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Thread: Kanji, anyone?

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    Arrow Kanji, anyone?

    Kanji....what can I say about kanji.

    Probably the most frustrating thing for those of us learning Japanese as a foreign language is kanji. Kanji are both amazing and depressing at times. Bottom line, learning kanji is a life-long endeavor for most of us.

    What does everyone think? Comments/questions about kanji......

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    i think i rather have a text written in kanji that i can look up if i dont know them than some guy posting wrong transliterated romaji and asking me what they mean ^^°
    kanji can be darn helpful...but are hard to learn...i find the hardest part is not forgetting about them after a week or so

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    Just a question: Is Kanji read identical to the Chinese characters it's based off of? I mean, I knew the two were similar, but when my mother managed to rattle off entire sentences and give a (relatively) close translation to what I knew, I was fairly surprised.

    So, if the two aren't read identically, what are the differences?

    Even said, it's not going to make it easier for me if I were to learn Japanese- I don't know a word of Chinese either.

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    Kanji is horrible. @_@ Yes you can look them up but what exactly ARE you looking for when you try to find their meaning? Confusing....I forget Kanji that is not basic (like 私) within a few hours. T.T I maybe have about....90 memorized. *sighs*

    As far as how close they are...I'm not really sure. They are similar, yes, but I think my sensei told us the original Chinese characters are generally much more complicated and detailed.


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    modern chinese characters are usually shorter (less stroke count) than the classical ones that are more identical to the ones still used in japan.
    like the kanji for east it´s 東 in japanese but 东 in chinese but originated from the same original kanji.
    some other kanji are basically the same but are a little different in stroke count or looks like 德 (de - virtue) in chinese and 徳 (toku)in japanese.
    also some may have the same meaning and are written the same way, but are just spoken completely different like 猫 which is "neko" in japanese and "mao" in chinese.
    yet some are spoken very similar like 愛 "ai" ...it´s more or less the same in japanese and chinese (but threre again the modern chinese character has less stroke count it´s 爱^^&#176

    i hope that explains a little. in general chinese sounds very different and for me it´s a pain to speak and pronounce correctly ^^°
    Last edited by LavaBug; 01-10-2007 at 12:41 AM.

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    LavaBug pretty much said it all to explain some of the differences between characters in Japanese and Chinese. As far as speaking Chinese, it's the world's most notorious "tonal" language, so pronunciation is never gonna be easy. But it's still a beautiful language to speak.

    Anyway, back to Japanese...

    Quote Originally Posted by WhatIsAUserName View Post
    Just a question: Is Kanji read identical to the Chinese characters it's based off of? I mean, I knew the two were similar, but when my mother managed to rattle off entire sentences and give a (relatively) close translation to what I knew, I was fairly surprised.

    So, if the two aren't read identically, what are the differences?
    Kanji in Japanese have two main ways of being read:
    音読み (Onyomi reading): the Japanese approximation of the Chinese pronunciation of the original character.

    and 訓読み (Kunyomi reading): the reading based on a native Japanese word that closely approximates the meaning of the original Chinese character.

    Some characters have multiple kunyomi readings, and some don't have any kunyomi reading at all. For that reason, kanji readings have to be learned on a case by case basis. This can be very frustrating, I know.

    The main difference between characters in both languages (Chinese and Japanese) is the way they are used in each language. In Chinese, each character holds to one central idea and does not get modified within a sentence. For this reason, sentence structure in Chinese is much simpler than you might think. In Japanese, however, kanji are often used as stems for verbs, adjectives, and other parts of speech, making kanji much more flexible in sentences.

    Rememberance of these ideograms from hell is always tough, but the sad truth is that the only way to really remember them is to use them and practice. For this reason, writing practice is very important in Japanese. They have entire schools in Japan dedicated to calligraphy, for goodness sake!

    I'd say. for those struggling with kanji, start with the basics. Do some research and get the list for Grade 1 Kanji. Then, take about 5-8 a week and study each individually. You'll find that as you read more and more, pronunciations come naturally. Far more important, concentrate on memorizing basic stroke orders. I found out quickly that certain shapes will always be drawn the same, no matter what character it is.

    That's it for today!
    Keeping coming with questions though! I'm glad to help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kendoka7 View Post
    Far more important, concentrate on memorizing basic stroke orders. I found out quickly that certain shapes will always be drawn the same, no matter what character it is.
    Yes, I did notice this. Which is very convenient when im trying to write 日and 日曜日. You can see, the "日" is included in the "曜" ^_^


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    Haha, yes, that's a perfect example.

    曜 (day of the week) is a particularly difficult character to write, especially with the correct stroke order. With this example, there are 3 different parts to the character; the main radical being 日 (day).

    When writing, you would first draw the main radical (4 strokes), then the part in the upper right (6 strokes), and last the part in the lower right (8 strokes).

    Even worse is the fact that each stroke in each part of the character is drawn in a certain order. ><

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    Is it really necacery to follow the stroke order, for sheer reading value? I'm trying to learn Japanese, but I'll I've picked up is the ability to read some common and distint kanji, like Katana and Gen, and some Katakana. Also, how do you get the ability to write Kanji on the computer? Cause the only way I found is putting it in a translater, and copying it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryouga View Post
    Is it really necacery to follow the stroke order, for sheer reading value? I'm trying to learn Japanese, but I'll I've picked up is the ability to read some common and distint kanji, like Katana and Gen, and some Katakana. Also, how do you get the ability to write Kanji on the computer? Cause the only way I found is putting it in a translater, and copying it.
    Most (if not all) operating systems have a built in international language feature you can activate. I use Windows XP, and I am able to type in Katakana, Hiragana, and Kanji. However, if yours does not, I'm sure you can find a site online from which to download this software.


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    I have Windows XP. The newest Version. How do you get the language changed? I can't find it.

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    I agree to a degree. Kanji is pretty difficult, but I find it pretty interesting. Sure, I wish it was just hiragana and katakana, but hey... kanji adds depth to the language. But this is coming from a newbie who is still learning level four x_x;.

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    Logically, you wouldn't have to worry about stroke order when reading kanji. But in the case of physical writing (whether with pen, brush, or soy sauce), stroke order is very important with Kanji. The reason is because once you learn proper stroke order, you write much faster and much more accurate. Plus, your characters look much better.

    As far as how to learn kanji more efficiently, I already posted my tips for that earlier in this thread.

    If you want to find out about typing Japanese on the computer, go to this thread where there are some good links and resources:
    http://www.animeforum.com/showthread.php?t=51364


    Quote Originally Posted by Pengin-san View Post
    I agree to a degree. Kanji is pretty difficult, but I find it pretty interesting. Sure, I wish it was just hiragana and katakana, but hey... kanji adds depth to the language. But this is coming from a newbie who is still learning level four x_x;.
    I completely agree with you! Although difficult, you just don't find something as unique as kanji is other languages. It's what makes Japanese a very interprative language. It shows good character when you decide to dedicate youself to something as challenging as studying kanji.

    By "level four", I assume you mean Level 4 of the JLPT Kanji list. While I myself prefered to learn kanji in order of school grade, that doesn't necessarily mean you're a newbie. ><
    Level 4 does have some difficult kanji. Psh, the fact that you even got far enough in the study of Japanese to start learning kanji is an accomplishment.
    Last edited by kendoka7; 01-12-2007 at 10:38 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kendoka7 View Post
    I completely agree with you! Although difficult, you just don't find something as unique as kanji is other languages. It's what makes Japanese a very interprative language. It shows good character when you decide to dedicate youself to something as challenging as studying kanji.

    By "level four", I assume you mean Level 4 of the JLPT Kanji list. While I myself prefered to learn kanji in order of school grade, that doesn't necessarily mean you're a newbie. ><
    Level 4 does have some difficult kanji. Psh, the fact that you even got far enough in the study of Japanese to start learning kanji is an accomplishment.
    That is what I mean ^^! I plan on being more active in here once I can learn all four levels ^^;. It is such a challenge to remember them all, but stroke order is pretty simple. Remember the key rules!
    +Left to right
    +Up to down
    +And when there is a square, always the bottom line last

    I find kanji very fun to study ^^! And level four does have it's difficulties like 書 and 電... in my opinion ^^;.

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    That's awesome! I'm glad you enjoy it. But just so you know, learning with the JLPT lists is good and all, but does not always offer the full range of kanji that are actually learned in Japan. The JLPT lists are specifically designed for foreign learners. But, believe me, if you start learning by School Grade level instead, it has its benefits.

    Haha! Yea, 電 is a fun little one, isn't it?

    If you ever need any help or just wanna talk about learning Japanese, just send me a private message. That goes for anyone else on this forum who might need help!

    Daily tip: When it comes to studying kanji, flash cards own!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryouga View Post
    Is it really necacery to follow the stroke order, for sheer reading value? I'm trying to learn Japanese, but I'll I've picked up is the ability to read some common and distint kanji, like Katana and Gen, and some Katakana.
    As stated above, it is in writing that stroke order is most important. However I have found that knowing the stroke order sometimes makes written (not typed) Japanese easier to read. It also helps me identify parts of kanji that may help me understand the character I am not familiar with, but it could just be me. ^_^

    It's also very important in looking up unfamiliar kanji. For example, 何 has seven strokes; the top and right lines are not connected, but if you don't know that or are unfamiliar with stroke order and types of strokes it may make the word more difficult to find.


    Quote Originally Posted by Capernicus View Post
    Kanji is horrible. @_@ Yes you can look them up but what exactly ARE you looking for when you try to find their meaning? Confusing....I forget Kanji that is not basic (like 私) within a few hours. T.T I maybe have about....90 memorized. *sighs*
    Japanese dictionaries can be tricky when you first start using them. Knowing the radical helps not just with looking it up but with meaning sometimes, but of course it helps to know the number of strokes in the character when looking it up too. Otherwise it can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. As for the meanings I think time and experience in the language help the most with that. Context clues can be difficult to decode if you haven't had the time and experience in the language to fully understand them.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pengin-san View Post
    I agree to a degree. Kanji is pretty difficult, but I find it pretty interesting. Sure, I wish it was just hiragana and katakana, but hey... kanji adds depth to the language. But this is coming from a newbie who is still learning level four x_x;.
    I agree, kanji is difficult. It's difficult for natives of Japan much less a non-native. Memory is especially a problem. However if you just had hiragana and katakana it would quickly become difficult to decipher meaning from reading. The syllables themselves are just sounds and many words have the same sound. For example, hana can mean flower or nose depending on your inflection and the kanji. You would probably figure that out from context clues in the texts but if you have several such words it easily becomes frustrating to read. Especially since there is often little spacing. If you don't know what you are reading already it's difficult to discern where one word stops and the next begins.

    What I have found is that the more I study kanji the more I begin to think in kanji. The character will present itself when I hear it spoken and sometimes I find myself tracing them over in the air as I think about them. (Of course maybe I'm just weird...) Personally it's easier for me to think in kanji than hiragana/katakana because kanji carries the meaning. I unfortunately do not know as much kanji as I would like. Knowing any of this doesn't make it any easier to learn and remember however. ^_~
    Last edited by akiko_kalla; 01-13-2007 at 12:12 AM.
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    stroke order is ok...but when drawing certain a kanji ignoring the stroke order sometimes makes it easier to draw, especially when you need to draw them fast ^^&#176; (but when you start learning NEVER do that)
    i personally am far too lazy and unorganised to use cards for learning...i don&#180;t bother buying them, drawing kanji on them write the meaning on the back etc..and then end up having my room full of 1945 cards i never use or look at (again) ^^&#176;
    but constant learning/refreshing is important...during the last 4 months i must have forgotten more than just 200

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    Stroke order is important and all, but I think that radicals are more important. When you know the meaning of the radicals, you can get a general meaning for the kanji. For example, you can know if it is something having to do with water, or that it is a bird, or a fish.

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by MistressPookyChan View Post
    Stroke order is important and all, but I think that radicals are more important. When you know the meaning of the radicals, you can get a general meaning for the kanji. For example, you can know if it is something having to do with water, or that it is a bird, or a fish.
    I find that to help me a lot, too. When I write in pencil, I'm not too concerned about stroke order, but when I write with a calligraphy brush, I am.
    When I first started learning Japanese, I thought that learning romaji would just be fine. Until I read a couple articles and realized that learning kanji would help me even more. I was intimidated when I read about there being 50,000 kanji, but then was relieved when I saw that I could read a newspaper with just 2,000 XD!

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    i tried a calligraphycourse once...it aggravated me so much i never went there again (and people see it as a relaxing activity...meh! it&#180;s really discouraging when you learn and write kanji for more than 2 years and end up not being able to draw a single horzontal line the way the teacher wants it while all drewn kanji look cool)

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    Quote Originally Posted by LavaBug View Post
    i tried a calligraphycourse once...it aggravated me so much i never went there again (and people see it as a relaxing activity...meh! its really discouraging when you learn and write kanji for more than 2 years and end up not being able to draw a single horzontal line the way the teacher wants it while all drewn kanji look cool)
    I do agree, but after a while, I got used to it ^^;. It's just a bit of a hassle to hold the dang thing XD! I still prefer a pencil, though. I'm not used to constantly dipping the brush into the ink after every stroke. My friends help me, and they're nicer than a teacher XD!

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  22. #22
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    well the teacher was nice, but i&#180;m maybe not the "sit still and draw a line for 1 1/2 hours" type ^^&#176;

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    Quote Originally Posted by LavaBug View Post
    well the teacher was nice, but im maybe not the "sit still and draw a line for 1 1/2 hours" type ^^
    I see. That can get a bit frustrating after a while. Besides, I don't think people really use brushes anymore XD!

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  24. #24
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    drawing with a brush is fun...making even my bad handwriting look awesome^^

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    I'd like to try a calligraphy class. Although I have heard that such classes are difficult, such ancient past-times do posses an aesthetic value. Meaning that these arts allow a jocular guy to show off. It's a shame that my current school does not offer these classes or a class for learning the chinese radicals. My school does have classes on Anime and manga translation. (In fact, to the best of my knowledge my school is the only school offering those, at least in my area.)
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