Home Forums Tips, Hacks, & Ideas For Learning Japanese Musings about my next step.

This topic contains 9 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Astralfox 11 years, 5 months ago.

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    (TL;DR version at the bottom)

    I’ve been thinking of taking a more radical approach to my japanese learning. For my whole life I have been learning by doing rather than ‘studying’, that’s why I ended up as an engineer. Now, after almost 5 months of japanese learning, I think I’m reaching my limit of theory absorption. I must do something


    My ‘anime watching’ plan has failed horribly; I’ve been watching anime for a long time, and the only difference now is that I catch words here and there, a sentence at best. Of course it is to be expected and I’m not surprised of the outcome, I know it’ll take time; but that time won’t be any shorter by only watching anime and pretending I’m taking anything from it.

    Using lang-8 haven’t been helping either. Don’t get me wrong, I love lang-8. I love helping, I love reading and I love writing. But every time I go to lang-8 I end up correcting 10 entries and engaging heated discussions about the use of spanish or english. When I’m finished, I don’t have time to write my own japanese entry, and when I do, I discover there’s still a world of stuff I need to learn before I even attempt to communicate my thoughts in japanese.

    So, right now I’m down to anki and Koichi’s flash cards, which I review every day. What I want is to see it in action, I need to see the vocabulary in context. The problem is that I’m a noob, and to try to grab a random text in the internet always results in an overwhelming experience.

    Here’s my plan: I want to grab a book for young audiences that I have already read. I selected ハリーポッター for this experiment, which is an extremely straight forward read, and I can easily get the spanish AND english version for it. With this I expect I won’t come across hard kanji,  the difficult ones will have furigana to help along the way, and I can have the english/spanish translation right beside to make sense of the story.

    I know it will be hard, and I don’t care if it takes me a year to read the whole thing. I also know a lot of the vocabulary in it will be useless since I’m not planing to become a professional wizard at this point in my life. But I believe that if I can do this, I’ll get a better understanding of japanese as language, and not as a set of sounds and ideograms to mindlessly learn.

    So, my question to my 先輩 here in text-fugu is: Does this makes sense? Is this plan so absurd that it’s bound to fail? Or, is it feasible? Is an english book a good choice?

    I would be delighted to reread any of the Fuyumi Ono’s books, but the context of those doesn’t seem to help with my every day japanese. Or I could try with Nisio Isin, but his books are intended for an older audience (high school). Although for those I’d make the extra effort.

    Please let me know of similar experiences, and your opinions.

    On the other hand, I would be in desperate need of an eReader application for this project. I have an android phone with an amazing screen, but to this day I have yet to find a decent reader that:

    Displays the text from top to bottom, right to left.
    Displays ePUB3 furigana.
    Let me select a word and search for it in either google or my dictionary.

    If anyone knows about an app with these capabilities I would be extremely grateful.



    I can’t take anymore japanese with out seeing things in action. I intend to grab a Harry Potter book with it’s original version right beside and read the whole thing. Yes? No? Why? Also, do you know an android ePub reader with furigana and nice japanese text formatting? Yes? Please let me know which. INB4 ‘Hari potter suxs LOL’. Kthxbye.

    • This topic was modified 11 years, 5 months ago by  whtlnv.


    Sounds like what Tae Kim wrote in his blog last year. Many people discussed the pros and cons. To summarise, what you are attempting to do is much more difficult.




    Thanks for the link mtb, I read the first result “Final thoughts on remembering the kanji”, and although the author refers to RTK, his insights are very valuable. In fact he did inspired me to go on with this.

    From the very beginning we all knew that learning japanese was gona be hard, I mean, we are starting from zero, we don’t know how to read it, how to pronounce it, how to type it, not even how to look for it in a dictionary. If we were looking for ‘easy’ we could have gone with esperanto, or at least with a language we shared an alphabet with. Alas, we chose japanese. It’s gonna be hard, and how harder it can get shouldn’t be bothering us after we made up our minds into learning it.

    So, with this, I’m not looking for the ‘easy’ way, there’s no easy route in the path we took; what I’m looking for is the ‘scenic route’. I’m looking for a road I can enjoy no matter how hard it might be.

    (On the other hand, I’m convinced that, in this world, there are no such thing as easy or hard, there are only things you enjoy doing and things you don’t)



    I would search for a book written originally in Japanese. Harry potter is just a translation, which in my opinion doesn’t reflect the Japanese way of writing. Mainly because its english phrases written with the intent of sounding right in English. So, translating it isn’t easy or necessarily correct. At least, that’s how I feel. I would get a Japanese book because it will also include phrases that are part of the Japanese language, as well as more formal and informal language mixed into dialogue and other contexts.

    Just my two cents. :)



    Thanks Sayuri, you are right in that reading an english book translated to japanese might sound weird if what I’m trying to learn is japanese. Some expressions might be literally translated, not reflecting the japanese usage. The structure of the text might be preserved for accuracy, forsaking the japanese accustomed practice. But this is all up to the translator, and this is true the other way around. A book translated from japanese to english might be subject of the same shortcomings, because there are things that can not be accurately translated either way. Please take the following points into consideration:

    1.  Imagine a japanese book being translated to english, where the translator finds the following:
    That’s a usual japanese expression with no accurate translation to english, since people in US/UK/Canada/Australia don’t have a similar ‘saying’. So the translator goes and writes the usual ‘Let’s eat!’/'Thank you for the food!’. But unless the translator puts a T.N. at the bottom you have no way of knowing why people are saying it every time they put something in their mouth.
    Now if we go the other way around, and an english book is being translated to japanese, where the translator finds:
    I’m broke.
    The translator won’t take that literally 私は壊れています, he might write 私は金欠 which is just ‘I have a lack of money’, which makes perfect sense.

    2. As we have concluded up to this point, is almost always up to the translator to de a good job. And this is another reason why a chose HP. Harry Potter is major franchise that won’t have any random translator taking care of their books. I would expect that great care has been taken in those translations, making them familiar to the reader rather than accurate. I dare say that because Harry Potter isn’t Edgar Allan Poe where the form carries substance; in Harry Potter if the overall plot is transmitted the mood is understood. The cat meows and the dog barks, carry on with the story. You don’t have to ‘read between the lines’ (that would be a good one to translate) nor guess anything from the way the story is been told.(This is true for the first 3 books, not so much for the rest).

    This is a book for children, they don’t have inherent knowledge about England and their schools, I’m sure the translators know this and should translate accordingly.

    3. Availability. This is important too, I would need the book to be available in a digital format in Japanese, english and spanish (having an extra language sometime helps clearing translation issues). Harry Potter can be found even in latin (for real). I’m not sure which japanese book for children would be so readily available. If you know any be sure I’ll give it a go.

    • This reply was modified 11 years, 5 months ago by  whtlnv.

    If this is you, then just give up.

    Give it another year or 2, then you might be able to understand enough of it to actually pay off.



    @マーク: That’s not the case, I’m doing more or less the same thing. It’s slow going, and possibly not reflective of Japanese writing conventions. However, I’ve learnt a ton of vocab/kanji,  had more than enough practice identifying radicals in kanji I’ve never seen before (it’s a hardback), and had a lot more fun than just using flashcards. + all the usual stuff like reading speed and what not.

    I’m also waiting on the Shinsekai Yori novels to ship  from Japan, not at all sure if I’ll be able to read them though.


    I am all for using native material as soon as possible, but I think you should do it with something that interest you. So for example this guy has an interest in anime, so why not just use manga or something else and just sit down and read it and have fun? If it is something that interest you, I believe you will learn a lot more, and will want to continue learning. When doing self study, I think fun is essential, and that is why I am saying “just give up”.






    @マーク:  酷い!:P

    Yep, that’s me. But please keep in mind these two things.

    That’s me two months ago.
    Reading and writing are two very different things, to the point where you can find people that can read but are unable to write.

    My main objective is to understand the Japanese language. Writing will come afterwards. That’s how I learned English, and I believe it worked.

    I don’t understand your second post; although I didn’t specifically say it, I think it’s clear I enjoy Harry Potter. There are several manga I enjoy too, but to be honest, I don’t enjoy reading them… What I like the most of the ones I’ve read it’s the story that got left out of an Anime, or the story that will happen in the Anime… But after seeing my list of read manga… Getting the raws for Deadman Wonderland and going through with those sounds like a good idea… The problem there is the handwritten/irrelgular font kanji, I have enough difficulty with typeset ones to add even more confusion to the mix.

    @Astralfox: How long have you been doing this? What did you choose to read? Thanks for sharing your experience ^.^



    I too chose the harry potter books. It happens to be the series that pried me away from the TV when I was a kid, ( and perhaps I was influenced by the text fugu example sentences). How long? it’s hard to say, I don’t usually have the time for it, but translate one or two pages when I can. It is slow, and after coming across something tricky, I will then just put the book aside and study the new word/grammar instead. (Dumbledore’s speech patterns are a pain to look up).

    Btw if you decide to try, don’t compare the English/Spanish with the Japanese too much. If anything, read a chapter in English, then don’t even reference back to it.

    And like マーク said, if you don’t have fun, try something else.

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