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Thread: How to start learning Japanese?

  1. #1
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    How to start learning Japanese?

    Hi!
    I would like to learning Japanese, but I dont know how to start. Which books I should buy, or maybe in internet ar some webs where I can learn it.
    I'm from Poland so I dont know if every book which you recommend me will be here.

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    You could visit japanese.about.com, but my American friend who visited it wanting to learn Japanese was rather misled. Apparently they have some site where they list fun happy facts about Japanese to make you think it will be easy to learn, for example "Japanese only has two tenses!"

    I have several Japanese books lying around, but I never learned beyond a very basic level - basic conjugation of verbs, pronouns, this and that, basic words, etc. All the grammar bugged me, for example the three-four different negative forms of desu, plus their past forms, plus their past when combined with a past negative "-ii" adjective... My friend really wants to learn it, so I lended him all my Japanese stuff and agreed to learn with him as far as he gets. I doubt he'll get very far...

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    So Japanese is very difficult language? I know that it has maaaany signs in alphabet but I didn't know that grammar is also very difficult

    Thanx for that site address, I'll check it.

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    Yes, Japanese grammar is difficult. In addition to two large syllabaries(they have a character for every possible syllable in their language), they also use thousands of Chinese characters. I understand why it wouldn't be wise for China to switch from characters to some other system, but considering Japanese already has syllabaries known by everyone, I have no idea why they don't stop using the characters. But don't let me discourage you. Polish grammar is a toughie too, I've heard. It's mainly English speakers who will have a harder time with Japanese, I'd think.

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    Polish grammar is difficult? No I think it's quite easy In Polish is difficult writting, there are some rules which explains when u write for example "ch" and when "h", but in real life u write this or that coz u think it's good. U just have to know which wrods have "ch" and which "ch". After few years in school u almost dont make mistake

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    Well, most English speakers would consider a language with 7 grammatical cases very difficult, at least grammar-wise.

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    Hmm...maybe Polish grammar is difficult for foreigners, there r some inflections of noun and in English u dont have it. But in Polish r only 3 tenses and in English u have about 10 of them. So I dont know what's more difficult

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    Beim Weg, if you learn Chinese and the two easy-peasy Japanese alphabets (hiragana katakana) you can read almost anything in Japanese anyway. Maybe you won't understand the grammar, but since when has that stopped basic comprehension of any language?
    Army Anti-Strapjes
    Nay, mats jar tripes
    Jasper is my Tartan
    I am a trans-Jert spy
    Jerpty Samaritans
    Pijams are tyrants
    Jana Sperm Tit Arsy

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    Yeah, but you have to also understand what u r reading

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    Actually, when you go beyond the basic characters, over the past thousand years or so they've ended up using different characters to express more complex or abstract things. Chinese people have trouble reading stuff written in Japanese.

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    I don't think Japanese grammar is so difficult as Pravit apparently thinks it to be . When I was studying Japanese, it was not the grammar that gave me headaches. Actually, I adored the fact that ADJECTIVES can have past- time form! I thought that was cute!

    Kana was no problem either. I still can read hiragana easily, even though I haven't practiced Japanese for years. What really bugged me (and finaly made me give up) was kanjis, especially the fact that most of them have both Japanese and Chinese prononciation (sometimes several versions of both).

    I think Chinese is more straightforward in that respect. Each symbol in any given dialect of Chinese normally has one reading. Simple, even though there are more symbols to learn.

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    Oh no, VendingMachine, thou art mistaken therein. Chinese also has 1. lot's of different pronounciations of the same character (le/liao, xing/hang), 2. different pronunciation standards within the same dialects and 3. different pronunciations among dialects. And there are more Hanzi than Kanji. By the way, it is rather cool that two different languages can write quite different words with the same characters. (koto=gou1dou1, written the same)
    Army Anti-Strapjes
    Nay, mats jar tripes
    Jasper is my Tartan
    I am a trans-Jert spy
    Jerpty Samaritans
    Pijams are tyrants
    Jana Sperm Tit Arsy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jasper May
    Oh no, VendingMachine, thou art mistaken therein. Chinese also has 1. lot's of different pronounciations of the same character (le/liao, xing/hang), 2. different pronunciation standards within the same dialects and 3. different pronunciations among dialects. And there are more Hanzi than Kanji. By the way, it is rather cool that two different languages can write quite different words with the same characters. (koto=gou1dou1, written the same)
    Although this is fairly unimportant, it was translations.nm.ru who said that, not VendingMachine. Although for some reason I too get them mixed up all the time.

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    Re: How to start learning Japanese?

    Quote Originally Posted by aggie
    I'm from Poland so I dont know if every book which you recommend me will be here.
    Try this site.
    Gib immer 100% bei der Arbeit: 12% am Montag, 23% am Dienstag, 40% am Mittwoch, 20% am Donnerstag, 5% am Freitag ...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pravit
    Quote Originally Posted by Jasper May
    Oh no, VendingMachine, thou art mistaken therein. Chinese also has 1. lot's of different pronounciations of the same character (le/liao, xing/hang), 2. different pronunciation standards within the same dialects and 3. different pronunciations among dialects. And there are more Hanzi than Kanji. By the way, it is rather cool that two different languages can write quite different words with the same characters. (koto=gou1dou1, written the same)
    Although this is fairly unimportant, it was translations.nm.ru who said that, not VendingMachine. Although for some reason I too get them mixed up all the time.

    Pravit, Jasper, I don't know why you both get us mixed up:

    1) I am not truculent :P
    2) I don't use lots of Brithish slang.
    3) I never call you "Pravit boy" and "Jasper boy" .

    Jasper, please read my post carefully. I am totally aware that Chinese characters are read differently in different dialects and subdialects. I also know that there are more Chinese characters than Kanjis, in fact, I stated so in my post.

    I also know that even within the same dialect certain characters have more than one reading. I used "normally" for a reason.

    Of you take, say, Mandarin as spoken on Beijing TV, how many characters have more than one pronunciation (percentage from the total number)?

    Well, in Japanese 2, 3 or 4 readings, sometimes completely different, are not an exception but a rule.

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    I am learning Japanese from Japanese for Dummies. It may not be the most comprehensive literature, neither does it teach you Kanji or Kana, but if you want a speaking knowledge, it is pretty good. Also Oxford University has a pretty good one too that includes audio and kana, but no kanji and it may not be available in Poland, but try it. Hope it helps.

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    resources

    The sad thing about Japanese is that there are so few good resources for the language. Tons of resources exist, but few help the self learner. If you're looking for a basic course, I would definitely say Japanese For Busy People I. This is what I used at several tutors and a community college class. Make sure to purchase the tapes so that you can repeat the dialogues.

    Provided that you're financially comitted to learning the language, I'd say go for at least Pimsleur I. Though everybody knocks Pimsleur, it's actually solid in that you'll developed automaticity and fluidity (the vocab is extremely lacking though). I own Pimsleur I and I'd say it was worth it.

    I've wasted so much money on random Japanese resources, so don't make my mistakes please .... here are some of the best resources I've used/own:

    Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar (for looking up grammar points)

    Breaking into Japanese Literature (fun to read classics in japanese)

    Kanji & Kana (very reliable kanji dict)

    Jim Breen's Site (http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/wwwjdic.html)

    StacksJ program (generate flashcards from any japanese text easily)

    Kanji Can program (learn the meaning /and arguably the readings/ of all 1945 Jouyou Kanji through mnemonic stories)


    With just these, a comitted learner could make a serious dent in the language. However these resources will mostly help with the reading side of the language... I still haven't found any one resource that helps to build speech to a high level.

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    exactly what I think translations.nm.ru very true. But I was also pissed off by the verb tenses and the polite and non-polite forms. I can't understand for the life of me why anyone wants to learn Japanese anyway Chinese is much easier and its probably more useful as well. In Japanese you have to deal with the verb changing a lot for different situations and the word order still can't change in Chinese the word order is very important but at least the verb doesn't change( in most cases anyway). That is what I like about Russian word order isn't so important.
    Anyway I learnt Japanese for 5 years and ended up giving up on it beacause of the difficulty so if I where you I'd just learn Chinese instead. Unless you just wnat to learn the basics which is not so bad.

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    lol

    See, if you're just picking an arbitrary language, then sure, just pick something easier. ;p I mean if you REALLY wanted something easy, go for Swahili ne? (It's one of the easiest out there supposedly ;p)

    I think anyone seriously studying Japanese could give you plenty of reasons, and I think anyone with plenty of reasons is probably pretty successful as well. Maybe the Chinese economy is coming up lol but that doesn't make Japanese obsolete.

    BTW it's REALLY depressing that most of the conversation in this forum consists of people saying that it would be more useful to learn Chinese. It's not more useful to learn Chinese if you want to read Haruki Murakami in his native language! It's not more useful to learn Chinese if you want to watch anime without subtitles, or live in Tokyo, or make Japanese friends!!! lol I have nothing against the Chinese language, and if I had the time to become fluent in four langauges at once I'd be doing it, but I'd also be posting about how useful it is in the CHINESE forum instead of telling everyone in the Japanese forum to give up! ;p

    ~dUcK!

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    I just wanna let people know what they're getting themselves into. Japanese is a pretty interesting language though and I enjoy it at a conversational level but I wouldn't want to be involved with anything beyond that.

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