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Is being able to write kanji necessary?

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Is being able to write kanji necessary?

Postby yojimbo1 » Sat 07.14.2007 4:00 pm

I have basically decided not to memorize stroke order and so on. I can not even imagine a situation when I will need to write kanji by hand, except to show off my kanji prowess, if I move to Japan in the future that is. Whenever I want to produce written Japanese it will be on a computer. So all that is required to do this is a passive knowledge of kanji, since I'll just be picking the kanji out of a list.

I have heard that many Japanese people have trouble writing kanji by hand and I have seen this on several occasions. So are they at a disadvantage? I would say in most situations, no.

The main argument against this style of learning is the obvious one. You will know the kanji better and have better retention if you know the stroke order, etc. and can produce the kanji yourself without help. I completely agree with this and know it is true. However is the substantial amount of extra effort worth it for the benefit? That is the question. I can't yet, with any speed or proficiency, but in the future I will be doing a lot of reading, so with the shear number of hours I spend doing it I will attain proficiency in identifying kanji (compounds).

Of course if you are in an academic program or want to take a test that requires it you will have to learn it. If you love writing kanji it is also a no-brainer.

Anyway...What say you?
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RE: Is being able to write kanji necessary?

Postby richvh » Sat 07.14.2007 4:32 pm

Well, handwriting is hardly the center of my studies, but knowing how to write them is certainly useful.

1) You're more aware of the radicals that make up the kanji (which also help you to tell them apart from ones with similar appearance.)
2) You have more ways to look up unknown kanji (the pocketkanji feature of PADict, the IMEPad) available.
3) Stroke count is central to looking up kanji by whatever method, so if you don't know what is a single stroke and what is two conjoined strokes, you're hamstrung.
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RE: Is being able to write kanji necessary?

Postby AJBryant » Sat 07.14.2007 5:08 pm

richvh wrote:
Well, handwriting is hardly the center of my studies, but knowing how to write them is certainly useful.


Handwriting is critical.

I can trace my downward spiral in the ability to write/remember kanji to the day I bought my first waapuro (word processor) and stopped *writing* Japanese and started typing it.


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RE: Is being able to write kanji necessary?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 07.14.2007 5:14 pm

I think it's good to do some handwriting practice, but I definitely don't think you need to emphasize it. As richv says, though, learning stroke orders is useful. You don't have to put substantial amounts of effort into it, but don't ignore it entirely.
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RE: Is being able to write kanji necessary?

Postby ss » Sun 07.15.2007 3:42 am

I have basically decided not to memorize stroke order and so on. I can not even imagine a situation when I will need to write kanji by hand, except to show off my kanji prowess, if I move to Japan in the future that is. Whenever I want to produce written Japanese it will be on a computer. So all that is required to do this is a passive knowledge of kanji, since I'll just be picking the kanji out of a list.


For me, in an unexpected situation even without a pc, to have both hands to write, is a Blessing ~ ;)

Some people might find handwriting tedious. Probably having trouble organizing their thoughts and then put them on paper. Handwriting must be neat enough and their spelling correct enough to convey their message, something that they may find difficult.

But it was fact that we learned a lot of words during our school days. We were taught to write, and then tested with "spelling and dictation". Slowly, learned to look up dictionary for words and eventually learned to compose essay.

When I was in primary school, whenever I wrote incorrectly, my dad would make me re-write (one word 30 times). The ability to write quickly and neatly remains an important characteristic of effective learning in his teaching concerned. That's was the most miserable time for me. But now, I want to thank him for that wonderful "training", beyond words.

My Japanese sensei, a very gentle and humorous person, suggests his students to write in front of him. He will go around the class to check on our handwriting and comment on improvement of stroke orders. We have Malays, Indians, friends from Thailand, Europe and the United States. They figured the advantages of handwriting speed and legibility on composition performance.

So, for me, being able to write kanji is necessary.
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RE: Is being able to write kanji necessary?

Postby Infidel » Sun 07.15.2007 4:18 am

So all that is required to do this is a passive knowledge of kanji, since I'll just be picking the kanji out of a list.


Knowing stroke order helps a LOT for picking kanji out of a list and telling apart very similar kanji. More than anything else, if you are trying to read handwritten text, knowing the stroke order is the only way to tell some characters apart, or tell what it is at all.

However is the substantial amount of extra effort worth it for the benefit?


Learning stroke order is not a substantial amount of extra effort. That would be learning to write well. Learning stroke order only requires a little extra effort for the first 100 kanji you learn. After that, you've learned the principles well enough that you don't need to look them up very often, except for the more rare characters.

Looking up unknown kanji in a dictionary, knowledge of stroke order imperative. Whether you use SKIP or standard radical lookup, you won't even know where to find your radical if you don't know the number of stokes, and it is stroke order that determines how many strokes are used to write a character.
Last edited by Infidel on Sun 07.15.2007 4:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Is being able to write kanji necessary?

Postby Advent_Sun » Sun 07.15.2007 7:22 am

Is being able to write kanji necessary!? You put your life on the line and say that again!?

Yeah, it's pretty nessessary. My statement above? Oh, that wasn't.
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RE: Is being able to write kanji necessary?

Postby keatonatron » Sun 07.15.2007 7:59 am

It is extremely useful to do substantial writing practice.

For one, if you don't practice, your handwriting will look quite childish and not very good. For my first two years or so my Japanese handwriting didn't look like a native's at all (even hiragana!). It was only after I started studying kanji intensively at school that my handwriting started to look like everyone else's.

Also, as others have said, it really helps a LOT when encountering kanji you don't know. Perhaps the most practical example (if you move to Japan) would be place names and, most importantly, your address. If you want to sign up for a bank account, visit the doctor, apply for a visa, fill out an envelope so someone can send you something, or one of many other activities, you will have to write your address, in kanji, by hand. When I moved to my new apartment, I had to get used to writing the character 鷺... at first it might look difficult, but if you're used to writing kanji it's actually quite simple. I only had to look at it once and I was able to remember it from that point on.

However, I think it really isn't necessary to make a goal of learning to write all 2000 kanji (unless you want to!). During my last year of language school, my teacher told us "We're not going to practice writing kanji any more, only reading. If there's any kanji you need to write in the future that you haven't learned yet, you will get used to writing it out of necessity. There's no point in practicing characters you never have a need to write!".
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RE: Is being able to write kanji necessary?

Postby yojimbo1 » Sun 07.15.2007 11:21 pm

I should have clarified that when I started to learn Japanese I did learn to write the kana and a little kanji . I learned how to write probably about 30 kanji while I was at college studying a different subject. And then last year I started on Heisig. I only got up to about 120-150 characters. Anyway I started a self study plan in April and left Heisig behind. What I'm trying to say is that I'm not completely ignorant about stroke order, radicals and how kanji are written. I can usually count strokes correctly so I can look up kanji with only a little more difficulty than someone that practices handwriting.

Anyway... I was under the impression that most people who practice writing, practice each and every kanji as it came along. Keatonatron thanks for clearing up the misconception.
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RE: Is being able to write kanji necessary?

Postby Chikubi » Mon 07.16.2007 12:28 am

Writing is the new typing :D
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RE: Is being able to write kanji necessary?

Postby tanuki » Mon 07.16.2007 9:12 am

No, typing is the new writing.
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RE: Is being able to write kanji necessary?

Postby Teh_Freak » Mon 07.16.2007 11:20 am

No, writing on a pad that converts the handwritten text to a typeface is the new... tryping.
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