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What have you gained by using Heisig RTK1?

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Re: What have you gained by using Heisig RTK1?

Postby yukamina » Sun 01.11.2009 7:23 pm

Christine Tham wrote:
yukamina wrote:I...don't differentiate 和語 and 漢語; I just study words.


Yes, but the topic of discussion was relative frequency of usage. The words you quoted belong to a minority of words in the language, and therefore not representative.

An analogy would be someone claiming Japanese is nothing more than English rehashed, and as "proof" quoted a string of katakana words.

I thought the topic was whether or not kanji were more often used for sound, or for meaning. Whether or not the words came from China originally, they are a part of the Japanese language now. When you study Japanese, the meaning of the kanji aids in understanding those words.
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Re: What have you gained by using Heisig RTK1?

Postby Christine Tham » Sun 01.11.2009 9:54 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:It's really hard to make this distinction, because native Chinese are always going to associate 火 with huo3 (meaning fire) and 車 with che1 (meaning vehicle), so I think it would be very difficult to determine whether the meaning of the character or the meaning of the morpheme were being used to construct the word.


In the specific example of 火車, we know that this word originally referred to all "fire powered" vehicles, including steam-powered cars. Ask any native Chinese speaker old enough to remember, I would suggest it's not "difficult to determine". The meaning was then narrowed down to steam trains with the introduction of the internal combustion engine.

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with the point that you are trying to make, however the example you used is wrong.
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Re: What have you gained by using Heisig RTK1?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 01.11.2009 10:02 pm

I still don't think we're talking about the same thing, because asking a native speaker wouldn't help. A native speaker of Chinese wouldn't be able to say with any certainty whether they associated 火 with an abstract idea of fire or the morpheme huo3, which means fire. That's just not a determination that can be made by a native speaker; it would have to be done through some kind of linguistic experimentation, if it's even possible to determine.

The point is that the way people commonly think about Chinese characters and compounds is along these lines: 火 has the abstract meaning of "fire", and 車 has the abstract meaning of "vehicle", and so you can combine these to make 火車 which means "fire vehicle" and thus steam-powered vehicles. The association of those characters with the sounds huo3 and che1 is secondary.

However, what I am saying (and I don't think you're disagreeing) is that what is really going on is that Chinese has a morpheme huo3, which means "fire", and a morpheme che1, which means "vehicle". These are combined to make huo3che1, "fire vehicle", which is applied to steam-powered vehicles. Because this particular huo3 morpheme is written with the character 火, and because this particular che1 morpheme is written with the character 車, this word huo3che1 is written 火車. Thus the sounds come first, then the characters, not the other way around -- so I'm agreeing that the phonetic values of the characters are essential.
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Re: What have you gained by using Heisig RTK1?

Postby Christine Tham » Sun 01.11.2009 10:25 pm

yukamina wrote:I thought the topic was whether or not kanji were more often used for sound, or for meaning. Whether or not the words came from China originally, they are a part of the Japanese language now. When you study Japanese, the meaning of the kanji aids in understanding those words.


And as I have pointed out, the words you have chosen belong in a minority. It doesn't matter where they came from, they are still in a minority.

I would suggest your statement "When you study Japanese, the meaning of the kanji aids in understanding those words." is NOT true for a majority of words in the Japanese language today. As I have also pointed out, eminent scholars of Japanese would also disagree with you. I would also quote a study (published as "The Role of Phonological Coding in Reading Kanji") analyzing how native Japanese speakers parse sentences in which incorrect kanji has deliberately been substituted. What they found was when a Kanji of the same sound but different meaning was substituted, the Japanese readers have no problems deducing the meaning of the sentences. But when a Kanji of the same/similar meaning but different sound was substituted, the Japanese had difficulty understanding the sentences. This would strongly suggest that when Japanese read Kanji, they hear sounds, not meanings. More specifically, this study refutes your claim, because it shows that the individual meanings of Kanji tend NOT to aid a reader understand words.

Can I also suggest you have (perhaps unconsciously) applied "learner's bias" to choose a set of words to study?

Put it this way, you have used a method that stresses the semantic associations of Kanji. Naturally, when you choose words to reinforce your learning, you will be biased to select words that reinforce these semantic connections.

As an example, again using the character 行, between 旅行 and 銀行 or even 行う, which word would you choose to study? I'm guessing 旅行, because it is semantically linked to the concept of "travel" rather than 行う, which is not linked to travel at all.

The point I am trying to make is that you have perhaps subconsciously chosen a set of non-Japanese words. It's kind of like trying to learn Japanese by only learning katakana words. Yes, those words have "become" Japanese words, but are you really learning Japanese?

Take 旅行 as an example. Now, I know it is commonly taught to beginners of Japanese, but this is a true loanwoard. The original meaning of 旅行 (an organised trip, possibly a military campaign) is actually alien to the Japanese psyche. The Japanese word for a journey is 旅【たび】 as in 旅立ち. There's actually a difference between 旅行 and 旅, reflecting the differences between Chinese and Japanese cultures. When a Chinese soldier goes on 旅行, he is expecting to someday return home to his family, in other words, there is an expectation of "returning" in the meaning of the word.

When a Japanese sets out on a 旅立ち, there is no expectation of returning (even if he does not get killed) - reflecting the difference between how the Japanese do military campaigns vs the Chinese. A really good example is when あしたか goes on his 旅立ち in the movie 「もののけ姫」, he wasn't expecting to ever return home. Some of my friends exclaim at the end "Why doesn't the movie show him returning back to his village?" The answer is "He wasn't expected to, he didn't intend to, and he didn't want to."

Anyway, the real point I am trying to make is: yes, it does matter what words you study, and to maintain a balance. If you study purely a set of loanwords, not only are you studying a different language (but pronouncing the words in a strange way) but you are also studying a different way of thinking.
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Re: What have you gained by using Heisig RTK1?

Postby Christine Tham » Sun 01.11.2009 10:31 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:I still don't think we're talking about the same thing, because asking a native speaker wouldn't help. A native speaker of Chinese wouldn't be able to say with any certainty whether they associated 火 with an abstract idea of fire or the morpheme huo3, which means fire.


You are completely missing the point. A native speaker would be able to tell you that 火車 is a semantic composite. It's not "difficult to determine" as you suggest, it is already known. If you dig hard enough, you can find the actual newspaper article (published in the early twentieth century) introducing this word, and explaining how it was derived (as a semantic composite). I can't find an online version of this article, but I have seen a facsimile of it. Chinese teachers have even showed the article to students in classes as an illustration of how the Chinese invent new words representing new concepts from existing words.

You are trying to belabour a point using an example that is quite simply, completely inappropriate.
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Re: What have you gained by using Heisig RTK1?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 01.11.2009 11:04 pm

The fact that 火車 is a semantic composite says nothing about whether the semantic values in the composite are coming directly from an abstract meaning held by the characters, or from the semantic values of the morphemes of the language. Most likely it's the latter. There's nothing special about 火車 as a compound word; most compounds are semantic compounds of that nature.

If you're talking about characters used purely for phonetic value with absolutely no relation to any meaning, this is rare in both Chinese and Japanese. Your initial claim that Japanese tends to use kanji "to denote sounds, *not* meanings" (emphasis mine) is not correct -- this is as incorrect as the people who claim that kanji only denote meaning and not sound. Chinese characters, in both Japanese and Chinese, most of the time are representing morphemes, which by their very definition have meaning. Even when a character has a multiplicity of meanings, either these meanings will be somehow related, or they will be explainable by some other process (e.g. 占 used for the meaning of "occupy" because it replaced a more complicated character of the same pronunciation).

DeFrancis has a whole chapter of F&F called "How do Chinese characters represent meaning?" He's trying to emphasize the phonetic values as primary, but he's not denying that semantic values exist at all.
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Re: What have you gained by using Heisig RTK1?

Postby Christine Tham » Mon 01.12.2009 12:22 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:There's nothing special about 火車 as a compound word


You are still completely missing the point. There is something special about 火車 which makes it completely inappropriate to support your thesis (which by the way I have said I did not disagree with). The newspaper editor who coined the word 火車 has taken the trouble to explain exactly how the word was formed. To suggest that there is doubt when there is absolutely no doubt is worse than clutching at straws, you are being wilfully misleading here because you didn't like to be corrected. Put it this way, if you have chosen just about any other example, I probably would have let it go.

Yudan Taiteki wrote:Your initial claim that Japanese tends to use kanji "to denote sounds, *not* meanings" (emphasis mine) is not correct


Please, if you want to quote me, can you at least do me the courtesy of quoting me accurately (and in context), instead of trying to imply something I did not say.

For reference,
However, more often than not, the Japanese also used characters purely for their sound, and the original "meaning" of the character was ignored.


As I've mentioned before, this statement is supported by several (reputable) sources, including a book that I have urged you to read which you appear not to have read. In any case, even a simple perusal of any newspaper article will see a high degree of usage of 万葉仮名 (especially in proper names etc.) that justifies my statement. In fact, the use of 万葉仮名 in personal names alone will justify my statement.

At this stage, given that so far you have shown you can't even parse a simple Japanese sentence correctly, or even provide valid examples for your statements, I would suggest further discussion is probably not going to be very productive anyway.
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Re: What have you gained by using Heisig RTK1?

Postby yukamina » Mon 01.12.2009 2:02 am

Christine Tham wrote:And as I have pointed out, the words you have chosen belong in a minority. It doesn't matter where they came from, they are still in a minority.
I hope you mean they are a minority because they are uncommon, not because they are 漢語. You'd be hard pressed to find a common word on my vocab lists, because I already know the more common words.

I'll give a set of more common and varied words to illustrate my point that kanji words reflect meaning:

指輪 'finger' + 'wheel' = ring
棚 'shelf' = ....shelf
承知 'accept' + 'know' = accept
品物 'goods' +'thing' = goods
騒ぐ 'noisy' = 'to make noise'

Although, when there's only one kanji in the word, it doesn't make as much of an impact.
Christine Tham wrote:I would suggest your statement "When you study Japanese, the meaning of the kanji aids in understanding those words." is NOT true for a majority of words in the Japanese language today.
Could I have some examples of what you think represents the majority of Japanese words?
Christine Tham wrote: I would also quote a study (published as "The Role of Phonological Coding in Reading Kanji") analyzing how native Japanese speakers parse sentences in which incorrect kanji has deliberately been substituted. What they found was when a Kanji of the same sound but different meaning was substituted, the Japanese readers have no problems deducing the meaning of the sentences. But when a Kanji of the same/similar meaning but different sound was substituted, the Japanese had difficulty understanding the sentences.

That's not surprising. In the case of sound substitute, that would be like English speakers reading through typos, or fonetik spelling. In the case of meaning substitution, the reader would probably interpret it as a new/fake/unknown word.
Christine Tham wrote:Can I also suggest you have (perhaps unconsciously) applied "learner's bias" to choose a set of words to study?

Put it this way, you have used a method that stresses the semantic associations of Kanji. Naturally, when you choose words to reinforce your learning, you will be biased to select words that reinforce these semantic connections.

As an example, again using the character 行, between 旅行 and 銀行 or even 行う, which word would you choose to study? I'm guessing 旅行, because it is semantically linked to the concept of "travel" rather than 行う, which is not linked to travel at all.

The point I am trying to make is that you have perhaps subconsciously chosen a set of non-Japanese words. It's kind of like trying to learn Japanese by only learning katakana words. Yes, those words have "become" Japanese words, but are you really learning Japanese?


I choose words to study based on a few things. First, I'll go with the kanji reading I don't already know(or have just trouble with). If I already know all the readings for the kanji, then I simply pick a word I don't know. If most of the example words for the kanji are synonyms, I'll probably just go with that. If there's a good range of meanings, then I'll pick the meaning that is less obvious. If there's a kun-reading I don't know, that definitely makes it to the list.

行 is a terrible example of kanji meanings. It has many meaning more meanings than 'go/travel'. I already know those 3 words, but if I had to I'd pick 行う because the meaning is more complex.

Let's look at 解 instead. It has a variety of kun-readings, as well as a lot of 漢語(or whatever).
I'd choose 解れる. I already know 解く 解る and many words using the on-reading.

Suggesting that one should learn 旅 over 旅行, is ridiculous. Anyone studying Japanese should learn the words that are needed to use and understand the language, whether it's かげ シャドー or 暗影 (random example).
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Re: What have you gained by using Heisig RTK1?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 01.12.2009 10:27 am

Christine Tham wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:There's nothing special about 火車 as a compound word


You are still completely missing the point. There is something special about 火車 which makes it completely inappropriate to support your thesis (which by the way I have said I did not disagree with). The newspaper editor who coined the word 火車 has taken the trouble to explain exactly how the word was formed.


You're still not understanding what I'm saying. Linguists have experimented and studied for decades the link between written symbols and sounds vs. meaning and still have not come up with an answer. The newspaper editor may claim he has come up with 火車 as a purely semantic compound without sound, but he can't know that for sure -- being a literate native Chinese speaker, he can't say with certainty whether he associates 火 with an abstract concept or a morpheme with a meaning.

But at this point this part of the discussion is going nowhere and really has nothing to do with the main point.

Yudan Taiteki wrote:Your initial claim that Japanese tends to use kanji "to denote sounds, *not* meanings" (emphasis mine) is not correct


Please, if you want to quote me, can you at least do me the courtesy of quoting me accurately (and in context), instead of trying to imply something I did not say.

This is your exact quote, in context:
So I'll repeat: 漢字 are NOT words, and DON'T have meanings. For historical reasons, the Japanese tend to use 漢字 phonetically (the characters are used to denote sounds, not meanings).


This is the reason I started responding to you, because you seemed to be saying that Japanese use of kanji in a purely phonetic capacity was so prevalent that meanings cannot be relied on at all.

At this stage, given that so far you have shown you can't even parse a simple Japanese sentence correctly


The こと, as richvh said, applies to the whole sentence. The こと is an indicator of the definition of the word, which is the whole phrase, not just the second part. "publish" is what I should have written instead of "print", but that was a translation error, not a sentence parsing problem.
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Re: What have you gained by using Heisig RTK1?

Postby Christine Tham » Mon 01.12.2009 12:38 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:This is your exact quote, in context:
So I'll repeat: 漢字 are NOT words, and DON'T have meanings. For historical reasons, the Japanese tend to use 漢字 phonetically (the characters are used to denote sounds, not meanings).


This is the reason I started responding to you, because you seemed to be saying that Japanese use of kanji in a purely phonetic capacity was so prevalent that meanings cannot be relied on at all.


Thanks for at least including the whole quote: Note I said "For historical reasons." Historically, the first Japanese use of 漢字 outside of 漢文 (which is writing in "native" Chinese) is by borrowing the characters phonetically to represent proper names - this usage is referred to as 万葉仮名. For reference, please read Yaeko Sato Habein, The History of the Japanese Written Language, University of Tokyo Press (1984) ISBN 4-13-087047-5.

So, as you can see, my statement is correct, when taken in context. At no stage did I say "Japanese use of kanji in a purely phonetic capacity was so prevalent that meanings cannot be relied on at all."

What I *did* say was that "more often than not ..." I was referring to the fact that even today Japanese usage of 万葉仮名 in proper names exceed the the use of 漢語 or the borrowing of 漢字 in 和語 (for which there is partial, but not consistent, semantic association). As I've also pointed out, the use of 漢字 for 漢語 and 和語 appears to be decreasing (there is a trend to use katakana for 漢語 and hiragana for 和語)

Yudan Taiteki wrote:The こと, as richvh said, applies to the whole sentence. The こと is an indicator of the definition of the word, which is the whole phrase, not just the second part. "publish" is what I should have written instead of "print", but that was a translation error, not a sentence parsing problem.


I'm sorry, but I think both you and richvh need to review your basic Japanese grammar. The construction "AてB" denotes sequential actions, hence must be interpreted as "A, then B" or "Due to A, B"

Therefore, "AてBこと" means "the event of B, after A has occured", or "the event of B, due to A having occured". It does not refer to "the events of A and B" unless A and B are so closely interlinked that B cannot occur without A and vice versa.

This is not the case for printing and publishing, since one can print without publishing, and one can publish something that is not printed (世に出す can also be used to refer to releasing a film or CD, for example).

Therefore the only valid interpretation in this case is "the event of B, after A".

I will say under the circumstances richvh's interpretation is probably semantically acceptable, although it is sloppy translation. As I've said, my teacher would not have accepted it.

So my comment still stands - you don't appear to know how to parse this sentence correctly. That would indicate to me your level of comprehension of Japanese grammar is sub JLPT3.
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Re: What have you gained by using Heisig RTK1?

Postby NocturnalOcean » Mon 01.12.2009 1:09 pm

Christine Tham wrote:
I'm sorry, but I think both you and richvh need to review your basic Japanese grammar. The construction "AてB" denotes sequential actions, hence must be interpreted as "A, then B" or "Due to A, B"


I am sorry but I think you are wrong here. Using the gerund form does not always denote a sequential action.

This is picked from A dictionary of basic japanese grammar.

When the te-form links two predicates, the relationship between the two is often one of the following:
(A1: the action or state expressed by the first predicate; A2: the action or state expressed by the second predicate)

(a) A1 and A2 occur sequentially
ex: 私はコートを脱いで、ハンガーにかけた。

(b) A1 and A2 are two states of someone or something.
ex: 由美子は今大学三年で、専攻は日本文学です。

(c) A1 is the reason for or the cause of A2
ex: 私はテニスが大好きで、よく友達とする。

(d) A1 is the means by which someone does A2 or the manner in which someone does A2
ex: 健二は急いでご飯を食べた。

I also have to agree with Yudan and Richvh, that koto applies to the whole sentence. Thus,I do believe, one of the definition for 発行 does indeed mean the entire act of printing and put into the public.
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Re: What have you gained by using Heisig RTK1?

Postby Christine Tham » Mon 01.12.2009 1:13 pm

yukamina wrote:I hope you mean they are a minority because they are uncommon, not because they are 漢語. You'd be hard pressed to find a common word on my vocab lists, because I already know the more common words.


No, I actually meant because they are 漢語. 漢語 words as a total represent a minority of the total lexicon of Japanese words.

As for your new set, I still don't think you've provided a representative sample. What about 秋葉原? 田中? 熊森?

Or are you suggesting that if I go to 秋葉原 I will see autumn leaves in a field? Or that 田中さん lives in the middle of a rice field? Or there's a bear in the woods at 熊森?

Even more simply, you haven't included examples like 五, 六, 八. These characters originally did not represent numbers. 五 means a thread reel, 六 is a house, 八 means to divide or separate.

Even some of your examples are questionable in terms of semantic linkage, but I'll stop here.

yukamina wrote:Suggesting that one should learn 旅 over 旅行, is ridiculous.


When exactly did I suggest that?
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Re: What have you gained by using Heisig RTK1?

Postby Christine Tham » Mon 01.12.2009 1:15 pm

NocturnalOcean wrote:I am sorry but I think you are wrong here. Using the gerund form does not always denote a sequential action.

This is picked from A dictionary of basic japanese grammar.

When the te-form links two predicates, the relationship between the two is often one of the following:
(A1: the action or state expressed by the first predicate; A2: the action or state expressed by the second predicate)

(a) A1 and A2 occur sequentially
ex: 私はコートを脱いで、ハンガーにかけた。

(b) A1 and A2 are two states of someone or something.
ex: 由美子は今大学三年で、専攻は日本文学です。

(c) A1 is the reason for or the cause of A2
ex: 私はテニスが大好きで、よく友達とする。

(d) A1 is the means by which someone does A2 or the manner in which someone does A2
ex: 健二は急いでご飯を食べた。


If you examine the four relationships, (b), (c), (d) does not apply to the sentence, the only valid relationship is (a). Therefore the point still stands. こと cannot apply to both A & B.

Sounds like you need to review your basic grammar as well.
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Re: What have you gained by using Heisig RTK1?

Postby NocturnalOcean » Mon 01.12.2009 1:22 pm

Christine Tham wrote:
If you examine the four relationships, (b), (c), (d) does not apply to the sentence, the only valid relationship is (a). Therefore the point still stands. こと cannot apply to both A & B.

Sounds like you need to review your basic grammar as well.


I believe you still are wrong. Can you give me any proof on where it says こと cannot apply to both A and B?

edit:

In my dictionary it says for 発行

図書・新聞などを印刷して世に出すこと。

Can you really come and tell us that the こと only applies to 世に出す?
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Re: What have you gained by using Heisig RTK1?

Postby Christine Tham » Mon 01.12.2009 1:44 pm

NocturnalOcean wrote:I believe you still are wrong. Can you give me any proof on where it says こと cannot apply to both A and B?


Isn't this a bit childish? What sort of "proof" do you need?

こと means "event or situation." In this case, we have two separate "events", happening at different times.

As I've mentioned before, こと can apply to both A and B if they are closely intertwined or mutually dependent. In this case, they are not since 世に出す (and 発行) can refer to things that are not "printed."

You also neglected to mention that the dictionary definition also includes the issuance of things that are not "printed", like coins for example. That alone should have highlighted to you that your "belief" is not necessarily correct.

An example of a sentence using 発行 that does not contain the notion of "printing":
注文書の発行から30日以内に製品を納品します。
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