Learning to Read and Write Kanji Row 9

I've been learning Japanese again. This is looking like it's going to be a series where I show my progress (see the bottom of the post for previous episodes). To show my progress, see the test below and the list of kanji is available below as well.

Kanji test row 9

社 水 大 安 内 親 名 父 姉 思 食 兄 三 弟 母 小 上 主 両 会 家 火 妹 二

As with the previous row, most of these are from row 9 and some of them are from earlier rows. I made two mistakes: 安 and 両. For {both} I drew the top half of 業 because I had written it recently. For {relax} {cheap} {low} {quiet} {rested} {contented} {peaceful} I drew 休 instead of 安 which is an easy mistake because the translation of 休 is {rest} {day off} {retire} {sleep}. But now I know the difference: 安 is relax, 休 is rest/sleep. I didn't get all of row 9 correct, but the one I didn't get right is pretty likely to come up. If you don't believe me, see last post where I actually do the math. What insight do I have to give? These rows I actually learned back in 2016. That's a long time ago so there is bound to be some loss but the speed in which I am relearning (assuming I retain my knowledge) is normal. The difficulty is yet to come when I am trying to retain my knowledge and grow at one row per week with kanji that are more difficult to draw and remember than these. Luckily, more complex kanji are based upon radicals of which there are only 248, with a fairly dramatic falloff in occurrence. That is not to say that kanji are easy to remember. This task is difficult and I expect it to be immensely satisfying when it turns up real results.

Lack of real results are a substantial hindrance to learning. Being stuck in a fairly limited set of kanji is especially frustrating because the vast majority of content is inaccessible. As a learner in a native environment it is probably a good motivational aide, but learning kanji in an English country motivation must be found. In my experience learning kanji is a step toward reading manga (which one can buy at Kinokuniya) or reading visual novels. Many visual novels are voiced, which means if you have a good ear (mine is pretty temperamental) you can look up kanji in the dictionary (I wrote my own web interface to xjdic). But that isn't a great use of time in my opinion. It would be much more efficient to spend an hour memorizing kanji than typing hiragana (with an IME) into a dictionary based on what one hears in a visual novel. What a visual novel presents -- doubly when voiced -- is context. A person who studies kanji will get nouns, adjectives, and the root of the verb. But Japanese has a lot of verb endings and particles. To get these, you need a grammar lesson. Where does one get a grammar lesson? A book, a youtube video, a course, or a website are the options I think make most sense for this. In the case of books, I have read parts of Japanese For Busy People (Kana version) and Essential Japanese Grammar (1964). Both have significant drawbacks but were responsible for a lot of my education however lacking. Essential Japanese Phrase Book has the benefit of using kanji along with romanji, but has an almost senseless array of phrases and words. Though I suppose it would be useful if you found yourself in any of the senseless situations it prepares one for.

I've already discussed reading manga before, but it feels like manga is one of the better ways of learning kanji. It's right there in context with furigana (assuming your reading 少年 or 少女) and it does not let you get away with not knowing grammar. I recently remembered my Love Hina bilingual manga and had a good time reading it the other night. It's cool to see what their translator decided to do with the text.

There is one more method of kanji that I find to be utterly mystifying and that is in hacking. Similar to browsing the internet, you can copy kanji directly from the text and into a dictionary or automated translator. But in the case of grabbing the assets from a game, you're getting game dialog, which is something you won't find as much on the internet. In this case you're getting far better data because it was intended to be read like a book, depends on your ability to hack, and provides a clear motivation. In some cases you even get voice over. While I don't think that the original author intended for this use case, it seems pretty obvious how much better this is than the alternatives: manga, books, anime, visual novels without the ability to copy, music, internet, and classes all lack something that hacking visual novels has. And the nature of this presents a funny problem -- I can't give you a list of visual novels I've hacked without telling the authors of those visual novels about the process. While most I'm sure have no problem with people learning Japanese using their game, it only takes one. So let's just start by saying that it's a thing and maybe we can talk specific titles when the authors of that title make their opinion on the process known. I for one would love for people to learn from any software or blog I write.

I'll hopefully post all tests as I pass them. So far it's been quite efficient and has improved my outlook on this project as an actual long-term valuable skill I can use. As you well know, best intentions of continuing posting blogs regularly often halts and you can interpret any halt without notice as being the end of the series.

Previous episodes:
Learning to Read and Write Kanji
Learning to Read and Write Kanji Row 5
Learning to Read and Write Kanji Row 6
Learning to Read and Write Kanji Row 7
Learning to Read and Write Kanji Row 8

Javantea out.


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