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Learn more kanji than 2000 joyo

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Re: Learn more kanji than 2000 joyo

Postby astaroth » Wed 04.29.2009 5:27 pm

Unless one's goal is to pass JLPT 1 for which I understand all the jouyou kanji are required.
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Re: Learn more kanji than 2000 joyo

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 04.29.2009 6:53 pm

astaroth wrote:Unless one's goal is to pass JLPT 1 for which I understand all the jouyou kanji are required.


I've passed JLPT 1 (with a score well over passing percentage) and I didn't know all the Jouyou kanji. They claim that the entire Jouyou list (minus a few, and plus about 100 additional ones) are necessary but of course they don't actually test all of them. The majority of the test consists of reading passages and grammar sentences, and since those are taken from actual Japanese sources, they reflect normal usage and don't intentionally bring in obscure kanji. Even the vocab and kanji sections weren't that bad, from what I remember. (The Kanji Kentei is another matter; if you take level 2 of that they will intentionally use obscure kanji and rare readings to trip you up.)

Now, I'm not necessarily saying that people shouldn't study more kanji if it interests them. I'm just providing my own experience -- that I have passed JLPT 1 and am doing PhD level work in Japanese, plus I play text-heavy Japanese RPGs, and I have no need for the entire jouyou list. Too often the jouyou list is held up as this mystical list that will solve all your Japanese problems, when it really has little relevance to the needs of the majority of people studying Japanese, including native speakers.

EDIT: Just to make sure I looked at some old JLPT 1 test questions and I didn't find any kanji that I considered obscure for my own purposes -- they even had furigana over a bunch of kanji in the reading section like 陳腐, 隙間, and 緊迫 that I don't think I would have needed furigana to read. On the other hand, looking over the kanji list for Kanji Kentei 2 which includes a lot of the rarer Jouyou list, I can see quite a few kanji that I would have trouble reading or thinking of any compounds for, such as 丙, 賓, 衷, 淑, 嫡, and 寡, just to pick a few random examples.
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Re: Learn more kanji than 2000 joyo

Postby astaroth » Wed 04.29.2009 7:28 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:The majority of the test consists of reading passages and grammar sentences, and since those are taken from actual Japanese sources, they reflect normal usage and don't intentionally bring in obscure kanji.

Not having taken the JLPT I didn't know. That's quite a relief in a way ... that apparently they don't bring up intentionally any obscure kanji. (Of course I'm not saying JLPT is for this reason easy to pass either ...)
Yudan Taiteki wrote:plus I play text-heavy Japanese RPGs

Reading this forum I wonder if I should start liking gaming :roll: ... I liked back when I was a teenager and played a few even in college. I tried a couple of times to play now but after the first 15 minutes I lose any interest ... :)
I guess I'll have to stick with books :D and maybe a manga or two ... :D
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Re: Learn more kanji than 2000 joyo

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 04.29.2009 10:44 pm

astaroth wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:The majority of the test consists of reading passages and grammar sentences, and since those are taken from actual Japanese sources, they reflect normal usage and don't intentionally bring in obscure kanji.

Not having taken the JLPT I didn't know. That's quite a relief in a way ... that apparently they don't bring up intentionally any obscure kanji. (Of course I'm not saying JLPT is for this reason easy to pass either ...)


I should also point out for completeness' sake that the readings are all messed up as well; they leave off relatively common readings of kanji like 観る, 描(か)く, and 私(わたし), while including extremely rare readings like 上人(しょうにん) and all the buddhist readings, 因(よ)る, 陵(みささぎ), etc.

Yudan Taiteki wrote:plus I play text-heavy Japanese RPGs

Reading this forum I wonder if I should start liking gaming :roll: ... I liked back when I was a teenager and played a few even in college. I tried a couple of times to play now but after the first 15 minutes I lose any interest ... :)
I guess I'll have to stick with books :D and maybe a manga or two ... :D


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Re: Learn more kanji than 2000 joyo

Postby nukemarine » Thu 04.30.2009 1:44 am

Though my skills are minute compared to Yudan, I do not see the problem with putting 200 to 300 hours effort toward learning a couple thousand kanji (recognition and writing) along with one common onyomi. The investment is heavy to be sure, but the pay off can been enjoyable when it comes to reading stuff you like as you begin adding on basic vocabulary and grammar comprehension.

What I mean is you can be reading a manga or book and just go along reading. Words that are new you can gleam meaning from context and a fairly certain knowledge of pronunciation based on the previous learning. Yeah, with kunyoumi you're going to have to break out a dictionary, but I don't bother as that word may not pop up again. I just keep reading.

Do you "need" to do it? No, but then you don't "need" to learn Japanese either. It goes down to a personal preference.
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Re: Learn more kanji than 2000 joyo

Postby furrykef » Thu 04.30.2009 4:32 am

Just a note, nukemarine: "kun'yomi" doesn't have a long vowel. (Funny enough, I've made the same mistake myself.) Remember that "yomi" comes from 読む, which is よむ, not ようむ. :)
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Re: Learn more kanji than 2000 joyo

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Thu 04.30.2009 9:34 am

nukemarine wrote:Though my skills are minute compared to Yudan, I do not see the problem with putting 200 to 300 hours effort toward learning a couple thousand kanji (recognition and writing) along with one common onyomi. The investment is heavy to be sure, but the pay off can been enjoyable when it comes to reading stuff you like as you begin adding on basic vocabulary and grammar comprehension.


The main problems are (1) you won't remember several thousand kanji without either seeing them a lot or constantly reviewing them, and (2) the time spent learning obscure characters that you may never see could be better spent doing other things. Now, if you enjoy studying obscure kanji then go ahead -- do whatever motivates you or what you like. Just don't do it in the mistaken belief that it's necessary for you to learn all those obscure kanji.
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Re: Learn more kanji than 2000 joyo

Postby nukemarine » Fri 05.01.2009 3:46 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
nukemarine wrote:Though my skills are minute compared to Yudan, I do not see the problem with putting 200 to 300 hours effort toward learning a couple thousand kanji (recognition and writing) along with one common onyomi. The investment is heavy to be sure, but the pay off can been enjoyable when it comes to reading stuff you like as you begin adding on basic vocabulary and grammar comprehension.


The main problems are (1) you won't remember several thousand kanji without either seeing them a lot or constantly reviewing them, and (2) the time spent learning obscure characters that you may never see could be better spent doing other things. Now, if you enjoy studying obscure kanji then go ahead -- do whatever motivates you or what you like. Just don't do it in the mistaken belief that it's necessary for you to learn all those obscure kanji.


Point 1 is solved by the miracle of the Spaced Repetition System and reading lots and lots of Japanese.
Point 2 depends on definition of obscure.

Just reading songs lyrics, news, and various Japanese drama scripts have brought up these "obscure" kanji on a number of occasion. Of the 2500 kanji I've studied sytematically (plus the 20 other that popped up studying Core 2k list from Smart.fm), which qualify as obscure?

If one is reading lots and lots of Japanese, the concept of "obscure" begins to lose merit as you're getting exposure. Now, if the learning is already in place, that's time you don't spend when you're reading. I'm the type of guy that likes to read without rushing to the dictionary for every word, so pre-set knowledge has been useful. If you're the type that pauses to make note of new words or terms, then systematic studying is not as important.

I don't think studying "obscure" kanji should be dismissed as merely a hobby for enjoyment. It has merit in the reading of Japanese. It's not necessary, just like it's not necessary to be literate in Japanese, nor to actually learn Japanese. However, I honestly think it makes learning and reading Japanese easier, hence the use of my term "investment".
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Re: Learn more kanji than 2000 joyo

Postby two_heads_talking » Fri 05.01.2009 8:17 am

Is it so necessary to "debate" the term 'obscure'? I think Yudan's point is completely valid. While you bring up a good point Nuke, the questions you ask are difficult to answer. What is obscure to one might not be to another. Depending on field of study etc.. I'd wager that the majority of my initial Japanese Vocab (religious) would be considered rather obscure to most others.. Architecture and Engineering would also be obscure in my mind.
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Re: Learn more kanji than 2000 joyo

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 05.01.2009 8:45 am

nukemarine wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:
nukemarine wrote:Though my skills are minute compared to Yudan, I do not see the problem with putting 200 to 300 hours effort toward learning a couple thousand kanji (recognition and writing) along with one common onyomi. The investment is heavy to be sure, but the pay off can been enjoyable when it comes to reading stuff you like as you begin adding on basic vocabulary and grammar comprehension.


The main problems are (1) you won't remember several thousand kanji without either seeing them a lot or constantly reviewing them, and (2) the time spent learning obscure characters that you may never see could be better spent doing other things. Now, if you enjoy studying obscure kanji then go ahead -- do whatever motivates you or what you like. Just don't do it in the mistaken belief that it's necessary for you to learn all those obscure kanji.


Point 1 is solved by the miracle of the Spaced Repetition System and reading lots and lots of Japanese.


I guess, but do you really want to be doing SRS forever? Of course everyone would like to know every kanji they will ever see, but I think at some point most people want to stop studying and just read instead. It's not necessarily that I'm saying it would be a bad idea to know many thousands of kanji, I just don't think it's a realistic goal for most people, and I'm not sure the effort it takes is worth it.

Just reading songs lyrics, news, and various Japanese drama scripts have brought up these "obscure" kanji on a number of occasion. Of the 2500 kanji I've studied sytematically (plus the 20 other that popped up studying Core 2k list from Smart.fm), which qualify as obscure?


If you are seeing them in what you're reading, they are not obscure for you. What I meant by "obscure" is a kanji that never shows up in anything you read, or that shows up so rarely that even if you don't remember the kanji it's not going to harm your understanding much, if at all (often even if you just have a vague memory of what the kanji generally means, if you understand everything else in the passage it's not going to hurt you.)

If one is reading lots and lots of Japanese, the concept of "obscure" begins to lose merit as you're getting exposure.


I read lots and lots of Japanese, and the concept of obscure has not lost merit for me. There are kanji that I never see and have no need to know, thus I consider them obscure.

If you think there's no merit to the concept of obscure, then where do you stop? Are you going to learn all 6500 kanji on the JIS 1 and 2 specification? All 12,000+ kanji in the Kanjigen? All 50,000 kanji in the Morohashi Daikanwa Jiten?

Now, if the learning is already in place, that's time you don't spend when you're reading. I'm the type of guy that likes to read without rushing to the dictionary for every word, so pre-set knowledge has been useful. If you're the type that pauses to make note of new words or terms, then systematic studying is not as important.


You can eventually reach that point anyway; of course at first you have to look things up but the more you read, the more you learn.

All I can do is talk about my own personal experience; I can read Japanese without running to a dictionary every few seconds (in fact I hardly ever use a dictionary when I read), and I did not spend time memorizing every last Jouyou list character.

I feel that at some level what I'm saying is inescapable. No matter who you are, you're not going to be reading things that use every last Jouyou character on a regular basis. So your basic choice is to try to learn as many kanji as you can but accept that you're going to forget those that you almost never see, or you can keep using flash cards/SRS/whatever to study rare kanji that you don't see just in case you do see them some day. If you feel the latter is worth it, then I won't stop you from doing that, but I don't think it's fair to tell beginners that they must learn the entire Jouyou set if they ever hope to have a reading proficiency in Japanese when that's simply not true. People have a lot of misconceptions about the Jouyou list; I'm not sure how much those misconceptions hurt people's study efforts, but they have the potential to do so.
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Re: Learn more kanji than 2000 joyo

Postby nukemarine » Sat 05.02.2009 2:02 am

To be sure, there's a point of diminishing returns in studying. Now if 200 hours can cover 90% of what you're "likely" to encounter and the next 200 hours will cover the next 8% and 200 hours more will cover another 1%, it comes down to the person to decide "Hey, is that time worth the results?".

Now, I do agree with you. It was the thinking above that got me to recommend a "RTK Lite" method. Looking at the Kanji covered under iKnow's Core 2k list (2000 vocabulary with example sentences based off newspaper frequency list), about 70 percent of JLPT2 kanji where seen while maybe another 100 of the JLPT1 additional kanji were seen. So 100 study hours for RTK Lite would get a huge use, while the additional 100 hours for the remaining RTK list would get about 10% use (if that).

Now, going into Core 6k would be upto 600 kanji from JLPT1. Perhaps the time spent systematically with the rest of the Jouyou kanji via RTK can be of use there.

Now, assume I run the drama scripts of shows I'm reading from seesaa.dramanote.com through a kanji counter reveals that 2600 kanji from RTK 1 and 3 (3007 in total) are being seen at least 5 times or more. Perhaps an additional 100 hours of study time with RTK3 would be of use to me.

The same idea would cross over into vocabulary and grammar. Certain ones get more use so it's useful to know them ahead of time. The more obscure you get, the less use you're likely to see. Do you learn it ahead of time systematically, learn it as you come to it, learn it passively via context? Still up to you.

So it does come down to investment versus returns. And even that will be an individual choice based on needs and desires.

PS: An SRS, if done correctly, does go on forever. However, the amount of time spent doing those items on SRS decrease. It's kind of like this: If you spent 200 hours in 1 month learning 2000 vocabulary words (or body terms or state capitals or genus terms for birds or whatever), is it worth it to you to spend an addition 50 hours reviewing that material spread out over the next 5 YEARS in order to recall 90% of that information at any given time? To me, that's a no brainer.
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Re: Learn more kanji than 2000 joyo

Postby Bengal_Tiger234 » Mon 07.06.2009 1:03 am

Yudan, your words have really offered me some hope. I'm up to the point now where I can read roughly 1000 kanji (but there are still soooo many compounds that are made up of these kanji that I have yet to memorize and so my main struggle with reading now is basically learning new vocab.) The jouyou list of 1945 has always seemed so high and in skimming through websites that help you learn the level 1 JLPT kanji, so many of them seem rather unnecessary and they always discouraged me because I would ask myself if I *really* needed to learn them.
Hearing that you, a PhD student in Japanese no less, can read virtually everything you need to with only a working knowledge of around 1400 kanji is just....wonderful. It's really restored my faith in my Japanese studies. It means I'm "only" about 400 or so kanji away from reaching my goal (but that probably means a thousand or two more vocabulary words, huh? It's ok, I can do it. It'll just take some time :wink: ).
So tell me, are you able to read a standard newspaper or a contemporary novel? I know you mentioned RPGs, but what else does your everyday reading material consist of?
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Re: Learn more kanji than 2000 joyo

Postby spin13 » Mon 07.06.2009 6:50 am

Bengal_Tiger234 wrote:So tell me, are you able to read a standard newspaper or a contemporary novel? I know you mentioned RPGs, but what else does your everyday reading material consist of?

I'd say the number of kanji I know is somewhere between 1000 and not enough. I know for certain that I don't know every Jouyou Kanji, but I'm more than capable of reading contemporary novels at a comfortable and enjoyable rate (one or two a month, depending on book length and time spent commuting). I don't find newspapers or news very interesting, but I have been able to read articles when I chose. I also played through Dragon Quest 4 and 5 in Japanese with no problem or lack of enjoyment. I had played 4 in English as a child, but had never played 5 at all.

If you wait until you know every kanji, or even most kanji, before you start reading authentic Japanese you are going to be waiting a long, long time. Rather, starting to read now will not only help you learn kanji and their compounds but actual Japanese. You might find kanji you know how to read but can't understand, and you might find you understand them but have no idea how to pronounce them (it took me 100's of pages to disambiguate 呟く and 囁く for good), but in the end your Japanese will be improving.

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Re: Learn more kanji than 2000 joyo

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 07.06.2009 8:21 am

Bengal_Tiger234 wrote:Hearing that you, a PhD student in Japanese no less, can read virtually everything you need to with only a working knowledge of around 1400 kanji is just....wonderful.


Well...that was just a guess. Also note that I said around 1400 jouyou kanji plus another hundred or two non-jouyou kanji, but still, it's not the whole jouyou list.

So tell me, are you able to read a standard newspaper or a contemporary novel? I know you mentioned RPGs, but what else does your everyday reading material consist of?


I don't read newspapers or contemporary novels so I'm not sure. Every so often when I browse a Japanese newspaper article online I'm able to understand the main point, at least. My reading consists of RPGs, Japanese sites about RPGs, occasional manga, scholarly articles about Genji and other Heian-era stuff, and most recently some 17th-century Genji commentaries. This latter reading has actually forced me to look up kanji for the first time in a while.

What happened is that I studied a lot of kanji and knew a lot more than I did now, but my vocab and grammar and reading ability weren't as good. Then once my reading ability improved, I didn't need to study kanji so much anymore and eventually I completely stopped studying kanji, so my ability started to decline -- basically I forgot a lot of kanji that I didn't see on a regular basis, and because now I can often figure out the meaning even if I don't know all the kanji, I hardly look up kanji anymore.
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Re: Learn more kanji than 2000 joyo

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 07.10.2009 1:12 pm

I was reading/playing ひぐらしのなく頃に祭 カケラ遊び yesterday and I decided to write down the kanji I encountered that I didn't know, which were:
尖る
唸る
華奢

示唆
梱包
漁る
凄惨
安堵
眷族


The only one on that list that I didn't know that was Jouyou was 唆 (漁 is a jouyou kanji but the reading あさる is not on the list). But for all the other ones, even though I wasn't sure how to read them or necessarily what they meant, from the context and knowledge of the other kanji in the compound I was always able to figure out to a very reasonable degree of precision what the word meant. Specifically:
示唆 because of the 示 and the context, I knew it meant something like "tell" or "indicate" (it means "hint at")
梱包 because of the 包 and the context, I knew it meant some sort of binding or wrapping (it means "packing", in this case something that was holding newspapers together)
漁る I didn't know how to read, but the context and knowledge of words using 漁 like 魚人 made it clear that it meant "to search for" or "hunt"
凄惨 I didn't know how to read this, but it was clear it meant 凄く惨め (it means "gruesome")
安堵 was clear meant something along the lines of "peace" (means "relief")
眷族 meant something like "related to" (it means "household")

In other words, the fact that I did not know these words really didn't hurt my comprehension because in every case I was able to know the meaning of the word from a combination of the context, and knowledge of one of the two kanji in the compound. So even if something you are reading uses a lot of non-Jouyou kanji (or even rarer Jouyou ones you don't know), it doesn't necessarily follow that you are going to need to constantly run to a dictionary or risk not understanding what's going on. If you read "I cut the 梱包 holding the papers together with a knife", even if you have never seen 梱 before, it would be hard to misunderstand the meaning of that sentence. Of course knowing the exact meaning of 梱包 gives you more precise knowledge, but if you're just reading something for fun, that's not important.

Anyway, the point of this was to show concretely what I mean when I say that (a) it does not follow that if a kanji appears in a text, you must have prior knowledge of that kanji (or look it up in a dictionary) to understand the text, and (b) the greater your vocabulary and grammatical knowledge, the less you need to know all the kanji to understand a passage, even if you're talking about 100% comprehension (or maybe 99%). What seems to have happened in my case is that my kanji knowledge has actually gotten worse as my general comprehension of Japanese has improved.
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