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Drakken
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 3:27 pm    Post subject: Japanese for newbs: Where to begin? Reply with quote
Hello,

It is my second post on these forums, and I have always been interested in learning Japanese. I have a friend who has offered me to be my tutor to help me learn Japanese, but since she has moved she is harder to reach.

So, I was wondering where I could begin my journey into learning Japanese. Which book to read, which way to best to learn the basics of Japanese language and calligraphy.

My first practical obective aim is to be able to play Nobunaga no Yabô: Kakushin on my PC with basic grasps of the gametext... and to order it via Gamecity while understanding what I do. Wink
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I started by teaching myself kana with the books "Let's Learn Hiragana" and "Let's Learn Katakana". It's a great way to start, and offered me a great headstart when I began taking formal classes.

There are plenty of other textbooks out there... I'm also a fan of the Nakama series - the Let's Learn series covers pretty much just the writing system, while Nakama is a full textbook, including grammar, vocab, and kanji. By the end of Nakama vol 2, you've covered several hundred kanji and all the basic grammar forms.
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Lycaena
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Wow, that sounds like a fun but major undertaking!

While not knowing how complicated the Japanese is in that game, it's still learning to read, listen, and understand a foreign language in a game that will slur words; use colloquialisms, modern and somewhat historic; and won't repeat itself if you say, "Huh? What did he just say?"

Mangajin is/was pretty good with mixing English and Japanese language with articles about the Japanese culture, both modern and historic. Its articles are in English and teaches Japanese in a friendly format with illustrated situations in hiragana, written out phonetically, and translated into English. My father has stacks of these at home in Hawaii, but I haven't seen them around in these parts (northeastern US).

Also, there was a 1/2-hour show I used to watch in Japanese language lab when I was in college that may be available on the Internet. Bug may be able to help with the title. This is more for conversational Japanese, not written Japanese. Yan, the main star, is a foreigner who arrives in Japan and finds himself in numerous situations. It teaches vocabulary and grammar.

Good luck~
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Drakken
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
My friend also recommended me to begin by studying "Minna no nihongo" manuals are available in our university library. What are you opinions on this manual?

Also, she highly recommended to begin by learning the basic characters, especially hiragana and katakana.

I had the idea of doing exactly what I did when I was a kid in primary school : use a booklet to recopy each in series, so that both the calligraphy and the meaning become ingrained in my memory.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Lycaena wrote:


Also, there was a 1/2-hour show I used to watch in Japanese language lab when I was in college that may be available on the Internet. Bug may be able to help with the title. This is more for conversational Japanese, not written Japanese. Yan, the main star, is a foreigner who arrives in Japan and finds himself in numerous situations. It teaches vocabulary and grammar.

Good luck~


It's a video based japanese language study course called Let's Learn Japanese produced by The Japan Foundation. Two series of it were available the first being produced in 1984-85 and the second came out in 1995. Apparently there was a third season that started airing in the spring of this year. I know nothing about that season though.
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Lycaena
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Drakken wrote:
My friend also recommended me to begin by studying "Minna no nihongo" manuals are available in our university library. What are you opinions on this manual?

Sorry, I haven't perused through the manual series you cited above. I tried to look up the books that my college (University of Hawaii) used - it's been almost 20 years so they aren't using the same series of books. Just Kidding

Drakken wrote:
Also, she highly recommended to begin by learning the basic characters, especially hiragana and katakana.

I had the idea of doing exactly what I did when I was a kid in primary school : use a booklet to recopy each in series, so that both the calligraphy and the meaning become ingrained in my memory.

It may be a matter of style, but I needed a more hands-on teaching method, so to speak, for learning to write. I've had friends send me letters in katakana by tracing the way they see it in print, and it looks pretty funky, not to mention difficult to read. I haven't seen the writing programs available these days though, so what I am suggesting to you may be rubbish.

If your friend can only devote x time per month to teaching you, it would be nice to start off with pronounciation of the 'alphabet' like tonal or stress, or the lack therof.

On your own, programs (computer, tv, reading in romaji) can help with speech, vocabulary, and grammar in the interim.

Next would be to tackle the Japanese alphabet order.
Hiragana: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2047.html
Katakana: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2048.html

Next major step with her would be learning to write. This is when it would be nice to see if she would be able to help. There are a number of workbooks out there - I am sure someone here would be able to suggest a good one to use in conjunction with a live lesson. I think stroke order is really important, especially if you would like to write in calligraphy.

Since I went to classes, I just needed to buy a blank notebook with boxes dotted in quadrants to practice my writing. When I started, I had problems keeping all my characters the same size without the box. Smile Kanji would be gigantic in comparison to the kana.

Oh, the online dictionary I use is: http://jisho.org/

Hopefully this is helpful! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
OK, here are my links:

Bug and Lycaena mentioned Let's Learn Japanese:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yf7DHGXUHvU

I use this online J-dictionary a lot:
http://linear.mv.com/cgi-bin/j-e/dict

I just discovered this one which is very cool:
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?9T

This is the Mangajin stuff Lycaena mentioned, using manga to learn:
http://www.amazon.com/Mangajins-Basic-Japanese-Through-Comics/dp/0834804522/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-6046369-5023605?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1186622433&sr=1-1

Here's a great beginner book for learning kana and kanji:
http://www.amazon.com/Kanji-Pict-O-Graphix-Over-Japanese-Mnemonics/dp/0962813702/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-6046369-5023605?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1186622201&sr=1-1

This is my main kanji dictionary -- great layout!
http://www.amazon.com/Kodansha-Learners-Dictionary-Japanese-People/dp/4770028555/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-6046369-5023605?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1186622083&sr=1-1

I even got one of these:



Here's a tutorial:
http://www.bornplaydie.com/japan/dictionary/canonidf4500tutorial.htm

So run out and buy all that stuff you'll be ready to rock!
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I own the IDF-3000. I despise it. It is next to useless for me. It never has the jukugo I'm looking for, it is a pain to look up kanji with, it just is very limited. My old cannon wordtank from the 90's was way better. The 3000 is like the bottom of the barrel. I'm sure it's fine for some purposes, but for my purposes it is almost utterly worthless.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 1:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
I own the IDF-3000. I despise it. It is next to useless for me. It never has the jukugo I'm looking for, it is a pain to look up kanji with, it just is very limited. My old cannon wordtank from the 90's was way better. The 3000 is like the bottom of the barrel. I'm sure it's fine for some purposes, but for my purposes it is almost utterly worthless.


My Canon V-90, on the other hand, mercilessly destroys all problems put in its path (whether in Japanese, English, or Chinese). The on-screen entry of kanji with a stylus is a lifesaver.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
I own the IDF-3000. I despise it. It is next to useless for me. It never has the jukugo I'm looking for, it is a pain to look up kanji with, it just is very limited. My old cannon wordtank from the 90's was way better. The 3000 is like the bottom of the barrel. I'm sure it's fine for some purposes, but for my purposes it is almost utterly worthless.


Agreed it's not great for compounds. And being designed for a native Japanese speaker, it certainly poses challenges for a gaijin like me. On the upside, the cross index feature (wherein you highlight something and hit the magic button) allows you to jump between dictionaries, opening things up a bit. And I disagree about the kanji lookup; looking up by stroke or radical is quick and easy. Now getting a definition in English is another story ... Frankly, I've learned a lot just playing with the thing, following tangents, etc.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
takuan wrote:
kitsuno wrote:
I own the IDF-3000. I despise it. It is next to useless for me. It never has the jukugo I'm looking for, it is a pain to look up kanji with, it just is very limited. My old cannon wordtank from the 90's was way better. The 3000 is like the bottom of the barrel. I'm sure it's fine for some purposes, but for my purposes it is almost utterly worthless.


Agreed it's not great for compounds. And being designed for a native Japanese speaker, it certainly poses challenges for a gaijin like me. On the upside, the cross index feature (wherein you highlight something and hit the magic button) allows you to jump between dictionaries, opening things up a bit. And I disagree about the kanji lookup; looking up by stroke or radical is quick and easy. Now getting a definition in English is another story ... Frankly, I've learned a lot just playing with the thing, following tangents, etc.


The wordtank 9000 is about 10 years older, but far better. Unfortunately I lost mine a few years ago, and bought the 3000 to replace it. Bad choice on my part.

But while we're on the subject, I just got my tax return back, and I can afford "the best" dictionary -

so which is it? I know this comes up every so often, so as of today, which is the best one?
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I don't think I can even think of buying one right now. I prefer to put my efforts on books. Shocked
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
But while we're on the subject, I just got my tax return back, and I can afford "the best" dictionary -

so which is it? I know this comes up every so often, so as of today, which is the best one?


I've used a variety of Canons over the years, but my current Sharp e-Dictionary (PW-A8000, but it's a few years old at this point) is MUCH better in terms of capability and ease of use. Stylus input is for weaklings. Wink
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I've got a Sharp e-dictionary too. It's the PW-8200. I've had it since 2002 Very Happy I keep thinking I should upgrade, but it does everything I want it to. And more. (Actually I'm still discovering functions on it Embarassed ) I love everything about it except I don't know how to turn the sound off. (Ashi?)
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Press the Menu button. If your model is anything like mine, at the bottom of that screen there's a heading labeled 各種設定. Go inside there and one of the first few options will be something like キータッチ音, which you can toggle on or off.

The same setting window comes up automatically whenever I exchange batteries, so if you can't find it through the menus maybe you can get to it by removing and replacing the batteries.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I've got the Canon G55, and it does great. I looked at the G70, which has a stylus, but no on-screen kanji entry (ie, you can use the stylus to touch the screen and select things, but cannot write a kanji to have it look it up, which seems to me to be the point of the whole thing). Does the G90 do this and I just missed it, Tatsu?
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:
I've got the Canon G55, and it does great. I looked at the G70, which has a stylus, but no on-screen kanji entry (ie, you can use the stylus to touch the screen and select things, but cannot write a kanji to have it look it up, which seems to me to be the point of the whole thing). Does the G90 do this and I just missed it, Tatsu?


Does the G55 have stylus entry? And does it have the Kojien?
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
ltdomer98 wrote:
I've got the Canon G55, and it does great. I looked at the G70, which has a stylus, but no on-screen kanji entry (ie, you can use the stylus to touch the screen and select things, but cannot write a kanji to have it look it up, which seems to me to be the point of the whole thing). Does the G90 do this and I just missed it, Tatsu?


Does the G55 have stylus entry? And does it have the Kojien?


I'm sorry, I meant the G60--my previous was a G55. Kojien--yes. Stylus--no. Hence my question to Tatsu.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ashigaru wrote:
Press the Menu button. If your model is anything like mine, at the bottom of that screen there's a heading labeled 各種設定. Go inside there and one of the first few options will be something like キータッチ音, which you can toggle on or off.

The same setting window comes up automatically whenever I exchange batteries, so if you can't find it through the menus maybe you can get to it by removing and replacing the batteries.


So simple Embarassed Thank you. Now I can be silent on my 20 hour flight next week. Which will be a great relief to whoever is sitting enxt to me. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
takuan wrote:
And I disagree about the kanji lookup; looking up by stroke or radical is quick and easy. Now getting a definition in English is another story ... Frankly, I've learned a lot just playing with the thing, following tangents, etc.


I guess I should clarify - even after almost 16 years, sometimes the radical isn't apparent, and it seems to be hit or miss, and for some reason, it seems more hit or miss on the 3000. Also, it bugs me that nearly 100% of the time even though the wordtank has the word I want in the english or Japanese dictionary, it doesn't show up in the jukugo. That bugs the heck out of me - the jukugo should be cross referenced with the english and/or japanese dictionary. Also, there is no flashcard feature, which the old wordtank also had. And lastly, my hugest gripe - I hate that when you jump to a kanji, it puts you on the kanji screen with NO jukugo! WTF is that all about?? It means I have to go to the kanji search screen, and search the kanji again!

I'm just not happy with my purchase. It only cost me $100, but I guess that's what I get looking for a deal. It is good for basic lookup stuff, but I don't like it for my purposes. I spend three times as much time on jim breem's as I do on the wordtank. And the word list is lacking. The sanseido's daily concise has more words. And the lack of the kojien bugs the bejeepers out of me.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:
I've got the Canon G55, and it does great. I looked at the G70, which has a stylus, but no on-screen kanji entry (ie, you can use the stylus to touch the screen and select things, but cannot write a kanji to have it look it up, which seems to me to be the point of the whole thing). Does the G90 do this and I just missed it, Tatsu?


The V90 does and so does the G90. The G90 doesn't have voice (which only works with Chinese so you can learn tones).
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ashigaru wrote:
Stylus input is for weaklings. Wink


Well, I'm still larnin', y'now Just Kidding.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
Well, I'm still larnin', y'now Just Kidding.


I am too. Embarassed

But I'm larnin' HARDCORE, and that's what counts! Wink
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
I guess I should clarify - even after almost 16 years, sometimes the radical isn't apparent, and it seems to be hit or miss, and for some reason, it seems more hit or miss on the 3000.


This is a problem all the time for me. Maybe it's just me, but I think a kanji like 庭, for instance, should be able to be referenced whichever radical you put in. But it's never the case--for each, there's only 1, even if the kanji in question is a compound of 5 different radicals, all with entries. Perhaps in Japanese elementary school (or junior high) you learn the radical tree and which one goes with what, so it's inherent, but I never learned that. I'm *constantly* frustrated by trying to look up a kanji, only to not be able to find which radical to enter in as a search criteria. Invariably I have to go to "all kanji with 14 strokes", all 55 pages of it, and scroll. It's a pain in the ass.

And I agree wholeheartedly about thoroughly cross-referencing the kanji with the associated jukugo. I want to look up 郵便局, so I look up 郵; I shouldn't then also have to look up 便 and 局 and then enter in the hiragana to find what I'm looking for.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:


The V90 does and so does the G90.


What are the differences? Including price, I don't want to spend much more than $200 if I can get away with it.
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