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Kanji... Where to begin?

Have a textbook or grammar book that you find particularly helpful? What about a learning tip to share with others?

RE: Kanji... Where to begin?

Postby Hatori » Sat 08.05.2006 8:46 pm

i suggest you buy the book, Essential Kanji (by P.G. O'Neill), at a local book store and just start from the beggining of the book, and practice! it's really useful!:D
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RE: Kanji... Where to begin?

Postby Infidel » Sat 08.05.2006 11:17 pm

I find it easiest to learn a kanji + root meaning + primary kun reading. Then move on to the next kanji. I learn all other readings as I stumble on them or as they are presented in the texts.
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RE: Kanji... Where to begin?

Postby CrystalNite » Mon 08.07.2006 6:22 pm

はじめまして みな!
I have just joined this site and i think its really cool. Ive learned hiragana and katakana already, and its been really helpful, but I too am having trouble with just getting started with kanji. Does anyone here know of a book that teaches in the same way that japanese children learn, along with teaching about on, kun, history of kanji, kanji relationships, etc. Or do any of you know if Kanji ABC is a good book to start with that teaches starting with Grade 1?
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RE: Kanji... Where to begin?

Postby keatonatron » Tue 08.08.2006 12:32 am

CrystalNite wrote:
Does anyone here know of a book that teaches in the same way that japanese children learn

Japanese children learn by studying kanji at school for words they already know. Since you don't know nearly as many words as a Japanese child (no offense), you can't do it that way which means you have to take another approach.

I own and have used this book. It has all the common-use kanji organized by Japanese grade level, with the history for each kanji.
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RE: Kanji... Where to begin?

Postby magma » Tue 08.08.2006 12:54 am

That book rules (A Guide to Remembering the Kanji, by Henshall).

BUT, if you're like me (and I know I am), you will quickly find that memorizing endless lists of kanji from books, while fun for a while, gets tiring real quick. Think about it this way: what you're doing is no different than a Japanese person studying English by buying a book of 2,000 common Greek/Latin roots and their etymologies and proceeding to memorize them and their proper spellings. Waste of time? No way--it's very useful information. But is that the best way to learn English? I don't think so!

I would advice you to buy Henshall's book because it's really interesting, and then another book with stroke orders (like Kanji & Kana by Hadamitzky and Spahn), and just learn the kanji for words you actually use. It's much more satisfying in the long run. Especially since there are many commonly used kanji that are NOT on the Jouyou list (like dare), and many kanji that ARE on the list wich you will likely never use. Why memorize the Japanese government's somewhat arbitrary list when you can make your own?

This brings up another major issue: it's important to know when to use kanji, and when not to. Just because your J/E dictionary shows a word in kanji doesn't mean it's commonly written that way. In ancient times, ALL JAPANESE WORDS were written in Kanji, because hiragana and katakana hadn't been invented yet. Thus it should surprise no one that, theoretically, almost any Japanese word can be written in Kanji. But just because you *can* write suru in kanji doesn't mean anyone does (or should).

Recently I bought Kodansha's Communicative English-Japanese Dictionary by Peter Sharpe, and it is ABSOLUTELY INDESPENSIBLE. This book gives you kanji ONLY WHEN IT'S COMMONLY USED. Many, many times I painstakenly learned kanji for common words because they were shown that way in my dictionary, only to be laughed at by my Japanese friends because they never ever write arigatou gozaimasu, aru, konnichi wa, itadakimasu, etc. etc. in kanji.
Not anymore. This book is worth it's weight in gold for the independant learner for that reason alone. Of course, you can laugh at writing sayounara in kanji, but what about amari? Do you know when it's written in kanji and when not? What about wakaru? Did you know that's almost never written in kanji for some reason? (maybe because nobody can agree on the okurigana).

Memorizing Greek/Latin roots isn't learning English, it's learning Greek and Latin. And memorizing Kanji isn't learning Japanese, it's learning Chinese. Before you go off the deep end memorizing kanji, ask yourself this question: "Which would make me feel better about my progress in Japanese: being able to hold a conversation with a stranger, or knowing 20,000 kanji? Being able to read a childrens' book with ~50 kanji, or being able to recognize 2,000 kanji from a book that I otherwise can't read because I haven't studied any grammar?"
Last edited by magma on Tue 08.08.2006 1:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Kanji... Where to begin?

Postby WacKostRacKo » Tue 08.22.2006 8:07 am

How often do people go over their learnt kanji? Say you learn 10 kanji one day, how often do have you revisit them till you have learnt them completely. Or do you never actually learn the completely and you have to revisit them forever?

I always forget my kanji.. i am supposed to know about 300 but i can never remember any... :(
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外人: これはすしです。すしが好きです。
日本人: おお!日本語が上手ですね。
外人: Erm....what?

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RE: Kanji... Where to begin?

Postby richvh » Tue 08.22.2006 8:28 am

Just like anything else, the more often you use kanji, the more likely you are to remember them. So... if you want to remember kanji, find a way to use them. Find something interesting with a reasonable selection of kanji, and copy it out, either longhand or into a word processor (or both - the longhand will give you practice on stroke order, and the word processor will give you practice on readings.) Participate in chats in kana/kanji. Do something with the kanji besides just trying to memorize them.
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