lusentoj: (汗)
[personal profile] lusentoj posting in [community profile] learning_japanese
If I could learn Japanese all over again I'd do it with these materials from the beginning:

1. Readthekanji. (For access to JLPT levels N3 and higher) you pay $5 a month, and you see words INSIDE sentences. You get an English translation of the sentence (which you can hide if you want) and write the Japanese pronunciation. After years of learning languages I know that seeing words inside sentences makes you able to recognize them much more easily in real life than when learning single isolated words a la flashcard software.

2. Animelon. You watch anime and pause the screen and click/hover the Japanese subtitles, and a translation will pop up for the word you chose. They ran the subs through an automatic spacing software and never double-checked them so when the spacing's wrong the dictionary can't find the right word. You can also have English subs, katakana-only subs, etc.

3. OCR software (I'm using a certain phone app that works super well). You can take or load a photo of Japanese, say a manga panel or book page, and it'll convert it to text. You can then copy the words and look them up in the dictionary that way.

4. A Dictionary of Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced Japanese. Pick the one according to your level and figure out the meaning of the grammar via their translated example sentences (their definitions aren't always correct/good so it's best to ignore them and learn it solely based on their example sentences).

5. Manga with furigana (so you can look up unknown words easily + do pronunciation practice by reading aloud). You can download a ton of apps to read manga for free on; you can read it for free on the 3DS; you can visit various websites like these:

6. A Japanese 3DS and a flashcart with a bunch of Japanese games loaded. Specifically, I've found that Ni No Kuni and some of the Pokemon games are great even if you're at N5. You can also play whatever other games you want of course, I think the original .hack// games are good if you're at N3 and above, SIMS is good if you're at N2.

7. Vlogs. Yes that's right. Simply type in a food name in Japanese into YouTube and watch bloggers go to restaurants and repeat "It's tasty! It's expensive! Do it this way!" a billion times.

8. Word-replacement software to learn kanji meanings. Ex. "I like eating dogs" becomes "私 好 食ing 犬s". This doesn't actually exist in the way I want it, I just made a half-working one using someone's greasemonkey script and have to pay someone to make a real one once I have money.

9. Learning another easy language first that teaches you about grammar. Yes, that's right — I've been learning Japanese literally 3x faster than my classmates (people who know English, Swedish, German, Serbian etc) just because I knew Esperanto beforehand. I've even been learning faster than some of my classmates who've already been living in Japan for over a year (just about the only people I HAVEN'T been learning faster than so far, have been Koreans). I'd recommend learning Esperanto and some kind of pidgin like Chinook Jargon before or alongside learning Japanese. No, it won't slow down your Japanese, it will literally speed up your Japanese learning even if you're learning all three at the same time. There's tons of research on this topic if you don't believe me, but I can also explain exactly why I have this thinking in another post if someone wants.

Date: 2017-06-14 12:57 pm (UTC)
zaluzianskya: (Default)
From: [personal profile] zaluzianskya
Sorry, but if it's not too much trouble could you remove the text color formatting from the first half of this post? It's impossible to read on a white background.

Date: 2017-06-14 04:50 pm (UTC)
zaluzianskya: (Default)
From: [personal profile] zaluzianskya
You shouldn't have to be a mod to change the text color in your own post! It looks like it's been fixed now anyway, it's showing up as black on my reading list.

Date: 2017-06-18 11:33 pm (UTC)
sunlit_stone: Finch and Reese on a bench (Default)
From: [personal profile] sunlit_stone
I'm not sure if I should post this here, but I figured someone in the comm should probably know--Duolingo's started doing Japanese, but (oddly) only in the app, not on the website. I hope this is useful to someone! :P

Date: 2017-06-19 06:40 pm (UTC)
sunlit_stone: Finch and Reese on a bench (Default)
From: [personal profile] sunlit_stone
Man, I have no idea, it's bizarre. The only thing I can think of is that Duolingo has grammar notes on the site, but not the app, so maybe they have enough lessons to start but not enough notes??? Idk, it's weird.

I do love Duolingo though--I know it doesn't work for everyone but I love being able to look at all the different languages :P

Date: 2017-06-20 08:03 pm (UTC)
sunlit_stone: Finch and Reese on a bench (Default)
From: [personal profile] sunlit_stone
In my experience, it really depends on the course? Like, when I was trying to do Ukrainian, I just Was Not able to get the letters, and the lessons that that were supposed to teach me were just not that well-organized. But the Greek lessons actually teach you the letters, and I think the Japanese one is doing a decent job with the hiragana--as they teach you new ones they constantly bring back the old ones and make you identify them, so you don't just forget. Ditto with grammar--some of them are terrible but I've had good luck with the Turkish one? Though Turkish grammar is pretty straightforward so that might have something to do with it :P

Tbh I think studying Latin was almost more helpful for picking up grammar than a lot of the grammar notes, because it's like: this is what an accusative is, this is what a dative is, here's a giant long list of things you can do with cases--and that's just nouns. It really makes you think about grammar.

Date: 2017-06-21 12:35 am (UTC)
sunlit_stone: Finch and Reese on a bench (Default)
From: [personal profile] sunlit_stone
It depends on what you're using it for! I was taking a bunch of classics classes around that time, so it made perfect sense :) plus I just like history. Honestly though, I love Latin, it's such a ridiculous language. There's a specific construction you use after verbs of motion to indicate the purpose for that motion, I mean come on.

English: a good language to start from want to learn German and French at the same time, and have a head start with the vocab? Pretty limited use case.

O.O that's a pretty big difference! That's amazing. I definitely couldn't do that with Latin, or even French, I think in English too hard--though there are few times when I'm just like okay, yeah, this word = vous (or whatever). How long have you been studying Esperanto??

*nods* That makes perfect sense. And it's especially nice when you can see the way all the tenses relate to each other. Have you ever considered studying Turkish? It's got some really beautiful grammar, it reminds me a little of what you said about Esperanto.

Date: 2017-06-22 01:25 am (UTC)
sunlit_stone: Finch and Reese on a bench (Default)
From: [personal profile] sunlit_stone
>"I studied Esperanto for about 1 year before I didn't have to 'study' anymore and I was basically fluent"

That's amazing! That's, like, really fast for fluency in a language. Got any tips you'd like to share? ^_^

*nods* That makes sense! I learned a little formal grammar when I was studying French, and they tried to teach us some in English but I could never get it to stick (I think the problem with trying to learn grammar and your first language is, you can fill out the worksheets without actually knowing any of the principles--you speak the damn language!--and you know all the weird exceptions, etc etc. It's almost easier to learn with a second language, or with the study of the general properties of grammar across languages.) Though I do think being raised learning French helped some--made me aware that some rules of grammar at least aren't immutable--though it does mean that whenever I try to learn a new language I default to putting the adjectives after the noun, ha. (One thing I really liked about my Latin classes, especially in contrast to my Mandarin class, was how they just laid out all the grammar in front of you. I mean, you have to, with Latin, there's not really another option, but in Mandarin it was more (like you said) about memorizing phrases and vocab with only v e r y g r a d u a l introduction of actual grammatical principles. It's like, how are you supposed to learn anything that way? :/ It must work for some people but I definitely missed the Latin approach.)

:D Let me know what you think! I love Turkish grammar. It's just--*gestures in a manner attempting to be explanatory*--so pretty.

ETA: oh, wow, I feel silly--does your username mean something in Esperanto?
Edited Date: 2017-06-22 03:53 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-06-23 05:59 am (UTC)
sunlit_stone: Finch and Reese on a bench (Default)
From: [personal profile] sunlit_stone
Oh, that's neat! Hmm--could you do friendship like that, [friend]sentoj? Or would that mean something totally different? (Can I ask why rent-feelings?)

I've tried Esperanto before and it didn't really grab me, but you're doing a pretty good job of selling me on it! (How can I resist the opportunity to mess around with adjective-noun order :P) (I don't want to be too much of a bother, though.) With the textbook thing, even though it sounds really cool!, I don't know if I'd be able to do the lessons--I really can't write things that much :/

*blinks at the ending trick* Wow, that's amazing! That is really clever, I'm going to have to pass that on to my sister (she took some Mandarin, and she wants to do some Japanese, but she can have a hard time picking up vocab just from reading (she's dyslexic)--I think something like this could be really helpful for her!). I usually use Anki flashcards to help me memorize vocab, and to breakdown characters to help me remember them, but this could be really useful!

I am actually a programmer! Just graduated with a bachelor's in CS, lol. (...yeah I also took classics &c., my entire family is terrible at specializing.) Unfortunately I'm currently undergoing a long slow recovery for typing-caused RSI, I can't code (or type!) or even really handwrite things (my comments and posts are all done on my tablet, and usually mostly by voice transcription). Not sure how complicated it would be, though--if characters were for the most part just verbs or nouns you could do most of it pretty straightforwardly with a dictionary (determining case might be more complicated, but if e.g. accusatives were always after a verb or a limited number of other characters that wouldn't be so bad); if you have to analyze the structure of the sentence, though, or deduce things from context that could get...complicated.

Date: 2017-06-24 04:23 am (UTC)
sunlit_stone: Finch and Reese on a bench (Default)
From: [personal profile] sunlit_stone
Honestly probably a few months--I actually injured it last August, but it wasn't as bad then and it would have been better a few times over by now except, uh... If you're in the same situation, I'd advise not trying to do school at the same time. Especially not a totally scholastically unnecessary independent coding project (even if it was fun--in my defense, at the time I didn't realize the extent of the injury) :p

Oh, man, that looks like a lot of fun? Language you assemble yourselves. Honestly it makes me want to read Esperanto poetry, that must be great. Virpatreco looks like it's borrowing from Latin (w/ vir = man)--what's motherhood? Fempatreco?

@ rent-feelings: *nods* Makes sense.

Ooo man that looks like a lot of fun! I would love to learn Esperanto that way :) I wonder if there's anything on the AO3? *checks* Looks like it! Nothing too long though, the longest is just short of 10000 words. Maybe one day I'll be fluent and can translate my favourite authors :D

You've got an interesting spread there! Some of them are pretty complicated, some of them are pretty easy. (but they all look like they'd be awesome ideas lol) In order:
-I've never actually built a Firefox add-on (or for that matter an add-on for any browser) so I'm not actually sure, but my instinct here is at this is complicated but doable? It probably wouldn't be the most straightforward thing to implement (working with browsers: generally a fucking nightmare), but aside from the in-browser thing honestly most of its pieces don't look too dissimilar from stuff I've done before? And I definitely have more practical experience than most CS undergrads--uh, recently ex-undergrads--(at lest than most from my university :P) but I'm still, you know, just graduated. Not saying it would be cheap to pay someone to do it, it's definitely a Project, but it looks like a doable one (I'd have to actually experiment with writing it I have a decent one how long it would take though).
-the word replacement thing is actually fairly straightforward! A lot of what you're talking about can be solved by regex (= regular expressions). Regular expressions are... basically a way of searching text for more complicated patterns than just the exact text you out in (like you do when you hit control-F in a browser). For example, I could use it to find all instances of the letter 's' in a text, but only when it's at the end of a word. Or maybe I'm trying to find every use of the word 'colour', but my text has Canadian and American writers, so I want to be able to catch both spellings. I could do that too! (...I thought that up before I saw the Wikipedia page but I was pretty amused when I saw it there--I guess it's a pretty convenient example.) Regex can be annoying to set up sometimes, but it's pretty great. The only downside is it might have to be input by the user, which means they'd have to learn regex, which is doable but not ideal. The rest of it here looks doable (though adding the Chinese would definitely mean extra complexity) but again not a Firefox expert :)
-...I'm sure there's some way to do this but I admit I have no idea how. I mean as you say there's got to be some way of doing this but I honestly wonder if there's any way you can configure Word or something to do this. Or Christ, maybe write an extension for Notepad++ or some other note-taker--honestly you'd want to write it on top of something else, because otherwise you're not just implementing the furigana, you're basically building some sort of text editor, and that gets big and ugly really fast. (What would be significantly easier is, a program where you input a list of kanji-furigana pairs, you give it a text file, then it just replaces each of the kanji with the kanji followed by the furigana in brackets, '犬' becoming '犬(いぬ)'. Honestly you could do some of that yourself was just replace-all-ing the kanji once you're done writing, although I realize that would get tedious fast.)
-Grabbing only the unique kanji is actually super easy! Honestly this would be really straightforward to do. It would only be slightly more complicated to track how many times they're used in the document and then output them in that order (from most to least, I mean). Super straightforward!
-Again not a Firefox expert but this would be more complicated, mainly from the teaching it thing--to be able to define things usefully, you'd have to define the rules in such a way that the user could interact with them, and if the user wanted to do anything complicated you would definitely have to use regex. But this would be pretty neat! I think it's simpler than the rest of them (the ones that aren't just 'get the unique kanji I mean :))
-...I would have no clue where to even start with this. Or, I mean, no, I do, it's just that the clue is 'go learn about image manipulation' :P Maybe it's just because that's not my area, but this looks more complicated than anything else you've suggested here--I mean maybe if there's a decent OCR library? (library pretty much = preexisting code someone else wrote that does the actual OCR for you, so you can use the code in other projects) But even then I think this would be pretty complicated.

In sum: with one exception, unfortunately these would all take a fairly significant time investment (and if you can wait a few months then definitely don't pay anyone for the unique kanji thing, I'll do it myself once I'm well enough. Which should even be before I'm completely rested--I'll be able to type a little a day before I can type a lot! :) ) That said these are all really cool ideas, and I can absolutely see how they'd be helpful for learning Japanese. Man, you've clearly put a lot of thought into this! (That's definitely one advantage if you ever do hire someone--if there's one thing programmers hate it's unclear specifications :P) If I were you I might spread these descriptions around the net and hope that some noble soul felt inspired. There is some good news: with the exception of the manga one (which might just be my lack of expertise talking), pretty much everything here strikes me as eminently doable--nothing people won't be sure if they can deliver, or anything that should take multiple years to build, nothing like that. I do wish I had better news, though, sorry :(

(I confess I googled this): Bonan nokton! Ğis la revido! And dankon (for all your help!)

ETA: this was just edited for an HTML error--forgot the / in the closing a after regular expressions--oops!
Edited Date: 2017-06-24 04:24 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-06-25 03:14 am (UTC)
sunlit_stone: Finch and Reese on a bench (Default)
From: [personal profile] sunlit_stone
It's definitely not my favorite language just on the aesthetics, but it does have a weird charm to it? Idk. (I am kind of wondering though if people have tried to do similar things for other language groups. I know there's other languages that tried to combine European languages, but what about other languages? Hmm.)

Why 'in'? My instinct is to say 'that's bizarre,' because it's definitely not a feminine prefix in any language I'm familiar with--but I guess it is a feminine suffix in German? Huh. If I look it up on wiktionary... apparently that's where it comes from, yeah! If I were designing it I think I might have tried to go for something but didn't have a widespread other prefix meaning, but then I've never actually finish designing a language before so maybe I should just shut up :P

Honestly for the unique kanji thing, I've actually written something similar before? A friend needed to know the relative letter frequencies in King Lear, so I wrote something up for them and honestly iirc it took less than an hour. It's...not actually impossible that something this simple I could write mostly on my tablet, because it wouldn't be a lot of writing (relatively speaking) and the debugging should be fairly minimal, so I might be able to get it done before I get better but I don't want to promise anything because I also might not :(

(Good luck with the job hunting, though!)

For the furigana thing, oh, if you've already got the representation of the furigana set up then yeah, that's a lot simpler. Honestly probably the most complicated bit (or at least the most annoying bit--I know exactly one person who likes doing graphical user interfaces :/) would be writing an app that the user could interact with visually--if you'd be willing to run it from the console with a couple of text files as input (one with the kanji that need furigana added, one with a map of kanji to furigana--which could be as simple as just putting each new kanji on a separate line, followed by a tab followed by the furigana) this'd be a lot simpler to do. Not necessarily perfectly straightforward, but a lot more so.

That sounds like a combination of a lot of work and really cool!

Hmm yeah :/ They are a lot of work, unfortunately. There's probably /someone/ out there who would think the end result is worth the trouble, but then there's the problem of finding them--not to mention people probably don't want to work to specifications for free, instead of producing something kind of similarish that they feel like building lol. (Your specifications actually sound pretty well-thought-out but usually extracting them from people is a nightmare, and sometimes they contradict themselves, it's such a mess.)

Regardless hopefully you will one day have the money to pay people, and you can make some programmer very happy with your well-defined specifications :P

Date: 2017-06-26 02:36 am (UTC)
sunlit_stone: Finch and Reese on a bench (Default)
From: [personal profile] sunlit_stone
Hmm, yeah, that makes sense. I did look at some sample Interlingua and I was more or less able to read it, but I have Latin as well as French even if I'm not fluent in either so I may not be the ideal test subject :/

I have a lot more respect for someone who realizes that people will be able to make improvements in the future term for someone who thinks they'll get everything right first time, so that's even better! :) He sounds pretty cool for someone from the 19th century.

It would be a little more complicated to get stuff from a URL, but I've done stuff like that before, it's certainly doable. Honestly it's mostly GUIs that are the problem--not only are they tedious to code, but if you want to make sure there's no bugs you have to test like, every possible interaction of every input from the keyboard. It's a mess. If you're just inputting text, it's a lot more straightforward

That's awesome! From what you said, I guess you're going to look into teaching Japanese or translating it?

Date: 2017-06-27 01:15 am (UTC)
sunlit_stone: Finch and Reese on a bench (Default)
From: [personal profile] sunlit_stone
Honestly I think even just with English it'd be pretty hard, unless you're one of those people who's really into languages :P

*nods* that makes perfect sense. Good luck!


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