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先輩(Moderator)
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Posted 3/8/15
Alright, so, apparently there are two variants of 'r' in Chinese: one sounds similar to 'r' in some dialects of English (over here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retroflex_approximant; if you play the sound file, I think you'll see the similarity as well) and the second one that's similar to the initial consonant in the word genre (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiced_retroflex_sibilant).

What these seem to have in common is that they're retroflex, i.e. your tongue is kind of curled backwards while producing the sound (just like 'r' in AmE). Also, the second variant is a sibilant - a kind of a fricative sound, which basically means that the passage the air in your mouth is escaping through is narrow enough to cause friction. Actually, the width of this passage seems to be the only thing in which these two sounds differ. You can check it out for yourselves: first try to prolongate the 'r' sound (and I mean the AmE 'r') and then, while still producing the sound, raise your tongue towards the roof of your mouth. Once the gap between your tongue and the roof of your mouth gets narrow enough, you should be able to hear the friction occur.

I hope I could help and that I didn't mess anything up. After all, I don't know Jack about Chinese itself :/
百芸
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Posted 3/8/15

Ichibanx3 wrote:

Ditto-san! Yup that book is Essential Kanji! Do you also own it?


Yes, I do. It is one of the first Japanese books I had bought. The thing I like best is the handwritten examples. Looking at them has helped me a great deal in recognizing kanji in manga. The different fonts, including handwriting, can make some kanji appear radically different.
先生
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Posted 3/9/15
Same with me, it was also one of the first Japanese books I bought, and my first introduction to kanji. I love it how it starts off with basic kanji then gets more difficult as you move along. Also as you mentioned Ditto-san, the fact in also includes a handwritten version of the kanji, as well of the calligraphy version, makes it really easy to recognize all versions of the same kanji! :D

So if anyone is reading this who doesn't have that book Essential Kanji, you may want to check it out and buy it
学生
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Posted 3/13/15
If anyone's looking for a physical textbook to learn from, we used Cheng-Tsui's Adventures in Japanese series: https://www.cheng-tsui.com/browse/adventures-in-japanese-2e. It's written really simply, but there are plenty of funny illustrations and cultural notes that make it really fun to learn.

The 1st volume uses romaji alongside hiragana, but since my 先生 was determined that we learn hiragana inside and out, I didn't end up relying on the romaji all that much.

Just curious, but did anyone else know of this series? It seems like oftentimes most people have never heard of it.
芭蕉の化身
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Posted 3/13/15
Can confirm, never heard of it! There are more Japanese learning textbooks out there than one might think, it seems.
Does the first volume use romaji the whole way through? All advice I've ever come across has said to ditch romaji as soon as possible.
Makes sense to me, it's hard to take the plunge at first but ultimately you learn a lot faster that way.
百芸
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Posted 3/13/15
I've seen so many different textbooks, that I'm honestly not sure if I've seen it before.

And I have to agree with your sensei, ditching romaji as soon as possible is a good idea.
学生
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Posted 3/13/15

CloudPersona wrote:
Does the first volume use romaji the whole way through? All advice I've ever come across has said to ditch romaji as soon as possible.
Makes sense to me, it's hard to take the plunge at first but ultimately you learn a lot faster that way.


I believe the romaji exists through the entirety of the 1st volume, but we sped through it in less than the first half of the year and started on the 2nd volume immediately after. My sensei would force us to write all the hira and kana alphabets 5 times each, every night, until we memorized them. Suffice to say I learned a ton of Japanese back then.

Sensei's catchphrase was always, "Get serious!", before slamming her fist on her desk. She's a small, elderly Japanese woman.
百芸
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Posted 3/13/15 , edited 3/13/15
You know, I've found you never, ever mess with お祖母さま regardless of the country. 怖いよ!:) They truly know the power of the force. Speaking of which, we should call you Darth Ram. ;)

More seriously though, romaji can be too much of a crutch. It's a great start, but the sooner people get used to kana, the sooner they can start reading. A lot of introductory reading material uses furigana which is written in hiragana. So, being able to read that and use a dictionary helps a great deal in building up your vocab.

"Get serious" is a good catch phrase. One of my friends constantly tells me to stop relying on subtitles, since they can be a crutch too. But I'm not ready to take that step.
先生
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Posted 3/14/15
I have never heard of Cheng-Tsui's Adventures in Japanese series either BUT I have one of their textbooks for my Chinese course (Integrated Chinese: Textbook Traditional Characters Level 1 Part 1). I like the grammar notes, pictures, and vocab lists but the one thing that really bothers me about my textbook is that they never translate the dialogues in the beginning of each lesson and that their grammar explanations are sometimes written so complex that it makes the grammar points quite confusing However, the most awesome part of the textbook was the beginning of the book where they introduced each character in detail! These are the characters that take part in the example dialogues:



I hope the picture is clear to you all, I'm sorry if the text is hard to read, I tried my best to take a clear picture . I love how they described all the characters in detail- whoever wrote that has a great imagination! I also feel like there should so be a manga series about these random characters

Also, is it just me, or does the textbook drawings remind you of the manga drawing style of the 70s/80s?



Also, Ditto-san, whenever I watch anime on Crunchyroll, I watch it with Spanish subtitles to keep up my Spanish. Imagine: two languages at once- reading Spanish while listening to Japanese

Also, I definitely agree with everyone- it's best to ditch romaji early on since it is NECESSARY to know kana inside and out!
学生
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Posted 3/14/15

deadpanditto wrote:

You know, I've found you never, ever mess with お祖母さま regardless of the country. 怖いよ!:) They truly know the power of the force. Speaking of which, we should call you Darth Ram. ;)

More seriously though, romaji can be too much of a crutch. It's a great start, but the sooner people get used to kana, the sooner they can start reading. A lot of introductory reading material uses furigana which is written in hiragana. So, being able to read that and use a dictionary helps a great deal in building up your vocab.

"Get serious" is a good catch phrase. One of my friends constantly tells me to stop relying on subtitles, since they can be a crutch too. But I'm not ready to take that step.


Darth Ram! That's a good one :)

I'm still a little weak with reading kanji in higher-level works, even though I'll understand the general gist of what's written (mainly because I recognize a number of kanji back when my parents forced me to attend Chinese school...). I'll have to look for the huge stack of kanji index cards my sensei made us create in our senior year of high school so I can brush up on differentiating on/kun readings.

My listening comprehension is pretty weak too; do you guys recommend anything other than watching TV shows? As much as I love watching anime, a lot of the time characters speak very informally/yakuza-like.



Ichibanx3 wrote:
Also, is it just me, or does the textbook drawings remind you of the manga drawing style of the 70s/80s?


Hahaha, those are great! The Adventures in Japanese books had cheesy illustrations too, but nothing quite like the Chinese textbook you have
漢和名手
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Posted 3/15/15 , edited 3/15/15
A conversation partner or club or similar is what I'd recommend for listening comprehension. I really wish I could have done more. Nothing like actual practice of real time listening and speaking with some guidance and correction to hone one's skills. Watching anime or reading manga is ok, but it's but a one-way "conversation. "
先生
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Posted 3/16/15
I know, my Chinese book has the most random illustrations, but it keeps me entertained when I find myself bored when I review my textbook And Sushi-san, I definitely agree, nothing can beat having the guidance of a real, native Japanese speaker. Does anyone here have their own Japanese "study-buddies" or anything?
百芸
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Posted 3/16/15
Unfortunately, I don't have a study buddy. Due to work and life, I've been self-studying for a long time. If I wasn't so persistent, I'd have given up a long time ago.
漢和名手
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Posted 3/16/15
I used to have one, a student at the local university, but she graduated, and I've been way too busy nowadays to try and find another one. Oddly, there are a fair number of Japanese students in Reno-- not a lot, say, compared to places in California or other larger cities, but more than one might think for a place like Reno. There's apparently enough critical mass here to even form an official conversation club at the university-- for Americans trying to learn Japanese, and Japanese students trying to practice their English.
先生
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Posted 3/17/15
I actually have a Japanese study buddy (which is something I thought would never happen). We met last week while I was studying at Whole Foods before my Japanese class- yes I'm such a nerd that I study while I eat! He noticed me studying hiragana and katakana and he didn't even introduce himself, he just walked up to me and said, "That's Japanese!" Then we started a conversation! I'm actually meeting him tomorrow, so if any of you have any questions about Japanese language or culture -not easy questions that anyone here in our group can answer, BUT a question only a native speaker will know the answer to, please let me know your questions so I can make a note of them
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