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Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

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Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby uber_geek » Thu 10.25.2007 5:22 pm

Now I might be just being stupid im not really sure.
Why learn the Kanji?! The japanese people themselves hardly use it
Yet americans want to learn it?!

Hiragana is what you mostly see. On the internet, books, television...

Kanji is throw in the mix once in awile but thats it.

If this is a bad question PLEASE let me know because im sorta new
to the writing systems of Japan myself. If there is a purpose to take it on before Hiragana I want to know so I can start learning it.

Arigatou!!
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Thu 10.25.2007 5:30 pm

Your post is both right and wrong.

You are correct that many people learn kanji way too early, primarily due to the common misperception that learning Japanese consists mostly of learning kanji.

But the idea that kanji are hardly used is completely wrong. I have no idea where you got that idea -- go to any Japanese page and you will see tons of kanji. It's irrelevant which is used more or less. The Japanese writing system consists of three character sets -- hiragana, katakana, and kanji (actually romaji are used as well, but not as often as the other 3). To become proficient in Japanese you have to learn them all. If you only know hiragana, you can barely read anything (mostly children's books).

Also remember that the learning the character sets just enable you to go from the printed symbol to a spoken syllable. You still have to study vocabulary and grammar to actually be able to understand anything.
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Thu 10.25.2007 5:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby uber_geek » Thu 10.25.2007 5:41 pm

Thanks :)
I had heard that they mixed them together like that.
I went to a Japanese site, I think it was mixi.jp.
I noticed on there that it was all mixed up.

Although some of my friends that I know from Japan tell you me can spell anything in hiragana so why not learn it first then tackle the harder ones with more symbols and characters.

Thanks for clearing things up for me! :)
Last edited by uber_geek on Thu 10.25.2007 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby Chris Hart » Thu 10.25.2007 6:08 pm

You are right, uber_geekさん, it is best to learn kana first, then move to kanji. Just remember to study words, not just kanji.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby joieaumonde » Thu 10.25.2007 6:51 pm

What I think is funny is that kanji originated from China and then, Japanese adopted it. Then, formed they two writings: hiragana, by simplifying the kanji, and katakana, by taking a piece from kanji characters. And then they use all three! I love it, I hate it. Although there are a lot of strokes to a character as opposed to it's hiragana or katakana equivalent, I like writing the kanji more. :D Does that go for anyone else?
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby poppop » Thu 10.25.2007 7:33 pm

uber_geek wrote:
Although some of my friends that I know from Japan tell you me can spell anything in hiragana so why not learn it first then tackle the harder ones with more symbols and characters.

you can spell anything in hiragana, because that's how it's structured.
katakana is basicly the same as hiragana but you use it mostly for foreign countries, words and names. now, there are a lot of reasons why you need kanji, one is that there are alot of homophones(did i spell that right?) in japanese, another is that it makes it a lot easier to read since one don't use spaces in japanese.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Thu 10.25.2007 8:16 pm

You spelled it right, but the homophone argument is still wrong. There are so many reasons why it holds no water, and not a single compelling argument to support it. (The spaces is a non-issue also; Hebrew and Greek used no spaces and they didn't need kanji to be understood.)
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby uber_geek » Fri 10.26.2007 9:57 am

I think everyone who really wants to read and write japanese SHOULD study it! There is no arguement there, but study something a little easier first. I believe in confidence building if you can master one then go on learning the Kanji. Anyways thats how the Japanese learn it and well I believe Ill follow there method since they know better than anyone.

Also on another note I have read posts were people say...
"Yes I mastered 2000 Kanji in 3 months" or something like that...or
"Alright! I learned 600 Kanji today with flash cards"

My thought is that short or long term memory?
Can this be actually down by someone of human origin?
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby Ongakuka » Fri 10.26.2007 12:38 pm

Also on another note I have read posts were people say...
"Yes I mastered 2000 Kanji in 3 months" or something like that...or
"Alright! I learned 600 Kanji today with flash cards"

My thought is that short or long term memory?
Can this be actually down by someone of human origin?


It's probably possible, even if the person who says that is lying (and that would seem very likely.) However I'm sure you appreciate that learninig many Kanji as fast as you can is not an effective way of becoming efficient in Japanese.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby yukamina » Fri 10.26.2007 3:12 pm

Well, it's very possible to learn the meaning and writing of 2000 kanji in 3 months. And one time I learned the meaning of 200 kanji in one day... Keep in mind kanji in themselves don't go far, you need the words they make up. I just like knowing what the kanji within the compounds are before I learn the words.

Anyway, if someone's learned kana already, why not start on kanji? Grade 1 kanji are pretty simple(even though they have a lot of readings). You can't read Japanese without kanji.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby saraLynne » Fri 10.26.2007 3:36 pm

uber_geek wrote:
I believe in confidence building if you can master one then go on learning the Kanji. Anyways thats how the Japanese learn it and well I believe Ill follow there method since they know better than anyone.


Japanese children have something that you don't: An already fluent and working vocabulary. I realize that's partly what you've already said, but without knowing your level of Japanese I can't really assume you've reached a comparable state.

Learning Kanji and applying it to words that you already know and use on a daily basis probably would work just fine (like Japanese students). Learning them one at a time with a limited vocabulary to apply them to is just asking for a bucket full of frustration IMHO.

yukamina wrote:
And one time I learned the meaning of 200 kanji in one day...


What's the definition of "learned" here? If you can't put your knowledge to practical use, then it's a lot of energy for little if any return on the investment. Can you read those 200 if they showed up in an article or in a book? Someone saying they "learned" 2000 kanji in 3 months probably cannot practically apply them.

That said, I don't think a student should have to put off learning Kanji. With a proper lesson plan, I think kanji can be learned in tandem with vocabulary and grammar (eg, in a classroom setting, with a good home study textbook, etc).

Unfortunately, many new students gauge their progress by how many kanji they have learned (term here used loosely).

A: "How many kanji do you know? I learned 50 every night for the past week!"
B: "Oh.... I only learned 30 in a month..."
A: "..."

What isn't clearly visible here is which of these can make a sentence in Japanese using their kanji? Who has most likely a better grasp on the language? My bets are on Thirty-Kanji-san.
Last edited by saraLynne on Fri 10.26.2007 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby uber_geek » Fri 10.26.2007 3:58 pm

Your right, without a good vocabulary it would be a headache to learn kanji. I look at it this way though when your a baby you learn to speak by looking at something and putting that object to words.

Like you see your mom and you hear it enough times to know "mom"
Your mom tells you to "Sit down in the chair" you learn what chair is..

The point is you learned english before you ever wrote of read it.
I think the same applies here.

I see what your saying though! I can tell you know my Japanese isnt good at all. Im assuming most people here know more on the subject than I do.

Also I hope nobody thinks im starting a arguement, I posted this topic in another forum and people got kind of upset. I believe they called me a "troll" haha.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 10.26.2007 5:05 pm

uber_geek wrote:
Your right, without a good vocabulary it would be a headache to learn kanji. I look at it this way though when your a baby you learn to speak by looking at something and putting that object to words.

Like you see your mom and you hear it enough times to know "mom"
Your mom tells you to "Sit down in the chair" you learn what chair is..


This is kind of simplistic; it doesn't really deal with the major problem of child language acquisition theory (called the "poverty of input"), but that's beside the point.

The point is you learned english before you ever wrote of read it.
I think the same applies here.


Actually there are a significant number of researchers in the field of second-language learning that believe oral proficiency should come before reading and writing, particularly in East Asian languages. (Of course there is a lot of difference of opinion about how long the introduction of reading/writing should be delayed, how quickly it should be introduced, and how long it should be before the students start learning things in reading that they have not practiced orally).

The other approach is often called the "4-schools" approach because it claims to teach reading, writing, speaking, and listening all at the same time. Unfortunately some books that are supposedly "4-schools" really just focus on tons of out-of-context vocabulary and kanji, paired with unnatural dialogues and reading passages, and "oral activities" that really have almost nothing to do with real-life conversation.

John DeFrancis' Chinese books are still IMO one of the best demonstrations of an in-between approach. It's too bad more books don't follow that pattern.
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Fri 10.26.2007 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby Hatori » Fri 10.26.2007 8:55 pm

People use kanji everyday... WTF? The ignorance... :| :|
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby tanuki » Fri 10.26.2007 9:26 pm

Hatori wrote:
People use kanji everyday... WTF? The ignorance... :| :|


Frequency of usage of Chinese characters in Japanese is not part of common knowledge at all, so it's nothing to be surprised at.

It's not like, say, being unable to find your country on a map.
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