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The ingenious Heisig Method

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RE: The ingenious Heisig Method

Postby Chikubi » Sat 07.14.2007 8:57 am

stevie wrote:
It is simply not correct to say that "kanji have no meaning" on their own.

I think there's just a big misunderstanding here. I can see what you mean and I can see what Yudan means as well. Yudan's point is that on its own a Kanji is just a bunch of lines with no meaning outside of the language it represents, every bit as much as the word 'fiance´' is just a bunch of lines with no meaning outside of the language it represents. Of course 'fiance´' as a word has meaning to those who understand it within the language(s) it is a part of. To an alien, a piece of paper with 'fiance´' written on it is just a bunch of squiggles. Just so for han characters - outside the context of language itself, the characters mean nothing.

Just missed this before the tuna sandwich.

ACTUALLY kanji (or hanzi, whichever) were little drawings (pictograms if you will), remember they were simple drawings in the most early stages that evolved to the more abstract result you have now. For example:
Doesn't the character 田 look like a small field to grow crops? (NO IT'S NOT A WINDOW!!)
And 山 does resemble a mountain a bit.
鳥 does look like a bird (head with a plume and dots for feathers and wing)
犬 ...err, ok some characters need a little more imagination

Just so for han characters - outside the context of language itself, the characters mean nothing.

So it's not true-hu! well err... not entirely

* funny fact: did you know 男 (man/male) is made up of 田 and a 力, because in the early days men had to work on the (farm)field, so power(力) on field(田) = 男

* funny fact: did you know there are 2 characters that are 'acidentally swapped'?
It's 出(out, go out) and 重(heavy). Because 出 is made up of two 山's on top of eachother, which must be really HEAVY and 重 is made up of 千(thousand) and 里(500mtr, yea it also has more meanings) which is quite a distance.
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RE: The ingenious Heisig Method

Postby Suedenjin » Sun 07.15.2007 2:33 pm

Chikubi wrote:
Hey, what does everybody like to put on their tuna sandwich, besides tuna of course?
(just trying to lighten up the atmosphere :) )

Everybody here eats a Heisig tuna sandwich. For some it's a nutricious meal and for some it's a rotten fish ;)
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RE: The ingenious Heisig Method

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 07.15.2007 3:22 pm

Chikubi wrote:
ACTUALLY kanji (or hanzi, whichever) were little drawings (pictograms if you will)


Only a very small number of kanji were ever pictograms.

* funny fact: did you know there are 2 characters that are 'acidentally swapped'?
It's 出(out, go out) and 重(heavy). Because 出 is made up of two 山's on top of eachother, which must be really HEAVY and 重 is made up of 千(thousand) and 里(500mtr, yea it also has more meanings) which is quite a distance.


Beware of these sorts of stories; they're almost never true. 出 is an ideographic character showing feet walking in a line. The origin of 重 is a little unclear but seems to have picked up its association of "heavy" from an original meaning of a person standing on the ground.
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RE: The ingenious Heisig Method

Postby Suedenjin » Sun 07.15.2007 5:45 pm

I would very much like to recommend "China: Empire of Living Symbols" by fellow Swedish citizen Cecilia Lindqvist. It's a very, very beautiful book and it covers the roots of many hanzi (kanji) in ancient China. From the beginning more than "a very small number of kanji were ever pictograms" (to quote Yudan) and they are still in use in a more simplified form in China and Japan. Unfortunately the English edition is out of print, but second hand copies are available on Amazon and other places.

Take a look at

http://tinyurl.com/3xo3o4
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RE: The ingenious Heisig Method

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 07.15.2007 6:56 pm

. From the beginning more than "a very small number of kanji were ever pictograms"


All kanji derive ultimately from a combination of pictograms or ideograms, although the combinations are not always based on the meanings of the original pictures. What I meant is that kanji like 日 and 火 which are *direct* simplifications of pictures are very small in number, about 1-2% of modern kanji. The vast majority of kanji are seismo-phonetics (composed of a meaning element + a sound element).
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RE: The ingenious Heisig Method

Postby Chikubi » Mon 07.16.2007 12:12 am

Suedenjin wrote:
Everybody here eats a Heisig tuna sandwich. For some it's a nutricious meal and for some it's a rotten fish ;)


It's ROTTEN FISH??! My canned tuna...??? On the can it says fresh tuna in spring water... O-TO-GE ~! :o
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RE: The ingenious Heisig Method

Postby Suedenjin » Mon 07.16.2007 6:53 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
. From the beginning more than "a very small number of kanji were ever pictograms"


All kanji derive ultimately from a combination of pictograms or ideograms, although the combinations are not always based on the meanings of the original pictures. What I meant is that kanji like 日 and 火 which are *direct* simplifications of pictures are very small in number, about 1-2% of modern kanji. The vast majority of kanji are seismo-phonetics (composed of a meaning element + a sound element).

Just to pick some examples of pictographic characters (kanji/hanzi derived from pictures of real life objects and phenomena) from the first chapter of the book "China: Empire of Living Symbols", i.e. some 30 pages or so out of a total of more than 300. This kanji/hanzi may not make up more than a few percent of the total amount of characters (I have not counted), but they are indeed the building blocks of a considerable amount of kanji.

These more complex characters may have – and mostly also have - meanings totally unrelated to the ancient elements, but what I have been discussing since I entered this forum is METHODS TO MEMORIZE KANJI or how to avoid forgetting the shape and writing of kanji. Getting deeper down into the pictographic roots of those kanji offering such a path will most certainly not do you any harm. On the contrary.

人 化 比 北 夫 大 天 立 交 are all derived from bone carvings or bronze inscriptions where the bodies of human beings are easily recognizable. 目 is a picture of an eye. 見 is a huge eye on a human body in ancient China. Same with 耳; a pictogram. Nose/self 自 has its roots in carvings. Does mouth 口have to be mentioned?

Hand 手? 友 seems to be derived from carvings depicting hands. The lower part of 友 appears in the kanji where a hand reaches out to grab an ear = take = 取. This character was also used in the context “taking a wife”. 止foot/stop also have pictographic roots. Mother 母 has been turned 90 degrees but is otherwise very close the ancient carvings: two tits with nipples. As far as I can remember “every” (毎) is a person lying down above the character for mother.

Same with 子 where a round shape in “the original” has been turned into the first stroke at the top. “Protect” was not person + mouth + tree (保), as it is today, but rather person + child. 女is a more farfetched pictogram (in my eyes), but it seems like many (most?) scholars suggest the image of a sitting (kneeling) woman with her arms crossed. And so on.

I would guess that there is an abundance of literature in Chinese and Japanese covering the origin of hanzi/kanji. There is even enough in English to avoid oversimplifications regarding the origin of Chinese characters as they are used today. To study kanji outside the context of speaking/reading is thus both useful in terms of the languages they are used in, as well as being an extremely interesting subject. In isolation.

Kanji/hanzi is not different from anything else we can study. The more dimensions we can add to the subject, the more fun and interesting will it become.

.The vast majority of kanji are seismo-phonetics (composed of a meaning element + a sound element).

seismo-phonetics?!?!

To discuss the meaning of kanji/hanzi DO seem rather seismic around here, but .... :p
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RE: The ingenious Heisig Method

Postby hyperconjugated » Mon 07.16.2007 8:53 am

Suedenjin wrote:
Everybody here eats a Heisig tuna sandwich. For some it's a nutricious meal and for some it's a rotten fish ;)

Heisig=Surströmming? I knew it!
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RE: The ingenious Heisig Method

Postby Infidel » Mon 07.16.2007 11:58 am

Suedenjin wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:

.The vast majority of kanji are seismo-phonetics (composed of a meaning element + a sound element).

seismo-phonetics?!?!

To discuss the meaning of kanji/hanzi DO seem rather seismic around here, but .... :p


If you read the introduction to any decent kanji dictionary, it will say the same thing. Lesse, I'm at home so my NTC character dictionary is in reach.

"The great majority of characters are the phonetic-ideographic."
Henshall states in his forward, "The largest of the categories, theoretically containing 85% of all the characters..."
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RE: The ingenious Heisig Method

Postby b4d0m3n » Tue 07.17.2007 7:20 am

Infidel wrote:

Heisig has one Major thing going against it--among all the other problems. There is still not 1 person that has claimed to use Heisig as a primary source that progressed to an advanced level. Only complete beginners rave about Heisig. They rave for a few weeks, then gives up on Japanese and we never hear from them again. I can't think of any better reason to avoid Heisig than that. It's the black hole of kanji learning. Once you fall in, you never come out. The proof is in the results, and Heisig is still batting zero.


http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com

Look. I've proven you wrong... with facts!
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RE: The ingenious Heisig Method

Postby richvh » Tue 07.17.2007 7:56 am

I'm not terribly impressed by that site, considering he over-uses kanji (何処(どこ)、居る(いる)、此れ(これ), etc. - stuff you won't often see outside of classical Japanese) in beginner lessons.
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RE: The ingenious Heisig Method

Postby Infidel » Tue 07.17.2007 7:22 pm

b4d0m3n wrote:
Infidel wrote:

Heisig has one Major thing going against it--among all the other problems. There is still not 1 person that has claimed to use Heisig as a primary source that progressed to an advanced level. Only complete beginners rave about Heisig. They rave for a few weeks, then gives up on Japanese and we never hear from them again. I can't think of any better reason to avoid Heisig than that. It's the black hole of kanji learning. Once you fall in, you never come out. The proof is in the results, and Heisig is still batting zero.


http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com

Look. I've proven you wrong... with facts!


Does it? While certainly you prove me wrong about beginner, you don't prove me wrong about progressing to advanced level.

Reading through his website, he advises against learning grammar, instead arguing that learning intuitively from tens of thousands of sentences is better. Essentially, he argues for a conversational approach. Now, while I've made my own arguments in favor of conversational learning, I've never argued that it would get one to an advanced level. Rather, considering that everyone has different standards of what exactly constitutes "Advanced," I would argue that a conversational approach will not get one further than intermediate at best, especially in writing.

The way I understand Advanced, it is not "Advanced for a foreigner." but "Advanced for a native." An advanced language student is no longer studying to "get by" but is instead studying to be as good, if not better, than an educated native. Intermediate may qualify for the former, but to write--kanji is inherently a written format--Japanese like a native one has to learn the proper use of kanji, i.e., when it is better to use kanji or kana, and grammar, which the writer of that website discourages.

One that does not understand why sentences are built the way they are and why one word works better than another can hardly be considered advanced.
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RE: The ingenious Heisig Method

Postby b4d0m3n » Wed 07.18.2007 4:32 am

Infidel wrote:One that does not understand why sentences are built the way they are and why one word works better than another can hardly be considered advanced.


Well, khatzumoto's method rings truw. I guarantee that you didn't learn your native language by studying grammar. As to the quoted comment, I call bullshit. Depending, of course, on what your goal is. Being a linguist in Japanese? Yes, you're right. You need to know these things. Joe Average has no idea why language works and how it works, but he manages to utilise it in everyday life just the same.
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RE: The ingenious Heisig Method

Postby Infidel » Wed 07.18.2007 4:47 am

Yes, but even Joe average native speaker can't be considered advanced unless he\she has a solid understanding of grammar. You don't only need to understand grammar to be a linguist, to use your extreme example, you need to understand grammar to get any job that requires polished writing. It's the difference between sounding educated and sounding uneducated.

Everything he said sounds great if you want to be play the dumb American, that just wants to get by, and work in a corp that treats you with kiddie gloves. Yes, he can talk alright, read alright, and get his point across, so long as his co-workers do all the paperwork, but that's not Advanced. Advanced by definition goes the extra mile, advanced doesn't stop at "good enough."
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Re: RE: The ingenious Heisig Method

Postby vathir » Sun 01.04.2009 10:05 pm

Infidel wrote:Yes, but even Joe average native speaker can't be considered advanced unless he\she has a solid understanding of grammar. You don't only need to understand grammar to be a linguist, to use your extreme example, you need to understand grammar to get any job that requires polished writing. It's the difference between sounding educated and sounding uneducated.

Everything he said sounds great if you want to be play the dumb American, that just wants to get by, and work in a corp that treats you with kiddie gloves. Yes, he can talk alright, read alright, and get his point across, so long as his co-workers do all the paperwork, but that's not Advanced. Advanced by definition goes the extra mile, advanced doesn't stop at "good enough."


Actually, he works for a software company in Japan last I heard. As a fellow CS major, I can assure you this does not classify as a "dumb American."

I started with Heisig in July, and later moved on to a combination of iKnow and AJATT, and my Japanese has improved incredibly. At around 2,000 sentences I can usually correctly express in myself. I've also started playing Japanese video games and don't go insane from constantly looking up words. Yes, Heisig works, if you opened your mind a bit you would understand why it is so useful.

However, as far as people doing Heisig and then quitting Japanese is concerned, you are probably right. Japanese is a ton of work, with multiple readings for each kanji and such a unique grammar structure, it's no wonder many people quit. I imagine many people get excited when they are doing Heisig as to how easy it is, and then when they begin actually learning Japanese, they quit due to the immense difficulty.
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