How Important is Kanji When Learning Japanese?

AnonymousAccount
Posts: 2
Joined: 2011-06-14, 1:33
Real Name: .

How Important is Kanji When Learning Japanese?

Postby AnonymousAccount » 2011-06-14, 20:41

First off, sorry if this topic has been made before. So I finally decided to begin learning a new language yesterday and landed on Japanese, since I have hobbies that would benefit from knowing this language. To make my goal clear, I want to be able to both read and write the language.

I've heard several times that Kanji was the place to start, since the characters are taught in school to children. So I wrote down all 80 characters of the first grade kanji. I clicked on some of the more complex looking characters to make sure I write them correctly only to see that there are simplified forms of them. Not only that, I was then made aware of "shinjitai", while sharing some simplifications used in "Simplified Chinese", use other kanji that are not simplified or simplified in a different way. To top this all off, I do some further reading and see that some people want kanji abolished entirely in favor of other methods to bring loanwords or foreign words into their language, which I'm assuming they're pushing for katakana. So to make sure I have this right...

Kanji- Characters Japan borrowed from China for their own language, but have their own pronunciations for, along with some simplifications of their own, if not also borrowed from the Chinese or not at all for other characters.

Kana- Hiragana and Katakana. Hiragana is used for words the Japanese themselves came up with that there was no Chinese word for, and Katakana is used to bring foreign words into the language, but also used to describe onomatopoeia. Apparently, kanji is also seen as too formal for some occasions?

And then "romaji" is simply used to describe how japanese characters are written out to be pronounced, they are "romanized".

So what's going on here, exactly? Should I learn kanji at all, or should I just stick with hiragana as the Japanese have likely come up with facsimiles in place of those characters? I'm aware that kanji must be taught in schools for a reason, along with why Japanese newspapers still publish the most common characters, but I do not know what that reason is.

A lot of confusion here, but you'll only have to tell me once and things should go blazing from there. Thanks in advance.

User avatar
Kasuya
Posts: 1008
Joined: 2008-11-14, 7:31
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: How Important is Kanji When Learning Japanese?

Postby Kasuya » 2011-06-14, 21:00

If literacy in Japanese is of any importance to you, then learning (to read) kanji is a must. Otherwise you can ignore them.

User avatar
md0
Posts: 7633
Joined: 2010-08-08, 19:56
Country: FI Finland (Suomi)

Re: How Important is Kanji When Learning Japanese?

Postby md0 » 2011-06-14, 21:42

Kanji is essential part of written Japanese. It's not like in Korean where they might only occasionally appear to clarify the meaning. Everyone uses kanji, newspaper and text messages alike.
If you are going to read Japanese, you need Kanji. I don't think there are even methods to learn Japanese without using Kanji (except if they use only romaji in the first place)
"If you like your clause structure, you can keep your clause structure"
Stable: Cypriot Greek (el-cy)Standard Modern Greek (el)English (en) Current: Standard German (de)Elementary Finnish (fi)
For fun: Legacy: France French (fr)Japanese (ja)Standard Turkish (tr)

AnonymousAccount
Posts: 2
Joined: 2011-06-14, 1:33
Real Name: .

Re: How Important is Kanji When Learning Japanese?

Postby AnonymousAccount » 2011-06-14, 23:25

I know Kanji is still important for literacy, I only stated that there have been arguments in the past about how much longer Japan should use it. Since it's still a necessity then, should I learn these characters as they are traditionally, since not all simplified characters for loanwords Japan has borrowed are actually accepted (oddly enough)?

User avatar
hashi
Posts: 9191
Joined: 2008-11-02, 2:39
Gender: male
Country: NZ New Zealand (New Zealand / Aotearoa)
Contact:

Re: How Important is Kanji When Learning Japanese?

Postby hashi » 2011-06-14, 23:30

AnonymousAccount wrote:Kana- Hiragana and Katakana. Hiragana is used for words the Japanese themselves came up with that there was no Chinese word for, and Katakana is used to bring foreign words into the language, but also used to describe onomatopoeia. Apparently, kanji is also seen as too formal for some occasions?


This is not entirely true. Hiragana is used as a syllabary used for the Japanese language alongside the use of Kanji, so all Kanji words can be written in Hiragana. Hiragana-exclusive words are usually those that are used commonly, or are particles or grammatical morphemes.

The words the Japanese came up with themselves usually have Kanji too, and this is where you get some weird readings for them. For example 大人. The former character is commonly だい (dai) or おお (oo)、and the latter is じん (jin)、ひと (hito) or にん (nin), but together they make おとな (otona) - adult, which was a Japanese word when Kanji was introduced.

The third use for Katakana is similar to our putting everything in capitals, it shows stress on a word or perhaps yelling. However, this is not really such a standard occurrence.

User avatar
md0
Posts: 7633
Joined: 2010-08-08, 19:56
Country: FI Finland (Suomi)

Re: How Important is Kanji When Learning Japanese?

Postby md0 » 2011-06-14, 23:32

Not sure what you mean with that
should I learn these characters as they are traditionally, since not all simplified characters for loanwords Japan has borrowed are actually accepted (oddly enough)?

Kanji as a character set is closer to traditional Chinese characters, yes. But there are plenty of Japanese simplifications (may or may not be the same as PRC's), made-up characters, semantic differences, so you should learn the Japanese characters, not the traditional Chinese.
"If you like your clause structure, you can keep your clause structure"
Stable: Cypriot Greek (el-cy)Standard Modern Greek (el)English (en) Current: Standard German (de)Elementary Finnish (fi)
For fun: Legacy: France French (fr)Japanese (ja)Standard Turkish (tr)

User avatar
hashi
Posts: 9191
Joined: 2008-11-02, 2:39
Gender: male
Country: NZ New Zealand (New Zealand / Aotearoa)
Contact:

Re: How Important is Kanji When Learning Japanese?

Postby hashi » 2011-06-14, 23:37

AnonymousAccount wrote:I know Kanji is still important for literacy, I only stated that there have been arguments in the past about how much longer Japan should use it. Since it's still a necessity then, should I learn these characters as they are traditionally, since not all simplified characters for loanwords Japan has borrowed are actually accepted (oddly enough)?


There are also calls for English to be reformed, so does that mean we shouldn't learn to spell the way it is now? Of course we should. Kanji is still used by 99.9999% of Japanese people, so it is important to learn.

User avatar
Kasuya
Posts: 1008
Joined: 2008-11-14, 7:31
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: How Important is Kanji When Learning Japanese?

Postby Kasuya » 2011-06-14, 23:55

AnonymousAccount wrote:I know Kanji is still important for literacy, I only stated that there have been arguments in the past about how much longer Japan should use it.

There is no prospect of Japan abandoning kanji in the foreseeable future. In fact, the number of general use kanji was recently increased by 191 kanji.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C5%8Dy%C5%8D_kanji#History

Śrāmaṇera

Re: How Important is Kanji When Learning Japanese?

Postby Śrāmaṇera » 2011-06-15, 23:31

Good point by Kasuya here. The number of 常用漢字 (kanji of general use) has indeed been increased recently.

Anyway, many attempts to reform the writing system of Japanese have been made in the past century and none of them worked. There are far too many homophones and kanji is the only way to distinguish them when you write :

懸ける 欠ける
架ける 賭ける
駆ける
掛ける

All these verbs are pronounced the same way : KAKERU. And their meanings are very different.
The Japanese writing is the most complex you can find in the world for the reason that you can't simply choose to write either in kanji, hiragana or katakana. Only the combination of the three makes writing possible. If you write in kana only, you'll have the homophones problem and the reader will get tired trying to figure out what it means. If you write in kanji only... well, you can't. It's not Chinese.

And I dare say romaji will never be used to replace the current set of characters. It's just impossible.

User avatar
モモンガ
Posts: 1050
Joined: 2009-12-20, 12:07
Real Name: Walery Smutas
Gender: male
Location: Konty Vrotsuafskaye
Country: PL Poland (Polska)

Re: How Important is Kanji When Learning Japanese?

Postby モモンガ » 2011-06-16, 17:35

Chinese characters are fun.
Why so many people wish Japanese would be writen without them?
learning them at first is hard, but as you go on, it's really easy.
[flag]tr[/flag]Türkçe [flag]vi[/flag]㗂越[flag]lo[/flag]ພາສາລາວ[flag]tet[/flag]Prasa Tetun

User avatar
Kasuya
Posts: 1008
Joined: 2008-11-14, 7:31
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: How Important is Kanji When Learning Japanese?

Postby Kasuya » 2011-06-16, 18:22

モモンガ wrote:Chinese characters are fun.
Why so many people wish Japanese would be writen without them?
learning them at first is hard, but as you go on, it's really easy.

Now, now. Don't give any uninformed souls the wrong idea. Learning thousands of kanji cannot reasonably be called "easy".

Śrāmaṇera

Re: How Important is Kanji When Learning Japanese?

Postby Śrāmaṇera » 2011-06-17, 0:47

Maybe Momonga means that after some time you might be able to figure out their meaning more intuitively, or that it requires less effort. :)

I've also heard the first thousand is the hardest to remember.

It took me about a year to study around 980 characters. I think the rest of the joyo kanji list took me less time. It feels just so good to be able to read in Japanese without having to stop to check the characters in a dictionary all the time.

That's what I wanted to say from the beginning. If you don't study kanji, then you will never be able to enjoy reading in Japanese. You will never have access to all the literature.

User avatar
モモンガ
Posts: 1050
Joined: 2009-12-20, 12:07
Real Name: Walery Smutas
Gender: male
Location: Konty Vrotsuafskaye
Country: PL Poland (Polska)

Re: How Important is Kanji When Learning Japanese?

Postby モモンガ » 2011-06-17, 21:03

being easy is bad word, but I wanted to say that once you get to know the components, it's just making words out of them.
it takes a lot of effort, but satisfaction, is something you cannot pay with master card.
[flag]tr[/flag]Türkçe [flag]vi[/flag]㗂越[flag]lo[/flag]ພາສາລາວ[flag]tet[/flag]Prasa Tetun

brad12
Posts: 6
Joined: 2011-05-12, 6:09
Real Name: brad John
Gender: male
Location: Maywood

Re: How Important is Kanji When Learning Japanese?

Postby brad12 » 2011-06-28, 8:28

Japanese language is stand on three scripts. i.e hiragana, katakana and kanji. you know these scripts then you can learn japanese very well. So importance of kanji while learning japanese language is very higher.


Return to “Japanese (日本語)”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest