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Something about kanji that scares me...

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Something about kanji that scares me...

Postby Snowflake » Thu 04.24.2008 12:03 pm

Kanjis (not sure if that is the proper way to pluralize the word) are so intricate! I already have to wear reading glasses to read small print using roman letters (darn aging eyes...). Additionally, I'm already having trouble sometimes reading hiragana with diacritical marks on my computer screen. I fear that, once I start learning kanji, I won't be able to read it (especially on the computer) unless it's really BIG. I worry that, once they get too small, they'll just look like little black squares unless I use a magnifying glass :?. Doable, I suppose, but not very practical.

I'm also worried that I won't be able to write it small. I worry that I just won't be able to get all the strokes in their proper places, and in their proper lengths, unless I write really BIG :cry: . I fear I'll need a whole piece of paper just to write a simple paragraph. I can write small in English because each letter is relatively simple in terms of shape and number of strokes. But kanji... :shock:

I'm still new and still working on hiragana. Haven't even started katakana yet. With regard to reading/writing/recognizing kanji, am I working myself into a frenzy needlessly (wouldn't be the first time :D)?
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Re: Something about kanji that scares me...

Postby Wakannai » Thu 04.24.2008 7:35 pm

Snowflake wrote:Kanjis (not sure if that is the proper way to pluralize the word) are so intricate!

actually, you don't pluralize it.

I already have to wear reading glasses to read small print using roman letters (darn aging eyes...). Additionally, I'm already having trouble sometimes reading hiragana with diacritical marks on my computer screen. I fear that, once I start learning kanji, I won't be able to read it (especially on the computer) unless it's really BIG. I worry that, once they get too small, they'll just look like little black squares unless I use a magnifying glass :?. Doable, I suppose, but not very practical.


Well, on the computer feel free to magnify your text until you are happy. That is one of the biggest benefits of HTML, the ability of users to adjust the text for easy reading. The good news is, the more words you know and kanji you know, the better you get at recognizing the kanji without getting too specific about it. When I see a kanji word, that I already know, I barely glance at the darn thing. Context tells me what the word should be, so when I see the general shapes I expect to see, I just move on, I don't look closer to make sure every line and dot is where it should be.

Someone has linked before an article in English showing that there is almost no problem reading a document even with gross misspellings so long as the general configuration of letters is what we expect. Of course, you already have to be a proficient reader to do this.

I'm also worried that I won't be able to write it small. I worry that I just won't be able to get all the strokes in their proper places, and in their proper lengths, unless I write really BIG :cry: . I fear I'll need a whole piece of paper just to write a simple paragraph. I can write small in English because each letter is relatively simple in terms of shape and number of strokes. But kanji... :shock:


Well, you aren't supposed to write very small. Have you tried using a genkouyoushi? they help a lot. But yes, don't worry about writing small. Kids start out writing big, you write smaller as you improve the balalance and form of your kanji.

I'm still new and still working on hiragana. Haven't even started katakana yet. With regard to reading/writing/recognizing kanji, am I working myself into a frenzy needlessly (wouldn't be the first time :D)?


sounds like it. Learn them as your textbook introduces them. Your textbook should review previously learned kanji and kana to reinforce them in your mind. Remember the 80% rule and don't feel like you have to remember every little detail before moving on to the next chapter. Once you've learned 80% of a lesson, the benefits of learning 80% of the next lesson are greater than staying in place and learning 20% of the current lesson. Everything you see will be repeated later, so you will have other opportunities to learn as you go.
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Re: Something about kanji that scares me...

Postby Snowflake » Thu 04.24.2008 8:38 pm

Wakannai wrote:
Snowflake wrote:Kanjis (not sure if that is the proper way to pluralize the word) are so intricate!

actually, you don't pluralize it.
I had never seen it pluralized, but I wanted to check, just to be sure. Thank you for the clarification!

Wakannai wrote:The good news is, the more words you know and kanji you know, the better you get at recognizing the kanji without getting too specific about it. When I see a kanji word, that I already know, I barely glance at the darn thing. Context tells me what the word should be, so when I see the general shapes I expect to see, I just move on, I don't look closer to make sure every line and dot is where it should be.
Good news, indeed, and exactly what I was hoping to hear. Thanks for putting my mind at ease.

Wakannai wrote:Someone has linked before an article in English showing that there is almost no problem reading a document even with gross misspellings so long as the general configuration of letters is what we expect.
Yes, I've seen that. Hallmark even made a greeting card out of it, so now it's everywhere, indeed :).

Wakannai wrote:Have you tried using a genkouyoushi?
I didn't know that was what they were called (*updates her vocabulary list*), but yes, I've used grids similar to that. I have some in my workbooks. Additionally, I've been writing on college-rule notepaper to try to make my writing neat, small and legible. I've only been doing hiragana so far, so it's not too difficult to go small. Perhaps when I graduate to kanji, I'll cut myself some slack and allow myself to start out by using 2 lines per word.

Wakannai wrote:Everything you see will be repeated later, so you will have other opportunities to learn as you go.
Good advice. I'll keep that in mind.

Thank you so much, Wakannaiさん!
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Re: Something about kanji that scares me...

Postby Sairana » Thu 04.24.2008 11:21 pm

Snowflake wrote:Additionally, I've been writing on college-rule notepaper to try to make my writing neat, small and legible.


When my family hosted an exchange student from Japan, I remember her exclamation on how tiny the lines were in the notebooks -- the school required students to use college-ruled. She didn't have a problem writing English in them, but Japanese was out of the question. She bought some wide-ruled notebooks and wide-ruled stationary for personal use.
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Re: Something about kanji that scares me...

Postby Wakannai » Thu 04.24.2008 11:48 pm

Snowflake wrote:
Wakannai wrote:Have you tried using a genkouyoushi?
I didn't know that was what they were called (*updates her vocabulary list*), but yes, I've used grids similar to that. I have some in my workbooks. Additionally, I've been writing on college-rule notepaper to try to make my writing neat, small and legible. I've only been doing hiragana so far, so it's not too difficult to go small. Perhaps when I graduate to kanji, I'll cut myself some slack and allow myself to start out by using 2 lines per word.


Really, use the genkouyoushi not the college ruled paper. Having the squares there teaches you character balance and form. Writing between lines squishes your characters vertically and makes them look like pumpkins. You need to write bigger anyway otherwise the character looks cramped. like I said before, kids write even bigger than the squares in this pdf when they are learning. I don't understand this facination with writing small. but then again, I'm more concerned with writing very well than most people that just want to learn the general forms.
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Re: Something about kanji that scares me...

Postby Tenorikuma » Fri 04.25.2008 12:33 am

Snowflake wrote: I fear that, once I start learning kanji, I won't be able to read it (especially on the computer) unless it's really BIG.


Are you using Windows? Windows doesn't anti-alias (smooth) Japanese text, making it jaggedy and hard to read. You'd probably be able to read kanji much more comfortably on a Mac. (Assuming that's an option.)

And if you use Firefox/Opera/Safari instead of IE, you can enlarge the fonts on a web page to your heart's content. I often turn it up a notch or two so I can make out a complicated kanji more easily.
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Re: Something about kanji that scares me...

Postby Snowflake » Fri 04.25.2008 9:38 am

Wakannai wrote:Really, use the genkouyoushi not the college ruled paper.


Just printed out a copy of the genkouyoushi. The squares on paper are actually much smaller than they appeared on my computer screen. They are also much smaller than the ones in the workbook I was using. Are these considered to be the general-use size? When people make handwritten notes in everyday life, is this about the size most people write?

Wakannai wrote:Having the squares there teaches you character balance and form. Writing between lines squishes your characters vertically and makes them look like pumpkins.
"Pumpkins". Very cute image :D.

Wakannai wrote:I don't understand this facination with writing small.
Not really a fascination. I just want my writing to be not too big, not too small. I want to be able to take a phone message, or dash off a quick, handwritten thank you note without having it take up an entire sheet of paper :). I want to write a comfortable size.

Tenorikuma wrote:Are you using Windows?
Yes, I am. No Mac in my immediate future, either, so I guess I'm stuck with jaggies. I do use Firefox, however. Hadn't played with enlarging pages until today. I found a "blackbox kanji" (a term I just made up to describe a kanji that's very intricate but so tiny it looks like a little black square on my computer screen) right over there <---- on the Shoutbox. Enlarged the page and lo and behold, it became readable! Well, it would be readable if I was advanced enough to read kanji :). Let's say I was able to distinguish all the character's delicate beauty :D.

Again, thank you both for your suggestions!
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Re: Something about kanji that scares me...

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 04.25.2008 2:23 pm

Snowflake wrote:
Wakannai wrote:Really, use the genkouyoushi not the college ruled paper.


Just printed out a copy of the genkouyoushi. The squares on paper are actually much smaller than they appeared on my computer screen. They are also much smaller than the ones in the workbook I was using. Are these considered to be the general-use size? When people make handwritten notes in everyday life, is this about the size most people write?


That's about right; some people probably write smaller than that.
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Re: Something about kanji that scares me...

Postby Wakannai » Fri 04.25.2008 10:49 pm

I've seen genkouyoushi with more squares per page, but even on those, the squares aren't that much smaller. I like the one I linked the best because it seems to have the best balance of white space and writing space. There are other sheets with less or no white space between the boxes and slightly smaller boxes for probably an extra 30 or so squares per page.

I just want to make sure you don't make the same mistake I did and try to use something really small, like graphing paper. When the squares are that small, many characters the lines are practically on top of one another.

also remember that kanji is much more compact. Writing in kana does take up a lot of space, but you will see as you start using kanji that your sentences shrink more and more as you use kanji. Also, the lack of spaces shrinks your sentences even more. So you actually can fit a lot more info on the genkouyoushi that I linked than you might think as a beginner.
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Re: Something about kanji that scares me...

Postby two_heads_talking » Sat 04.26.2008 11:41 am

the squares I still use and the ones I like the best are the ones that have 4 quarters(squares) in them. It allows me to properly proportionalize the kanji. Just as any beginner, you start big and learn proportion and then as you get better you can scale it down properly.

just think of the size of the letters a small child uses when starting out and then how it scales down as they become more familiar with it. Now, in one aspect, the alphabet will never be a complicated and the most simple kanji, but the size ration remains something that the more practice you have with it, the better you can make them look and then you can make them smaller.

but either way, familiarization is the key and that is only gained by repetitively writing them.
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Re: Something about kanji that scares me...

Postby jaboyak » Mon 08.04.2008 11:24 am

Kanji isn't too bad to learn. It's just kind of tough for me because: A. I'm a horrible artist, so drawing things like that is a task in and of itself. and B. It has the "on" and "kun" readings that you have to memorize, mind you some of them are multiple. I've found, though, that the biggest help is to learn a lot of vocabulary because the more words you know, the easier it is to recognize together. Good luck, though! Ganbatte!
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Re: Something about kanji that scares me...

Postby two_heads_talking » Mon 08.04.2008 2:54 pm

Don't think of it as art, so much as multiple lines. Do you consider the alphabet to be art? I certainly hope you don't. Kanji is just a picture created by multiple lines. If it makes it easier, think of them as sticks being used to create the final product.
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Re: Something about kanji that scares me...

Postby maruichan » Mon 08.04.2008 11:59 pm

I need to practice writing my Kanji and I was looking for something similar to this (genkouyoushi). Thank you for the PDF, even though it was intended for someone else.

It really does help to have the blocks. When I've been writing them, they come out as all different sizes if I haven't practiced them. The ones I already know how to write come out the size they should be, but the others are a different story. I don't even know all the radicals (though, maybe it would help?) I actually throw out my letters when I end up writing, just because they look so horrible to me, having them all in different sizes. I wonder if it would be painful for a Japanese person to read, just because my letters seem like they've been done by some serial killer or a kidnapper. It would give me a headache to read an entire letter like this: HajImEMaShItE. KaNJi gA WakARImAsU aK?
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