Saturday, September 24, 2011

On Taking Japanese

 Ideally, I'd like to be able to speak Chinese and Japanese. But since I could, I'm taking Beg. Japanese I at my university. Which is something I've been wanting for, err, 8 years? And I'm finding it really rewarding, so far. I've memorized all hiragana and now I'm venturing into the 3-lettered vowels, which are kind of weird but in a way they make since---practically-speaking. If the Japanese written language was made up real letters and not just phonetic representations they would definitely not have so many exceptions and other sets of alphabets (katakana, for one). But ah well. The part of hiragana history I know is the one in Ancient Heian Japan when hiragana was dismissed as not as 'sophisticated' as Chinese writing by the male nobles; Chinese (I guess kanji?) was basically the equivalent of Latin for intellectuals up until the mid-18th-century in the West. So it was up to the court women to write diaries (The Pillow Book), poems, and novels (Tale of Genji)  in hiragana.
Surprisingly, I've learned a lot of Chinese through my girlfriend (who is from Singapore). I have a pretty good knack for languages...If I have another sly opportunity to take a language class I will definitely tackle Chinese.  

Anyways, if any of you have taken Japanese, what strategies do you suggest to use for learning more efficiently?


Anonymous said...

Always practice writing so you don't forget the characters. Audio files really help on pronunciation. Memorize nouns and verbs to expand your vocab.


JGV said...

So I guess you need to keep working to remember the characters.
That's good to know!
ありがとうございます !

Anonymous said...

Passive learning ie, watching anime and jdorama, and listening to jpop helps review phrases and conversation snippets learned in class. A true test that you have learned a language is that when you are no longer "translating" but you are already "thinking" in that language. :D
When I was just starting to learn Japanese, I tried to write my journal entries in Nihonggo. I had difficulty in writing the characters since I'm only knowledgeable in the alphabet. But after lots of practice, I got the hang of it.

JGV said...

Watching anime? That's good, although I've heard that one shouldn't try to mimic their speech patterns. It would be like talking like a cartoon? lol

"A true test that you have learned a language..."

Yes, totally! It's so time-consuming right now to have to translate every hiragana character. I'm very eager to get to read it more effortlessly. And then there's kanji...hmph

You practiced by writing in Japanese? Wow, that's quite a challenge! It's a really neat idea!

Thank you very much!