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TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese) - UniLang

TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

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TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby qwerty » 2015-01-15, 18:58

I've fallen in love with Japanese. Like, head over heels. And since I decided that right now was as good a time to start learning it as any, here I am, taking my first steps.

The problem is, I am notorious for not keeping resolutions and I am afraid I'll abandon this thread in a few weeks. But I figured, what the hell. If, by some miracle, I am still posting here in the autumn, it will be a huge win :) and if not, who cares. Basically I've got nothing to lose, so let's do this.

My goal is to go through Genki I by the end of 2015. I have no idea if it's too much or too little; we'll see about that. The plan is also to get a 'language parent' as soon as possible (= a native speaker I could talk to).

Any help (corrections, encouragement etc.) will be very much appreciated.

So. Well. *shuffles feet*
Wish me luck. :blush:
Last edited by qwerty on 2015-01-15, 19:04, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby qwerty » 2015-01-15, 19:01

Based on general recommendations for learning languages, I kept a log right from the start, so I'll just post my notes here for completeness:

Jan 8, 2015 (Thursday)
I can’t say if this can be considered an official start, but I opened Genki today and drew all hiragana and katakana into my notebook. It has a picture of Einstein on the cover… seemed appropriate.

Jan 11, 2015 (Sunday)
I listened to the pronunciation of the whole hiragana. I learned how to read and write a, e, i, o, u (あ え い お う). The last time my head hurt so bad thinking was when I tried to fix some advanced magic in Erlang.

Jan 13, 2015 (Tuesday)
I am trying to draw the first five characters whenever I get the chance and I don’t need to stretch my brain so absurdly much anymore. Today I took another five, か き く け こ. There’s not much to understand about the whole thing as of yet, but the one thing I don’t understand is the stroke order. Why is it important? Why is it sometimes completely illogical? Edit (after a few minutes of googling): Apparently, it is important especially in quick handwriting/cursive/calligraphy when the strokes are often connected. Whatever, I was going to learn it anyway.

Jan 14, 2015 (Wednesday)
Still redrawing the first ten (a-o, ka-ko) and struggling to remember sa-so (さ し す せ そ). So far I only know everything in the order I learned it, so when I need to recall a random character, I have to go through the whole grid in my mind and pull it out of its place.

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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby qwerty » 2015-01-15, 19:02

Jan 15, 2015 (Thursday)
I decided to give "Remembering the Kana" by James W. Heisig a try. It claims to teach you hiragana and katakana in three hours each and even though I am sure it will take me considerably longer than that, it may still be a matter of hours instead of weeks (which is my estimate now according to my current pace).

After going through Lesson 1: This is crazy efficient! Some of the mnemonics are a bit silly, but they help. I was smiling like an idiot the whole time because I was so proud of myself being able to read/write every word that was listed there.

After Lesson 2: Just… wow. I am supposed to know 17 hiragana characters now and I think I really do. I'm reading like a five-year-old but I’m READING. Even though I would really like to continue and just devour as much of the book as possible right now, I will listen to Mr. Heisig and stick to two lessons a day.

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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby dEhiN » 2015-01-15, 21:16

Welcome and good luck!

qwerty wrote:Jan 15, 2015 (Thursday)
I decided to give "Remembering the Kana" by James W. Heisig a try.

I'll have to try that book out! It sounds interesting.

qwerty wrote:So far I only know everything in the order I learned it, so when I need to recall a random character, I have to go through the whole grid in my mind and pull it out of its place.

That happens at first; I still do that sometimes if I haven't studied Japanese for a while and then go back to it. But the more you see it in usage and/or write words out yourself, the quicker your mind will just remember each kana independently of the order.

qwerty wrote:There’s not much to understand about the whole thing as of yet, but the one thing I don’t understand is the stroke order. Why is it important? Why is it sometimes completely illogical? Edit (after a few minutes of googling): Apparently, it is important especially in quick handwriting/cursive/calligraphy when the strokes are often connected. Whatever, I was going to learn it anyway.

Yeah, stroke order is important mainly for handwriting/cursive/calligraphy, like you found online. There are those who don't learn proper stroke order, and I'm not sure how they fare when writing quickly. But I've seen some pretty atrocious handwriting that is barely legible, but the stroke order does help in recognizing the character (the same goes for kanji).

There is a logic to stroke order. In general it's left-to-right, followed by top-to-bottom, and repeat.

There are several people on here (Unilang) who are studying or have studied Japanese. I'm sure they can all help you. I know Meera has gone through Genki I. Perhaps she can give you some pointers on it, or help if you get stuck. As for finding language partners, there are various sites dedicated to finding exchange partners. I think once you get hiragana down, especially at least the sounds, you might be able to start learning the spoken language. It is in some ways easier than the written language (since you don't have to worry about 2 syllabaries plus a whole ton of kanji!).
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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby Ciarán12 » 2015-01-15, 21:41

qwerty wrote:Jan 15, 2015 (Thursday)
I decided to give "Remembering the Kana" by James W. Heisig a try. It claims to teach you hiragana and katakana in three hours each and even though I am sure it will take me considerably longer than that, it may still be a matter of hours instead of weeks (which is my estimate now according to my current pace).

After going through Lesson 1: This is crazy efficient! Some of the mnemonics are a bit silly, but they help. I was smiling like an idiot the whole time because I was so proud of myself being able to read/write every word that was listed there.

After Lesson 2: Just… wow. I am supposed to know 17 hiragana characters now and I think I really do. I'm reading like a five-year-old but I’m READING. Even though I would really like to continue and just devour as much of the book as possible right now, I will listen to Mr. Heisig and stick to two lessons a day.


I used Remembering the Kanji to learn Kanji and seriously, I'm not exaggerating, it changed my life. It was so amazingly good, I felt exactly like you did with the kana, but Kanji are supposed to take you years, so when I did it in, like, 3 or 4 months, I was blown away by it. And the mnemonics - I actually love the silly stories, they are like a mad, surreal dream.
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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby Koko » 2015-01-16, 5:26

I suggest RealKana to practice the kana. The realkanji is an ok way to learn some basic kanji if you cheat by hovering over the words with the cursor. It at least helps to recognize them (the intended purpose) even if you've never seen the characters before.
 (it) Correggimi per favore (se lo sbaglio è grave, sennò non correggermi perché potrei correggermelo da solo)  (bg) Българският не е руски  (cs) Jsem krásný jazyk. :D ^^

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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby qwerty » 2015-01-16, 23:03

I can't wait to start learning Kanji if the book is as good as Ciarán (and pretty much everyone in the reviews) says :) Thank you for your kind words, everyone! And thanks very much for the link, Koko!


Jan 16, 2015 (Friday)
I couldn’t resist going through one more lesson yesterday, so when I got up today I had 23 kana to revise – and I magically remembered them all. Now, after Lesson 4, I feel that I need to slow down a bit to let the deadly combos (ぬ め, ろ る, わ れ ね) stick in my head, so I’m not taking another lesson today.

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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby qwerty » 2015-01-17, 23:27

Jan 17, 2015 (Saturday)
I went through Lesson 5 and I really wanted to finish the whole hiragana part of the book today, but I'm too tired to focus any longer so I'll leave the last lesson for later. The book is still amazing.

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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby qwerty » 2015-01-20, 23:28

Jan 20, 2015 (Tuesday)
I have finally found the time to finish the ひらがな part of the book during the weekend. The deadly combos are much less deadly now, and in fact most of the kana come quite naturally to me now. I must say it's a big boost for my motivation, to be able to learn so much in so little time.

A couple of subjective remarks:
1. The only ugly kana I know is む. All the other ones are pretty enough.
2. I love the diphthongs, they sound so... Japanese :)


Now I'm planning to continue with katakana, but I think I should take a few more days to practice what I know. I'll probably start during the weekend, then.

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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby qwerty » 2015-01-23, 8:34

(Last night I had a dream where someone was writing something in hiragana using a wrong stroke order and I was disgusted :lol:)

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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby dEhiN » 2015-01-23, 23:56

qwerty wrote:(Last night I had a dream where someone was writing something in hiragana using a wrong stroke order and I was disgusted :lol:)

:rotfl:
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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby Koko » 2015-01-24, 0:48

qwerty wrote:(Last night I had a dream where someone was writing something in hiragana using a wrong stroke order and I was disgusted :lol:)

Omg, as soon as I learned proper stroke order it became a pet-peeve to see people writing wrongly: sadly nobody in my class pays attention :x .
 (it) Correggimi per favore (se lo sbaglio è grave, sennò non correggermi perché potrei correggermelo da solo)  (bg) Българският не е руски  (cs) Jsem krásný jazyk. :D ^^

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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby qwerty » 2015-01-25, 13:04

Jan 24, 2015 (Saturday)
I went through the first lesson of the katakana part of the book, so I am supposed to know カキへソリセナヤ. I can read them, but I'm still struggling a bit when writing them, because of course their hiragana counterparts come to my mind first. I think I'll have to take it really slow now.

I also tried to read out loud the dialogues in Genki, Lesson 1, to have some more practice. And I hit the first of many problems - why is は sometimes pronounced as わ? (Or maybe, why is わ sometimes written as は?) For example: こんいちは, こんばんは. The book says that when は is a particle, it is pronounced わ (and that those two examples I gave are exceptions). Searching the web I found similar comments, sometimes with a more detailed (and at this point, confusing) explanation. So do I understand it right that there's no way for me to identify the correct pronunciation unless I know the grammar or the meaning of the words?

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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby qwerty » 2015-01-28, 19:19

Jan 28, 2015 (Wednesday)
Katakana, lesson 2: 二チハミ
I must admit the mnemonics are not even half as good as they were for hiragana, but 1) maybe it gets better in the lessons that follow, and 2) fortunately my mind is a little bit "bent" in the right direction already, so I remember everything just fine.

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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby Ashrak » 2015-01-31, 7:35

Yaay, someone who started around the same time as me! ... I personally found the the second kana easier to learn as I already knew the iregularities (like fu instead of hu, or tsu instead of tu etc).

To your は and わ confusion: basically yes, until you know the connected grammar or the vocabulary it's hard to decide how to read it. I found that when it is as part of kanji reading then it's definitely read as 'ha'. (こんにちは is probably bit of an exceprion as it is a contracted sentence with topic marker は read as 'wa'). If you need further explanation I might try to explain it in Czech :-)
native:  (cs)
almost native(C2 level):  (en) (de)
understand natively, but not speak much: (sk)
just started:  (eu) (es)
interested in:  (sv) (he) (ja) (grc)

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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby Ciarán12 » 2015-01-31, 12:01

qwerty wrote:why is は sometimes pronounced as わ? (Or maybe, why is わ sometimes written as は?)


There is a particle in Japanese that is spelt は but pronounced "wa". In Japanese "particles" is a cover term used for little grammatical function words. These are usually postpositions (which, if you have never come across these, are like prepositions but they come after the head noun rather than before). So basically, you can think of it like "there's a preposition in Japanese spelt は but pronounced "wa", but other than that は is pronounced "ha" ". Except for "konnichiwa" and "konbanwa", as in those words the "wa" actually etymologically comes from that "は" particle (but those are pretty much the only words where that happens).
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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby Koko » 2015-01-31, 18:46

I had thought that こんにちは and こんばんは were just "this day (topic)" and "this evening (topic)." (instead of このにちは or このばんは)
 (it) Correggimi per favore (se lo sbaglio è grave, sennò non correggermi perché potrei correggermelo da solo)  (bg) Българският не е руски  (cs) Jsem krásný jazyk. :D ^^

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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby Ciarán12 » 2015-02-01, 2:20

Koko wrote:I had thought that こんにちは and こんばんは were just "this day (topic)" and "this evening (topic)." (instead of このにちは or このばんは)


I'm not sure what you mean, how are they different?
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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby Koko » 2015-02-01, 2:55

Uhh… I don't know :lol: . Isn't この used in every case but こん only possible before /t/ or /d/?
 (it) Correggimi per favore (se lo sbaglio è grave, sennò non correggermi perché potrei correggermelo da solo)  (bg) Българският не е руски  (cs) Jsem krásný jazyk. :D ^^

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Re: TAC 2015 - qwerty (Japanese)

Postby Ciarán12 » 2015-02-01, 3:05

Koko wrote:Uhh… I don't know :lol: . Isn't この used in every case but こん only possible before /t/ or /d/?


Well, I don't think that's the distribution of この vs こん (for example, there is 今夜 - こんや - "this evening"), but I see now what you mean. I thought you were saying that こんにちは and こんばんは could be parsed as meaning "this day (topic)" and "this evening (topic)." but "このにちは or このばんは" couldn't. Reading back over your post, I don't know why I thought that :P .
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