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Has anyone learnt/is anyone learning Japanese?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by James the Persian, Jan 12, 2007.

  1. James the Persian

    James the Persian Dreptcredincios Crestin

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    Hi all,

    It's been a while since I learnt a new language and I'm seriously considering learning another. I've studied Germanic, Romance and Slav languages in the past, so I'm not really interested in another European one. I've also studied one native American language and one Indian to a degree and I know enough about the tonal Asian languages to know that I'm not going there!

    I was wondering if anyone here has experience of learning Japanese. I have an abiding love of their culture and have had since i was small and I've looked into the language enough to see that it looks interesting, is very different from European languages, and isn't tonal. It'd also be fun to learn another (three actually) writing system.

    If anyone has any advice, whether it be along the lines of start here or this worked best for me, or any suggestions as to useful resources (online, books, I don't mind) then I'd be very grateful to hear from you. Thanks.

    James
     
  2. Engyo

    Engyo Prince of Dorkness!

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    No matter what method you choose, for Japanese you need a group of people to actually speak it with. As a member of a Japanese Buddhist school, several friends and acquaintences (including my wife) have studied Japanese at various times. Without a speaking partner(s) that you can continually polish your skills with, you will find it a tough go..........
     
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  3. FatMan

    FatMan Well-Known Member

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    I'd completely agree with that. Furthermore, if you find it difficult to have speaking partners or if you do not have time to take part in traditional style classes, your next best bet is to get a training program that is interactive and uses speakers and microphones on the computer. But it will be a challenge.

    good luck.
     
  4. James the Persian

    James the Persian Dreptcredincios Crestin

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    As is my penchant, when learning languages, I generally start with the written aspect, and particularly grammar. There's never any substitute, when learning to speak, for actually speaking to people, no matter what the language, but I generally leave that until I have a reasonable grasp of the written language. I know this is the exact reverse of what many do, but I'm generally afraid to open my mouth until I know that what's coming out has a reasonable chance of being understood, if that makes sense. When I do finally come around to wanting to speak, I don't think it should be hard to find people to do it with. Leeds is a pretty cosmopolitan city.

    James
     
  5. FatMan

    FatMan Well-Known Member

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    I'm not trying to dissuade you, but the the Far East languages lend themselves more to speaking first simply because you are not dealing with letters, but rather symbols that represent words or phrases. In comparison to Western languages, grammar is not stressed much in the Far East.

    I took the path of learning the written word first when learning german, but found it was much easier and almost necessary to learn the spoken word of Mandarin. To be fair, I know little to nothing about Japanese, so you may ultimately disregard this entire post:)
     
  6. James the Persian

    James the Persian Dreptcredincios Crestin

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    No, I won't disregard it. You might be right as I have no experience with any far eastern language. I must say that it would be a first for me to find a language that i couldn't get a decent handle on with written grammar before I started speaking, but that doesn't mean you're wrong. Japanese is, however, certainly different from the Chinese languages because although it does have the Kanji pictograms it also has two syllabaries (hiragana and katakana) which seem to work much like the devanagari script used for Sanskrit and Hindi (which I am already familiar with), though both seem considerably simpler than the latter.

    James
     
  7. Engyo

    Engyo Prince of Dorkness!

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    James -

    One of the problems with starting on the written side is that Japanese actually uses three alphabets; two (hiragana and katakana) are somewhat phonetic, and the third (kanji) is actually chinese inorigin and is the symbols that Fatman spoke of. My wife's kanji dictionary is a couple of thousand pages long. Hiragana is used to write words in Japanese, and katakana is used to write loaner words like restaurant and hotel and television. So as you can see, it is a bit complex.
     
  8. James the Persian

    James the Persian Dreptcredincios Crestin

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    I'm aware of the three writing systems. I would have thought, though, that for the purposes of learning grammar and the general structure of the language, just learning hiragana and katakana would suffice? I mean, unless I'm actually trying to read real written Japanese is here any need to understand the Kanji? If not, I can't see that being much more difficult than learning devanagari, especially considering how complicated some of syllable combinations can be in that script.

    James
     
  9. Booko

    Booko Deviled Hen

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    My son concurs with this. He says with Japanese it's often not what you say but how you say it. Inflection can be everything.
     
  10. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    Nutshell speaks Japanese. If he doesn't see this thread and you're really serious about this, I'd suggest you PM him.
     
  11. James the Persian

    James the Persian Dreptcredincios Crestin

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    Thankyou Kat,

    I am serious in that I'm seriously considering it. Any advice that he can give me would be gratefully received. I'll give him a chance to weigh in here but if he doesn't I'll hasle him with PMs.

    James
     
  12. Ðanisty

    Ðanisty Well-Known Member

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    I've heard that the Rosetta Stone language programs are really good. I also have some friends who studied some Japanese and found watching subtitled anime really helpful.

    I'm truly jealous of all the languages you have already studied. I think one of the biggest flaws in the American education system is that language is not taught until high school and even then it isn't treated as if it's important. I have so many languages I want to learn and I'm working at a major disadvantage here. First on my list is Russian, but I don't know anyone in this area that speaks Russian. I don't know any colleges in this area that even offer Russian courses. The only languages available are French, German, and Spanish.
     
  13. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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  14. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    Why all this controversy and debate? Just go out and buy some books and recordings, enroll in a class somewhere and start learning. You're not going to learn if you have an aptitude for it by discussing weather you have an aptitude for it. You'll learn soon enough weather it's something you want to pursue.
     
  15. evearael

    evearael Well-Known Member

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    Don't dismiss Kanji! I love Kanji. :) If you are truly serious about learning the language, make sure you learn Kanji early right along side the hiragana and katakana. (Of course, I'm a bit partial after studying Mandarin and Japanese at the same time...)

    Hmmm... Here is a book from the series I worked through:
    http://www.amazon.com/Kimono-Level-...ef=sr_1_2/103-8988778-1623812?ie=UTF8&s=books
    ...however, we relied more heavily from notes from our Sensei who was a native speaker than the book. You also may want to pick up a copy of Essential Kanji and the Complete Japanese Verb Guide along with the best dictionary you can find.

    I would listen to Japanese music, watch Japanese TV, read Japanese books, websites, manga... immerse yourself in as many different medias as possible. :)
     
  16. James the Persian

    James the Persian Dreptcredincios Crestin

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    Thanks everyone, for the advice (which is what I was looking for - I wasn't debating anything Seyorni).
    Do you know if there's a Russian Orthodox Church in your area? If there's one they may be able to help. Someone there may even run Russian language courses because immigrant churches often do. In any case, I'd suggest that if you can find a Russian community, they'll be able to help you. I'd also suggest spending a while to learn Cyrillic (so that you can read how a word sounds) up front. It shouldn't take more than a few days.

    James
     
  17. ChrisP

    ChrisP Veteran Member

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    Best thing to do, nice suggestion Eveareal... No really. The language is quite formal, but it gives a really great idea for the structure. Especially those crazy game shows they have... you can laugh your arse off and learn at the same time :)
     
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  18. Ðanisty

    Ðanisty Well-Known Member

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    It looks like all we have for orthodox churches around here is a Greek Orthodox church. I'm pretty sure we don't have a Russian community in Savannah. Thanks for the suggestion though because if/when we move, I'll look again in our new town. I've been teaching myself the Cyrillic print, but the cursive is really hard for me. The alphabet isn't hard...just writing and reading it in cursive. I've got the sound down for most of the letters and I think I do at least a half-decent job pronouncing Russian words when I see them. At least this will give me something to work with later. I found the Cyrillic alphabet surprisingly easy to learn.
     
  19. Feathers in Hair

    Feathers in Hair World's Tallest Hobbit

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    I've been trying to learn the basics of kanji, simply for drawing purposes, I must admit. I would love to learn the language!
     
  20. Eternal Searcher

    Eternal Searcher The Fuzzy Muffin

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    It's nice to see someone else interested in learning Japanese too :). I've been slowly studying it for awhile, and seriously, I've learned more from watching the subtitled anime/manga (My faves being Bleach, Trinity Blood, and Eureka at the moment) than anything else, so that would be my first suggestion on how to go about learning some of it.
    Something I'de watch out for though, with learning grammar first, is the formal/informal stuff. I have two different books teaching them both rather differently, so I went to another book for awhile, hehe.
    Try browsing your local bookstore in their language section just to get an idea of what they offer. The book I'm currently using is called "Japanese in Mangaland" by Marc Bernabe. It makes it rather fun, using pictures to illustrate the different words. And it's not as childish as the title suggests :p. It covers grammar, pronunciation, and the written part of it, all at once.
    I may not have the experience in Japanese as some of the people that have posted on this thread (which, I envy you all lol) but I have a nice collection of books on the matter, so if you want any title suggestions, just send a msg :)
     
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