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What makes Japanese so difficult?

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Re: What makes Japanese so difficult?

Postby yukamina » Mon 05.04.2009 12:28 pm

Reading kana with no problem, or even reading kana fluently, I think, is different than reading at a native pace. Some people read slower than others in their native language anyway.
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Re: What makes Japanese so difficult?

Postby coco » Mon 05.04.2009 12:35 pm

NocturnalOcean wrote:I have been studying Japanese for a little over 3 years now,

うわ。 :o  たった3年ちょいですか。きっと下前頭回が大きいに違いありません。(英文概要はたぶんここ)
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Re: What makes Japanese so difficult?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 05.04.2009 2:02 pm

astaroth wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:still can't pronounce ん correctly

I often hear this ... but I quite don't understand what really means: I mean what's so difficult to the ん sound? (not saying I'm pronouncing Japanese perfectly ... I'm certain I'm not ...)


The ん sound represents (at least) 5 different pronunciations. In most cases it's a nasalized vowel, not a consonant, but most foreigners just pronounce it as a consonant "n" in all cases. In pronouncing 参戦(さんせん), for instance, your tongue should not touch the top of your mouth at all.

You should also be able to distinguish between pairs like 三円 vs. 三年, 日本の vs. 日本を, 谷 vs. 単に vs. 単位, etc.
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Re: What makes Japanese so difficult?

Postby Infidel » Mon 05.04.2009 2:05 pm

astaroth wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:still can't pronounce ん correctly

I often hear this ... but I quite don't understand what really means: I mean what's so difficult to the ん sound? (not saying I'm pronouncing Japanese perfectly ... I'm certain I'm not ...)


I don't know if this is what Chris was talking about. But I've noticed a lot of people will blend ん into the next word and don't hold ん for the full mora.  んや will be pronounced にゃ. ん also changes sound in some words nn, ng, m and some people don't account for that.

edit - ahh, Chris came back while I was typing...
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Re: What makes Japanese so difficult?

Postby nukemarine » Tue 05.05.2009 1:26 am

The above is a good reason to include native audio should you use electronic flash cards ala Anki or Mnemosyne. Barring that, running your sentences through a good Text to Speech engine is a ... better than nothing second choice.

In addition, there's a list of Audio/texts floating around, and watching Japanese TV shows with j-subs can help you feel for the difference.

Ah, then there's the regional differences, but that's a whole other can of worms.
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Re: What makes Japanese so difficult?

Postby furrykef » Tue 05.05.2009 2:21 am

nukemarine wrote:Barring that, running your sentences through a good Text to Speech engine is a ... better than nothing second choice.


I dunno. I remember somebody on the RevTK forums saying that they used a voice such as VW Show (a pretty good Japanese TTS that I also have) with their SRS, and it adversely affected their intonation enough that their teacher practically begged them to stop.

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Re: What makes Japanese so difficult?

Postby nukemarine » Wed 05.06.2009 1:13 am

furrykef wrote:
nukemarine wrote:Barring that, running your sentences through a good Text to Speech engine is a ... better than nothing second choice.


I dunno. I remember somebody on the RevTK forums saying that they used a voice such as VW Show (a pretty good Japanese TTS that I also have) with their SRS, and it adversely affected their intonation enough that their teacher practically begged them to stop.

- Kef


Like I said, it's a better than nothing. However, seeing that Smart.fm's Core 2k and Core 6k sentences and Coscom's KO2001 sentences have native read audio, there's no real reason to use a TTS. However, last year when such resources were not available, it was useful.

DO NOT SHADOW a TTS engine though. Yeah, you will sound like a robot bent on world domination.
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Re: What makes Japanese so difficult?

Postby AJBryant » Wed 05.06.2009 1:55 pm

NocturnalOcean wrote:Try say 店員さんは千円を拾った


Is that supposed to be hard to say?



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Re: What makes Japanese so difficult?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 05.06.2009 2:31 pm

AJBryant wrote:
NocturnalOcean wrote:Try say 店員さんは千円を拾った


Is that supposed to be hard to say?


In my experience, very few foreigners would be able to say that sentence correctly (I count myself in that number; if I say it slowly I can manage it but it's tough).
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Re: What makes Japanese so difficult?

Postby Infidel » Wed 05.06.2009 4:27 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
AJBryant wrote:
NocturnalOcean wrote:Try say 店員さんは千円を拾った


Is that supposed to be hard to say?


In my experience, very few foreigners would be able to say that sentence correctly (I count myself in that number; if I say it slowly I can manage it but it's tough).


Especially with san'en I've noticed that the n gets nasalized a bit and can sound sorta like sang yen. I assume the y is just my mind playing tricks on me due to the ng sound.
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Re: What makes Japanese so difficult?

Postby AJBryant » Wed 05.06.2009 4:28 pm

Hm. Okay.

I'll have to take your word for that one. Sounds eas... hm. okay, not hard... to me.
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Re: What makes Japanese so difficult?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 05.06.2009 4:39 pm

To be a little more explicit, the difficulty is that in my experience, few foreigners have ever been given any instruction in how to pronounce ん. I had no idea myself until I started teaching from JSL and read the description of the "n" syllable and started paying more attention to pronounciation. In 店員さんは千円を拾った, I think most people pronounce 店員 as either てにん or てんにん rather than てんいん. Many people do not know that for ん followed by an s-row sound, your tongue shouldn't touch the top of your mouth (so it's a vowel rather than a consonant). 千円 should not be 千年 (the "e" changes to sort of a "y" sound), and finally the o changes to a "wo" after the ん.

(At least in Tokyo dialect.)
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Re: What makes Japanese so difficult?

Postby furrykef » Wed 05.06.2009 8:44 pm

My own problem now is distinguishing the sound of ん in さんえん and the Spanish ñ... I know they're not the same phoneme, but it sounds like sañen to me. Or maybe it's the other way around and I'm pronouncing Spanish ñ like Japanese ん...

I'm guessing the main difference between the two is that ñ is more consonantal than the intervocalic ん sound, or something.
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Re: What makes Japanese so difficult?

Postby astaroth » Wed 05.06.2009 8:56 pm

furrykef wrote:Or maybe it's the other way around and I'm pronouncing Spanish ñ like Japanese ん...

My guess would be the other way around that is pronouncing ñ like ん
It's like gnocchi and noci (well there, there is also the second half which are different) ... try ogni, oni, onni (the last two are not really words in Italian, but I notice most English native speakers have trouble recognizing the different between gn (like ñ in Spanish) n and nn)
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Re: What makes Japanese so difficult?

Postby Sivak » Wed 05.06.2009 9:11 pm

I've been using Genki for a few days. I've been going through the first 3 lessons, but I actually really want to take it slow to remember the various words and grammar points. It kind of reminds of German (I previously studied this) where you sometimes have "strange exceptions" in spots. I was going over the various words for the times of day and how the numbers aren't the same. Yoji instead of yonji for 4:00. I know Kanji can have different readings and such.

These little things can be gotten used to fairly easily. I think the real tough part will be getting the grammar down and being able to write something (which I hope to use the practice forum for when I feel I can do it). The other tough part will be all those Kanji. I am still having occasional mixups with Hiragana, but thankfully it's not too common. The real trick will be when I can read those without having to briefly pause and think of what each character is one by one. :|

But this is all for recreation for me, so that makes it a bit easier.
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