02 August 2017 @ 09:49 pm
(x-posted to the japanese comm on LJ)

there's one thing i've noticed. with certain grammar points either it comes up completely randomly in one sentence out of 10 anime episodes or there's "that one character" who always says it, like "albeit" versus "but/however" in english. now there's points even rarer than that, and what i don't understand is WHERE these points are being used in the japanese language to make them be this or that level on the JLPT.

for example, ものの is something i've only ever seen like once out of like 80 anime eps so far; and i've been watching everything from detective shows to slice-of-life to sports anime. yet ものの is JLPT level 2, and level 1 is the hardest test level. obviously there's some kind of genre where ものの is in constant use that the JLPT is expecting you to be reading/watching, right? what is that genre?!

EDIT: I've now met a Hokkaido person who uses ものの a ton, I wonder if it's dialectal how much you use it?

といい といい, ごとき, 極めて, 始末, ってば have shown up at least 5-10 times. ぶり, それまでだ, すら at least 20 times. and yet these are supposedly N1 level! だって shows up like every two pages in half the manga you'll read, but it's N2 level and not N4!

have you guys noticed anything with this? where the heck am i supposed to go if i want to drill ものの into my brain for example? and there's plenty of N1 ones i feel like i haven't seen even once (though i might have just not noticed them when i did see them), ex: だの~だの, かれ~かれ, も顧みず, のなんのって, とみるや, のみか (though i've seen the plain のみ).
28 July 2017 @ 04:46 pm
In English we often shorten phrases by omitting an entire half or more: "Ask not for whom the bell tolls (it tolls for thee)", "Birds of a feather (flock together)". Words are the same way, "(inter)net, teach(er), sis(ter)". Strings of words also get their first or last sounds or letters taken and merged: "Government Issue = GI, Tele Vision = TV", "shark tornado = sharknado". Japanese is exactly the same way. Each kanji is a unique word and they mix and match these words in order to say what they want. For example:

公 public/popular/wide 安 safe 局 department = 公安局 government department of public safety (3 words)
安 calm/safe 心 core/mood = mental relief (2 words)
不 not 安 calm/safe = worry (= mental upset) (2 words)
安 calm/safe 全 complete = safety, security (2 words)

公安局, 安心, 不安 and 安全 aren't unique words worth memorizing. You instead need to remember the kanji meanings, because each kanji is a separate word. Japanese people always mix and match words this way to create whatever it is that they want to say; we in English say "library, librarian", we say "Washingtonian, laundrette", but, for some reason, we don't say "libroshop, librette, bookian, bookette" — Japanese people (and most cultures in the world in general) do exactly that however. For the most part it doesn't matter what a word's origin is, they'll mix and match it to say what they want.

The trouble with this only comes when what we think is "a complete word" is actually short for a longer word. For example:

少年[男] = "few-years [male]" = young boy
少[年]女 = "few-[years] female"= young girl
妖怪[獣] = "uncanny-suspicious [beast]" = ghost, demon
妖[怪]力 = "uncanny-[suspicious] power" = demonic/supernatural power
[犯]無実 = "[crime] not true" = innocent (of a crime)

These appear in real life as: 少年, 少女, 妖怪, 妖力, 無実 and the dictionary won't show you the origins I've pointed out above, despite that if you actually do know what the full word/phrase must have at some point been (as a native speaker does!) then the shortened word is instantly recognizable and memorable without any special study.

It's my goal to make a dictionary and textbook that teach Japanese in exactly that way: showing you that what you're learning isn't actually a special, unique word and thus making everything a lot easier to learn. The problem is, this takes an amazing amount of time, especially since I'm still learning Japanese myself — I have to create the entire dictionary by gathering words MYSELF, figure out all the kanji meanings MYSELF because the existing materials are completely awful. For example, a "word" like 妖力, despite being constantly in use in manga and anime, isn't in the dictionary. I myself have to find this word and realize 妖 is short for 妖怪, as well as that 妖怪 itself is short for 妖怪獣.

So anyway, my idea was to make a dictionary that only gives kanji meanings, except it'll also point out when compound words are abbreviations (like 妖: 1. uncanny, 2. 妖怪[獣] and then I might have 妖怪[獣] as a separate entry because its meaning isn't obvous). What do you think? What should I make sure to do or not do? What are the problems you've been finding in dictionaries and textbooks? What's your ideal dictionary/textbook?