Aug. 9th, 2017

lusentoj: (汗)
[personal profile] lusentoj
Okay, everyone hates kanji. Even Chinese people hate kanji (because in Chinese, every character has more or less only ONE pronunciation). And the dictionary definitions for kanji are really bad, so you don't know why x is also used for y which seems like completely different meanings to you. In reality kanji are pretty easy.

First off, each kanji only has 1-2, very rarely 3, individual pronunciations and/or meanings worth knowing. In most texts, anything more than those 2-3 pronunciations — or any rare kanji, or kanji not taught in school, even if it's standard pronunciation or actual common words, — will almost always have hiragana (furigana) to the side showing the correct pronunciation. Even usually in newspapers, which are the hardest things to read in Japanese (aside from archaic stuff). The exception is often really famous words, ex. certain place-names, but even those actually might also be written in/with hiragana instead. Stuff written for highschoolers and younger (meaning: most manga) will ALWAYS have pronunciations on kanji, even if they're super common kanji. (About the list of kanji people learn in school: by adulthood Japanese people have forgotten hundreds of them, but they know hundreds more that are outside of the list.)

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Finally: never "memorize" a multi-kanji word unless you know for a fact it's "missing" a kanji or written for sound and not pronunciation. It's a complete waste of time and brainpower to memorize "puppy" when you already know it by sight and context (because it's actually "child dog"). Japanese people do not see something like "child dog" as a unique, individual word like our "puppy": they see it as two separate words they can mix and match whenever they like. That's how kanji are used: like LEGOs. So that's how you have to learn them. A good example is the word "keigo" you'll see when people write about politeness levels in Japanese, as if it's untranslateable: this is literally just 敬 respect 語 single word, language = "respect-showing word(s)".
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Here below, I'm going to put a few very clear examples (as I find them) of why you NEED to learn individual kanji and completely ignore whatever your translation dictionary may say about the resulting compound.

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