Learning to read japanese books?

Japanese, general discussion on the language
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Post by richvh » Tue 04.07.2009 4:44 pm

Somewhere - possibly on this forum, though I wouldn't swear to it - I read some advice that given the choice of learning 10 nouns or one verb, learn the verb; given the choice of learning 10 verbs or one grammar point, learn the grammar point.
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Post by Gundaetiapo » Tue 04.07.2009 6:18 pm


spin13
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Post by spin13 » Tue 04.07.2009 6:39 pm

yukamina wrote:I said books as in novels, not manga....novels don't have furiganga next to every kanji.
Every novel? You sure about that?

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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Post by Yudan Taiteki » Tue 04.07.2009 7:05 pm

I don't know of any novels that have furigana next to *every* kanji except for pre-WW2 publications.
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Post by spin13 » Tue 04.07.2009 8:31 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:I don't know of any novels that have furigana next to *every* kanji except for pre-WW2 publications.
Kodansha publishes novels with full furigana through their Aoi Tori Bunko line. They have quite a good selection, too: Miyazawa Kenji, Natsume Soseki, translations of Twain, Conan Doyle, and Swift, etc.

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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Post by furrykef » Tue 04.07.2009 8:54 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:I don't know of any novels that have furigana next to *every* kanji except for pre-WW2 publications.
Pre-WW2? The irony is staggering...
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Post by Yudan Taiteki » Tue 04.07.2009 8:58 pm

furrykef wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:I don't know of any novels that have furigana next to *every* kanji except for pre-WW2 publications.
Pre-WW2? The irony is staggering...
The publication of the Touyou Kanji list was the death knell for all-furigana publications, which were fairly widespread in the early 20th century.
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Post by purersaga » Wed 04.08.2009 12:24 am

I'm relatively new to learning japanese and aim to read more than speak/listen in japanese. I was wondering if it was best to learn to read the kanji text first or in the kana for. Using furigana is also an option. I guess i question is which would help me read in japanese more, kanji or kana? Thanks.

ps. I'm using rosetta stone and some other textbooks

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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Post by becki_kanou » Wed 04.08.2009 2:17 am

All modern Japanese texts (with the exception of children's books) contain a mixture of kanji, hiragana, and katakana so you need to learn all of them. Try the hiragana and katakana lessons on the main page to get started. Most people find they can get a good handle on the hiragana and katakana in a few weeks/months. Some take a little longer or a little shorter. Kanji however will take a good chunk of time. Good luck.
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Post by Mike Cash » Thu 04.09.2009 7:16 am

The first Japanese book I read was セキセイインコの飼い方・増やし方 (The Care and Breeding of Parakeets).

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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Post by kentaku_sama » Thu 04.09.2009 3:41 pm

I'm sorry, I meant if you've heavily studied for 2 or 3 years I don't think you'd have to constantly look up words in a dictionary. You'd learn the grammer stuff from a text book right? I guess once you have a vocab of about 1000 words, you can read some easy stuff and slowly understand more words and stuff, takes expirience. The problem is kanji and stuff that you don't know, inother words: If you only can understand a word by context, if you can't read enough of it to understand the context you have to guess at it. But may'be it would be a good idea to read something and look up and try to understand/learn every word you don't know. Afterall, eventually you just have to read instead of study, meaning you don't have it in a list you learn words by reading.

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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Post by Yudan Taiteki » Thu 04.09.2009 4:01 pm

kentaku_sama wrote: But may'be it would be a good idea to read something and look up and try to understand/learn every word you don't know.
That can be useful, but it tends to get boring rather quickly if there's a huge amount you don't know, even if it's something you're interested in. Manga are pretty boring when it takes you two hours to read a chapter that is intended to be read by its native audience in a couple of minutes. In addition, as I said earlier, if your grammar is not well developed enough you won't be able to understand anything in Japanese even if you try to look up every word.
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Post by astaroth » Thu 04.09.2009 4:24 pm

kentaku_sama wrote:I'm sorry, I meant if you've heavily studied for 2 or 3 years I don't think you'd have to constantly look up words in a dictionary. You'd learn the grammer stuff from a text book right?
As I said early on, this is what happened to me with English: when I moved in US six years ago I bought a novel (Dune if you wanted to know) and started reading. At that time I was living in US for about six months, and I had studied English from elementary school up till high school, which in Italy means for 13 years, and it took me three months to read the entire novel understanding the general story but missing so much. I was spending so much time looking up words on the dictionary that I was losing the flow, that is I was reading a collection of sentences not a novel.
I think a knowledge of a thousand words is barely enough to work through a novel understanding what you don't know from context.
I think it'll be easier with magazines, or comics where the sentences tend to be less articulated and more straightforward, also the number of words required to read both magazines and comics are usually much less than the ones needed for a novel.
I don't want to discourage you. Not at all. But I have a pretty vivid memory of how much it takes to fluently read novels in a language, a memory that many people don't recollect simply because we learned to read after learning our native language (and actually many years after).
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Post by nukemarine » Fri 04.10.2009 3:58 am

kentaku_sama wrote:I'm sorry, I meant if you've heavily studied for 2 or 3 years I don't think you'd have to constantly look up words in a dictionary. You'd learn the grammer stuff from a text book right? I guess once you have a vocab of about 1000 words, you can read some easy stuff and slowly understand more words and stuff, takes expirience. The problem is kanji and stuff that you don't know, inother words: If you only can understand a word by context, if you can't read enough of it to understand the context you have to guess at it. But may'be it would be a good idea to read something and look up and try to understand/learn every word you don't know. Afterall, eventually you just have to read instead of study, meaning you don't have it in a list you learn words by reading.
First there's your systematic studying. That can be Kanji, grammar points, vocabulary, phrases, etc. Some systems are better than others but I think the idea is get the items that cover 80% of what you will encounter first, then 95%. After that 95% you probably notice you can read many, many things having to look up the occasional word but probably are able to gleem it's meaning from context and pronunciation from the furigana or knowledge of the kanji (ymmv). Even the unknown grammar points (and the complete and utter disregard for them in many native sources) can get gleemed over time.

Hopefully, you're doing both systematic and learning from context as you go along. In time, the systematic just is not worth it as items your adding are not coming up in the wild frequently enough or apply to a rare situation to be of use. By that time, you can be getting your learning from just reading and watching. By that time, it's just a matter of looking up the occasional unknown word. As for looking up words, I don't like to do that for English or Japanese to be honest.

For mid level reading here's a good tip: Read drama scripts from dramanote.seesaa.net for TV shows you've watched. If you need furigana, just use the furigana injector for firefox and voila. In addition, I like to print these out and carry them around for reading and marking up for notes. I like it better than manga as you get more descriptive phrases which you can mentally picture since you just saw the show.

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