Japanese

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geekahedron
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Re: Japanese

Post by geekahedron » Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:19 pm

At one point I found a little video game style trainer for Japanese beginners, but I can't recall what it was called offhand. When I get home and find it, I'll share. Does anyone else have similar tricks up their sleeves to share?'

Edit: Actually, it wasn't hard to find again: http://lrnj.com/
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Re: Japanese

Post by guest2 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:22 pm

Palas wrote:Same here. Portuguese is the devil. Now, what's difficult about Japanese is that damn Chinese heritage they call "kanji". Other than that it's pretty easy AND fun. I'm learning Japanese at university and hell it's lots of fun. Most enjoyable language to read and speak since Korean, except Korean is a lot harder.

And you probably found English easy because you are German. It's as if I were learning Spanish or maybe French.
What's particularly difficult about Japanese is not the characters (though learning a new writing system obviously means loads of extra work), it's that, unlike Chinese, each character tends to have many different readings and pronounciations, and in my case, the only way for me to know which reading it is, is if I've seen that certain combination of characters and committed it to memory beforehand. There are characters that have similar readings which only differ by the kana coming after them, but they can have different enough meanings where messing up and reading/writing the wrong one can throw off what you're reading/saying.

It's not an impossible language to learn, especially if you like to do so and know you do it pretty well. Just, like I said, you have to be sure you want to learn it, otherwise you might get frustrated and give up.
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Re: Japanese

Post by newnar » Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:49 pm

Having a deep & strong foundation of Chinese doesn't really help that much in my japanese learning. Granted,I'm not studying it academically, just picking stuff I can understand here and there. But being as well-versed in English as I am in Chinese, I have to say that Japanese is closer to English than Chinese, albeit being graphically similar.

Chinese characters are structured like a 2D building, with strokes as "building blocks". English's building blocks are letters of the alphabet, but they are organized in a linear fashion instead of planar. Japanese works like English. Put the characters in a line and the resulting word will be pronounced according to the sequence and type of characters used.

For example, わたし(watashi which means me) is formed by わ(wa), た(ta) and し(shi). Perfectly logical. But only to western-natives.

See the same word in chinese. 我. It is formed by horizontal strokes called "heng", verticals called "shu", left/right diagonals called "pie" and "na" respectively and the short stroke called "dian" which means dot. However the word is not pronounced as "pie-heng-shu-na-pie-dian". It's simply pronounced as "wo". See the difference and why Jap is alot closer to English on a fundamental level?

One thing knowing Chinese does help with is the kanji, but the advantage is only a slighty more educated guess at the meaning. Pronounciation-wise, I still don't know how to read the kanji on my own.

For more info, see http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_writing_systems. Under logographic writing systems.
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Re: Japanese

Post by guest2 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:14 pm

newnar wrote:Having a deep & strong foundation of Chinese doesn't really help that much in my japanese learning. Granted,I'm not studying it academically, just picking stuff I can understand here and there. But being as well-versed in English as I am in Chinese, I have to say that Japanese is closer to English than Chinese, albeit being graphically similar.

Chinese characters are structured like a 2D building, with strokes as "building blocks". English's building blocks are letters of the alphabet, but they are organized in a linear fashion instead of planar. Japanese works like English. Put the characters in a line and the resulting word will be pronounced according to the sequence and type of characters used.

For example, わたし(watashi which means me) is formed by わ(wa), た(ta) and し(shi). Perfectly logical. But only to western-natives.

See the same word in chinese. 我. It is formed by horizontal strokes called "heng", verticals called "shu", left/right diagonals called "pie" and "na" respectively and the short stroke called "dian" which means dot. However the word is not pronounced as "pie-heng-shu-na-pie-dian". It's simply pronounced as "wo". See the difference and why Jap is alot closer to English on a fundamental level?

One thing knowing Chinese does help with is the kanji, but the advantage is only a slighty more educated guess at the meaning. Pronounciation-wise, I still don't know how to read the kanji on my own.

For more info, see http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_writing_systems. Under logographic writing systems.
Oh man. Bad memories of stroke names. We were regularly tested on them along with characters, and I always failed those since I didn't see the point in learning them. I would just learn the entire characters and their readings. I can see the benefit of maybe having it improve your handwriting, but I just couldn't get into it.

What you're talking about isn't apples to apples, though. The syllabaries exist, yeah, but they're not the whole story of the writing system. It's almost like bopomofo/zhuyin/whatever it's called. I think if possible, Japanese would rather use as few kana as possible and use as many kanji as possible. Your example of watashi, can be (is almost always) written 私, which you probably wouldn't know how to read/pronounce if you hadn't seen it before. In that regard, it's similar to Chinese. So there's not really the difference you say there is to people who speak neither Chinese nor Japanese because the language acquisition will be about the same: memorize how to write the characters and how to read/pronounce them. Why I always say Chinese is easier to learn is that characters are mono-syllabic. 私 is wa-ta-shi, but 我 is only wo. It makes speaking fast. So fast, that I can rarely understand Chinese people speaking, even though I learned loads in class. :D

It's interesting to hear your opinion, however, that Japanese seems closer to English than to Chinese. I feel Chinese is closer to English, with its mostly-English sentence structure. The subject-object-verb thing Japanese does, while easy on paper, makes it hard for me to parse spoken sentences, or to form understandable sentences when speaking myself. I feel with Chinese, I can speak mostly naturally. Though everyone complains about my terrible accent. :D

I definitely agree, though, that Chinese and Japanese are way different. Chinese seems borne of necessity and practicality: "Hey, we need a way to talk about this." "Okay, let's call it this." Done. Whereas Japanese seems engineered, like they were purposefully trying to make it a poetic and complicated language. That is probably NOT how it was created, but I kind of feel that way.

All that said, I downloaded the Act 1 thing and am kind of interested in playing through in Japanese and Chinese and maybe Spanish (since I can understand it okay) to see how it is.
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Re: Japanese

Post by encrypted12345 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:18 pm

guest2 wrote: What's particularly difficult about Japanese is not the characters (though learning a new writing system obviously means loads of extra work), it's that, unlike Chinese, each character tends to have many different readings and pronounciations, and in my case, the only way for me to know which reading it is, is if I've seen that certain combination of characters and committed it to memory beforehand.
This. The characters aren't impossible to memorize (though being bad at vocabulary in general means that I still have to work hard), it's all the differing meanings and pronunciations based on context. This is because one of the ways of the pronunciation of a given character is derived from Chinese and the other is Japanese-made. Thankfully, Japanese is quite the punny language. For example, the Kanji for book is made by taking the Kanji of wood and putting a line through it's "trunk" since you have to cut down a tree to create a book and the Kanji for flirt is essentially the Kanji for woman squeezed in between two Kanji that mean man.

Also, while the grammar is different, it isn't very hard to memorize. At least there aren't ton of conjugations for each word (Glares at Spanish) and they politely have particle indicators after each word to indicate if it's a direct object, the setting, destination, and etc. It'll take a little while to get used to a sentence structure that ends with a verb, but it's doable. Gotta love a language that uses present tense in place of future tense. Just finished Japanese one in my college class though, so I don't know if the subjunctive tense in Japanese is half as bitchy as the subjunctive tense in Spanish.

Sadly, if you go to Japan, you're going to end up talking like a little girl with the use of watashi, but every other pronoun is too rude for a foreigner to use or too girly (Don't think even think about embarrassing yourself by using third-person). At least watashi is a proper business pronoun even if girls tend to use it more in casual conversations than guys.

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Re: Japanese

Post by guest2 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:26 pm

encrypted12345 wrote:Sadly, if you go to Japan, you're going to end up talking like a little girl with the use of watashi, but every other pronoun is too rude for a foreigner to use or too girly (Don't think even think about embarrassing yourself by using third-person). At least watashi is a proper business pronoun even if girls tend to use it more in casual conversations than guys.
I had the thought that maybe you could just drop referring to yourself at all if you only speak in sentences where it's obvious you're talking about yourself, which made me remember my absolute favorite part of Japanese: that you can drop subjects and objects that are obvious :D I thought that was the coolest thing when I first started learning it as a wee lad (aka 12 yrs old or so).
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Re: Japanese

Post by Nekken » Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:35 pm

encrypted12345 wrote:This. The characters aren't impossible to memorize (though being bad at vocabulary in general means that I still have to work hard), it's all the differing meanings and pronunciations based on context. This is because one of the ways of the pronunciation of a given character is derived from Chinese and the other is Japanese-made. Thankfully, Japanese is quite the punny language. For example, the Kanji for book is made by taking the Kanji of wood and putting a line through it's "trunk" since you have to cut down a tree to create a book and the Kanji for flirt is essentially the Kanji for woman squeezed in between two Kanji that mean man.
I think my favorite is the one for discord: two kanji that mean "woman" under one that means "roof". There's another one for joy that's similar, except that you replace one of the women with a pig, because it was said that the three things a man needs to be truly happy are a home, a wife, and livestock.

From what I can tell, a lot of learning kanji boils down to learning how to think in proverbs and references.
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Re: Japanese

Post by NoOne3 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:38 pm

guest2 wrote:my absolute favorite part of Japanese: that you can drop subjects and objects that are obvious :D I thought that was the coolest thing when I first started learning it as a wee lad (aka 12 yrs old or so).
Is it from English-speaking person standpoint? Ommiting personal pronouns is popular in slavic languages, for instance (sadly substituted by weird conjugations).
encrypted12345 wrote:Sadly, if you go to Japan, you're going to end up talking like a little girl with the use of watashi
Never tell that to an overweight, bearded, Anime fan, I might be determined to go to Japan, just for that.
Last edited by NoOne3 on Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Japanese

Post by Beoran » Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:00 pm

In my experience in Japan, even for foreigners, if you're a man and you're talking casually, it's fine to say ボク to show that you're no sissy. And if you're a real lady, say あたしto flaunt your charms. わたし is fine for formal and business-like settings. And if you don't know the kana I used, learn them already. :)
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Re: Japanese

Post by Megumeru » Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:53 pm

Beoran wrote:In my experience in Japan, even for foreigners, if you're a man and you're talking casually, it's fine to say ボク to show that you're no sissy. And if you're a real lady, say あたしto flaunt your charms. わたし is fine for formal and business-like settings. And if you don't know the kana I used, learn them already. :)
huh, I used おれwhen holding a conversation. Why not use the all-famous-(9) call of あたい? :D
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Re: Japanese

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:30 pm

When I was learning Japanese in evening school there was an older Chinese man in the group. Whenever he didn't understand what our teacher was saying, she used to write the kanji on the board, and he'd almost always know the meaning.
Regarding personal pronouns, I always refer to myself as boku and have so far never met as much as a raised eyebrow. In a business setting I'd probably stick to watashi, though. (too lazy to switch back and forth to Kana right now)
I feel Chinese is closer to English, with its mostly-English sentence structure. The subject-object-verb thing Japanese does, while easy on paper, makes it hard for me to parse spoken sentences, or to form understandable sentences when speaking myself.
Really? I found it really easy to adjust to. The verb is the most important thing to understand what a sentence is about, and especially if you're not that good with the vocabulary yet, it helps immensely that it's always predictably at the end of a sentence. It's one of the best things the Japanese came up with.*
Also, in Japanese the sentences have the decency to retain their word order regardles if they are a question or not - not like English or German for example^^°


*Okay, the Romans came up with it as well...
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Re: Japanese

Post by Shockproof Jamo » Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:56 pm

Here's a helpful piece of free software that I always recommend to anybody attempting to learn the language of the people from the land of the rising sun:

JWPce
http://www.physics.ucla.edu/~grosenth/jwpce.html

Contains a detailed database of almost every japanese kanji, with good tools to search them, and has a pretty helpful dictionary as well. All yours for the reasonable price of 0 $.

Also a similarly free tip for the OP: Learn verb conjugations by heart, or suffer.

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Re: Japanese

Post by StepmaniaFreak » Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:11 am

Wow, there are lots of great links in this thread. I appreciate the responses since I too wanted to learn Japanese but never really considered making a thread about it here. I found a lot of great resources thanks to some of the responses here and also got a good laugh:
Sadly, if you go to Japan, you're going to end up talking like a little girl with the use of watashi...
While I am a beginner in the strictest sense, there are a few absolutely minor things I understand about the language such as how men and women speak differently. :wink: While Anime is not why I'm interested in learning Japanese, there are also a lot of things in Anime that I've picked up on thanks to some fan subbing groups.

Finally, I really don't think learning the Kanji will be the hardest part despite the vast number of them. My whole problem with trying to learn a new language is when the associations with the mother language stop and the understanding of the new one begins. When I can start using Japanese to learn more Japanese, I will be a truly happy man. :D

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