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Learning to read japanese books?

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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Postby Disco » Mon 04.06.2009 9:18 pm

yep- Azumanga Daioh is my favourite. It's slightly more readable than Bleach. I bought an untranslated bleach from Little Tokyo, and there were things I understood, but the lot of it is gibberish to me still, especially the verb tenses I haven't learned yet :evil:
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Postby furrykef » Mon 04.06.2009 9:48 pm

Japanese has only two tenses... I think you mean conjugations ;)
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Postby astaroth » Mon 04.06.2009 10:31 pm

furrykef wrote:Japanese has only two tenses... I think you mean conjugations ;)

moods かな?
I might give Azumanga Daioh a try ... also was I thinking of trying reading Nodame Cantabire, I liked the tv series but no furigana there. Or maybe Death Note I know the story which might help and lots of furigana ... :)
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Postby Gundaetiapo » Mon 04.06.2009 10:35 pm

If you want to read books, I recommend being at an intermediate level in terms of grammar and vocab, and 1500-2000 kanji. Then you can learn the rest as you come across it.


1500 kanji to read any book!? That is far far too high. The 300 or so integrated into a college textbook course should be a good enough prereq for manga. Maybe 10-20 volumes of manga later and a light novel should do well.
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 04.06.2009 10:41 pm

Grammar rather than kanji is what you need to tackle in order to move to reading native Japanese sources. You are ready to read native Japanese materials (or at least use them for study) when you are able to work through them with understanding, mostly on your own (with reference materials), at a pace that is not so slow that you lose interest. IMO this is the true divider between beginner and intermediate level.
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Postby Gundaetiapo » Mon 04.06.2009 10:49 pm

I agree with Yudan, my emphasis being on the integrated college textbook.

The Ranma 1/2 manga makes a good first choice I think, it has furigana.
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Postby richvh » Mon 04.06.2009 11:40 pm

Just about any shounen or shoujo manga has furigana (shounen manga being published in magazines aimed at middle or high school age boys, and shoujo being in magazines aimed at same age girls.) There are lots to choose from, just find one that fits your interest.

To help you choose, Sunday magazine has the first chapters of the manga it's currently printing online. (The image quality is a bit low on the online sample chapters, but if you buy the tankoban, it's much easier on the eyes.) Probably some of the other magazines do, too, but not all of them.
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Postby monkeykoder » Tue 04.07.2009 12:48 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:Grammar rather than kanji is what you need to tackle in order to move to reading native Japanese sources. You are ready to read native Japanese materials (or at least use them for study) when you are able to work through them with understanding, mostly on your own (with reference materials), at a pace that is not so slow that you lose interest. IMO this is the true divider between beginner and intermediate level.


Grammar + vocabulary (I think the larger vocabulary helps speed up the reading more than the grammar).

But the best way to get a good vocabulary is to read (now if only it took me as little time to learn to read Japanese as it took me to learn to read English (I'd already know how to read Japanese well enough to pick up vocabulary through reading) Heck I'd love to have a 3 year old's vocabulary in Japanese because then I would be well on my way to reading fluently.

P.S. Ranma 1/2 probably IS a good choice for a first time manga (I just spent too darned much time in a dictionary for my taste) (but according to the bookmark I found in there I was about halfway through when I quit).
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 04.07.2009 9:22 am

monkeykoder wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:Grammar rather than kanji is what you need to tackle in order to move to reading native Japanese sources. You are ready to read native Japanese materials (or at least use them for study) when you are able to work through them with understanding, mostly on your own (with reference materials), at a pace that is not so slow that you lose interest. IMO this is the true divider between beginner and intermediate level.


Grammar + vocabulary (I think the larger vocabulary helps speed up the reading more than the grammar).


Without the grammar you can't read at all. You can't look up 食べたくて, nor can you use a dictionary to divide a string of hiragana into parts. Of course once you have the grammar down, you have to increase your vocabulary to be able to read more.
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Postby monkeykoder » Tue 04.07.2009 9:36 am

That didn't quite come out right. What I meant was after a certain point (once you have the ability to conjugate verbs and the basic junk) the grammar becomes a lot more transparent and it isn't as beneficial as knowing a few more verbs.
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Postby furrykef » Tue 04.07.2009 11:02 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:Without the grammar you can't read at all. You can't look up 食べたくて, nor can you use a dictionary to divide a string of hiragana into parts. Of course once you have the grammar down, you have to increase your vocabulary to be able to read more.


Well, I only have an elementary understanding of Japanese grammar, but I can parse 食べたくて just fine: it's the -te form of 食べたい, which is in turn the... I forget the word for the form, but in any case the word means "want(s) to eat". :P

I find that it really doesn't take long to learn grammar well enough to parse sentences (if they're in kanji; all-kana text can still be hard to parse at times if you don't know the words). Actually understanding them can be quite a different story, though...

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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Postby Sairana » Tue 04.07.2009 11:40 am

furrykef wrote:Well, I only have an elementary understanding of Japanese grammar, but I can parse 食べたくて just fine: it's the -te form of 食べたい, which is in turn the... I forget the word for the form, but in any case the word means "want(s) to eat". :P
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I think you're undervaluing how far you've actually progressed in Japanese. It takes a fair amount of knowledge to be able to "un-conjugate" verbs, and can be endlessly frustrating to someone who is truly "elementary" in their Japanese studies. :P You know a lot more than you seem to give yourself credit for. ^_^
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Postby yukamina » Tue 04.07.2009 12:09 pm

Gundaetiapo wrote:
If you want to read books, I recommend being at an intermediate level in terms of grammar and vocab, and 1500-2000 kanji. Then you can learn the rest as you come across it.


1500 kanji to read any book!? That is far far too high. The 300 or so integrated into a college textbook course should be a good enough prereq for manga. Maybe 10-20 volumes of manga later and a light novel should do well.

I said books as in novels, not manga....novels don't have furiganga next to every kanji. Even though I know more than 2000 kanji, I often come across new ones because novels like to use uncommon kanji.

It's like this: Without enough grammar you can't parse or make sense of what you're reading.
Without enough kanji, you can't make sense of the vocabulary.
Without enough vocabulary, it takes so much effort, it's not really fun anymore.
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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Postby furrykef » Tue 04.07.2009 12:45 pm

Sairana wrote:I think you're undervaluing how far you've actually progressed in Japanese. It takes a fair amount of knowledge to be able to "un-conjugate" verbs, and can be endlessly frustrating to someone who is truly "elementary" in their Japanese studies. :P You know a lot more than you seem to give yourself credit for. ^_^


I think it's partly because I'm grammatically-oriented... I have no problem at all memorizing Japanese grammar, and I've actually picked up a lot of it from osmosis, but vocabulary is quite an obstacle for me right now. Kanji is also a bit of a problem... I've finished RTK1, so I'm very good at remembering the forms, but associating them with words is still a bit tricky.

I actually hang around here much more than I actually study Japanese, but I often pick up bits here and there in the process. Not a substitute for studying, of course, but it's a lot more fun. ;)

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Re: Learning to read japanese books?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 04.07.2009 4:28 pm

furrykef wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:Without the grammar you can't read at all. You can't look up 食べたくて, nor can you use a dictionary to divide a string of hiragana into parts. Of course once you have the grammar down, you have to increase your vocabulary to be able to read more.


Well, I only have an elementary understanding of Japanese grammar, but I can parse 食べたくて just fine: it's the -te form of 食べたい, which is in turn the... I forget the word for the form, but in any case the word means "want(s) to eat". :P


Well, that was just a simple example. If you take an actual sentence it becomes more clear, like this one from a random news article:

裁判では、元大統領が軍特殊部隊などを直接指示した有力な物証や証言はそろわなかった。

Anyone, even someone knowing no Japanese, can look all the kanji compounds up in WWWJDIC. But you're not going to be able to use a dictionary to show you that 元大統領が軍特殊部隊などを直接指示した is a modifying clause for 物証や証言 and that 有力な is a second modifier of the same noun phrase. You can run into even more trouble when there are strings of kana, as in this example from the front page of Wikipedia:

基本方針に賛同していただけるなら、誰でも記事を編集したり新しく作成したりできます。

していただけるなら and したりできます are unparseable if you don't know the underlying grammar patterns, and if you don't, it's going to be hard to use any sort of dictionary or resource to look it up because it's hard to even know what you're looking for -- the first kana string requires you to understand verbs of receiving, potential forms, and なら, but also the idiomatic usage of -te form + potential receiving verbs in making requests. (The overall sentence structure is tricky too because the subject of 賛同 in the first clause is the 誰でも from the second.)

Of course I'm not saying that vocab is totally unimportant; you can't learn grammar patterns without any vocab. I just think that sometimes people get the idea that the most important thing to do is cram hundreds of vocab words, when they should be doing a more integrated approach and mastering the grammatical patterns.
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