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Post Reply learning to read japanese.
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31 / M / outer wall, level...
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Posted 4/27/14
it started off, like most any thing worth mentioning, with a girl.
a 2D girl. but hey, whatever. the manga is called 'is this girl for real?!' and i fell in love with it. but in looking at the english manga, somewhere at vollume 2, and seeing as how there is a vollume 5, i started wanting more.

first off, a bit of background. i speak english, and spanish. my mother is nuts about chinese, both writing and speaking. learning japanese to read is a bit harder than chinese, but its not that bad.

what i do right now is i get a raw version of a manga, then get a english version. i picked up a book at the library called, 'japanese in mangaland' and im still working through it.
i pretty much take the japanese manga, copy by hand to a sheet of paper(cus using motor skills reinforces learning shapes) then sit down with google translate (really suck translator!) take it one comment at a time.
so far so good. its slow, but im learning. it helps that im obssesed.

there is a lot i dont know, so ill need a dictionary for that.

a few notes.

kanji is basicly chinese. and as such, chinese is pretty strict on the construction of the symbols. if google translate, you have to pay attention not only what you draw, but the order as well, or google cant read it.
hirigana and katakana are basiclly phonetic.

after a while the kanji really stands out, its kinda blockly and angular, like cars in the 80's. the rest have much more flow to them.

well, thats it. reading to me seem eaiser that learning to speak. (eyes over ears, lol)

just my .02
Sogno- 
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Posted 4/27/14
i'm glad that's working out for you
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15 / F / California
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Posted 4/27/14
The last few days I've been all out with learning Japanese. I know most of my Hiragana and Im just starting up with Kanji. I haven't attempted the way you are working with it so I think I'll give it a shot!! I've been working with the Japanese school system. Starting with 1st grade. WooHoo! http://jisho.org/ <---- I've been using this site. Tells you how to write it, uses sentences for examples ect. Seriously I love this site so much. Good luck with learning Japanese! haha its fun but a pain in the ass! <3
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23 / M / KS, USA
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Posted 4/27/14
Good luck learning Japanese. I am a slow learner by myself, so I am getting no where really. Not to mention I only have like one app on my tablet I have only used a dozen or so times to actually learn.

I plan to soon get into it a bit more. I have learned languages in the past so I know how to learn them.

It takes patience, time (a lot of it), materials to work with, and the most important part: Practice.

Some people mistakenly think they can pick up 1 book once and learn a language. I can only just barely hold a conversation in German and I spent 4 years studying that.

For myself I am going to do some self study/tutoring after I buy some materials (books to learn Japanese), and I am going to do that for awhile. After awhile of doing that I will go to a proper educational course on Japanese. Because it is of my personal opinion, no matter how much time, effort, and money you put into buying yourself things to learn a language, without a proper teaching of it in an education environment, you will not get far.

Of course I know some will probably scoff at that and the fact I plan to buy materials to learn, rather than just use free stuff on the web. But I prefer proper teaching and education when it comes to this so I will do it.
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20 / M / Texas
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Posted 4/27/14
I have bought a few book and flashcards of amazon last year and now can read close to 1000 Kanji, write and talk a bit. It does does take time and effort especially with the kanji since a lot of them look the same. I just made flashcards for the kanji and bought manga to help with the reading, and disks for the speaking portion.

Also used http://jisho.org/ and http://www.guidetojapanese.org/
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19 / M / Tampa, FL
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Posted 4/27/14
You guys are really making me want to learn Japanese more and more but I honestly have no idea where to start
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21 / M / WA
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Posted 4/27/14
Pick up Japanese Hiragana & Katakana for Beginners by Timothy G. Stout. It's a really good source for learning both of those since you should begin by memorizing all 46 hiragana and all 46 katakana. The book also includes a CD-Rom with printable flash cards, self quiz and bonus writing pages. Learning these two things are the baby steps. It's about $8 on amazon.
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Posted 4/27/14 , edited 4/27/14
3 years of university-level Japanese courses, here. As well as many years of listening comprehension with anime et al, and a big push the last 2 years on my reading. Read lots of raw tankos, etc.

For most people, having a dedicated Japanese class keeps them motivated and on a regular schedule, but learning via self-study is certainly possible. Just that most people find it harder to keep up with. (Uni has you learn Hiragana/Katakana in the first two weeks)

If you are going to self-study, I still recommend the Genki series books (There's 2 main ones), which also have associated workbooks and listening CDs. They're slightly dated at this point, having been developed in the late 90s, but they're still good. For intermediate level, my university then moved us to the Tobira books.

Along with that, there is an application for PC/Smartphone called Anki Flashcards that many people use to practice kanji and grammar. I would concentrate on the card decks for Kyoiku Grades 1-6. It's my impression that most shounen/shoujo manga aim for around that level of reading comprehension.

Another angle is to use OCR software: I use one called KanjiTomo that works well for me. You hover the mouse and it highlights the kanji and tells you what it means. My kanji knowledge is still rather rough, so using this tool sped up my translation speed by about 3x. For raw text on sites, there is also the Firefox addon Rikaichan that I recommend. -- These aren't a substitute for flashcards and writing practice however, because they don't "stick with you" anywhere nearly as well as learning via writing them.

When you feel confident enough: You could even practice your reading comprehension with Light Novel ebooks -- I personally buy ebooks from Honto (http://honto.jp) and their reader is usable globally. KanjiTomo OCR works great with it still. Otherwise another tactic of mine is to go on Pixiv and read short stories/fanfic type stuff people post using Rikaichan. It tends to be written in easier grammar/less kanji, so it's also a good way to ease into things.
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19 / M / Tampa, FL
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Posted 4/27/14
Ok so ive been doing some reading but its a little hard to understand the concept. So a hiragana is a sound but by itself doesnt mean anything? And another question i have is does certain kanji end up taking the place for a hiragana? For example, i was attempting to write Nanatsu No Taizai in Hiragana but when i went to look it up it had certain characters i had never seen, I hope this makes sense
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Posted 4/28/14
Yes, the kanji replace hiragana. (The ones that make up the so-called "reading" for that kanji.) The tricky part comes in the fact that kanji have an "on" and "kun" (basically a main and secondary) reading. So you need to pick up on under what context each one is used.

(Names almost always use the kun reading, for example. And in general, even the Japanese don't know how to read them most of the time. It's common for people to introduce themselves and actually say how to read the kanji of their name)

Nanatsu no Taizai's Japanese title is: 七つの大罪
There is a good example: In that reading 大 is pronounced tai. And you will also see it in "big" aka "ookii" 大きい
Then to trip you up even more, Japanese often alters the pronunciation slightly to roll off the tongue better. (tai/dai) (ke/ge) But don't worry about that for now.

ななつのたいざい would be the manga name entirely in hiragana.
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19 / M / Tampa, FL
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Posted 4/28/14
I got that genki book and its really descriptive on everything. So i guess i just need to work on memorizing the hiragana first. Last question. What is the clear definition/usage of "desu"? Soo desu means "thats right" but "juuniji han desu" means its half past 12.
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Posted 4/28/14
Oh geez hmm.. I'm terrible with grammar terms, I'm not sure how to explain it.

Desu is... It's basically the default way to end a sentence (politely). Then informally it's shortened to "da" or left out entirely, but don't worry about that for now. A very quick google search nets this link, which seems very good at describing it: http://www.japanesejoshi.com/2012/12/desu/

A big part of Japanese is using the correct politeness level. This comes up a lot in anime with names: Characters getting mad at others who call their name without a suffix like -san, or are "overly friendly" and use -chan when they should be using -san, etc.

tldr: You end pretty much all sentences with it. Don't question it, and don't worry about it
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Posted 4/28/14
Another thing to keep in mind with learning the hiragana and the various verb forms: The breakdown of the kana by vowel is very important for conjugation. (pg 252 in Genki 1 is the hiragana list)

ka ki ku ke ko
ta (chi) (tsu) te to etc.

A I U E O

So for long-form (present tense) verbs:

kaku - to write. is kakimasu
yomu - to read. is yomimasu

See how the U-verbs in dictionary form all have the U sound, and the present tense goes left one row to the I sound. (The past tense goes left again to the A sound) (And the imperative -te form "must do X" goes right one to E)

An extension of this same principle is used in sounding out words as well. IE: ka/ga か・が ta/da た・だ
The "tenten" as they call it, changes the sound. This comes up in making things "roll off the tongue better" as it were.

IE: hairstyle - 髪の毛 kami no KE // eyebrows are then 眉毛 mayuGE
See how its the same kanji 毛 but the pronunciation is shifted from the K --> G sound

I like to remember them as (Russian) KGb (Touchdown) TD and ... never had one for HB or SZ I guess :)

か・が た・だ は・ば さ・ざ

One other thing to listen for while learning IMHO is how things are "fluently" pronounced. IE: How desu is "DESS" most of the time. suki -- to like is "ski" not "soo-kii" etc.
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19 / M / Tiphares
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Posted 4/28/14 , edited 4/28/14
Just to let you know, but it's here on Crunchyroll and already translated up to Volume 4. But, ah, I'm sure there's no point telling that as you're wanting to read Japanese (and presumably the Japanese releases of said manga)...

http://www.crunchyroll.com/comics/manga/is-this-girl-for-real/volumes

As for learning another language, all I have to say is it takes determination. If you're not determined to trudge through it, then don't bother.
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Posted 4/28/14
I'd second the recommendations of everyone who mentioned jisho.org; it's by far my favorite Japanese dictionary (and I've used it at times as a Chinese character dictionary, because I find the interface far easier to navigate than the Chinese dictionary I use). Also, for learning hiragana/katakana, I recommend realkana.com, which lets you select only the kana you want to practice. More than anything, I think the most important factor in learning a language is practice.
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