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Japanese for Busy People II

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Japanese for Busy People II

Postby PetrB » Wed 06.28.2006 1:02 pm

I heard that Japanese for Busy People (Kana version) vol II. requires you to learn about 100 kanji. Since learning Japanese is just my little hobby, I don't want to learn kanji (I admit that I tend to forget even how to write some less used katakana characters just after few weeks of "slacking off") so I'd like to know if it is true and if those kanji characters are accompanied by furigana or not.
My another question is about Japanese for Busy People II: The Workbook (Japanese for Busy People , Vol 2). I can't find whether this workbook is romaji or kana version, assuming the worse option = romaji only :( .

I can't buy these books in regular store, only via internet and I was unable to find any info regarding this so I would appreciate if someone who has those books could tell me how it is.

Thanks, PetrB

P.S.: I know that Japanese for Busy People might not be the best textbook around, but when I started learning last year, it was the only one available to me and it seems quite logical to follow with vol2 after finishing first book. I still don't get why they've chosen that approach to verbs conjugation though :o
Last edited by PetrB on Wed 06.28.2006 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Japanese for Busy People II

Postby clay » Wed 06.28.2006 2:29 pm

Hi PetrB,

JFBP only has a romaji version for Volume 1. After that I believe it is all in kana and introduces kanji as you go.

Although I understand your desire to work on spoken Japanese alone, I think you will progress faster (at least later on) by taking on kanji little by little from the start. Unlike English, Japanese is very connected with kanji. Pretty soon, you will begin 'thinking in kanji.' You can compose new (to you) words just by putting the meanings of two kanji together. You can hear a word for the first time and if you can imagine its kanji, you may be able to guess the meaning.

That is why I highly recommend studying kanji for all beginners.

Here are the JFBP vol 2 books we stock:
http://www.thejapanshop.com/home.php?cat=273

Clay
Last edited by clay on Wed 06.28.2006 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Japanese for Busy People II

Postby CajunCoder » Wed 06.28.2006 3:31 pm

I also agree with studying kanji. It may seem overwhelming at first, but it will help you immensely in the long run.
Also, don't deprive yourself of being able to read! Not actually being in japan, your biggest chance to use Japanese will be on the internet - and this is a text based world.

Japanese is not an easy language, but certainly a very beautiful and interesting one, which is well worth all of the time you can put in to studying it.
If you're going to learn Japanese, you have to learn the language as a whole. Be passionate about learning, and hungry for knowledge; that is the most important thing of all.
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RE: Japanese for Busy People II

Postby PetrB » Thu 06.29.2006 2:56 pm

clay wrote:
JFBP only has a romaji version for Volume 1. After that I believe it is all in kana and introduces kanji as you go.

According to another (in this regard) trusted source, there are both romaji and kana versions for all 3 volumes of JFBP but only one version of JFBP workbook for each volume. Kana versions of textbooks have "Kana version" label on cover, workbooks don't have that so I assume they use romaji. Btw, I'm sorry for linking to another i-shop in the first post, it was my first time on TheJapanesePage and since I can't order from abroad, I didn't check if you have internet shop, only read through the forum.

And here's my 2 cents to neverending discussion about whether to learn kanji or not.
I understand reasons you listed as why to learn kanji and while I mostly agree with them, I think there also exist reasons against doing that. From what I read on wikipedia Manyogana was sound based system and basis of kanji were built (adopted) for the Japanese language rather recently – “only" about 1,500 years ago. I also doubt that level of literacy was very high until a few centuries ago (though I might be wrong about this one and situation in this regard in Japan was different then in Europe). I heard that even people born blind are able communicate in Japanese rather well (I know this is quite an extreme example).
But more importantly, here are my specific reasons why I don't want to avoid learning kanji:
1. As I wrote in my first post, learning Japanese language is just a little hobby of mine and the amount of time I can spend on it is quite limited. Time spent on learning kanji might be used on e.g. improving grammar, enhancing vocabulary etc. instead of spending it on something that might get me discouraged and make me to drop the language entirely.

2. I'm native in the Czech language (which uses basically just letters used in English and a couple of accented letters), the only other alphabets I ever learnt are Cyrillic (for Russian language) and hiragana + katakana, all 3 of them being quite simple and easy to learn. When I checked on kanji I felt very overwhelmed both by a sheer number of characters (about 1,900
for just jouyou kanji) and the complexity of a single character (= number of strokes, I know it might not be that bad, if one learns radicals and kanji characters are not just a random bunch of lines anymore), not to mention the fact each character can have several readings/meanings. I might got it wrong but I think you can't just learn 200-300 of them and be able to read normal text (of course if someone stays in Japan, learning just common signs is a good idea) - in order to be able to read normal text, one has to learn (almost) all. It might not be completely fair comparison but it might be similar to just like learning let's say 10 out of 26 characters of English alphabet - it won't get you anywhere.

3. I hear that even native Japanese start forgetting (some) kanji once they get out of daily touch with written text. As I wrote in my original post, I start forgetting even some very simple less used katakana characters just after few weeks of not using them - might be just that I still haven't etched them deep enough on my memory though. Considering the time I could generally spend with written Japanese text, I think learning kanji for me would be probably just a waste of time and I would only get frustrated etc., see the #1.

[small]Disclaimer: I'm well aware of fact that my English sucks and I should concentrate on improving it instead of attempting to try to learn another language, so you don't have to tell me that. ;)[/small]
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RE: Japanese for Busy People II

Postby bombush » Thu 06.29.2006 3:38 pm

Ahoj;)

1. Although it doesn't seem like it, learning kanji actually doesn't require much time. You just have to use your time effectively. Try making flashcards and go through them every time you have a little time to spare during which you wouldn't do anything (on bus, in the waiting room, etc.). If you make a flashcard every morning and review it few times a day, along with previously learned kanji and than try to write some from its meaning once a week, you can build a solid knowledge without too much effort. It takes around 5min to go through fifty characters.

2. I personally think that kanji is one of the most beautiful things on japanese language. I'm not learning kanji just because I have to but because I like it. Yeah, there're many of kanji but you shouldn't look at them as thousands of doodles that you'll drown in. After some time, you'll be able to easily remember more complex kanji because you'll be familiar with the writing system (order of strokes,...). And soon you'll be learning the radicals naturally without making any effort in that way. It's true that there are MANY kanji required to being able to read more complex text but you can always start with fairy tales containing furigana. As you'll know more and more kanji, you'll better understand structure of the words and it would be easier to remember them (nyuugakushiken (入学試験) = entrance examination. nyuu from character for "enter", gaku from character "to study", used in words like "school", shiken "test". So the entrance examination is in fact "test for entering the studying process/school" ) . You can do this with most of the words ("the land of rising sun", aka. Japan - 日本(国) - "sun", "origin", ("land")). In fact the ability to analyze almost every word you see like that is one of the reasons I like japanese so much. Try to enjoy every kanji you learn and don't think about the gigantic amount that you don't know.

3. Yes, you're right, japanese start forgetting some kanji and sometimes even need a dictionary to bee able to read news. But it is just natural, you just forget something you don't use (some people are forgetting even handwriting). As for your forgetting of kana - try the flashcards. And don't give up on kanji. it's really beautiful and on top of that, one character can tell more than thousands of letters. Just imagine a situation when you're expressing love. What would tell more about your feelings or have more emotional impact: just to write "LOVE", or "愛"? You can express amazing amount of things with just one character.

Well, that's my $0,02. It's just my opinion. I'm learning japanese for half a year and I know a little more than 100 kanji so I'm a beginner but that's how i see the things. Try the flashcard method (kanji on one side, reading and meaning on the other), it will help you tremendously. And don't forget to write the reading in kana - you'll stop forgetting it, especially katakana. Anyway, good luck with your learning. B)
Last edited by bombush on Thu 06.29.2006 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Japanese for Busy People II

Postby Schattenjedi » Thu 06.29.2006 3:57 pm

Why not just learn 20 or so Kanji as an introduction to see how you like them? Some of the most common ones are painfully easy. one is 一, two is 二, three is 三. Day is 日. It would take all of 1 minute to learn those 4 kanjis. Can't hurt. ;)
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RE: Japanese for Busy People II

Postby hungryhotei » Thu 06.29.2006 4:44 pm

PetrB wrote:
Time spent on learning kanji might be used on e.g. improving grammar, enhancing vocabulary etc. instead of spending it on something that might get me discouraged and make me to drop the language entirely.


Time spent learning Kanji = Time spent enchanching vocabulary.


I also think that vocab is much easier to both learn and retain if you know the Kanji.
天気がいいから、散歩しましょう。
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RE: Japanese for Busy People II

Postby clay » Thu 06.29.2006 4:55 pm

You may want to at least learn the first 100-200 kanji that are most used. That will get you a long way. In fact if you know half of the Joyo kanji (about 1000) you would be able to read the majority (90%+?) of what you come across.

Looking at Kodansha's site, it looks like you are right. There apparantely are romaji versions for II and III:
http://www.kodansha-intl.com/contents/categoryBookList.php?cid=101&c2id=10101

I guess I never noticed them since I didn't think they would be very useful.
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RE: Japanese for Busy People II

Postby crowfeather » Thu 06.29.2006 5:14 pm

Perhaps I am looking at the kanji through the eyes of a beginner, but here are my observations.

In languages that use the Roman alphabet we form words by using various combinations of letters. In Asian languages they form words by using various combinations of strokes.

We must learn the proper sequence of the letters ( i.e. spelling) to form the words we want to use. They must learn the proper strokes to convey the words they want to use. It is simply a different method of forming words.

As far as the 2000 kanji to be learned there are 1000- 2000 + words in young child's English picture dictionary. The beginning picture dictionaries that link pictures to words. All of these words have a different sequence of letters to be memorized.

The value of learning the kanji is that you know the meaning of the word the minute you see one even if you have forgotten the Japanese pronounciation.

For example:

When you see 人  you know it means person even if you forgot it is pronounced
ひと hito

When you see 白(い)  you know it is white even it you forgot it's pronounciation
しろ (い) shiro(i)

Plus the kanji are very logical

Girl is 女 の 子 (lit. woman child) おんな の こ  onna no ko ( domo)
No one said this is easy, but it is possible.
Plus I think the kanji are fascinating.
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RE: Japanese for Busy People II

Postby PetrB » Fri 06.30.2006 4:31 am

bombush wrote:
Try making flashcards and go through them every time you have a little time to spare during which you wouldn't do anything (on bus, in the waiting room, etc.). If you make a flashcard every morning and review it few times a day, along with previously learned kanji and than try to write some from its meaning once a week, you can build a solid knowledge without too much effort.

I'm already doing that ... but with word lists. :)

Schattenjedi wrote:
Why not just learn 20 or so Kanji as an introduction to see how you like them? Some of the most common ones are painfully easy. one is 一, two is 二, three is 三. Day is 日. It would take all of 1 minute to learn those 4 kanjis. Can't hurt. ;)

I actually already learnt all those you listed and some others (like big, small, ten, tree, man, top, mountain ...) without any effort just by coincidence, when I was reading the part on Japanese writing system in Lampkin's Japanese Verbs and Essentials of Grammar ;) (btw, am I the only one wishing this reference book was available in kana version too?)

But here is my stupid question: The only (effective) way to learn kanji is by learning how to write it, right ?
I'm asking because when I peeked at Heisig's Remembering the Kanji vol. I (the only kanji book I was able to get my hands on so far), it was quite different from the book I learnt kana from (Lampkin & Hoshino: Easy Kana Workbook). There seem to be no practice sheets in Heisig's book (not to mention it doesn't have readings ?!), my kana book had not only the example with stroke direction and order, but rows of preprinted characters you were supposed to draw over before attempting to write in blank space, example words, sentences etc.
I never used flashcards for kana, probably because its characters are so much simpler than (lots of ?) kanji so there was no need for it, thus I don't have any idea how effective this method is (I can't possibly imagine how could I learn (or help to remember) the order and direction of strokes from just looking at character, even assuming flashcards have that info on them).

And my last newbie question. Does learning kanji gets any easier (e.g. you get more familiar with characters/radicals), harder (more complex characters are introduced, one starts confusing similarly looking characters etc.) or the learning curve is more or less the same?

Thanks for the information and help provided so far. I will probably try to at least start learning kanji * off to dig up through myriads of clashing opinions on which method/book is the best ;) *
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RE: Japanese for Busy People II

Postby hungryhotei » Fri 06.30.2006 6:17 am

PetrB wrote:

And my last newbie question. Does learning kanji gets any easier (e.g. you get more familiar with characters/radicals), harder (more complex characters are introduced, one starts confusing similarly looking characters etc.) or the learning curve is more or less the same?


Well at the beginning, the first hundred or so its as you said, are so easy that you can learn them without really trying. Then for a while they get a lot harder, for the reasons you guessed. However once you have learnt a fair number of Kanji it once again becomes so easy to at least recognise them that you don't need to put any effort into it.

I don't think Heisig would be appropriate for you. There are lots of Kanji books that give readings and examples of use and all kinds of things that you want.

Stroke order, in general, becomes easier once you get used to it since it follows general patterns. However, I wouldn't worry too much about being able to write the more complex Kanji from memory, you only need to recognise them to be able to read and type.
天気がいいから、散歩しましょう。
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RE: Japanese for Busy People II

Postby Frumious Boojum » Wed 07.05.2006 10:15 pm

clay wrote:
JFBP only has a romaji version for Volume 1.


There's definately a kana version of Volume 1 available... I have it. :)

I bought it a while back when I first started trying to self teach. Well, time went by and I enrolled in school. Bought the romaji version, forgetting that I already had the Kana version. Well, it was a wise choice to keep both. I rather forgot the Kana by the time I started my 101 class.
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