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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:
I decided to learn Japanese when I was in my 50s.


And here I always picture you as the beautiful young 歴女 of my dreams! Razz
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Hey!!! 50 is young. I Smite Thee Laughing John
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
not saying it's old, but in my mind Heron is a 22yo kimono clad 歴美女!A man has to have his fantasies!
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
haha, the deceptions of the internet: once I was 妖婦 but now I am 老婦 (but still a dedicated歴女) Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thank you, eveyone, for your encouraging replies, especially yours, Heron--I was afraid the age made famous by "Atsumori" might be too late to start. Smile
I've heard daunting tales of the thousands of kanji required to read at even the third-grade level. I've also gotten a lot of "Uh-huh, good luck with that" from Japanese friends.

Years ago in school I surprised myself walking down the hall one day to find myself actually thinking in French! (And it wasn't like I was even interested in French at the time).

Here, the motivation (obsession) level is suitably high, because it's also been explained to me that one cannot possibly get inside the Japanese mind without reading the original language. So much is lost in translation that it's like peering through frosted glass at best.

Excellent point about it being a good brain exercise to avoid senility; and bound to be more fun than Sudoku or the Times crossword puzzle.

Reading and listening are more important to me than speaking; I haven't the liberty of "hoof-in-mouth" mistakes with regards to the nuances of syntax and gender-based honorific conventions. Better to just keep quiet and listen to more than anyone suspects I'm processing . . . "one mouth, two ears."

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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Owarikenshi wrote:
Reading and listening are more important to me than speaking; I haven't the liberty of "hoof-in-mouth" mistakes with regards to the nuances of syntax and gender-based honorific conventions. Better to just keep quiet and listen to more than anyone suspects I'm processing . . . "one mouth, two ears."

Owari


The nice thing about Japanese is that no one cares. You're not Japanese--therefore, the expectation is that you CANNOT possibly fathom the nuances of gender and non-gender based honorifics, etc.

It makes it all the more powerful when you CAN Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:

You get all sorts of linguistic study nonsense that tells you that kids learn languages faster than adults. I think that's bull. A child is limited by brain development and how much they can absorb and exposed to; an adult chooses their amount of exposure, has a fully developed brain, AND already has one language to which they can relate the 2nd language.


C'mon, a child can learn any language on the planet to native fluency in 3-6 years with no accent.

Adults living in a foreign country for 3-6 years could conceivably reach native level in vocabulary, for example, but the vast, vast majority who learn after the age of, say 17 or 18 years old will have a detectable accent for the rest of their lives, and it is still a "2nd language" so there must be some even slight disadvantages to it. I hate to say it, but children do have a tremendous advantage. I know dozens of people who have lived in the USA for extended periods, the only people who don't (or no longer) have accents came to the USA before the age of 12. Everyone else has an accent from good to bad, but all have enough of a non-native accent to know they aren't native. I think one part of "accent" has to do with people relating things too much to their own language in the first place.

Anyway, I'm glad I went to Japan as a teenager rather than now, because I'm not sure how I would have handled it, although now with 2 languages in my head, adding a third really doesn't seem much of a stretch, I seem to pick up linguistic things fairly quickly now, whereas in highschool French was an extended nightmare.

Anyway, I don't really disagree, and also, this isn't really germane to the topic of electronic dictionaries and adults learning Japanese, so I apologize for leaping in here Just Kidding
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
[/quote]

The nice thing about Japanese is that no one cares. You're not Japanese--therefore, the expectation is that you CANNOT possibly fathom the nuances of gender and non-gender based honorifics, etc.

It makes it all the more powerful when you CAN Wink[/quote]

Well, I've already discovered you can get in real trouble with the same usage you see in the movies. Tossed off "Hai, wakatta!" to the wrong sempai and there went the rest of THAT day. Embarassed

You understand, these are the same guys who've been watching me try to cut straight with a sword for four years, and delight in telling me it's going to take at least 25 more. . . hey, I've got nowhere to go . . . Polish a rock long enough, make a mirror!

(Watashi-wa baka-gaijin, neh?)

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
It's true Kitsuno. I have a 4 1/2 year son and he is fluent in Japanese due to my wife only speaking Japanese to him. Not only will he switch to English when speaking to me, he now will translate to me what someone said in Japanese when I ask him what they said. It's truly amazing. The child's brain under the age of 5 is still very flexible and will learn things it hears or sees.

So although an adult can definitely learn a new language, it is a bit more difficult, and as you very aptly put it Kitsuno, it will always be a "second" language.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:


The nice thing about Japanese is that no one cares. You're not Japanese--therefore, the expectation is that you CANNOT possibly fathom the nuances of gender and non-gender based honorifics, etc.

It makes it all the more powerful when you CAN Wink


I also find that the most insulting - but yeah, I agree 100% that speaking fluent Japanese opens doors that those shabby english teachers will never get in Just Kidding
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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
C'mon, a child can learn any language on the planet to native fluency in 3-6 years with no accent.


Because they have no other choice. I don't think it's a matter of being better suited, other than the fact that the palate forms by 18 months, so if you don't have the ability to say something by then, you won't be able to say it.

Quote:
Adults living in a foreign country for 3-6 years could conceivably reach native level in vocabulary, for example, but the vast, vast majority who learn after the age of, say 17 or 18 years old will have a detectable accent for the rest of their lives


And? An adult with an equivalent vocabulary in a 2nd language (equivalent to their first, ie, has close to the same range as he/she does in their first language) can talk rings around a 6 year old, accent or no. We're talking functionality--a 6 year old can't discuss things an adult can, period. As long as I as an adult can understand the grammar patterns and vocab, I can discuss higher level concepts. Kids might be fluent, but they're fluent at a 3-6 year old level.


and it is still a "2nd language" so there must be some even slight disadvantages to it. I hate to say it, but children do have a tremendous advantage. I know dozens of people who have lived in the USA for extended periods, the only people who don't (or no longer) have accents came to the USA before the age of 12. Everyone else has an accent from good to bad, but all have enough of a non-native accent to know they aren't native. I think one part of "accent" has to do with people relating things too much to their own language in the first place.

Quote:
I seem to pick up linguistic things fairly quickly now, whereas in highschool French was an extended nightmare.


I think for me it depends on the language. After 1 semester of Japanese, I was completely incapable of saying anything in French. I can't get more than simple greetings in Italian or Spanish here. But I feel I could pick up Korean pretty quickly because of the similarities to Japanese, if I wanted to, that is.


Quote:
Anyway, I don't really disagree, and also, this isn't really germane to the topic of electronic dictionaries and adults learning Japanese, so I apologize for leaping in here Just Kidding


True.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
The Los Angeles Times has an article on the newest advance of the verbal Google Translate technology.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-google-translate9-2010mar09,0,4032379.story

Google has developed a phone application that can listen to speech and provide translations in a computerized voice for English, Mandarin, and Japanese. The application runs on Google phones using the Android operating system. According to the article, the Times tested the application using several speakers of Mandarin and Japanese and the opinion was that, although not perfect, the application works surprisingly well for basic phrases. The application can translate to and from a total of about 50 languages into text but currently the only languages that it recognizes spoken words are English, Mandarin, and Japanese.

It is interesting how Google's translate computer programs are getting smarter. According to the article:

Quote:
Google trains its computers to translate by constantly feeding them examples of a text that occurs in two or more languages. Many official United Nations documents, for instance, are carefully translated into the languages of member countries. Looking at those "parallel" documents, Google's translation system can deduce the way many words and phrases are translated. And the more examples it gulps down, the smarter it gets.


The idea of a Star Trek-like universal translator is coming. Maybe they will even eventually include Klingonese.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm thinking about taking up Japanese with a long term aim of being able to access academic sources at proficiant level, starting with a university side-course. How realistic is this?

Or let me rephrase the question, how many Kanji would I need to learn?
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
To read academic sources proficiently, you would need to know at least 5,000 kanji. Not all of those kanji are used in everyday modern Japanese, but still...you'd need to know them-- particularly if you are looking at reprints or analysis of old texts.

And just to be able to read and understand what is in a newspaper, you need to know how to read around 3,000 or so.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
It's all relative - it's not just a matter of memorizing a set number of Kanji, you also have to have a solid grasp of grammar, and a sizeable vocabulary, and having a solid background of speaking the language helps. Just going in cold trying to learn to read Japanese without living in Japan or speaking Japanese is probably next to hopeless unless you plan to take college level courses in Japanese language over a long term like 6-8 semesters and actually intend to study. You need to have substantial experience in the language, not just a bunch of Kanji in your head, to read Japanese. You can get by with 1000 kanji known inside out, a familiarity with another 500, and an electronic dictionary if you have a solid background in speaking and functioning in Japanese. If not, you would probably need a lot more "memorization". It's pretty organic, there are no hard and fast rules aside from the fact that living in the language for an extended period of time makes everything easier.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
It doesn't matter how many kanji you need to learn. You are asking the wrong question.

I can't help but feel that Obenjo's figures are bloated. Nowadays, newspapers have really cut down on the amount of kanji they use -- I haven't had to look up a kanji while reading a newspaper in QUITE some time. I also deal with academic sources and dissertations and what-not in Japanese - and I haven't had to look up an unknown character (aside from names, which is an inevitable and understandable problem) in QUITE some time, as well.

Here is the caveat...

I have had to look up words, though. Words using kanji that I already know. It isn't about learning kanji, because they are not used in a vacuum. They are used in combinations called "words," while the kanji are simply "letters," if you will.

Your first stabs at the language are going to be all about learning the language and not accessing information through the language (the purpose of language in the first place). This is inevitable. Get a book or something with the jouyou kanji or kyouiku kanji or some standard set of some sort and just lay down the concrete. You can find what you need on the internet and practice writing them until your pens lose their ink.

As soon as you can, and MUCH before you feel comfortable enough to, move into real sources. Do not fall into the "I have now learned the stroke orders for 5,000 kanji...I am prepared to read a book." Learn the basics, learn grammar, wrap your mind around kanji, then go out and learn through real sources with a stiff upper lip Smile

Again, it is about words, not kanji. While knowing the meanings of the individual component kanji that make up a two-character word can often help you generally decipher the meaning of an unfamiliar word, WORDS should be the focus of our studies, not individual LETTERS/KANJI.

That is basically what I want to say.

Depends on what your definition of an academic text is (primary sources? secondary?), but your real concern for understanding tomes on rice-counting should be grammar, synax, and phrases. Kanji are the easy part.

I swear by this:
http://tinyurl.com/2dcs9uc
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I stand by my numbers, especially to be able to read a newspaper. The native speaker and reader sitting next to me concurs. However, I do agree with Nags in that you can memorize all the kanji you want-- but it's the words you really have to know.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 6:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
However, I do agree with Nags in that you can memorize all the kanji you want-- but it's the words you really have to know.


Which segways nicely into my point - a college exchange program where you're in the language, you learn vocab by default, which only adds to your ability to put it all together. I've noticed a lot of "academics" don't really speak Japanese, but they can read it, guess that's the nature of the territory. I think they typically take tons of Japanese classes, and maybe do a summer program in Japan - so it can all be done, but you have to be dedicated over a number of years - a psychology major with a side interest in Japanese history is probably never going to become a fluent reader of Japanese, but a Japanese history major who goes on to grad school probably could. There is more to it than "I'm going to memorize 5000 kanji. (although in theory and in practice 1500 kanji should cover about 90% of your average non-keizai shinbun stuff).
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
But if you think about it, 日経 really doesn't use difficult kanji. It uses fairly typical kanji for compounds not easily understood by the layman (without an economics background).

TODAY'S newspapers are extremely dumbed- and slimmed-down. We covered this in 日本語学 at the university I studied at in Kyoto, looking at the successive kanji reforms. 人名用漢字 issues aside, the modern newspaper isn't a kanji-learner's worst nightmare.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
nagaeyari wrote:
But if you think about it, 日経 really doesn't use difficult kanji. It uses fairly typical kanji for compounds not easily understood by the layman (without an economics background).

TODAY'S newspapers are extremely dumbed- and slimmed-down. We covered this in 日本語学 at the university I studied at in Kyoto, looking at the successive kanji reforms. 人名用漢字 issues aside, the modern newspaper isn't a kanji-learner's worst nightmare.
日経 is still a challenge for most non-native speakers/readers who fall somewhere short of Nags status. Laughing In language schools here in Japan, if a Japanese teacher is creative enough to think outside the box of a stale lesson plan, he/she will supplement a decent textbook, like 4th book in the Japanese for Busy People series, Japanese for Professionals, with actual Nikkei articles to help build up reading comprehension and vocabulary skills.

One day...maybe...I'll get there. Laughing
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm not saying understanding the content won't be difficult, but the kanji used are not obscure or exotic in any fashion. They are rather typical kanji when viewed all by their lonesome. It is just the combinations they are assembled into that gives readers a challenge - the fear of the hitherto unseen vocab.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
nagaeyari wrote:
I'm not saying understanding the content won't be difficult, but the kanji used are not obscure or exotic in any fashion. They are rather typical kanji when viewed all by their lonesome. It is just the combinations they are assembled into that gives readers a challenge - the fear of the hitherto unseen vocab.


I gotta say, when I was reading daily, my brain held around 1300-1600 (my best guess based on some random testing), and I could pretty much read a newspaper with little difficulty, picking up what I didn't know by context. 5000 is extremely excessive, but I guess in order to read every single word without exception, maybe you'd need that, but for general comprehension, less than half.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Anyway, the best way to start is to drink sake and try comprehending the labels on the bottles. It works, well...that is if you can remember what you read the next day.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2010 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
As for the electronic dictionary, I have surfing the net for one of late. A small pocket size one.
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