日本語の雑談 (Japanese Language Discussion)

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Nukalurk
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Postby Nukalurk » 2005-06-21, 0:44

Although Japanese hasn't won, I decided to make my own learning month (or more, let's see ;) ). :lol:

Daniel, your course looks impressive! :D

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Postby Car » 2005-07-31, 18:42

Two weeks ago, I decided to buy a Japanese course (I had to use a coupon). I decided to go for Japanisch im Sauseschritt (a German adaption of Japanese for busy people, the standard edtion with also uses Romaji...), because it was recommended, I could have a look at it (unlike other courses) and I needed to use this coupon after all.
But how do I start, what more do I need? Rounin recommended the book Kanji ABC and Lyle once recommended Kodansha's Furigana Japanese Dictionary. Expug mentioned Kana and Kanji Pict-O-Graphix.
I already have two books about the Sino-Japanese characters (Nicht überall schreibt man mit ABC and Gemalte Wörter, the latter actually only for Chinese).
Please correct my mistakes!

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Postby dannysunshine » 2005-08-10, 12:52

I'm also just starting out on my Japanese journey. My first goal is to learn kana because I've heard that one should avoid romaji if possible. (Of course, can one really when one is learning alone?)

I like Manga University's Kana de Manga a lot. It introduces both hiragana and katakana in what I find to be an innovative fashion. Each syllable (ko, for example) is introduced simultaneously in its hiragana and katakana forms, one on the left-hand page and the other on the right-hand page. The syllable is introduced with a common Japanese word that also has cultural significance and a picture drawn in manga-style. It's easy to learn to recognize the forms with this book, but for writing practice and a more thorough explanation of how dakuten changes the sounds, I like Easy Kana Workbook by Rita Lampkin.

I haven't tackled kanji, yet. And I'm running into the problem of actually hearing the sounds. I haven't found a good text yet that comes with CDs or cassettes. I have Japanese for Busy People, too, as well as Teach Yourself Beginner's Japanese, which I like better except for the sad reality that pretty much every thing is in romaji...

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Postby Car » 2005-08-11, 10:58

Thanks! For now, I'll try my luck with Kana Pict-O-Graphix, but Kana de Manga sounds really nice, too! I'll see.
You don't know "(Mangajin's) Basic Japanese Through Comics", do you? I read the reviews at Amazon, but just like with most English-language courses, I can't have a look at them since even the big bookstores I know don't have them. :(
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Postby dannysunshine » 2005-08-11, 14:22

I actually held that very book in my hands last Saturday at a bookstore near where I live. I didn't have much time to look at it – or the other books I had collected :) - just 30 minutes before a movie started. Anyway, my initial impression was that it's a good resource for both cultural insights and learning colloquial Japanese, but it's not really a study guide for the Japanese beginner. On the other hand, the cultural points are good for a novice, even one who is not too interested in manga. I also had a look at Japanese in Mangaland. The principle is basically the same, using manga images to illustrate language points. If I remember correctly, the language explained seemed more basic. Hopefully I can return to the bookstore this week-end and make a final decision about Japanese books I'll purchase. I can post my findings if you like.

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Postby Car » 2005-08-11, 15:22

dannysunshine wrote:I actually held that very book in my hands last Saturday at a bookstore near where I live. I didn't have much time to look at it – or the other books I had collected :) - just 30 minutes before a movie started. Anyway, my initial impression was that it's a good resource for both cultural insights and learning colloquial Japanese, but it's not really a study guide for the Japanese beginner.


So the reviews seem to be quite accurate. I didn't expect it to be a study guide for the beginner, but to be useful once you know at least some Japanese, would you agree with that?

I also had a look at Japanese in Mangaland. The principle is basically the same, using manga images to illustrate language points. If I remember correctly, the language explained seemed more basic. Hopefully I can return to the bookstore this week-end and make a final decision about Japanese books I'll purchase. I can post my findings if you like.


You can find the first lessons on the web site. I've had a look at the German translation several times and read quite a few reviews about it. It's still basic, but I read many times that you should better know some Japanese to get much out of it, it's said not to be enough alone, because the speed is too fast, the explanations not sufficient and the structure is said to be illogical, too (my impression was that this seems to be true). So nothing for a beginner, but because it's different and does teach things, a nice add-on if you already have some knowledge. There's also a second volume of it. (Not available here yet, so I don't know it)
Yes, please post your findings!
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Postby dannysunshine » 2005-08-12, 15:39

Yes, I definately agree that "Mangajin's) Basic Japanese Through Comics" works well as a supplement after a student has reached an advanced beginner stage. What struck me about the book was how unusual some of the words were -- you might never need them in a conversation, but they would be helpful if you were to read material written for native speakers, or even if you just wanted to get a better insight into Japanese culture.

Thanks for the link to "Japanese in Mangaland." It seems like the words are indeed more 'practical' than in the other text, but you're right that it goes fairly fast.

I'll see what I find at the bookstore. Hopefully, the magic book that will open Japanese up for me ( :lol: )

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Postby Car » 2005-08-12, 18:28

The stuff arrived today, I had not much time to look at it, but here's my first impression of Kana Pict-O-Graphix:
The first thing I noticed is its size, it fits easily into every pocket. Then, you have all the Hiragana (the Katana are located at the end). After an introduction, they start teaching both. The Hiragana at the top, the Katakana at the bottom, different colours (grey and black) making clear which is which, too. At first, you'll see, before they are taught, an overview of what you'll be taught. On the pages itself, you have the Romaji at first, followed by an English sentence using the sound which links it to the character and the picture which looks similar to it. So for A, you have "Ah! I see the letter "A."" for the Hiragana in a box, then the Hiragana with a picture which looks similar to the Hiragana and has a bold A in it. After that, it's the same for the Katakana, just a different picture is used. The sentences usually differ, though. The book also covers voiced and unvoiced sounds, doublers, combined forms and look-alikes.
It doesn't teach stroke-order, but using the double method of text and picture helping you, I think it could work. I know the text method worked for me. The problem I have with it and which is that it's aimed at American English native speakers, so I simply pronounce some sounds differently (I speak British English), the sounds of the language taught seem sometimes too way off (I had this feeling when testing this method elsewhere), or it may happen that I don't know a word they use for imagination. This, however, shouldn't be a problem for you, obviously. So yes, it looks really, really nice and because of its size, you can take it everywhere and have a look at it.
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Postby dannysunshine » 2005-08-15, 18:04

Well, I did get to go to the bookstore and here is my report:

"Japanese in Mangaland": My overall impression is that it is clearly written and easy to understand, even without recourse to a teacher. No understanding of grammar terms is assumed, so all terms are defined. The images and text are laid out well so that you can easily read explanations. This is not always the case for all books of this sort; I found that Mangajin's text had a lot of good information, but the text and images were printed pretty close together, making it harder to read. "Japanese in Mangaland" does move rapidly, but I found it strangely lacking in depth.

Lesson 7, for example, deals with the various first and second person pronouns, which apparently change according to age, gender, and interlocutor. The author does a good job of explaining grammar terms for novices, so he defines the term personal pronouns using, amazingly, jo from Catalan as an example. After the explanations, you get a series of manga pictures that illustrate the concept, with text ranging from one word to a mini-dialogue. Below or to the side of the illustration, you get a hiragana translation (if the text is in Kanji), a romanization, a literal word-for-word translation that follows the Japanese word order, and a more colloquial English translation. There are usually a few exercises for you to do as consolidation of your knowledge.

I thought it was beautifully organized and very easy to follow. It contains some nuances of language use which seem to be missing from "Japanese for Busy People" -- such as the use (or elimination) of personal pronouns in Japanese. That said, at US$24 it remains on my list as a possibility only if I have enough money at some point and need to extra practice.

"Japanese the Manga Way": I read that this book is associated with the Mangajin group -- the author was connected as a review consultant for the magazine maybe. Its format is similar to both "Japanese in Mangaland" and "Mangajin's Basic Japanese through Comics." Select topics of Japanese grammar is explained and illustrated by a frame or panel of manga. Like the other books, under or beside the picture you have the knaji/kana text of the dialogue, a literal translation into English but with the same word order as Japanese, a translation into more colloquial English, and sometimes another translation based on politeness register.

"Japanese the Manga Way" focuses on more basic topics than what I find to be the more specialized "Mangajin's Basic Japanese through Comics." Some topics include: voiced/unvoiced pairs, three basic sentence types, sentence particles, desu and masu…If I remember correctly, there are no follow up exercises like in "Japanese in Mangaland" and the text is smaller print and looks a little "crowded," but I think it gives much more information and would make a solid reference / companion to another textbook (like "Japanese for Busy People." It's US$ 24.95 and is on my "to buy" list. I would recommend this book before "Mangajin's Basic Japanese through Comics," though that text is a nice follow-up to "Japanese the Manga Way."

Most of the other books I saw were either workbooks for kana / kanji or survival phrase type things. I did discover that Japanese for Busy People does have CDs (which I'm sure everyone else already knew!), but I'd have to order them and I'm not sure how I feel about the textbook. In the introduction, the authors say that the book contains adult language and that "the simplistic and childish ways of expression found in most beginning texts do not occur" (page eight). But it does seem a little simplistic to me -- and geared to a business person. Car, what do you think?

I'm still a little lost on how to begin. I'm working on the kana, but I don't have any audio.

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Postby Car » 2005-08-15, 18:32

Thank you very much for your detailed comments on the books!

dannysunshine wrote:I did discover that Japanese for Busy People does have CDs (which I'm sure everyone else already knew!), but I'd have to order them and I'm not sure how I feel about the textbook.


Well, I did, but I already had to send them back because of scratches... My impression of the German version was that they couldn't have selected a worse speaker, he speaks extremely slowly and with a very monotonious voice, making listening to the CDs quite hard. What they do have is several different speakers, I think they claim to have 20. That certainly is nice and the CDs are clearly structured. I couldn't hear much of it (I only ckecked them), but this speaker really disturbed me. I prefer CDs where you hear no other language than the one being taught.

In the introduction, the authors say that the book contains adult language and that "the simplistic and childish ways of expression found in most beginning texts do not occur" (page eight). But it does seem a little simplistic to me -- and geared to a business person. Car, what do you think?


Yes, it definitely is geared to a business person, but even those I'm not one, I don't think that's bad after all. Many of those words are important and there are so many courses for the average person teaching words you'll never need. There's also enough for non-business persons. They try to teach the Japanese foreigners need most, so it's no surprise business plays a huge role there.
Hmm, yes, I just browsed through the lessons and even in later lessons, you'll find the typical language book sentences and contents.

I'm still a little lost on how to begin. I'm working on the kana, but I don't have any audio.


Since I don't have any audio again, I started to read the instruction about the language, scripts, and the pronunciation. Then, I went back to the Kana charts to see the stroke order (actually not big enough, you'll need to look closely) and together with Kana Pict-O-Graphix, I worked on the vowels today, writing them several times. I think after writing each of them 12 times (both scripts), I already know them quite well, I can more or less draw them without looking at them or the stroke order. So I can recommend the Pict-O-Graphix book. Since I'll have to wait for the audio, I'll continue with the Kana and hope to know them well before starting with the lessons.
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Postby dannysunshine » 2005-08-19, 17:21

Thanks for your feedback on the CDs. I think I may get them for English speakers, though, as you say, it is disappointing when you hear another language besides the target language. I've used TY books before and thought that I was learning more British English than the target language -- and I don't want to learn British English since I already am a native speaker of 'Amerikanisch.' (Ich glaube es gibt doch ein Unterschied zwischen Amerikanisch und Englisch, oder?)

But I digress! :)

I'm practicing my stroke order too for now. Thank you for your thoughts on 'Japanese for Busy People.' I think you're right about the language taught in the book. 'Regular', i.e., non-business, people will find useful information.

Good luck with your studies!

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Postby Car » 2005-08-20, 10:50

dannysunshine wrote:I've used TY books before and thought that I was learning more British English than the target language -- and I don't want to learn British English since I already am a native speaker of 'Amerikanisch.' (Ich glaube es gibt doch ein Unterschied zwischen Amerikanisch und Englisch, oder?)


Oh, those TY CDs where Americans complain about the British English, that really seems to disturb people (which I can understand, a pronunciation based on American English can something disturb me, when used to represent the sounds in writing). Well, "Amerikanisch" is often used when translating a book ("Aus dem Amerikanischen"), but usually that's just called "amerikanisches Englisch", if you need to distinguish the English. I always found this "Amerikansich" to be weird.

I'm practicing my stroke order too for now. Thank you for your thoughts on 'Japanese for Busy People.' I think you're right about the language taught in the book. 'Regular', i.e., non-business, people will find useful information.


What helped me, too, was saying or even singing the syllable while practicing the stroke order, so that the connection between the two becomes even stronger.

Good luck with your studies!


Good luck for you, too!
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Postby Axystos » 2005-08-25, 10:14

I have a question and I hope someone can answer it.

It's about the english word 'but'. In my book, 3 translations are given (が けれど and けど) with が being the most formal and けど the most casual version.

However, at an earlier stage, I learned the word でも for 'but'. How does this word fit in with the other three?
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Postby Car » 2005-08-25, 20:01

After the CDs arrived on Monday, I started studying yesterday, but how do you learn the words? My vocabulary program can display Kana, but the input field is too small for me to see them.
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Postby BobMaster0 » 2005-09-01, 20:10

I've been studying Japanese for about two years now and thought I'd give my thoughts on books since that's what everyone seems to be discussing here. In the early stages of my learning I used my textbooks for class (the Nakama series) in conjunction with a few other books I picked up online. I found the Nakama series to be fairly effective, but I wouldn't really recommend it unless you are using it for a class since is kind of expensive. I was lucky enough to get the second volume for free.
One of the mainstays in my library was and still is the Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary by Jack Halpern. This book was an invaluable resource when it came to learning kanji. I decided after about three months of study that I was going to make a serious, concerted effort to learn all of the Joyo kanji, and this books is what I used to accomplish that goal in about a year's time.
Two more books I highly recommend are A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar and A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar. These two are the absolute best resources (in English) that I have seen for Japanese grammar. However, they can be hard to find in the states, and are kind of pricey if you buy them here. I ordered mine from a Japanese company and had some one in Japan ship them to me. Doing that saved me at least $20 on each book.
I've never used any of the books discussed by previous poster, so I can't comment on the quality of them. In looking for books, I avoided anything using romaji like the plague, and stayed far away from anything with the word "manga" in the title. My course of study was more geared towards grammar, characters, and vocabulary. After two years of that, I've gotten to where I can get the gist of articles in the newspaper without the aid of a dictionary.
Now that I think about it, I do have the Kodansha Furigana Japanese Dictionary. It's not a bad dictionary, and works for when you are starting out. However, nothing is quite like having a nice electronic dictionary at your side. While not a cheap investment, if you are serious about studying Japanese over a long period of time, getting an electronic dictionary is a worthwhile long-term investment. It will serve you well, and last a long time.

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Postby Car » 2005-09-02, 18:00

BobMaster0 wrote:I've been studying Japanese for about two years now and thought I'd give my thoughts on books since that's what everyone seems to be discussing here.


ありがとうございます! :D

In looking for books, I avoided anything using romaji like the plague, and stayed far away from anything with the word "manga" in the title.


Is Romaji really that bad? It's getting on my nerves that such much is in Romaji only, but I really manage not to look at the Romaji before having read the Kana, I think it helps me to check whether I got it right and am noticing progress in reading (which could be clearly better if everything were in Kana, too, obviously).

Now that I think about it, I do have the Kodansha Furigana Japanese Dictionary. It's not a bad dictionary, and works for when you are starting out.


What's better then? I usually don't use my printed dictionaries much, but like to have one just in case.

However, nothing is quite like having a nice electronic dictionary at your side. While not a cheap investment, if you are serious about studying Japanese over a long period of time, getting an electronic dictionary is a worthwhile long-term investment. It will serve you well, and last a long time.


Which one(s) can you recommend? What about the available online dictionaries?
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Postby BobMaster0 » 2005-09-04, 3:00

ありがとうございます!


No problem.


Is Romaji really that bad?


While I don't have a good argument to support it at the moment, I feel like using a text with romaji is just not worth it. Real Japanese texts are not going to have romaji, so why should my study materials. That's another reason I learned so many kanji so soon. I got tired of seeing things I couldn't read.


What's better then? I usually don't use my printed dictionaries much, but like to have one just in case.


This is the only one I ever bought (aside from kanji dictionaries) so I don't know. I've used mostly online and electronic dictionaries.


Which one(s) can you recommend? What about the available online dictionaries?


The electronic dictionary I use is the SHARP PW-9300. I bought it about 6 months ago from amazon.co.jp. I checked the price online just now and it was listed at ¥12,980, which I think is a good deal.

As for online dictionaries, the one I use more than any other is http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/. The interface is in Japanese, so that might make it difficult to use at first. This was introduced to me originally by my girlfriend, who is Japanese. The only other dictionary I've ever used is Jim Breen's dictionary. It's good and highly regarded by most people I've talked to. You can check it out here: http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/wwwjdic.html. I'm sure there are other good resources out there, I just haven't found them or looked for them yet.

I'll try to be more active on the Japanese board now that classes have started again. Is Daniel still around and is he still working on the Japanese course he started?

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Postby 勺园之鬼 » 2005-09-04, 16:13

This is an interesting topic, and I have been studying Japanese (seriously!) for a few weeks; I thought I might give my opinion too.

BobMaster0 wrote:
Is Romaji really that bad?


While I don't have a good argument to support it at the moment, I feel like using a text with romaji is just not worth it. Real Japanese texts are not going to have romaji, so why should my study materials. That's another reason I learned so many kanji so soon. I got tired of seeing things I couldn't read.


I definitely second BobMaster0 here. What is the use of having to bother with romaji when you will not be confronted to it when using the language? I have been studying Chinese for years (now I speak it fluently), and the romanisation system (called pinyin) is definitely necessary as this is not a phonetic writing system; that means that when you don't know a word, you don't know how it is pronounced and you need to know its pinyin. This is why Chinese scholars use it when they learn how to write their own language.
Having started later to study Korean and Japanese, on the opposite, because the writing systems are phonetic, I never really relied on the romanisation systems (especially about Korean, since the "standard" romanisation is worse than anything to me). Once you learn the phonetic value of a letter/sign (hangül/hiragana), and the possible changes when surrounded by other letters, what is the point of getting bothered with a romanisation if you can read the language without it? In the case of Japanese, new kanji the learners don't know are always given with furigana (that's basically hiragana and/or katakana) over the concerned kanji. Which is one reason less to get bothered with romaji...

BobMaster0 wrote:
Which one(s) can you recommend? What about the available online dictionaries?


The electronic dictionary I use is the SHARP PW-9300. I bought it about 6 months ago from amazon.co.jp. I checked the price online just now and it was listed at ¥12,980, which I think is a good deal.


I think it's relevant to mention that since English is not everybody's best language, there are all sorts of Japanese dictionaries with Chinese, French, German, Korean, Spanish. You don't have to go through English... ;)

(All the Japanese I met so far had one of these dictionaries :lol:)

A few pages with different models:
http://citron.maxs.jp/memo/consulter.html
http://www.gaikoku.info/index.htm (languages in the left column)
http://www.sharp.co.jp/products/cttcard/

Many of my Japanese friends had a Casio one; I don't know about other brands but I remember these were quite good already:
http://www.casio.co.jp/exword/2005/foreign.html

BobMaster0 wrote:As for online dictionaries, the one I use more than any other is http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/. The interface is in Japanese, so that might make it difficult to use at first. This was introduced to me originally by my girlfriend, who is Japanese. The only other dictionary I've ever used is Jim Breen's dictionary. It's good and highly regarded by most people I've talked to. You can check it out here: http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/wwwjdic.html. I'm sure there are other good resources out there, I just haven't found them or looked for them yet.


I use both of these too... ;)
Probably a little off topic, to BobMaster0: http://dic.naver.com/ is a good Korean dictionary website which features along with Korean-English, Korean-Japanese, Korean-Chinese, and even Hanja dictionaries for Korean.

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Postby Car » 2005-09-05, 12:28

BobMaster0 wrote:While I don't have a good argument to support it at the moment, I feel like using a text with romaji is just not worth it. Real Japanese texts are not going to have romaji, so why should my study materials.


I'll have to make the best out of it, then. Fortunately, after this volume, they don't use Romaji anymore, so I'll live with it until then. It helps me to identify the words (I can read them, at least with the help of a book), but they actually have vocabulary lists, so that's no real point, either, the only one is that I can control myself, but I definitely could improve more if they actually used at least the Kana everywhere.

Thanks for the recommendations, I'll check the links later. I knew the two dictionaries, but had no idea if they're good, there are, after all, many dictionaries out there which may look good at first sight, but aren't in reality.
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Postby BobMaster0 » 2005-09-05, 19:15

Thanks for the link to the Korean dictionary, Junming. I've haven't been able to find a good one yet. To answer you questions: 僕はアメリカの出身で彼女のほうはここで留学しています。


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