Tae Kim's Guide to Japanese Forum

To address questions and improvements for the Japanese Grammar Guide as well as topics concerning Japanese in general.

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#1 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » Struggling learning katakana » 2013-04-22 10:36:42

I will say it every time this comes up - no matter what method you use, the joyo list is not a bible or magical list of everything you will ever need to know. It includes both characters which are quite unusual, or which are normally used in proper nouns (e.g. various things you'll seldom use outside prefecture names) and leaves out, even with the update, a lot of useful characters (which depends on your opinion and what sort of things you read).  Until the update they didn't even have 誰 in there.

The purpose of the joyo is, really,  an education standard for native speakers. That's why several things in there seem not very useful when you're learning - they're in there because they'll be in the history (or whatever) textbook, because you need them to read the constitution.  The characters that were taken out of the joyo in the updated version were taken out because people stopped using them - the ones that were added were added because people were using them even though they weren't joyo at the time.

If you like the concept of Heisig, look at RTK lite.

Either way, you should learn kanji a way which allows you to deal with discovering unfamiliar ones 'in the wild'.  A decent understanding of how stroke order/radicals/components work goes a long way.

#2 Re: The Strictly Q&A Forum » Does this sentence make sense? » 2013-03-26 14:22:44

No, what I mean is it sounds a bit weird to say "do you like fun games?" as opposed to just "do you like games?", because whether or not a game is 楽しい depends on your personal opinion.

Xが好きですか is standard for "do you like".  I try to avoid trying to make broad statements about が・は because they'll probably be wrong. smile

#3 Re: The Strictly Q&A Forum » Does this sentence make sense? » 2013-03-26 13:18:36

You don't need those commas (although Japanese is relatively relaxed about comma use, they look odd to me).  The first is absolutely fine.
For the question:
ゲーム is the correct spelling for "game", and it is more usual to use が instead of は here.

Use the question marker (か) in polite questions but you (and should) drop it in more casual speech
ゲームが好きですか? or ゲームが好き?

楽しい sounds slightly unnatural here (does anybody like boring games?), but it's not grammatically incorrect.

#4 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » Translating Foreign Names [SOLVED] » 2013-03-26 08:38:31

Which online dictionary? If you're talking something which is based off EDICT, which most free online websites/apps are, I would take it with a pinch of salt - their names dictionary includes all kinds of stuff which has been submitted at various times, including some quite rare names/spellings.  If the name isn't that common, the chances that anybody will recognise it is low and the benefit of taking a "standard" spelling is reduced.

It comes down to preference in the end. There are no rules/laws to stop you spelling your name as you like - and it's not going to end up being "correct" anyway unless you have one of those rare surnames which fits nicely with katakana.  Unless you're about to move to Japan and have it put on something official it's not as if you can't change the spelling later if you want.

#5 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » Translating Foreign Names [SOLVED] » 2013-03-24 08:04:19

I agree with Lyrencropt.  It's not that there's a set spelling for every foreign name, but in cases where the name is well known (common, the name of a celebrity, etc), then using that spelling will make life easier, both for you, and for native speakers if they want to remember how to spell your name in katakana. 

The average English-speaking person has very little idea about what foreign names sound like (unless they're learning a particular language), and so of course they have few expectations (other than "I can just read this like it looks and it's okay, right?") - which is why the tendency is for people who moved somewhere like the UK or the US to change the spelling/shorten names/pick an entirely new name just to stop everyone mangling it.  The average Japanese native speaker, on the other hand, knows at least a few foreign names, even if it's just from the movies, and probably knows Michael from マイケル・ジャクソン, for example.

However, it's not completely unknown to have multiple katakana spellings reflecting actual pronunciation differences between languages - e.g. アルテュール・アルトゥール・アーサー are variants for "Arthur" used on wikipedia, because the pronunciation differs greatly between, say, France and the UK.   So if there's a big difference then you might feel it worth it.   If it's just a small change, I suspect people would manage but you'll probably get asked "but why don't you write it マイケル? (or whatever the 'regular' spelling of your name is)".

My first name sounds very like another, similar first name which was very popular around the time when I was born, and is often mistaken for that, OR people assume it is short for something else.  Personally, if I was living in Japan and using the katakana form, I would definitely go for "most likely to be easily and consistently spelt/recognised by native speakers" over "phonetically accurate to the English" every time.

#6 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » Another topic on translating Death Note... » 2013-03-21 14:24:48

I wonder if this was a case of incorrect "correction" by an editor/checker who either didn't have the original or misinterpreted.
Something like "You don't want it, give it to another human." is correct to my ears (but kinda non-standard, I guess).

#7 Re: Other Japanese-Related Stuff » Japanese Video Games » 2013-03-20 12:43:42

The one word you need: 攻略

I mostly play online these days (import duty is a killer), although every now and again something interesting comes up on Ebay.  Bonus: if a game turns out to be too hard or you get bored of it you can drop it without feeling guilty about wasting the money.

If you have a window system: www.vector.co.jp/  for shareware/freeware. Lots of free rpgs and stuff, does require the willingness to fiddle with your settings a bit in some cases.

Obviously if you really want to play a particular series then you'll have to shell out for it, but if you just want to dabble in games generally there's plenty about for free (most of them are of the "pay for extra stuff" type).

#8 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » Does meaning change if word is written in katakana vs kanji? » 2013-03-16 09:50:11

"Akahito" would be normally taken as a name (possibly 赤人? appears to have been a poet named that).  I think it's being used to indicate a difference between someone talking about アカヒと (only knows the reading "akahito"), and somebody talking about 銅人 (knows something more about who/what Akahito actually is).

various and random examples:
where the kanji is rare/unusual/complex: ほうき not 箒
where the kanji is not unusual but the word uses a non-standard reading: セリフ is common instead of 台詞
for plant/animal names in scientific contexts, even if the kanji are not that unusual: ホッキョクグマ instead of 北極熊
in dialogue, to indicate emphasis or a foreign accent (also traditionally used for the speech of robots etc).
for emphasis (common in advertising)
for certain words where it's just become usual to write in katakana for whatever reason (ケータイ is commonly used for mobile phones instead of 携帯)

#9 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » Where to go from here (Kanji Questions) » 2013-03-13 16:13:28

The problem with " writing Hiragana for example, converting it to the kanji " is that what comes out is not always going to be 100% correct.  In fact, there's a word for this in Japanese - 変換(へんかん)ミス。

http://www.coscom.co.jp/ebook/item_2001kanji.html
- I think coscom's stuff is quite good (they have some free samples online).
For example, when they teach 大 they don't just dump a bunch of readings on you, they give example vocabulary and sentences (and it has audio).

www.erin.ne.jp - Erin's challenge is free, and although not directly targeted at learning kanji has a lot of good stuff and you can turn on and off kanji/kana modes.

#10 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » Outside grammar practice » 2013-03-11 09:12:56

There's "NHK News Easy" (www.nhk.or.jp/news/easy/ ) as well.

#11 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » Is kanji learning required in Tae Kim Grammar guide? » 2013-03-05 13:18:16

Install Rikaichan (or variants, depending on which browser you use).  You can set Rikaichan at least to only display the kana reading (with "d") and not the translation.

To be honest, I don't think you'll find much in the way of all-kana learning materials beyond the very beginner level, and you'll probably find at some point you'll need to pick up some kanji.  I would agree that you don't need to learn to write - which is genuinely more difficult - just learn to use an IME.

Not to mention that there's a huge amount of "only for fun" stuff on the internet which becomes much more accessible when you can read Japanese webpages.

#12 Re: The Strictly Q&A Forum » と as a sentence final particle » 2013-03-05 10:10:32

確かに記憶にないハズだよ is something like "there's no way I'd remember her" (loosely). You might want to look up the uses of はず

#13 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » Studying Tips? » 2013-02-11 13:53:06

It's entirely natural to not be able to write as many kanji as you can read. (Even for native speakers this is true).  If you would rather work on getting your reading abilities up to scratch and leave writing (particularly handwriting) until later, then that's fine.

Setting some intermediate goals will definitely help - these could be tests such as JLPT or  漢検 (kanji tests - good for vocab, not so much for grammar), for example (you don't necessarily need to pay to sit them, but they're things you can aim for that you can find lots of material/past papers for on the net).  So will being clear about where your weak points are - if it's grammar, then study grammar.  There's no way around that.  It's helpful to have some test material to check your understanding (e.g. the どんな時どう使う book I have has various tests which mostly amount to 'which of these similar grammar points fits in the following sentences').

http://esl.about.com/od/readinglessonpl … ontext.htm - also, read this. It's written for ESL but it's applicable to anybody trying to move into reading native materials in a second language.

For reading material, try non-fiction (if you feel the need for 'kids' material, aim at something for twelve year olds, not six year olds.  www.nhk.or.jp/news/easy/  , for example). Particularly something in an area you know well in English (something related to your work or hobbies), and things like recipes, tutorials, how-to's are great.
The reason is that they're logical, step-by-step, often illustrated, in standard language (assuming the person writing it isn't trying to be cute/amusing) and if you know the field in English, it's much easier to make decent guesses from context at what unfamiliar words might be.  The vocabulary might be specialised but if you're reading lots in the same area, there's a lot of repetition.

#14 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » 東京で日本語を勉強する » 2013-02-07 04:49:32

Often there are local/community classes run by volunteers: http://www.tnvn.jp/guide/   (or google for stuff in the area of Tokyo where you plan to live)

What sort of visa are you on that lets you only work PT? I thought unless you were doing something else (e.g. on student visa with working permission) or on a spouse visa that wouldn't be possible.

#15 Re: Other Japanese-Related Stuff » Metasequoia - Is this legit? » 2013-01-22 04:51:55

On the Japanese version of the metaseq page it does refer to this company, so it looks like they are legit. Note they're not selling, it's some sort of software rental service.

CLIPレンタルサービスでの取り扱い開始 (2010/6/1)
株式会社セルシスが運営する『CLIP』からメタセコイアをレンタルできるようになりました。
CLIPで提供される他のレンタルソフトウェア・タブレット等と組み合わせて、シェアウェア版Metasequoiaと同等の機能を月額500円からご利用いただけます。
Basically, he's started offering a rental service through CLIP, it's the same functions as the shareware version and 500円 is the monthly (starting) price.

#16 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » Japanese learning books for advanced japanese? » 2013-01-20 07:41:45

I don't know where you are at at the moment - have you tried some of the practice JLPT (remember it's now N1-5, where some sites still have the 1-4 format) questions?  That should give you some idea of where you're at.  Note that there are no longer official lists of grammar/vocab/kanji for the JLPT under the new rules - although N1/N2 are close to old 1/2, and N4/N5 are close to old 3/4.

I have a book called どんな時どう使う which covers old 1/2 JLPT grammar (there are a few different ones in this series), which I quite like - it only has English in the front explanatory section, though, the bulk of the book is Japanese-only.  It's organised by function of grammar point - so there are chapters like "comparison/contrast" or "giving examples" which cover various grammar points.  It does have some quizzes (at the start and end of sections), testing usage and differentiating between similar grammar points. Weaknesses: it doesn't cover verb conjugations or much keigo (although it does point out formal or written forms).

I haven't used them but I often seen the Dictionary of (Basic/Intermediate/Advanced) Japanese Grammar books recommended (more a reference than a textbook).

http://www.geocities.jp/niwasaburoo/ - and if you're really up for a challenge this a full grammar textbook in Japanese (you usually need to fiddle with your browser encoding to view this site, but it's worth it. The correct encoding is EUC-JP)

#17 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » Need help with learning 名乗り and japanese names » 2013-01-18 06:17:01

There are some quizzes here for family names:
http://www.manythings.org/kanji/

Don't bother learning 名乗り individually but it's worth learning a few of the most common family names.  After that, it depends on where you're running across these names/placenames without furigana.

#18 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » RADICAL method to study Kanji » 2013-01-18 05:11:16

For the record, I have zero connection to the authors of the book nor the programmers of the app.

I have no doubt you're not connected to the authors of the book.  But when you write a post that reads like marketing gumph and I don't think it's above board, I'm going to say so.  The app was released on Jan 7 - and it's supposedly only installed on your girlfriend's iPad - you think that's long enough to have a serious understanding of how good a bit of learning material is?

Since I don't use a paper kanji dictionary (and when do you need to look up something like 重, anyway?), I'd like to know how not knowing 里 was the radical is going to hinder me in any way - it hasn't yet. 漢検 does test radicals but it's the sort of info you forget quickly because it's not of day to day use.   I don't think it's that revolutionary to realise that 働 has  動 on right (and they have the same on-reading), or that 液 is さんずいに夜 (whether or not you use the actual radical names or not).

#19 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » RADICAL method to study Kanji » 2013-01-17 13:32:36

Note to all people trying to sell their apps: it's really obvious that someone whose first post and only post (on more than one forum, even!) is about this wonderful thing they just happened to stumble across (but know quite a few details about) is not being honest about their relationship to the company/product mentioned.

Minor nitpick: 人偏 is not read 'ninbin'.
                             
More serious note: the use of the other components (particularly those which are phonetic components) of kanji is certainly a useful way of thinking about kanji but you need neither a special book nor a special app to do so; a good basic understanding of how kanji are constructed is sufficient (different radical locations, where the phonetic components usually sit, how native speakers describe kanji - e.g. 人偏にうごく). Personally on that side of things I'd suggest Japanese-style kanji drills like the 漢検 study materials - it doesn't need to be the official ones - which you can find for various platforms including smartphones, things like the DS or just PDFs to print out. It's not that difficult to find materials for free (particularly the PDFs).  These test you on reading and writing in context and encourage vocab expansion.

(huh, I never thought of 重 as having 里 in it, because of the way the vertical stroke is drawn).

#20 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » Miscellaneous Questions » 2012-12-07 10:26:41

1. 大きくなる means "get big", so your example means something like 'I want to become strong and big'. 大きく modifies verbs (scale of verb is large), not so much other adjectives. e.g. 大きく揺れる would be for something swaying a lot.  すごく might work in your example sentence but it needs to go before 強く。 

2. 大きい is large in scale (generally), 広い is more like 'wide' or 'spacious', referring to an area.  部屋が広い、公園が広い、but not 犬が広い
2b. 働く refers more to the physical act of working.  The location of work is generally marked with で .  勤める refers to being employed by/in service to a given organisation (company, etc). The organisation you work for is marked with に.

3. There's a difference between the kanji and the words its used in. There are plenty of words (成功, for example), which use it. What you've probably seen references to is the verb なる which can be written 成る but is one of those verbs, like ある and いる, where the kanji is rarely used.

#21 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » Please help translating » 2012-11-28 07:03:51

Just remember that if you see a verb directly before a noun, you should treat it like an adjective, and if it's a clause (e.g. a short phrase that could stand alone) the whole thing can be treated like an adjective/modifying phrase.

おいしいケーキを食べた。 = I ate a delicious cake.
妹が作ったケーキを食べた。 = I ate the cake my sister made.
ロンドンに住んでいる妹が作ったケーキを食べた。= I ate the cake my sister, who lives in London, made. (and they can stack like this).

A point that might come up on the JLPT is, the verb should be in plain form.

So

かりた本
かりたい本
かりたかった本
かりている本

are all fine

かりました本
かりたいです本

are not fine.

#22 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » Please help translating » 2012-11-27 09:32:06

You have the gist of the meaning, but just as in かりた本 the verb is modifying the noun (what type of book? the borrowed book), in かりたい本 you should take かりたい as modifying the noun that follows.

本がかりたい = I want to borrow a book
かりたい本があります = There is a book I want to borrow

Note that with ~たい modifying nouns the subject/object relationship (if that's the right term for it) can be ambiguous.
行きたい所 = the place I want to go to
行きたい人 = the person who wants to go (not, unless there's some weird context, the person I want to go to).

#23 Re: The Strictly Q&A Forum » Need help translating some vouchers from DVDs » 2012-10-11 03:45:57

I think, looking at it again, that if means "after we confirm that you have sent real tokens/a full mailing address/etc"

#24 Re: Japanese: Questions and Discussions » What's up with 雪 and revenge? » 2012-09-26 02:44:00

First of all, you can probably read 雪辱 as 辱を雪ぐこと.

すすぐ's original meaning is basically to cleanse with water. 大辞泉 has this:
身に受けた恥や不名誉を除き去る

So the focus is more on "clearing one's name", I think.

#25 Re: The Strictly Q&A Forum » Kun readings of 生 » 2012-09-13 06:19:32

なま is clearly the most important, because of 生ビール

On a more serious note, not all of those are 常用漢字 readings. な・る、な・す、む・す and  [-う]  are non-常用 (even though the verbs starting う are pretty common) so are likely to be written using kana anyway.

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