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Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Japanese, general discussion on the language

Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 04.22.2009 6:08 pm

Also it should be pointed out as usual that vocabulary and grammar are quite important rather than just the raw number of kanji you "know" (whatever that means).
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby nukemarine » Thu 04.23.2009 4:32 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:Also it should be pointed out as usual that vocabulary and grammar are quite important rather than just the raw number of kanji you "know" (whatever that means).


I tend to think these all mesh together in a useful package to help you get to reading/watching real Japanese. Systematic study of grammar, vocabulary and kanji using English as a quick short-cut to understanding is great well-rounded package. Yeah, some may argue how the system part of the systematic should be designed, but would anyone argue against the part that we should be reading/watching Japanese?

True also, there comes a point where the systematic part offers diminishing returns on kanji, vocab and grammar. I'm thinking 95% is a good coverage for systematic (kanji popularity, vocabulary use, grammar patterns), but that's a personal opinion.
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby yukamina » Thu 04.23.2009 12:34 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
yukamina wrote:People usually focus on how they can get by with less, because they don't want to have to study more.


You should not study more kanji than you need. There is no point memorizing a kanji you never see. On the other hand, you want to know the kanji that you do see. This is why you want to get into reading things that interest you as soon as you can; so that you can learn the kanji that are going to be most useful to you rather than learning from some arbitrary list that may or may not apply to your needs.


Yes. I count learning words with new kanji I found in reading as studying. I feel it's important to study(SRS in my case) less common words because they will be harder to remember just from exposure.
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby kaien5576 » Fri 04.24.2009 9:32 am

please don't abandon japanese, the country will crash. Think of the lives ruined, jobs lost.
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 04.24.2009 10:05 am

yukamina wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:
yukamina wrote:People usually focus on how they can get by with less, because they don't want to have to study more.


You should not study more kanji than you need. There is no point memorizing a kanji you never see. On the other hand, you want to know the kanji that you do see. This is why you want to get into reading things that interest you as soon as you can; so that you can learn the kanji that are going to be most useful to you rather than learning from some arbitrary list that may or may not apply to your needs.


Yes. I count learning words with new kanji I found in reading as studying. I feel it's important to study(SRS in my case) less common words because they will be harder to remember just from exposure.


Well, of course part of studying is just doing what motivates and interests you. If you like studying from SRS then go ahead. I liked Kanji in Context so I was able to spend 9 months studying it. It's all about keeping yourself interested.
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby vinniram » Fri 04.24.2009 8:12 pm

I've accepted that Gairaigo is OK, because each speaker has the right to choose whether or not they use it. I've sort of just fully realized that now, so please forgive me for my rantings. I want to use 4000+ kanji and minimal gairaigo, and every japanese speaker has the right to choose, because Japan is a free country! so yes, I've decided I'm gonna go ahead and learn Japanese, because everytime I tell myself I won't learn it, I just sort of can't stop thinking about it (i'm bizarre I know :P) so yeah, Japanese and Kanji rock :D

Et encore, s'il vous plaît, oubliez ce que j'ai dit plus tôt, car maintenant, j'ai changé mon avis. (C'est vrai, je promets)
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 04.24.2009 9:45 pm

vinniram wrote:I've accepted that Gairaigo is OK, because each speaker has the right to choose whether or not they use it.


Not really. To communicate in a language, part of what you have to do is communicate using normal idioms and normal language. There's no way to avoid gairaigo and make your Japanese sound natural, or even comprehensible.
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby leonl » Fri 04.24.2009 10:06 pm

vinniram wrote:I've accepted that Gairaigo is OK, because each speaker has the right to choose whether or not they use it. I've sort of just fully realized that now, so please forgive me for my rantings. I want to use 4000+ kanji and minimal gairaigo, and every japanese speaker has the right to choose, because Japan is a free country! so yes, I've decided I'm gonna go ahead and learn Japanese, because everytime I tell myself I won't learn it, I just sort of can't stop thinking about it (i'm bizarre I know :P) so yeah, Japanese and Kanji rock :D

Et encore, s'il vous plaît, oubliez ce que j'ai dit plus tôt, car maintenant, j'ai changé mon avis. (C'est vrai, je promets)


I can't believe i'm saying this, but if your goal with learning Japanese is just to learn thousands of kanji you should pick up Remembering The Kanji volumes 1-3 which will teach you the meaning and readings of about 3000 kanji. You're going to have study a lot of Japanese before you run into or need to know past 2000 kanji.You would also probably need to study classical Japanese in order to have any use for knowing all those extra kanji. To some up my point, richv who is writing his own novel has stated in a few threads that he only knows about 1000 kanji(apologies if I've misquoted or miss read your posts richv). Point is you don't need to know 4000 kanji to have fun with Japanese
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 04.24.2009 10:28 pm

4000 kanji is an incredible number. I guess any goal is a fine goal, but I think that there are very few people, native speaker or foreign, who have control over that many kanji. I'm not sure of my own kanji knowledge but I wouldn't be surprised if it's somewhere between 1000 and 1500, and less if you're talking about writing.

Although at some level "knowing" a kanji is very hard to quantify; for instance someone might not be able to tell you anything about 鹸 if you just show it to them out of context (though they may guess the reading is "ken"), and they probably can't write it, but if you show them 石鹸で手を洗ってください they will probably know what it is just from context.
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby vinniram » Fri 04.24.2009 10:45 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:Not really. To communicate in a language, part of what you have to do is communicate using normal idioms and normal language. There's no way to avoid gairaigo and make your Japanese sound natural, or even comprehensible.


But it's like in english - often in english there are two words for things, the anglo-saxon word and the romance word. It's up to the speaker's discretion whether to use, for example, "foreword" or "preface".
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby becki_kanou » Fri 04.24.2009 11:52 pm

vinniram wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:Not really. To communicate in a language, part of what you have to do is communicate using normal idioms and normal language. There's no way to avoid gairaigo and make your Japanese sound natural, or even comprehensible.


But it's like in english - often in english there are two words for things, the anglo-saxon word and the romance word. It's up to the speaker's discretion whether to use, for example, "foreword" or "preface".


True, but try saying 麦酒 rather than ビール and see the reactions it gets you. Gairaigo is a part of Japanese whether you like it or not, and if you want to sound natural, you'll have to learn how to use it.
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby furrykef » Sat 04.25.2009 12:08 am

vinniram wrote:I've accepted that Gairaigo is OK, because each speaker has the right to choose whether or not they use it. I've sort of just fully realized that now, so please forgive me for my rantings. I want to use 4000+ kanji and minimal gairaigo, and every japanese speaker has the right to choose, because Japan is a free country!


"I shall travel to the moving pictures in my horseless carriage on the morrow."

It's not a perfect analogy, but it's roughly what you will sound like. Furthermore, it sounds to me like you need a bit of an attitude adjustment. A foreigner who comes along and essentially tells people how their native language should be spoken sounds rather arrogant.

Furthermore, I doubt you've learned enough Japanese to really be able to tell if gairaigo is a real problem for you. I find learning Japanese vocabulary to be very hard, so I find gairaigo to be a relief -- the words are much easier to memorize that way. So your perspective on this matter may be different by the time you've learned, say, a thousand words.

If you really want to learn some sort of Japanese without gairaigo, you could learn Classical Japanese. Unfortunately, it's probably pretty hard to study if you haven't already learned modern Japanese, but still, it's out there.

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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby vinniram » Sat 04.25.2009 2:06 am

I explicitly said that "the Japanese can do what they like to their language, it will just affect whether or not I study it". So please don't put words in my mouth, by saying that I'm telling Japanese people what they should do or not do to their language, because that is simply NOT true. I was just considering whether or not to study it against my own personal ideas (which is important when considering which language you YOURSELF want to study), but now I've decided gairaigo or no, it's still a great language and I want to go for it.
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby Harisenbon » Sat 04.25.2009 2:14 am

furrykef wrote: I find learning Japanese vocabulary to be very hard, so I find gairaigo to be a relief -- the words are much easier to memorize that way.


Just to put it out there up front: I completely agree with you. The idea of learning japanese without gairaigo is laughable at best.
And if we're going to remove gairaigo, we might as well go all the way and get rid of 漢語 (words from chinese decent) as well. After all, they are just older gairaigo.

But to my point:
I actually find gairaigo HARDER to remember than regular japaense words, because there's less rhyme and reason to them.
I can remember what 操作 ans 操縦 mean because I can imagine the kanji in my head when looking for the right word to use. However, for the life of me I can:t remember the difference between ストライキ and ストライク and ガラス and グラス. I know what each refers to, but in the middle of a sentence, I always seem to forget which is which and pick the wrong one.

And I always feel off when writing the word Security セキュレティ vs セキュリティ.
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Re: Agonizing over whether to learn Japanese

Postby vinniram » Sat 04.25.2009 2:46 am

I never said I wanted to learn NO gairaigo whatsoever. I just said that I wanted to use kanj in preference to gairaigo. So I don't know why you think I'm not wanting to learn a single word of gairaigo; it's like pretending romance words don't exist and only using anglo-saxon words - impossible. but that doesn't mean I can't try to use anglo-saxon words instead of romance words where equivalents exist (like foreword v. preface), and that same philosophy must hold true, at least to some extent, for gairaigo and kanji.
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