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Regarding Kanji

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Re: Regarding Kanji

Postby Harisenbon » Mon 11.10.2008 4:40 am

nukemarine wrote:The methods listed by the early posters also work, but I think you're limited to 700 to 1000 kanji based on personal reports by others. With so few, you're essentially illiterate in Japanese (well, technically, you're reading at the 6th grade level). Not a show stopper and still an amazing accomplishment.


Damn. I'm going to have to go and forget 1000+ kanji to stay keep up with your personal reports. ;)
I've never used Heisig, nor memory place.

Also, I'm pretty sure that 6th graders know around 1500 kanji, not 700 to 1000.
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Re: Regarding Kanji

Postby nukemarine » Mon 11.10.2008 6:04 am

Harisenbon wrote:
nukemarine wrote:The methods listed by the early posters also work, but I think you're limited to 700 to 1000 kanji based on personal reports by others. With so few, you're essentially illiterate in Japanese (well, technically, you're reading at the 6th grade level). Not a show stopper and still an amazing accomplishment.


Damn. I'm going to have to go and forget 1000+ kanji to stay keep up with your personal reports. ;)
I've never used Heisig, nor memory place.

Also, I'm pretty sure that 6th graders know around 1500 kanji, not 700 to 1000.


There`s no nothing to determine what sixth graders in Japan know about Kanji. It`s a hyper literate culture, so it`s likely they know not only the 1000 they are scholatically taught but additional kanji just by living in the area. To say 1500 is a big a SWAG as my 1000. You may as well try to gauge the average vocabulary of 6th graders. In all honesty, I just used the kanji grades as a guide to say 6th grade literacy. Considering 5 years old Japanese kids are more fluent (though less literate) than a majority on this board, take with that what you will.

Out of interest, what are you using to gauge how many kanji you know how to read and write?

With me, I may know how to write and recognize 2300 kanji, but lacking the ability to read 1700 of them in Japanese still makes me illiterate (well that, and not knowing 10,000 words either doesn`t help). So yeah, I`ve been going pretty slow over the last 10 months (my own fault for the most part). Still, I`m pretty sure I wouldn`t even be this far without Heisig, visual memory cues and SRS. The memory palace thing is a recent test on my part, but it seems to work nice.

Arbalest, knowing how to write those kanji is just a by product of knowing how to recognize them. You`re dead on about breaking down kanji into smaller parts being a big key, and something not unique to Heisig. Your other point that its the entire package (vocabulary, pronunciation, kanji, reading) that`s needed. Piecemeal only takes you so far. Another good call on just reading native material at a certain point (I also add in listening).

PS: I really hate typing on a qwerty keyboard, so forgive the typos.
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Re: Regarding Kanji

Postby furrykef » Mon 11.10.2008 6:28 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:but please don't get the idea that you can use a dictionary or a large list of words to cram vocabulary effectively -- down that path lies madness.


If you study example sentences instead of words, it's probably actually not a bad method. For Spanish, I have a book called "1001 Most Useful Spanish Words" that I use to study from, even though I already know most of the 1001 words, because every word has an example sentence that often illustrates something I didn't know. I think this method would be even more useful if I didn't already know most of the 1001 words.

Where it falls apart in my case is that, unfortunately, the book I'm using has some mistakes. It was written by a non-native speaker, and, well, it shows, occasionally. I wish more people would read "Unskilled and Unaware of It" before deciding to write example sentences or other such teaching material in a foreign language without sufficient peer review. But before too long I'm going to have a Mexican friend review all of the flash cards I'm making from the book (as well as all the other ones I've made), so hopefully any errors that I didn't catch will get smoothed out.

If your sources come from native speakers, obviously you're much less likely to have this sort of problem in the first place. Fortunately, I think Japanese has this problem much less than Spanish does, probably both because the language is so much harder -- so people don't get deluded into thinking they speak it well -- and because so few non-natives speak it in the first place.

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Re: Regarding Kanji

Postby Harisenbon » Mon 11.10.2008 10:06 pm

nukemarine wrote:There`s no nothing to determine what sixth graders in Japan know about Kanji. It`s a hyper literate culture, so it`s likely they know not only the 1000 they are scholatically taught but additional kanji just by living in the area. To say 1500 is a big a SWAG as my 1000.


Sorry, this was my bad, I was going off of the kanji that they were taught is school, and was mistakenly under the impression that they learned around 1500, not 1000. Looking at the Kanji-kentei levels, 3級 which is considered to be 中学校卒業レベル has a reading of around 1600 kanji. 4kyu is 1300, so I would assume 5kyu (6th grade level) is at 1000.

nukemarine wrote:Out of interest, what are you using to gauge how many kanji you know how to read and write?


When I was studying for the JLPT I made a bunch of flashcards of all the Kanji I would need for the test. I have about 3000-4000 flash cards with various vocabulary for each of the kanji (generally around 3-4 per kanji, or only one for simple kanji). Also, I've taken the practice reading section of the 準2級漢字検定 and had relatively few problems.

My writing is unfortunately much MUCH worse than my reading.
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Re: Regarding Kanji

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 11.10.2008 10:34 pm

Jim Breen indicated elsewhere that the average passive kanji knowledge of a Japanese person is less than 1000; this is probably a pretty good estimate although of course this isn't a goal for foreign learners. Educated, literate, well-read adults probably know in the 3000+ range. I think there's a similar difference in the lower grades; in my experience in Japanese schools, it is not correct to say that all, or even almost all, of middle school students know every kanji that they're "supposed" to know. Of course the better students do, though.

The main problem is that number of kanji is hard to qualify, and number of kanji in any case is not a measure of functional literacy. You can actually be quite literate with a relatively small amount of kanji, provided your vocabulary and grammatical knowledge is large. This is how native speakers are able to get by without knowing thousands of characters. It's also possible to have studied thousands of characters but have very little functional reading ability.
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Re: Regarding Kanji

Postby Infidel » Mon 11.10.2008 10:44 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:Jim Breen indicated elsewhere that the average passive kanji knowledge of a Japanese person is less than 1000;


i think you missed a zero.
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Re: Regarding Kanji

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 11.10.2008 11:08 pm

No, I meant 1000 -- one thousand. Once again, we're talking about the *average* of *all* Japanese people. I just mention this to remind people that you really can read things with a relatively low number of kanji. A lot of people don't believe me (particularly Heisig devotees, it seems), but it really is true. Not that you should stop at 1000, but you should be reading things as soon as you're able, while you also study additional kanji.
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Re: Regarding Kanji

Postby Infidel » Mon 11.10.2008 11:56 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:No, I meant 1000 -- one thousand. Once again, we're talking about the *average* of *all* Japanese people. I just mention this to remind people that you really can read things with a relatively low number of kanji. A lot of people don't believe me (particularly Heisig devotees, it seems), but it really is true. Not that you should stop at 1000, but you should be reading things as soon as you're able, while you also study additional kanji.


Hrm, that really doesn't make any sense for 1000. Even if the average Japanese person stopped going to school in the sixth grade the educational kanji alone is a little over 1k. And that would be active kanji knowledge not passive. But the average Japanese doesn't stop going to school in sixth grade, they stop in HS or later.

Not arguing with your other points. I'm just saying that passive knowledge is usually far in excess of active knowledge. So it doesn't make sense that your average Japanese person would only passively know 1k or so kanji. Even if you're including pre-schoolers and younger in your average. I could believe that the average Japanese has the active knowledge of 1k kanji...
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Re: Regarding Kanji

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 11.11.2008 12:10 am

Infidel wrote:Hrm, that really doesn't make any sense for 1000. Even if the average Japanese person stopped going to school in the sixth grade the educational kanji alone is a little over 1k. And that would be active kanji knowledge not passive. But the average Japanese doesn't stop going to school in sixth grade, they stop in HS or later.


Although in middle school the worse students just sleep. I don't know why you would assume the average person remembers every single thing they learned in school. Do you remember 100% of vocabulary you learned in high school?

What I wrote in the other thread:
On the other hand, native speakers have a much better ability to deal with unknown kanji than we do. We have a stronger incentive to memorize and learn a lot of characters because we tend to get stuck more easily when confronted with a character we don't know.

In English, I do not know the meaning of every single word I come across in my daily life, and I don't feel the need to study vocabulary to make up for this deficit -- I think it's the same for native Japanese speakers and kanji.
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Re: Regarding Kanji

Postby Infidel » Tue 11.11.2008 12:54 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
Infidel wrote:Hrm, that really doesn't make any sense for 1000. Even if the average Japanese person stopped going to school in the sixth grade the educational kanji alone is a little over 1k. And that would be active kanji knowledge not passive. But the average Japanese doesn't stop going to school in sixth grade, they stop in HS or later.


Although in middle school the worse students just sleep. I don't know why you would assume the average person remembers every single thing they learned in school. Do you remember 100% of vocabulary you learned in high school?
.


It's not that i'm expecting everyone to remember everything they remembered in school, but the constant exposure should keep people from forgettting stuff. I forgot almost all the algebra and geometry I learned because I don't use it. But since I am very well read, my vocabulary has only been increasing.

Japan as much as the US, we live in a world where we are surrounded by words. I don't see people forgetting the very things they see every day.
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Re: Regarding Kanji

Postby Sairana » Tue 11.11.2008 1:04 am

My daily vocabulary is nothing compared to what it was in school. I only manage to keep up on it because I DO happen to study up on English vocabulary from time to time, but I have always assumed this was pretty freakishly nerdy of me to do it. :P

You may be surrounded by words every day, but they're usually the same old words over and over again.
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Re: Regarding Kanji

Postby Infidel » Tue 11.11.2008 2:17 am

Sairana wrote:My daily vocabulary is nothing compared to what it was in school. I only manage to keep up on it because I DO happen to study up on English vocabulary from time to time, but I have always assumed this was pretty freakishly nerdy of me to do it. :P

You may be surrounded by words every day, but they're usually the same old words over and over again.


Right, but your Daily vocabulary is your active vocabulary. My point is the 1000 number is supposed to be the passive knowledge. Even if your active vocabulary might be much smaller than in high school, you will still recognize and understand it, passive vocabulary, if you came across it.
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Re: Regarding Kanji

Postby furrykef » Tue 11.11.2008 7:26 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:Do you remember 100% of vocabulary you learned in high school?


I probably remember a good 90% of mine. :) Of course I can't test myself to be sure unless I had the same vocabulary lists to check against. I know I remember some pretty uncommon words like "austere", "charnel-house" and "scintillating", though.
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Re: Regarding Kanji

Postby Harisenbon » Tue 11.11.2008 8:16 pm

furrykef wrote:I know I remember some pretty uncommon words like "austere", "charnel-house" and "scintillating", though.


My crowning geek-moment is highschool was when we had the words "obfuscate" and "vicissitude" on the same vocab list, and I knew them both from playing too many RPGs. ;)
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Re: Regarding Kanji

Postby furrykef » Tue 11.11.2008 8:24 pm

"Obfuscate" is a fairly common word among educated speakers, I think. (Probably a bit more common among techie types like me.) I had to look "vicissitude" up, though.
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