uppity living abroad. I would love to do the pilgrimage myself some day, as long as I could get someone to do it with me. Dunno who'd I bring back... Bush Hog - thanks for the recommendation! How much does that bad boy cost?
9/12/04 7:15 AM
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jhenwood
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Edited: 12-Sep-04
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 260
Just for your information 'Judo' is the correct Japanese pronunciation of the word. You're right about the difference between a word's onyomi and kunyomi, however, usually when two or more kanji form a compound word the kunyomi are used. So yawarakai michi would refer to a gentle/soft (yawarakai) road (michi). No one would call the sport of Judo yawarakai michi. And technically speaking, the 'Ju' in Judo is just one written character (1 kanji). Yawarakai is 4 characters (1 kanji which is read as 'yawa' and 3 hiragana ra-ka-i). I remember the first time I could read and understand a Japanese word. It was at Shirarahama beach in Wakayama-ken. A food vendor had the word nomimono written on the side in hiragana. I very slowly read the parts no-mi-mo-no and then realized it was the word for drinks. I was so excited. I've progressed quite a bit since then but I'm still excited when I can make out something in kanji that I've just learned.
9/12/04 6:34 PM
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lautaro
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Edited: 12-Sep-04
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 749
"I very slowly read the parts no-mi-mo-no and then realized it was the word for drinks. I was so excited." LOL! I know exactly what you mean! Nowadays, I can read/write about 300 kanji and I still feel excited when I can read a word using kanji alone. Just yesterday I learned how incredibly easy DAME (as in "dame desu") is to write in kanji and I was really happy! DA consists of the kanji for "horse" and "fat" (futoi) and ME is the kanji for "eye". I love learning kanji! Lautaro
9/13/04 9:05 PM
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DemonClown
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Edited: 13-Sep-04
Member Since: 06/21/2002
Posts: 1813
I didn't even realize dame had kanji for the longest time.
9/14/04 12:48 AM
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TheAx
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Edited: 14-Sep-04
Member Since: 12/18/2002
Posts: 651
Noboday said that Judo was incorrect. My tutor told me that yawara michi was the "cool" way to say Judo and that would be impressive to Japanese who are into Judo.
9/15/04 4:37 AM
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lautaro
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Edited: 15-Sep-04
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 750
I think the usage of kanji for DAME isn't that common these days. In fact, there are an increasing number of Japanese words that are written in hiragana because the younger generation of Japanse don't want the hassle of having to use kanji so often. The vast majority of Japanese I've come across don't like kanji. I personally love learning kanji, but if I'd been forced to memorize several thousands of kanji year after year I'd probably hate it too. Lautaro
9/16/04 7:09 PM
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DemonClown
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Edited: 16-Sep-04
Member Since: 06/21/2002
Posts: 1827
Considering the way Japanese kids usually learn kanji is just writing it hundreds of times, I can definitely understand how it could get on your nerves after a while. However, i have to say reading a passage written with more hiragana can be a pain in the ass compared reading the same passage where more kanji are used. If you can read the kanji, of course. (sigh)
9/18/04 4:17 AM
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bjjfighter19
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Edited: 18-Sep-04
Member Since: 03/02/2004
Posts: 85
10/18/04 4:38 PM
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DemonClown
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Edited: 18-Oct-04
Member Since: 06/21/2002
Posts: 1871
Excellent point bjjfighter19

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