So for example if you encounter a kanji like 願い but don't know the reading for it, you can find it by determining of which radicals it consists.
If you look at the radical table here you can maybe see that you can disassemble 願い into easier parts 厂, 貝, 白. It may be that you could disassemble it further but it usually suffices to know 2-3 mainparts to help you spot it with the radical table.
It takes some familiarity with Kanji to be able to spot the smaller parts out but it helps.
If you use a normal dictionary you should read how they order them somewhere in the beginning because it differs a little depending on which one you use.
Last edited by DarthAsthma; August 2nd, 2012 at 03:31 PM.
But while that kanji dictionary you posted is rather useful, be careful when using it. It's a very non-traditional way to search kanji and by its nature only works online. In general each kanji has one dominant radical. This tends to be a radical that spans the entire top of a character or the entire left side, but this is not always the case. You then look up kanji under that radical and by the total stroke count. This is why it's important to know how to count strokes because it's not always obvious and in fact some conventions are tricky. For example in 道 the left radical is actually 3 strokes because technically it's 辷 . Some radicals also have variations, such as how in 求 the bottom radical is in fact just categorized as 水 . For that matter the left part of your example kanji, excluding 厂, is actually 泉 with the water radical simplified.
As for that it's pretty unusual well I agree, but that's just because it accounts for convenience. Similar to how you don't have to find the page starting with the letter of the word you're seeking in a western language dictionary and instead can just type it in instead.
I agree that anyone that starts with kanji should read through a good tutorial on how counting strokes works because at times when the table fails you, you can still fall back on that to find something.
But all in all it's probably not worth the headaches to learn all the intricacies of using a bookform dictionary (if you have the option of not to). It's definitely a skill that needs way to much time to specifically learn compared to the efficiency it provides, especially if you consider that most (at least german <- japanese ones) dicitionaries have a dedicated part written in them where they explain how to search. So just learn it if you find yourself in a situation where you are just left with the book dictionary I guess.
I used to use one too, and it was just such a hassle to find anything even if I knew where to look (but yeah I consider one's for western languages a hassle too ;) ). Internet dicitionaries in general just make the act of learning new words pretty bearable :) I'd probably be still a monoglot if not for that fact.
Just encountered one hell of a compound 魑魅魍魎 (ちみもうりょう/evil spirits of rivers and mountains) that just looks already weird.
Not sure if I'm diligent enough to add that one to my deck .... :)
Last edited by DarthAsthma; August 3rd, 2012 at 05:51 PM.
That's good for the most part, but the shin'nyou radical (the one in 道), while written with two strokes (辶) in simplified characters and with three strokes (辶) in unsimplified characters, is actually a seven-stroke radical (⾡) and is classified as such in typical kanji dictionaries.
By the same token, 阝 on the left side (kozato-hen) is classified under 8 strokes (⾩), while on the right (oozato-tsukuri), it's 7 strokes (⾢), despite being written with three strokes either way. Or how the "grass" radical (kusa-kanmuri), typically written with three or four strokes (艹、艹、艹), is classified under 6 (艸). ...There are more than a few like that, actually.
Last edited by SaiyaJedi; August 4th, 2012 at 07:21 AM.
Co-Translator, Podcast Regular, and Man-in-Japan at Kanzenshuu, your authoritative Dragon Ball online resource
So I though I'll make a post about one of the best methods of learning Kanji and a few things I've experienced when using it.
Undoubtly one of the most efficient and most untedious ways of learning Kanji is making use of SRF(Spaced Repetition Flashcard) programs.
There are many out there some with arguably better algorithms than others but really which one depends rather on personal disposition. I personally use anki.
So when it comes to flashcards the most important thing to know is what kind of information it is that you want to burn into your mind.
And depending on how you set up your flashcards the way you remember stuff might be somewhat different.
When I began using Anki I set up cards so that they would show me the Kanji and I had to guess the kun'yomi and one of it's meanings (the reason I only write one of the meanings down is that I can better concentrate on the concept of a word instead of trying to learn the cleanest translations for it, especially in japanese knowing the literal meaning of words doesn't seem to be that important when translating into clean english).
What I noticed later is that this method allowed me to learn recognizing Kanji quite fast and allowed me too smooth out my reading of simple stuff.
But the thing it didn't do is making me remember the Kanji in a way that I could write them from hand.
So from this experience I'd recommend setting Kanji up so that they show the kun reading + one meaning so that you have to imagine how to draw them (be sure to follow the stroke rules when drawing them in your mind, your handwriting will turn out to be way cleaner that way). Which surprisingly suffices I occasionally write them down too for the fun of it. But since I don't believe I'll ever plan on getting an award for japanese handwriting, copying Kanjis down on paper isn't necessary for learning them by heart.
Some might notice that I ommit the on'yomi when setting cards up. I've used to do it but it never seemed efficient and I would often forget them that way. I think it is somewhat important to be considerate of the amount of information you put into flashcards and on'yomi was too much for me.
I solved this problem by simply learning compounds along side Kanji. When you see that 間 in words like 週間, 時間 or 期間 you kind of get that one of the on'yomi is かん. I've found this method to be the most efficient right now letting me learn quite a lot of new words and even allowing me to guess often readings of new compounds (although I always check them to be sure).
Although I admit that this leaves the disadvantage of knowing Kanji from compounds but not what they mean by themselves when I'm not diligent enough to look up every part of a compound.
So that's it for my Kanji learning experience for now, maybe some others can shine some light on how they prefer to tackle Kanji and maybe some tricks to make the process more interesting. I've toyed with the idea of grouping Kanji within radical groups and learning them in batches that way but I've found to be more engaged in the process if I just add to my deck what I encounter although it might not be the most efficient way.
I've also used to use heisig but that one wasn't for me. I retain things better when I have a sound to associate with.
In my 漢字源 you can search either under 辶 (3) or ⾡ (7) and get the same subset of kanji. However, when counting the characters' total strokes, both cases use 3 for the radical portion. In other words, 込 is a 5-stroke character even though it can be found under the 7-stroke radical ⾡. But nowhere considers it a 4-stroke character even though technically it is written in 4 strokes.
Now, I've only used a couple different traditional-style kanji dictionaries, but it has been my impression that modern ones either show both radical versions (or one redirects to other), or they just use the the same number of strokes to categorize the radical as they do when counting total strokes.
Anyway how to best learn kanji has been a hot topic of debate for decades. In Japan it's basically rote memory and extreme repitition. To an extent for each person it will vary, but I think it's hard to deny the utility of building up characters from a slowly incrementing pool of radicals or smaller blocks which may not necessarily be radicals, hence Heisig's designation "primitives." If you can bear the procedure of learning the characters before knowing how to read them, it really is an astonishingly fast way to build your repertoire. And if you think about it, it's no good to memorize mass quantities of words if you're not going to be using and reading them, so in the reverse case it makes sense to fill them in as you go. Already having the foundation of "oh yeah I know that character" really helps put things in the bag. And for me personally, the 音読み come quite naturally without deliberate studying just by recognizing patterns.
Just a side comment on Heisig. Although I said that it wasn't for me I definitely recommend it.
The reason I couldn't get used to it for more complex Kanji is, like I said that I retain things better if I have a sound attached to it.
I have an really easy time to remember both the Kanji and the meaning if I can associate it with how its read.
The second reason is that Heisig got boring after a while (I think I made it to lection 20 something).
I had to try a lot of things before I found a method that suited myself.
In that time Heisig taught me a lot of the simple Kanji. Also it involves almost zero work on your part.
If you use Anki you can download a premade Heisig deck and the only thing you have to do then is the revisions.
And yeah because of things like 船出 I always check things for compound that I didn't know even if I guessed them right.
Also really nice how people contribute to the discussion I've picked up some interesting facts so thank you guys.
I avoided Heisig so far because I tend to retain things better through visual repetition (ie. writing them down over and over again) and because that's the way I learned to do it at university for almost two years.
When I started learning about radicals in the second year, I had the feeling I couldn't really grasp the importance of them after memorizing them in a different way for so long.
Maybe it's my personal inability to adapt, but my use of radicals is mostly limited to kanji searches on my electronic dictionary nowadays.
With kanji, writing characters over and over is actually quite good. You see it being created over and over, internalize the stroke order and the "feel" of writing it, and it goes into muscle memory as well. This practice is actually strongly suggested by Heisig. The point of the method is to add an extra layer to help recall even faster and easier, which is mnemonic story creation. It's not really about the importance of radicals so much as a way to create silly stories to go along with characters. But it works in conjunction with any other ways you remember things. The main point he tries to make though is that it's a lot harder to try to memorize multiple unknown things at once - i.e. the character and its meaning AND its readings AND its related vocabulary. It's much faster in the end, according to him, to learn each thing separately and one at a time.
Have you ever heard of the "mind palace" technique to remember things? Basically you imagine a house with rooms and furniture and drawers and whatever you like really, and every time you have something you want to remember you imagine storing it somewhere particular in that house (it doesn't even have to be a house if you don't want). Later, when trying to remember that thing, if you can remember where you put it you're a lot more likely to then remember what it was. That's a proven technique based on the same principle.
I was wondering what the correct reading in what context for 勺 is. The dictionary gives せき and しゃく for it so is it irrelevant which one you use?
Also on a more interesting side note I was wondering how sarcasm is handled in japan as in what are the cues for it.
British sarcasm tends to be very dependent on context and has very flat intonation.
When germans use sarcasm they tend to exaggerate intonation so it becomes really obvious.
Of course people still may express it somewhat a bit different on a person to person basis but these are the 2 points that I've found to be general accepted cues that people have an easier time picking up.
Especially the german one is kind of difficult it really lacks elegance (and I say this as a native german speaker), I tend to prefer the british way but that often gets me misunderstood among my german friends.
So how is this handled in japan? Not to generalize too much but spoken japanese tends to lack intonation in comparison to english/german in general. So how do they handle sarcasm.
Last edited by DarthAsthma; August 6th, 2012 at 05:26 PM.
well i'm not an expert, but i think i was told, they don't do sarcasm, and that often leads to confusion. I read recently as well, that us westerners tend to be less affectionate then other countries. We can't come out and say nice things, we gotta use sarcastic rude talk to each other all the time, and it turns others off apparently. I guess I can see it, not growing up with it, it would seem rude. I do sarcastic stuff like that all the time too. I guess it's something for me to think about.
Bought my book for beginner Japanese today for class next week. It's daunting but I realized in HS I didn't want to learn any of the more traditional languages. Any ideas on what we'll start with? I'm going to guess memorizing common Kanji.
Are most kanji representative of something 木 (I know is tree). Or are some kanji just sounds/syllables for other words?
Big Mam interrupts the plan to take down Kaidou after this current arc AND Doflamingo is taken down by more than one person (Luffy/Law, Big 3, ect)
Forget Kanji at beginner stage, and just focus on the kanas which are the phonetic symbols. When you can read those, then you can start thinking about reading Kanji which are what represent things.
If you can't read the kanas, there's no point in learning Kanji since you need all three scripts to read Japanese.
use this I've learned them in 2 days that way. Katakana tsu, shi and so, n will probably be pretty troublesome for some time(used to mix them up all the time for at least half a month until I sat down and got them down) if you don't hammer them intensively like I did.
After that have fun to adjust your mindset on how to tackle the Kanji :). If you need encouragement google "ajatt" but if you want to get to buisness get anki(or any other flashcard program).
2) As with most languages, if you want to increase the odds of your sarcasm being interpreted properly you have to exaggerate. Exaggerate the content, the speech, the attitude, the timing, whatever. It's not really different in Japanese. I don't know if there are certain social contexts in which it's used much more/less than we're used to in other cultures since I don't live in Japan, but sarcasm definitely is used.
But I find it strange that you characterize spoken Japanese as lacking intonation, because I think it has much more pronounced inflection and intonation than most languages I know or have heard. Japanese are very leading with their tones and verbal delivery of speech in general, actually to the point where some types of responses can basically be recognized just as easily by their tone as their actual words. We are talking about in general of course. It can vary based on who is taking part in the conversation and what it's about.
But it's something I had to get used to at first because it felt weird. Sometimes it feels to me like one speaker is talking to the other as if they were a little kid due to the way they intone. If that makes sense.
Actually that might be a misconception of mine due beginners information.
When I started learning japanese one of the rules of correct pronounciation was to pronounce every syllable in the same tone which is very different to german where it's important to put the right intonation on the majority of words.
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