Learning Japanese I think I'm learning Japanese I really think so Page 4

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  • Pirotic Moderator 26 Mar 2009 13:26:18 20,648 posts
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    JinTypeNoir wrote:
    Pirotic, nearly all Famicom games and some of the earlier Super Famicom and Mega Drive games are in purely hiragana/katakana, so stuff like early Zelda, Phantasy Star, Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy and so on. Back then the hardware restrictions did make it difficult to put kanji in games, but these days, it's not the case. Maybe the virtual console or an emulator would be a good place to start.

    Also games for children have very little kanji in them or none at all. Sometimes, like in the Japanese version of Chocobo Tales for the DS, you can choose whether you want the script written in kana or kanji. A lot of Nintendo's games are pretty simple too. Phantom Hourglass allows you to touch the kanji on the screen and get a reading of the kana.

    As well, there are any number of games geared to the Japanese for learning or practicing kanji, as that's a big entertainment thing over here, and you can set a good deal of them at the simplest or earliest level, so if you run out of content in that Ubisoft, keep in mind there's lots of Japanese ones you can pick up too.

    Ordered a copy of Chocobo Tales :D Thanks.

    One last question, with Kana, is it always english words? or can you have japanese words written with kana symbols as well? I'm hoping it's the former :D
  • FWB 26 Mar 2009 13:28:56 44,839 posts
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    Not just English, all foreign words that are integrated into the language, e.g. pizza. TBH sometimes I'd rather they'd just have a Japanese word in hiragana/kanji for things cos you'll read something and know you're supposed to know it, but can't figure it out cos of all those vowels, e.g. supermarket or plain. Spent ages one day looking at a packet of sausages with the latter on it.
  • Pirotic Moderator 26 Mar 2009 13:30:10 20,648 posts
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    Thank god, was worried I'd translate the Kana and end up with something japanese anyway!

    /waits for his copy of 'Chocobo to Mahou no Ehon' to arrive

    So how does a game manage to be pure Kana if they can only write foreign words with it? surely they only use Kana for words they don't have a translation for.

    I always thought it was because they didn't want to write non-japanese looking characters, so instead of writing something like

    [japanese] [japanese] [english] [japanese]

    they have

    [japanese] [japanese] [kana] [japanese]

    Or do they write the entire game translated into english, then shown in kana? wouldn't that make it even harder for kids to read!
  • FWB 26 Mar 2009 13:40:37 44,839 posts
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    Nothing is pure kana,. Kana is not really for transcription of words (though it can be used sometimes depending on how they feel), it's for words integrated into the Japanese language. Hence "plain", "pizza", "supermarket" and "beer" are actually in the Japanese language.

    [japanese] [japanese] [english] [japanese]

    they have

    [japanese] [japanese] [kana] [japanese]

    Yep, that's what you get 99% of the time. Sometimes they might throw in some romanji, just for the fuck of it - perhaps a propernoun or something misspelt as a marketing ploy. :) They tend to use our numbers instead of theirs though.

    I avoided learning the language through romanji and I strongly suggest doing the same. Mind you in your case, playing games, you've got no choice anyway. :)
  • Pirotic Moderator 26 Mar 2009 13:43:39 20,648 posts
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    Ah I see, so people who just know kana basically scan it for kana words then and just make out the english derived parts. How many english words do the japanese use kana for then? is it a big chunk of written dialog or is it normally a very small %? seems weird they wouldn't have japanese words to replace them all together much like european languages would.
  • FWB 26 Mar 2009 13:51:24 44,839 posts
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    Exactly. So for practical purposes you can learn it to quickly scan a menu in a "foreign" (non-Japanese) restaurant. Bear in mind it can be used for German, French or Italian words too... any other language, so you might not always know it if the word is taken from those languages.

    Can't give you a figure but it depends what you're discussing. Obviously modern terms tend to be taken from it, but if you were to read some literature it wouldn't be that much. It can seem weird they don't have their own words, but then I guess they're just embracing more global terms. To be fair most languages do that, they just don't have a special alphabet for it.
  • mrharvest 26 Mar 2009 13:51:42 5,200 posts
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    Maybe you already know this but 'kana' refers to syllabic characters, and there's two sets of them. There's katakana which is used for foreign words (although may be used for Japanese words in some specific cases). The other set is hiragana which is used for word endings for kanji and small words which have no kanji, and in some cases (like older games) all Japanese words.

    Both sets have the same characters but they have a different visual style.
  • Telepathic.Geometry 26 Mar 2009 13:52:28 11,402 posts
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    Hey Pirotic. :) Kana refers to hiragana and katakana. As far as I can tell, in the absence of kanji, the default is to write in hiragana (which are more cursive and less angular than katakana) using katakana for loan words, or as a kind of italics. For example, the word dame is Japanese and has two kanji, but is usually written in hiragana. I have however seen it written in katakana occasionally, presumably for stress.

    As for how many English loan words written in katakana are in common everyday use in Japanese, the answer is fucking tonnes. For example, in many restaurants, you can probably get by with only katakana and a handful of very common kanji. Even without the kanji actually.

    I have to admit that before I came to Japan, I was very lazy about learning katakana, as I thought it'd be unnecessary, but it ended up taking me only a week to be able to reflexively read the bastards, as they are written absolutely everywhere. On every building, on every menu, in almost every piece of literature (i.e. pamphlets and fliers and tissues and whatnot).

    || PSN Barrysama || NNID Barrysama ||

  • Pirotic Moderator 26 Mar 2009 13:52:39 20,648 posts
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    Cracking stuff, thanks for all the help - I could probably have googled half of this but it wouldn't have been simplified enough for me to understand it then ;)
  • FWB 26 Mar 2009 13:53:32 44,839 posts
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    Yeah they have the same sound and the strokes can be similar, though not always. Style wise katakana is far more rigid/straight.

    You will see katakana on loads of signs because of a) propernouns and b) modern terms. But it's not used for structuring the language - grammar points for example - and the bulk of the language is hiragana and kanji. Don't expect to read a story with only katakana. You won't get far. :)
  • Telepathic.Geometry 26 Mar 2009 13:58:26 11,402 posts
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    To add to what Mr Harvest said, I think you won't go too far wrong thinking:

    Hiragana are like lowercase letters;
    Katakana are like uppercase letters;
    Kanji are like characters such as "1", "2", "3", "", "+", etc. which can be written in the other characters (i.e. "one", "two", "three", "euro", "plus", etc.) but which are often represented with their 'kanji' for convenience.

    Add to this the notion that the uppercase letters are used in the sense of italics to emphasise words rather than the way capitals in English are used to indicate a name or to shout or whatever, and you're about right in my opinion. I may be wrong, but I've been operating under that belief for a while now, and it's stood me in good stead.

    || PSN Barrysama || NNID Barrysama ||

  • Pirotic Moderator 26 Mar 2009 13:59:14 20,648 posts
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    Mr Harvest wrote:
    Both sets have the same characters but they have a different visual style.

    Wha?

    I have a nice wallpaper which is Katakana and Hiragana look-up and I can't see any similar looking characters between them. Then again, on the other wallpapers each of them have about 80 characters each, where as on these ones they have about 50 each. so confusing!

    I was planning on just learning Katakana first, then moving on to some basic Kanji. Hiragana doesn't sound too important unless I've got the wrong idea.
  • Telepathic.Geometry 26 Mar 2009 14:03:26 11,402 posts
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    Pirotic, it's like this:

    a, b, c, d, e, f, g...
    A, B, C, D, E, F, G...

    Some of the characters look really similar, some don't.

    For example, there isn't much in the difference between a lot of the characters in the two syllabaries. KA looks very like ka, and NI looks very like ni. I can't post the characters on here unfortunately, but trust me...

    || PSN Barrysama || NNID Barrysama ||

  • JinTypeNoir 26 Mar 2009 14:03:36 4,392 posts
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    Hiragana is the most important, it's what everything is based on. Before importing kanji in the language, Japanese was only written in hiragana. Native Japanese are always heavy in hiragana.
  • Telepathic.Geometry 26 Mar 2009 14:04:20 11,402 posts
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    Hiragana first. Defo. Then katakana. Then gradually start bleeding simple kanji into your diet. It's a piece of cake if you do it like this...

    || PSN Barrysama || NNID Barrysama ||

  • Pirotic Moderator 26 Mar 2009 14:07:28 20,648 posts
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    Ah ok, so Hiragana existed first, then when they got the Kanji symbols they started using those, but as some people don't know all the kanji, they still sometimes have the Hiragana written alongside it so you know how to pronounce it/read it without knowing the kanji symbol? I guess that's like a 'smart' way of writing tho, and in slang it's ok to use Hiragana more.. is that correct?
  • Telepathic.Geometry 26 Mar 2009 14:10:20 11,402 posts
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    Yeah, that's called furigana. They write the reading of the kanji alongside the kanji so that you can read it out loud. It's very handy I might add, as sometimes you can know what the kanji mean, but not actually be able to read them out loud.

    || PSN Barrysama || NNID Barrysama ||

  • Pirotic Moderator 26 Mar 2009 14:16:37 20,648 posts
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    :D cool.

    Well I've got a few books arriving tomorrow (one for each kana) so I'll see how I get on, I guess I liked katakana because, well, once translated I'll know the meaning, where as with furigana I'll still need to learn the japanese word it's pronouncing.

    /goes back to counting to 19 in japanese
  • FWB 26 Mar 2009 14:17:05 44,839 posts
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    Pirotic, say I wanted to write the word car. In hiragana I would write three characters:

    ku-ru-ma

    But I could write it as this. The latter is kanji. It kind of looks like a car*, it's one character but is still pronounced ku-ru-ma. Not all kanji look like what they represent though.



    *Well not really, it's actually derived from the image of a cart, but they're both forms of transportation. :p
  • Telepathic.Geometry 26 Mar 2009 14:17:16 11,402 posts
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    I think it's probably fair to say that in a good Japanese sentence, the kanji represent the nouns, the majority of the verbs, the adjectives, personal pronouns and adverbs, the hiragana essentially handle most of the grammar, telling you what tense you're in, and what the direct object is and the indirect and whatnot, and the katakana handle foreign words or special emphases.

    Also, the copula desu (to be) and a few very important verbs - such as naru (to become), iru (to need) and miru (to try) - seem to have no kanji. Jin will no better of course, but if they have kanji, I haven't seen them.

    || PSN Barrysama || NNID Barrysama ||

  • FWB 26 Mar 2009 14:19:52 44,839 posts
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    The basics are actually remarkably simple. Polite form Japanese isn't that complicated, especially as all verbs conjugate in the same manner. It does get more difficult. It's not German though. :p
  • JinTypeNoir 26 Mar 2009 14:20:05 4,392 posts
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    As the for the uses of katakana, beside emphasis and loanwords, they are the following:

    - as pronunciation guide for a name written in kanji or a foreign alphabet, often underneath said name, as well as pronunciation guide for Japanese name places, such as on applications, ID or forms, written by the person giving the information

    - to express onomatopeia (wan wan for dog, for instance, or kero kero for frog, heto heto for tired and so on), or the adjectives in Japanese that modify the sense in which something is happening, such gisshiri (tightly), kippari (all together, clear), biku (tremble) and so on.

    -to show that a reading of a kanji is the Chinese rather than the Japanese reading, the latter of which is in hiragana

    -to write the Japanese names of plants and animals, especially their scientific terms

    -often used for a really familiar or slang term, a kind of broken down casual-ing of the word, I guess it Wii-ifies, you could say. Gomi (trash) for instance is almost always said in katakana, even though it's technically a Japanese word.

    -to provide the author's reading of a kanji. This is especially common in manga and games. It's a way of making up words. The author take kanji that would mean something different or at least not be pronounced in the same way and provide a katakana reading above it to the way you want it to be pronounced. One that you sometimes see is chikara, the Japanese word for power, having powaa, the katakana word for power above it.

    Be careful in assuming foreign words are in katakana though, sometimes or even often you'll see them in kanji, such as koohii (coffee), tabako (cigarettes) or kurabu (club).

    One very important part of learning hiragana and katakana is that since their forms were taken from kanji, some of them form parts of kanji, a good example is the katakana for u, which forms a part of kanji which usually specifices residence or home, since it's a visual of a roof crossing at the top (and as such goes at the top of kanji when you write them).
  • Telepathic.Geometry 26 Mar 2009 14:24:49 11,402 posts
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    @Jin: Are you saying that giongo is always written in katakana? ^_^ That's handy!

    || PSN Barrysama || NNID Barrysama ||

  • JinTypeNoir 26 Mar 2009 14:27:31 4,392 posts
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    Telepathic.Geometry wrote:
    Also, the copula desu (to be) and a few very important verbs - such as naru (to become), iru (to need) and miru (to try) - seem to have no kanji. Jin will no better of course, but if they have kanji, I haven't seen them.

    Miru is the same kanji as to the generic "to see." It is just never written with that kanji. Iru does have one, that's the you in hitsuyou. Naru has several, but the most common is from the sei in seichou or the kanji for tame (or the i in koui). Unlike miru it is not incorrect to use kanji from them, though you can incorrectly the wrong type of kanji for naru depending on the context.
  • ProfessorLesser 26 Mar 2009 14:30:25 19,358 posts
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    Once I've graduated, I'm making a proper crack at this. I really enjoyed learning before I had to give way to study :-(
  • JinTypeNoir 26 Mar 2009 14:31:09 4,392 posts
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    Telepathic.Geometry wrote:
    @Jin: Are you saying that giongo is always written in katakana? ^_^ That's handy!

    Not always, but as a rule it tends to be and it's never incorrect to write it as such.
  • Telepathic.Geometry 26 Mar 2009 14:33:00 11,402 posts
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    Cheers Jin. :) Hmm, I'm quite happy to avoid using the kanji if nobody uses them, but I do worry about Japanese tests, where these kanji might turn up. :'/

    || PSN Barrysama || NNID Barrysama ||

  • Telepathic.Geometry 26 Mar 2009 14:34:11 11,402 posts
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    If this site supported Japanese characters, we could get a nice little Japanese learners group going.

    || PSN Barrysama || NNID Barrysama ||

  • Telepathic.Geometry 26 Mar 2009 14:36:03 11,402 posts
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    Telepathic.Geometry wrote: @Jin: Are you saying that giongo is always written in katakana? ^_^ That's handy!
    JinTypeNoir wrote: Not always, but as a rule it tends to be and it's never incorrect to write it as such.
    That's exactly what I need to know. :) Cheers man... I've had tonnes of personal bullshit to deal with lately, and now that the dust has settled, I've started back into my study in earnest. This helps a lot.

    || PSN Barrysama || NNID Barrysama ||

  • Pirotic Moderator 26 Mar 2009 14:38:45 20,648 posts
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    Right, I decided to give it a wizz and booted up my witch touching DS game (don't judge me you crazy japanese guys made it!) and figured I'd give it a bash. NEW GAME and OPTION was written in Katakana, clicked OPTION and figured I'd translate the first line of the options.

    Now here is the weird thing, I recognized the Katakana and turned it into the pronunciation, which ended up as 'shisutemu' which is, well, the japanese word for system.

    I didn't think Japanese words were written in katakana? I thought they would have been written in hiragana?

    Maybe I've touched too many witchs and gone crazy
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