Print Story Ask Husi again: language instruction
By ucblockhead (Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 06:57:49 PM EST) (all tags)
Pretty simple: I'm looking for advice on language instruction in Japanese. What makes it a little different is that I'm not interested in "conversational Japanese", but rather, instruction in written technical Japanese. Being able to speak and read a little would be nice bu I mostly would like to read Japanese technical documentation.

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Ask Husi again: language instruction | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)
I would start buying Japanese toys and models. by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #1 Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 07:08:51 PM EST
Then assemble them, without resorting to the pictograms.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

"couple" suggestions by R343L (4.00 / 4) #2 Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 08:27:05 PM EST
(Warning: long. I started writing this intending it to be short. It's not anymore. Also, I'm not really fluent so maybe I'm just stupid about learning japanese.)

First, find a textbook aimed at "self-study" that also seems to have a lot of grammatical explanations. Also, preferably one that quickly starts teaching you the written language and eschews using romanization for japanese language passages. Start working thru this book. I would suggest Japanese: the Spoken Language (JSL) for what I consider clear grammar explanations .. Unfortunately it uses romanization all the way thru and is a bit outdated on vocabulary & culture items. Might just be good as a reference for grammar.. :(

Second (along with first), learn hiragana, katakana and some basic kanji. The aim of the third is for you to learn the patterns of kanji characters -- basic sub-parts, stroke order, general usage -- so you can easily figure out how to lookup characters. There are myriad books to teach you basics of writing. A good one won't just have a character with some pronunciations and meanings -- it will have a stroke order diagram (numbered direction arrows) and a logical grouping of the readings and (hopefully) example sentences, etc. I can't really recommend a good one because I just use dictionaries now and the one I originally learned from (JWL) is ok, but slow.

Third, get some dictionaries both print and online (their are some technical japanese dictionaries to be found online). And, unfortunately, you want thick ones (technical entries will obviously be more rare in smaller ones). Read the front-matter in these dictionaries! I learned a lot about kanji from reading the front matter to Halpern's Kanji dictionary (also known as the SKIP dictionary). For general vocabulary, online dictionaries are okay, but the E-J/J-E ones have very minimal entries. I find that the only good online (free) dictionaries are aimed at fluent speakers. People recommend edict, but I find its entries pretty spare at times.

Then, as you're going thru the main textbook, start scanning articles in online japanese newspapers in order to find familiar characters and words. Try to decipher short passages (which might have to wait until you've learned some grammar for dependent clauses).

If the text book you have has stimulus/response passages, they are probably intended to be spoken. For example, JSL will have a sets of "exercises" in similar patterns. One set might start with "How much is this blue pen?", then just give you the "swappable" parts. So yellow/shirt, etc. and you're expected to form the full sentence. Obviously they get more complicated. :) In order to learn to read/write though, you need to write these passages out in as fully correct form (i.e. spell with kanji rather than kana if you know the kanji or have seen the characters). Basically, to learn to read, you'll need to learn to write.

Unfortunately, reading is just hard -- there is a fairly large threshold of characters you need to know (in quite a few readings and combinations) before you can read with ease (I don't and I can recognize a frustratingly large number of characters...) You can puzzle out longer passages pretty quickly once you know have a fair bit of grammar and you know how to look up characters. However, it will be a while before you get to that. A good quick resource if you want an idea of what you're in for is Tae Kim's grammar guide.


"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

That's a lot of information. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 08:41:47 PM EST
Japanese. Wow.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
but actually not very good information by R343L (2.00 / 0) #5 Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 11:05:08 PM EST
(rambling, vague, etc.)

But I can at least say I had a few years in college and can sorta-kinda read it with a dictionary. Which is probably not much, but oh well.


"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

[ Parent ]
That seems like a lot of work by Rogerborg (4.00 / 1) #6 Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 11:19:29 PM EST
Wouldn't it be easier to just conquer them again, and this time do a proper job of it?

Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
[ Parent ]
you would think by R343L (4.00 / 1) #9 Tue Jun 13, 2006 at 08:43:24 AM EST
But don't they have, like, giant warrior robots or something? Seems like it would be really hard to win against such advanced technology.



"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

[ Parent ]
They do by Rogerborg (2.00 / 0) #10 Tue Jun 13, 2006 at 08:59:10 AM EST
But they're really deferential.  They'd probably invite us right in, as long as we took our shoes off first.

Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
[ Parent ]
Babelfish, and lots of it (nt) by fluffy (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 08:50:28 PM EST

You could go and work for a japanese by cam (4.00 / 1) #7 Tue Jun 13, 2006 at 01:16:45 AM EST
company in CA somewhere.

Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

step one by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Jun 13, 2006 at 05:05:21 AM EST
  1. Go to some japanamation convention.
  2. Be sure to repeatedly call it 'japanamation'.
  3. Find a rube that keeps correcting you to call it 'anime'
  4. Odds are, that pasty white rube will claim to know about Japan, it's language and culture. He may, in fact, be looking for a Japanese wife.
  5. Bonus if the rube is dressed in some odd costume. That tells you how seriously he takes his study of Japanese culture.
  6. Tell him you're interested in learning how to read Japanese.
  7. Tell him you like 'fan-subs' with Japanese sub-titles.
  8. Avoid directly watching any movies he pushes on you. They may be seizure inducing. Just listen to the audio, and watch the sub-titles at the bottom.
  9. You should now be fluent in Japanese, or passed out in the gutter somewhere.
I'm ashamed I know enough about such odd-balls to make fun of them this way

I'm sure that you'd this via google, but... by Slothrop (2.00 / 0) #11 Wed Jun 14, 2006 at 06:02:17 AM EST

As long as you're some place where you can cut and paste, this is a really nice resource for finding out what a particular character might mean.  In terms of online dictionaries, it's the best that I've found.  Starting off with reading is likely the hardest way to go about it, though.  I'd suggest a flashcard progam of some sort.  I'd imagine that there are some decent ones out there for free by now.  Japanese has remarkable information density, but honestly, it just transfers the stress to the decoder, since in order to read it at all fluently, you have to memorize multiple interpretations of several thousand characters.   Not a simple thing by  any means.

Ask Husi again: language instruction | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)