Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

View topic - How important is stroke order really?

How important is stroke order really?

Have a textbook or grammar book that you find particularly helpful? What about a learning tip to share with others?

How important is stroke order really?

Postby Timetraveller » Wed 07.20.2011 6:55 am

I wasn't sure where to post this thread, but this place seemed most appropriate so I put it here : )

I've been thinking about the necessity of learning stroke order and how to write hiragana/kanji/katakana by hand. Is it really a bad idea to skip this when learning japanese? I mean, it's quite rare nowadays to write on paper, people usually type on their computer or phone. I have even heard that even japanese people sometimes forget certain kanji's because they use their phone most of the time.
Well sure, it's always a good idea to rehearse by learning to write it. Though, it feels like actually learning everything first takes priority. For example, instead of learning to write all kanji's you know already, you could learn to recognize 100 new ones. Or am I just naiv? 8)

I'm still a beginner myself, but thinking about it objectively, I cannot see the importance of learning stroke order unless you're going to write letters and stuff like that. Your opinions please.
Timetraveller
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun 07.17.2011 8:02 am
Native language: Swedish

Re: How important is stroke order really?

Postby micahcowan » Wed 07.20.2011 1:10 pm

I don't think you're wrong, though it's important realize that stroke order isn't a matter of memorizing orders for thousands of characters; it's only really a matter of memorizing the orders for a couple hundred radicals (pieces of characters).

I'd say everyone should be able to write the kana very comfortably, and with the correct stroke orders, and I do think that being comfortable with the general rules for stroke order is important, even if some of the exceptions or whatever escape you, but it's clearly not crucial to recognizing characters.

This all assumes that you don't plan to do any writing whatsoever in the short term, though; if you do write them, even only occasionally, then every time you write the character incorrectly is a "lesson" in miswriting the character. It'll form a habit that may be difficult to break later.

Also, personally I think every newly-learned character—or at least every character that contains unfamiliar radicals—ought to be written out (correctly) at least a few times, even if you don't focus on memorizing the stroke-order perfectly. It makes you more comfortable with it, and makes it easier to recognize recurring radicals when they crop up in later characters, because your hands will "remember" it too (and your mind pays closer attention to the details of things that you've created, as opposed to simply read—I find this to be as true for learning programming languages as for Japanese).

Know, too, that knowing at least approximately correct stroke order can make it much easier to actually look up the new characters you may encounter in Japanese text. For myself, I rely heavily on Nintendo's 漢字そのまま dictionary software for the DS. It is quite forgiving (especially of crappy, illegibly scrawled letters written while riding on the bus :) ), but often stroke order is important for its character recognition. I often find that, provided I get the strokes right, and the directions of those strokes more or less right, it doesn't matter how bad the rest of the character's features are: the dictionary can recognize it.
User avatar
micahcowan
 
Posts: 249
Joined: Fri 08.13.2010 2:08 pm
Location: California, USA
Native language: US English/米語

Re: How important is stroke order really?

Postby LordOfTheFlies » Thu 07.21.2011 10:18 am

Timetraveller wrote:I wasn't sure where to post this thread, but this place seemed most appropriate so I put it here : )

I've been thinking about the necessity of learning stroke order and how to write hiragana/kanji/katakana by hand. Is it really a bad idea to skip this when learning japanese? I mean, it's quite rare nowadays to write on paper, people usually type on their computer or phone. I have even heard that even japanese people sometimes forget certain kanji's because they use their phone most of the time.
Well sure, it's always a good idea to rehearse by learning to write it. Though, it feels like actually learning everything first takes priority. For example, instead of learning to write all kanji's you know already, you could learn to recognize 100 new ones. Or am I just naiv? 8)

I'm still a beginner myself, but thinking about it objectively, I cannot see the importance of learning stroke order unless you're going to write letters and stuff like that. Your opinions please.

Hello there fellow Swede and welcome to the TJP community! I'm going try to jot down some of my thoughts and experiences as a long time learner of Japanese. First, let's talk about proper stroke order. The Japanese find the matter of correct stroke order very important and if you try to argue agains them they won't give in, this is because you supposedly write kanji with better flow and proper shape if you follow the correct stroke order. As a non-Japanese person I don't understand this and I won't criticize you if you decide to write kanji in the way you find the most comfortable. One thing you have to remember though is to get the shape and proportions right if you write kanji by hand, because that's something you can't just ignore even if you don't want to memorize the right stroke order of kanji.

Now something else you have to understand is that just as how micahcowan mentioned, kanji are built out of radicals, which are always, if not with very few exceptions, written in the exact same stroke order. So basically you only have to learn two things; 1) the stroke order of all individual radicals 2) The fact that kanji are written from the top left side, down. This is true for all kanji, you always start from the top, either in the center or on the left side depending on what the kanji looks like. This makes writing kanji much easier as you learn more kanji, pretty cool huh?

It also depends on what you plan on doing in the future. If you're planning on pursuing a career in Japan I'd recommend learning kanji to the point that you could look up new ones in a dictionary and write them properly in a letter if needed. On contrary to what you believe, handwriting is still important in Japan, maybe not as prevalent as before but still a necessity. But either way, if you're learning Japanese with the intention of becoming fluent I think you should be able to write it by hand as well ^^

Now, lastly, I wanna give you my personal opinion on the issue. I've been learning Japanese for a bit longer than 5 years and without slapping a number in your face, let's just say I know a lot of kanji, most of the commonly used ones, and many many obscure ones to that. However I can only write a small fraction of those by hand, and this is because I did the exact thing that you're basing your question on. I just never prioritized learning how to write kanji, so now I know many kanji by heart that I can recognize and read, but I couldn't write them even if threatened at gunpoint. Sometimes I regret this, but sometimes I also wonder if I would have been able to learn as many kanji if I focused on being able to write all of them. In my opinion it takes much more practice to keep up the retention of kanji writing than remembering how to read and recognize kanji. I'm slowly starting to be able to write more and more kanji now, but it's hard to keep it up and the only real way to make sure you don't forget them is to sit and scribble them when you have the time/chance to do so.

tl;dr
Japanese handwriting is still important. Stroke orders are important, but the shape and proportions are what ultimately will show through when you write something.

Another important thing you have to keep in mind if you write kanji is that some radicals/kanji look vastly different on a computer or when printed compared to when it's written by hand. For this reason I think you should at least take a look at stroke diagrams, even if you don't want to follow the stroke order. Because the stroke diagrams use the correct written form of the kanji.

Here are two quick examples which show you the drastic difference;
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... -order.gif instead of

http://www.jisho.org/kanji/details/%E8%BF%91 The three last strokes of
LordOfTheFlies
 
Posts: 455
Joined: Sun 05.07.2006 9:43 am
Native language: Swedish

Re: How important is stroke order really?

Postby micahcowan » Thu 07.21.2011 6:09 pm

LordOfTheFlies wrote:Now something else you have to understand is that just as how micahcowan mentioned, kanji are built out of radicals, which are always, if not with very few exceptions, written in the exact same stroke order. So basically you only have to learn two things; 1) the stroke order of all individual radicals 2) The fact that kanji are written from the top left side, down. This is true for all kanji, you always start from the top, either in the center or on the left side depending on what the kanji looks like. This makes writing kanji much easier as you learn more kanji, pretty cool huh?


Well, careful with this. The "rules for writing kanji" are invariably oversimplified. For instance, 左 and 右 are written with the same first two strokes, but do you apply the "top-down" rule or "left to right" rule? (As it turns out, the order of those first two strokes differs between these two characters.)

There's also the rule that horizontal cross strokes are always written first. But in, say, 羊 versus the top part of 美 (where the vertical stroke touches, but doesn't cross the bottom stroke), the stroke order differs. I've never seen this expressed as a formal rule, but I tend to "think" a rule at myself that if the vertical stroke crosses through the bottom stroke, then it's written last, but if it only touches the bottom stroke, it's written just-after the first horizontal stroke (thus providing an exception to the "in a cross, horizontal strokes first" rule, at least for the middle stroke(s).

Note, Timetraveller, that the character 美 is an example of another benefit of practicing writing characters (even if you don't work hard to memorize exact stroke orders): when you only try to recognize the character 美, it may not be obvious that it's just 羊 with 大 underneath it (and without actually crossing its bottom stroke); learning to write the character helps you recognize that there's not there's not just one long vertical stroke ノ - that is, that it's not four horizontal strokes with a single vertical cutting through it. (Even if you already knew this about 美 specifically, it applies to other characters.)

BTW, I agree with the notion that you often can't effectively get the right proper in your handwritten characters unless you get the stroke orders (and direction) correct. I think for a lot of people, the 女 (especially when appearing as a radical, as in 好) and 山 would look very strange if written incorrectly. (For example, "My Japanese Coach" for the DS incorrectly teaches 山 as four strokes, which may look more like the printed character, but looks damned funky as a handwritten character.)
User avatar
micahcowan
 
Posts: 249
Joined: Fri 08.13.2010 2:08 pm
Location: California, USA
Native language: US English/米語

Re: How important is stroke order really?

Postby LordOfTheFlies » Thu 07.21.2011 6:56 pm

You're right that there are exceptions as how to write kanji, but the from the top on the left side still holds true. But that doesn't mean you have to start at the stroke placed at the absolute top, just that you generally start from the top left side, I agree I might have oversimplified it a bit though :)
LordOfTheFlies
 
Posts: 455
Joined: Sun 05.07.2006 9:43 am
Native language: Swedish

Re: How important is stroke order really?

Postby StarryNeko » Sun 07.31.2011 8:48 pm

My really short opinion on this matter is that stroke order helps you memorize and recall Kanji. The more associations in memory, the better!
StarryNeko
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri 07.01.2011 11:14 pm
Native language: English

Re: How important is stroke order really?

Postby Ongakuka » Sun 07.31.2011 10:12 pm

For instance, 左 and 右 are written with the same first two strokes, but do you apply the "top-down" rule or "left to right" rule? (As it turns out, the order of those first two strokes differs between these two characters.)


I take stroke order seriously, but not enough to take care of catchy out details like that (not that I think you were trying to imply that one should care.) In calligraphy of course, you can't afford to not know something like that, but once you learn to write 20% ish of Kanji decently the rest should come fairly naturally.

Fortunately I don't have to feel like a stupid gaijin for writing 'migi' incorrectly:

「左」「右」について,大人たちはどのように書いているか。お父さんの職場で調べてみたら10人中1人だけが教科書通りの書き方をしました。お父さんを含めて,あとは全員「横線」から書きはじめていました。
なぜなら、おまえは・・・・・・人形だ
User avatar
Ongakuka
 
Posts: 1007
Joined: Mon 09.26.2005 1:07 pm


Return to Learning Materials Reviews & Language Learning tips

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests