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Writing Japanese vs. typing Japanese

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Writing Japanese vs. typing Japanese

Postby Ken Pro » Sat 07.19.2008 11:46 am

This topic may have been brought up before (feel free to refer me to previous threads) but I want to ask experienced Japanese users about their preferred method of writing Japanese, in their learning and in their everyday lives.

Do you prefer to write it or type it? Are there kanji that you can type easily but not write? If so, how does that factor into your learning?

So far in my learning when it comes to writing Japanese, I've used a pen 99% of the time. But I know for my own future professional use I'm going to have to type it, a lot. When that time comes, what will probably happen is I'll start forgetting stroke orders, especially with lesser-used, complicated characters, even though I'll still know the pronounciations and be able to type them and read them.

I guess my question boils down to: if I can type a character on a keyboard, or read a complicated word, but I can't scribble them on a piece of paper to perfection, is that a form of illiteracy?

Just curious if some folks here notice their written abilities waning in direct proportion to their typing abilities, and if that's a point of concern.
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Re: Writing Japanese vs. typing Japanese

Postby Wakannai » Sat 07.19.2008 1:50 pm

When that time comes, what will probably happen is I'll start forgetting stroke orders, especially with lesser-used, complicated characters, even though I'll still know the pronunciations and be able to type them and read them.


Well, you can at least rest easy on that. Stroke order is generally not the thing people forget. It's too systematic to lose once you truly get it down. What you might forget is the elements of the kanji itself, not how to write those elements once you remember them.
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Re: Writing Japanese vs. typing Japanese

Postby Ken Pro » Sat 07.19.2008 5:14 pm

Wakannai wrote:Well, you can at least rest easy on that. Stroke order is generally not the thing people forget. It's too systematic to lose once you truly get it down. What you might forget is the elements of the kanji itself, not how to write those elements once you remember them.


Ah yes, that's what I meant, of course. Forgetting the kanji elements themselves, not their stroke order.
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Re: Writing Japanese vs. typing Japanese

Postby Sairana » Sat 07.19.2008 5:26 pm

As for the rest of your question, there is actually a phrase that applies to people who can read but not write kanji due to overuse of electronic input.

Clay has a nice little blog entry that talks about it briefly HERE.

It seems to be completely acceptable to be a ワープロ馬鹿 (wa-puro baka) these days, though. Even when you do need to write something out by hand, you could look it up in a pocket dictionary or maybe you even have an electronic dictionary that will remind you how a word is written.

I guess it's all in what you really want. I think kanji are beautiful and -- call me crazy -- fun to write. I see it as a challenge to myself to be able to write them well. Though I know I'm never going to be an expert in calligraphy, I am satisfied if I can manage good-looking penji (written with a pen).
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Re: Writing Japanese vs. typing Japanese

Postby Harisenbon » Sat 07.19.2008 7:39 pm

Sairana wrote:It seems to be completely acceptable to be a ワープロ馬鹿 (wa-puro baka) these days, though. Even when you do need to write something out by hand, you could look it up in a pocket dictionary or maybe you even have an electronic dictionary that will remind you how a word is written.


Believe me, it's not very acceptable to be a wa-puro baka, and it's highly embarrassing for (especially) a Japanese person to pull out a keitai to look up a common kanji just to write it on a memo.

They in fact have entire TV shows based on making fun of people who can no longer write kanji correctly. ;)

Back to the original question, as someone who HAS forgotten how to write most kanji that they know, I want to enforce the idea that you should keep writing kanji by hand as long as you possibly can, so that it fully ingrains itself in you. Granted, you'll start forgetting if you stop practicing, but that's like everything in life.

Also, I wouldn't say that not being able to write a kanji would be considered illiteracy, but it's definitely not a good thing.

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Re: Writing Japanese vs. typing Japanese

Postby AJBryant » Sat 07.19.2008 8:36 pm

I would just like to point out that the first couple of years I was in Japan, I was kicking oshiri in terms of literacy. I can date the beginning of the crumbling of my ability to write Japanese to the purchase of my first waapuro.


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Re: Writing Japanese vs. typing Japanese

Postby becki_kanou » Sat 07.19.2008 8:49 pm

Speaking as another ワープロ馬鹿, I'd just like to repeat what the others have said. Write early and write often. I'm often embarrassed by not remembering how to *write* a kanji that I can *read* with no problems at all, and I attribute this to relying too much on パソコン and 携帯 to write.

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Re: Writing Japanese vs. typing Japanese

Postby AJBryant » Sat 07.19.2008 9:01 pm

Maybe we should form a support group. :)
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Re: Writing Japanese vs. typing Japanese

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 07.19.2008 10:55 pm

I don't feel that bad. I've been doing work (and study) related to Japanese for 5 years now, and I have encountered very, very few cases where I had to handwrite Japanese. I personally consider my skill at handwritten Japanese to be as important as calligraphy or poetry skill -- a bit is nice to have, and it's fun to show it off once in a while, but I don't need it to get through my day. Now, there may be other people who *do* need to handwrite Japanese in their daily life, and to them it would be a more important skill. But I tend to think of my Japanese ability in practical, rather than abstract, terms.

(Nevertheless, I'm still hoping to pass jun-2kyuu of the Kanji Kentei next time I go back to Japan...)
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Re: Writing Japanese vs. typing Japanese

Postby Harisenbon » Sat 07.19.2008 11:23 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:I don't feel that bad. I've been doing work (and study) related to Japanese for 5 years now, and I have encountered very, very few cases where I had to handwrite Japanese.


However, you also do not live in Japan, and I assume do not work with Japanese-only speaking co-workers.

Having to write corrections on a piece of paper, or write a note to a co-worker is a large part of any job, and when everything you write has no kanji in it, it lowers both the readability of the message, as well as the impression of the writer.

That being said, I'm sure that your Kanji writing skill is much better than mine, because lord knows mine is in the toilet. ;)
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Re: Writing Japanese vs. typing Japanese

Postby becki_kanou » Sat 07.19.2008 11:43 pm

AJBryant wrote:Maybe we should form a support group. :)


Ha! Good idea! ワープロ馬鹿ッズ Unite!
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Re: Writing Japanese vs. typing Japanese

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 07.19.2008 11:52 pm

Harisenbon wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:I don't feel that bad. I've been doing work (and study) related to Japanese for 5 years now, and I have encountered very, very few cases where I had to handwrite Japanese.


However, you also do not live in Japan, and I assume do not work with Japanese-only speaking co-workers.


True. I did for 2 years, though. But I guess that was my basic point, that everyone's circumstances are different and what knowledge or ability is essential for one person may be useless for another.

Having to write corrections on a piece of paper, or write a note to a co-worker is a large part of any job, and when everything you write has no kanji in it, it lowers both the readability of the message, as well as the impression of the writer.


Well, I guess I would say that if you can write *no* kanji that's not a good situation regardless. I guess I was thinking that most people who are experienced in Japanese can probably write at least a few hundred common ones. I was thinking of the typical case where someone can read most kanji but maybe only write 300-400 or so. Of course, you can always look up a kanji if you need to know how to write it.
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Re: Writing Japanese vs. typing Japanese

Postby Feba » Sun 07.20.2008 1:59 am

On a slightly different subject, how big of a deal is handwriting skill in general? Are distorted kana/kanji easier or harder to read than English letters, generally speaking?

My handwriting (in English) is simply awful; I never really learned how to get my hand to move how I like it to write or draw well. This is also not helped by the fact that, despite speaking and typing up plenty on a daily basis, I've actually written down maybe a page worth of material in the past few months (grocery lists, and talking with someone who was on the phone).
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Re: Writing Japanese vs. typing Japanese

Postby Ken Pro » Sun 07.20.2008 12:07 pm

Feba wrote:On a slightly different subject, how big of a deal is handwriting skill in general? Are distorted kana/kanji easier or harder to read than English letters, generally speaking?


This is an issue for me sometimes due to being left-handed. I swear whoever invented kanji thought everyone should hold that brush with the right hand. I still can't write せ or any character with a soft right hook properly.
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Re: Writing Japanese vs. typing Japanese

Postby AJBryant » Sun 07.20.2008 4:50 pm

Ken Pro wrote:This is an issue for me sometimes due to being left-handed. I swear whoever invented kanji thought everyone should hold that brush with the right hand. I still can't write せ or any character with a soft right hook properly.


Well, yeah.

Until very recently in Japan, anyone who showed indications of being left-handed in infancy was trained out of it.


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