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[SCA-JML] Re: Heisig's Method for Learning Kanji

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  • Solveig
    Noble Cousins! Greetings from Solveig! When I looked at the Heisig webpage, some of the characters were too small to make out and they were not animated. --
    Message 1 of 26 , Dec 31, 2004
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      Noble Cousins!

      Greetings from Solveig! When I looked at the Heisig webpage, some of the
      characters were too small to make out and they were not animated.
      --

      Your Humble Servant
      Solveig Throndardottir
      Amateur Scholar

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    • Otagiri Tatsuzou
      ... Greetings for Otagiri! Yes ... this can be a problem at times. But I use the evisa.com site only as a supplement. You can download for free a portion of
      Message 2 of 26 , Jan 1, 2005
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        > Greetings from Solveig! When I looked at the Heisig webpage, some of the
        > characters were too small to make out and they were not animated.
        > --

        Greetings for Otagiri!

        Yes ... this can be a problem at times. But I use the evisa.com site
        only as a supplement.

        You can download for free a portion of Heisig's book from the
        following site. This is what I am working from for now. I have ordered
        a copy of his book to be delivered to my hotel.
        http://www.ic.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/publications/miscPublications/pdf/RK4/RK4-00.pdf

        You made two points against Heisig's method. One is that the kanji are
        learned with English meanings and without Japanese pronounciation and
        the other is that the kanji are learned with only one meaning. I
        understand his method is considered somewhat controversial, probably
        due to these reasons. I believe that Heisig has delibrately sacrificed
        completeness for simplicity in an attempt to help the student cram
        enough of them to begin reading (kanji as English) as soon as
        possible. It's not a complete method. I know I will have to go back
        and learn the multiple meanings and Japanese pronouciation. But it's a
        start. I am on lesson 5 today. And with the evisa site for
        reinforcement, I think I will do okay.

        New Year Resolution - complete the memorization of all of Heisig's
        kanji in Book 1 this year. I hope to begin reading practise in a few
        months. I am currently paging through my few kanji books to identify
        the kanji as I learn them. Next year, I can start to learn to read out
        loud.

        My New Year's haiku:

        A thousand kanji
        A thousand bottles of beer
        I cannot finish!

        Ichi sen kanji
        Biiru no ichi sen pon
        Kore de owari

        (ten kanji a day) Otagiri
      • James Eckman
        Akemashite omedetou gozaimsu! ... True, but every other kanji class I ve ever taken or book I ve read that is not a complete reference like Nelson s only
        Message 3 of 26 , Jan 1, 2005
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          Akemashite omedetou gozaimsu!

          >From: Solveig <nostrand@...>
          >
          >Greetings from Solveig! Quite appart from not learning the readings which
          >is bad enough, many kanji actualy have a cluster of meanings.
          >
          True, but every other kanji class I've ever taken or book I've read that
          is not a complete reference like Nelson's only initially teaches one
          meaning and a couple of pronunciations as well when they introduce a
          character. So every other kanji instruction book has this one
          shortcoming as well. Even Nelson's and many of the Japanese equivalents
          are inadequate because they don't show actual usage.

          Heisig's theory is that trying to learn meaning, shapes and
          pronunciation at the same time is too much for most students, volume #1
          leaves out pronunciation deliberately. It is covered in volume #2.

          >Futher, there is no reaon to expect Japanese to divide up the universe of meaning in the
          >same way that English does.
          >
          No, but there are English equivalents for every common kanji meaning.
          The Chinese and Japanese are people from well developed societies, they
          have concepts and thoughts very similar to their Western counterparts.
          I'm not a subscriber to Nihonron or any of that silliness.

          The few like samurai require some cultural references just like knight
          would in English, but you could use knight and get some of the meaning
          of the character anyway. The Victorian translators are still readable
          with their substitutions of knight for samurai. Also anybody subscribing
          to this list, probably has a far better understanding of such references
          than even many Japanese. Most of the younger Japanese I've met are not
          into history in any big way, just like their American counterparts.

          >What I looked at online was pretty much restricted
          >to single word equivalences. Thus, for example, how are you going to master
          >the several different kanji with kunyomi "hakiru" all of which deal with
          >measuring something or other?
          >
          >
          Once you get to the level that you are worried about which kanji for
          "hakaru" to use, you have far outgrown any kanji course I've ever
          experienced or heard about. You need a real reading and writing course
          and access to a good Japanese dictionary for Japanese with serious
          examples of usage. Which means at that point you MUST have a basic grasp
          of kanji.

          > From: "Otagiri Tatsuzou" <ronbroberg@...>
          >
          >Greetings for Otagiri!
          >
          >New Year Resolution - complete the memorization of all of Heisig's
          >kanji in Book 1 this year. I hope to begin reading practise in a few
          >months. I am currently paging through my few kanji books to identify
          >the kanji as I learn them. Next year, I can start to learn to read out
          >loud.
          >
          >
          A very worthy goal. Gambaroo!!!

          Jim Eckman
        • Anthony Bryant
          ... That s one reason I object so strongly to many of the learn kanji books. They all seem to focus on individual kanji, and this mysterious thing called
          Message 4 of 26 , Jan 1, 2005
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            Solveig wrote:
            > Noble Cousins1
            >
            > Greetings from Solveig! Quite appart from not learning the readings which
            > is bad enough, many kanji actualy have a cluster of meanings. Futher, there
            > is no reaon to expect Japanese to divide up the universe of meaning in the
            > same way that English does.

            That's one reason I object so strongly to many of the "learn kanji" books. They
            all seem to focus on individual kanji, and this mysterious thing called
            "readings." I really abhor the concept of this Heisig Method. It's totally the
            wrong idea.

            If people would only learn them in CONTEXT, as WORDS, that wouldn't pose the
            problem. Too many textbooks treat kanji as strange animals to be avoided until
            the second year. If I had my way, we'd be doing kanji from the second week,
            after everyone has learned their kana. When you learn a new word, you should
            learn its kanji as PART of that learning of the word. That's how Chinese works.
            <shrug>

            Effingham
            --

            Anthony J. Bryant
            Website: http://www.sengokudaimyo.com

            Effingham's Heraldic Avatars (...and stuff):
            http://www.sengokudaimyo.com/avatarbiz.html

            Grand Cross, Order of the Laurel:
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          • Ii Saburou
            ... That s actually how my class went: learn hiragana, and then start on learning katakana, words, and grammar. Learning a word almost always included the
            Message 5 of 26 , Jan 2, 2005
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              On Sat, 1 Jan 2005, Anthony Bryant wrote:

              > If people would only learn them in CONTEXT, as WORDS, that wouldn't pose the
              > problem. Too many textbooks treat kanji as strange animals to be avoided until
              > the second year. If I had my way, we'd be doing kanji from the second week,
              > after everyone has learned their kana. When you learn a new word, you should
              > learn its kanji as PART of that learning of the word. That's how Chinese works.
              > <shrug>

              That's actually how my class went: learn hiragana, and then start on
              learning katakana, words, and grammar. Learning a 'word' almost always
              included the kanji, unless that word is rarely written with kanji (e.g.
              'kore'--although there is a kanji, I don't think I've seen it used in a
              modern context).

              -Ii
            • Solveig
              Noble Cousin! Greetings from Solveig! ... What Japanese equivalents are you talking about? Every kanwajiten with which I am familiar shows usage and gives
              Message 6 of 26 , Jan 2, 2005
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                Noble Cousin!

                Greetings from Solveig!

                >is not a complete reference like Nelson's only initially teaches one
                >meaning and a couple of pronunciations as well when they introduce a
                >character. So every other kanji instruction book has this one
                >shortcoming as well. Even Nelson's and many of the Japanese equivalents
                >are inadequate because they don't show actual usage.

                What "Japanese equivalents" are you talking about? Every kanwajiten with
                which I am familiar shows usage and gives multiple readings. Many give
                historical development of the character and identify the dynasty associated
                with each of the on'yomi readings.

                >No, but there are English equivalents for every common kanji meaning.

                No there are not. This is patently false. The canonical and well worn
                example is aoi.

                >The Chinese and Japanese are people from well developed societies, they
                >have concepts and thoughts very similar to their Western counterparts.
                >I'm not a subscriber to Nihonron or any of that silliness.

                I am not a subscriber to nihonron either, but the notion that Japanese and
                English are equivalent is laughable. There are things which are easier and
                more natural to express in each of these languages. Even if something can
                be easily expressed in both languages does not mean that you will see a
                1:1 word mapping.

                >Once you get to the level that you are worried about which kanji for
                >"hakaru" to use, you have far outgrown any kanji course I've ever
                >experienced or heard about. You need a real reading and writing course
                >and access to a good Japanese dictionary for Japanese with serious
                >examples of usage. Which means at that point you MUST have a basic grasp
                >of kanji.

                The amount of prior kanji knowledge required to use Kadokawa Kanwa Jiten
                is quite minimal.
                --

                Your Humble Servant
                Solveig Throndardottir
                Amateur Scholar

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                | Barbara Nostrand, Ph.D. | Solveig Throndardottir, CoM, CoS, Fleur |
                | deMoivre Institute | Carolingia Statis Mentis Est |
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              • Solveig
                Baron Edward! Greetings from Solveig! ... At Harvard, you start learning kanji from about the first month. What they do at Harvard is not quite as radical as
                Message 7 of 26 , Jan 2, 2005
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                  Baron Edward!

                  Greetings from Solveig!

                  >If people would only learn them in CONTEXT, as WORDS, that wouldn't pose the
                  >problem. Too many textbooks treat kanji as strange animals to be avoided until
                  >the second year. If I had my way, we'd be doing kanji from the second week,
                  >after everyone has learned their kana. When you learn a new word, you should
                  >learn its kanji as PART of that learning of the word. That's how
                  >Chinese works.

                  At Harvard, you start learning kanji from about the first month. What they
                  do at Harvard is not quite as radical as you propose, but you do learn a
                  pile of kanji during the first semester even in the night school program.
                  --

                  Your Humble Servant
                  Solveig Throndardottir
                  Amateur Scholar

                  +---------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                  | Barbara Nostrand, Ph.D. | Solveig Throndardottir, CoM, CoS, Fleur |
                  | deMoivre Institute | Carolingia Statis Mentis Est |
                  | mailto:nostrand@... | mailto:bnostran@... |
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                  | Note. Many popular "free" email services are automatically routed to the |
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                • James Eckman
                  ... I think one advantage of a course that concentrates on shapes, especially as short term as Heisig s is supposed to be is that it helps you recognize what
                  Message 8 of 26 , Jan 2, 2005
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                    >From: Anthony Bryant <ajbryant@...>
                    >
                    >
                    >That's one reason I object so strongly to many of the "learn kanji" books. They
                    >all seem to focus on individual kanji, and this mysterious thing called
                    >"readings." I really abhor the concept of this Heisig Method. It's totally the
                    >wrong idea.
                    >
                    >
                    I think one advantage of a course that concentrates on shapes,
                    especially as short term as Heisig's is supposed to be is that it helps
                    you recognize what the hell a kanji is. It's really nice to be able to
                    look at a bunch of marks and break them up into the right units.
                    Especially when written horizontally, this can be a real problem for
                    beginners. Also having a rough idea of the meaning when it's used by
                    itself is not bad either.

                    >If people would only learn them in CONTEXT, as WORDS, that wouldn't pose the
                    >problem. Too many textbooks treat kanji as strange animals to be avoided until
                    >the second year.
                    >
                    Hell, some of the older textbooks treat KANA as strange animals which
                    really sucks. Most textbooks I've run across don't have enough reading
                    material unless you go out and buy kiddy books which until recently was
                    only an option in a few US cities. One very positive effect of the
                    internet is it's easier to get Japanese books and the number of sites
                    keeps increasing. It's very easy to check meanings and pronounciations
                    online, especially good if there are specialist words that are not used
                    in normal conversation.

                    >If I had my way, we'd be doing kanji from the second week,
                    >after everyone has learned their kana. When you learn a new word, you should
                    >learn its kanji as PART of that learning of the word. That's how Chinese works.
                    >
                    >
                    Possibly why Madarin conversation classes are so popular as opposed to
                    the other.

                    Of course none of this helps Otagiri-dono who wants to spend some
                    serious time self-studying Japanese. Which books would you recommend as
                    an alternative? I really haven't run across any really good ones myself.
                    I've just been very lucky to have had good teachers who supplement
                    mediocre textbooks with lots of extra material. For those in the SF Bay
                    area I highly recommend Soko Gakuen, they have a wide selection of
                    beginner and intermediate classes and they are cheap.

                    Jim Eckman
                  • Anthony Bryant
                    ... Excellent. I really wonder about the folks whose texts are in romaji through the first semester. That s severely crippling. Effingham -- Anthony J. Bryant
                    Message 9 of 26 , Jan 2, 2005
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                      Solveig wrote:

                      > At Harvard, you start learning kanji from about the first month. What they
                      > do at Harvard is not quite as radical as you propose, but you do learn a
                      > pile of kanji during the first semester even in the night school program.

                      Excellent. I really wonder about the folks whose texts are in romaji through the
                      first semester. That's severely crippling.

                      Effingham
                      --

                      Anthony J. Bryant
                      Website: http://www.sengokudaimyo.com

                      Effingham's Heraldic Avatars (...and stuff):
                      http://www.sengokudaimyo.com/avatarbiz.html

                      Grand Cross, Order of the Laurel:
                      http://www.cafepress.com/laurelorder
                    • Solveig
                      Noble Cousins! Greetings from Solveig! I hope to come out with a leaflet entitled Bunka sometime around SEP 1 of this year. Which name should I put on it?
                      Message 10 of 26 , Jan 2, 2005
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                        Noble Cousins!

                        Greetings from Solveig! I hope to come out with a leaflet entitled
                        "Bunka" sometime around SEP 1 of this year. Which name should I put
                        on it? Why or why not?
                        --

                        Your Humble Servant
                        Solveig Throndardottir
                        Amateur Scholar

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                        | Barbara Nostrand, Ph.D. | Solveig Throndardottir, CoM, CoS, Fleur |
                        | deMoivre Institute | Carolingia Statis Mentis Est |
                        | mailto:nostrand@... | mailto:bnostran@... |
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                        | Note. Many popular "free" email services are automatically routed to the |
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                      • Otagiri Tatsuzou
                        ... Ah ... there is no help for me. My swords are set in the obi as are the extra sandles. Foolish or not, I have already begun this journey. But if the
                        Message 11 of 26 , Jan 2, 2005
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                          > Of course none of this helps Otagiri-dono who wants to spend some
                          > serious time self-studying Japanese. Which books would you recommend as
                          > an alternative?

                          Ah ... there is no help for me. My swords are set in the obi as are
                          the extra sandles. Foolish or not, I have already begun this journey.
                          But if the learned on the list can provide references to alternate
                          approaches/books that can be used by rogue students, I am sure that
                          others might benefit (as will I if this path ends prematurely).

                          I have little doubt that an immersion method is superior in many
                          respects, but I don't see how to accomplish that alone and on the road.

                          (Tune of Green Acres)
                          Rote memorization is the way for me.
                          to learn two thousand Japanese kanji
                          Filling notepads,
                          with so many
                          Endless Repitition,
                          gives me the language key.

                          (now ... Live! in VA!) Otagiri
                        • Ii Saburou
                          ... E.g. To Kiss --in Japanese you can say Kuchi(d)zukeru but it is not the same as to kiss , and when used in the English sense I ve most often seen the
                          Message 12 of 26 , Jan 3, 2005
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                            On Sun, 2 Jan 2005, Solveig wrote:

                            >> The Chinese and Japanese are people from well developed societies, they
                            >> have concepts and thoughts very similar to their Western counterparts.
                            >> I'm not a subscriber to Nihonron or any of that silliness.
                            >
                            > I am not a subscriber to nihonron either, but the notion that Japanese and
                            > English are equivalent is laughable. There are things which are easier and
                            > more natural to express in each of these languages. Even if something can
                            > be easily expressed in both languages does not mean that you will see a
                            > 1:1 word mapping.

                            E.g. 'To Kiss'--in Japanese you can say 'Kuchi(d)zukeru' but it is not the
                            same as 'to kiss', and when used in the English sense I've most often seen
                            the English ('kisu') used.

                            -Ii
                          • James Eckman
                            ... I seem to remember period Japanese didn t kiss like Westerners, chalk up another one to corrupting Western influences ;) Most of our ancestors would not
                            Message 13 of 26 , Jan 4, 2005
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                              > From: Ii Saburou <logan@...>
                              >
                              >
                              >E.g. 'To Kiss'--in Japanese you can say 'Kuchi(d)zukeru' but it is not the
                              >same as 'to kiss', and when used in the English sense I've most often seen
                              >the English ('kisu') used.
                              >
                              >
                              I seem to remember period Japanese didn't kiss like Westerners, chalk up
                              another one to corrupting Western influences ;) Most of our ancestors
                              would not understand many of our practices either. Hollywood, tourism
                              and everything else has radically changed the modern Japanese in a very
                              short period of time.

                              > From: Solveig <nostrand@...>
                              >
                              >Greetings from Solveig! The Japanese were doing a very good job of nibbling
                              >away at China until the U.S. intervened in the late 1930's early 1940's.
                              >
                              >
                              Even afterwards. The current government had really lost the mandate of
                              heaven!

                              > From: Solveig <nostrand@...>
                              >
                              >Invading Korea and China was quite rational and a far better alternative
                              >than trying to follow the example of the Minamoto following the Genpei War.
                              >Basically, the Japanese had raised huge armies which expected loot. Not
                              >to mention the large number off defeated soldiers who needed someplace to
                              >go.
                              >
                              >
                              I agree, this is a very important reason. They really didn't do so badly
                              except that the Japanese naval forces stunk, this is not good for over
                              the water invasions.

                              >Remember the Iberians were there! The Japanese constructed fairly modern
                              >(for the time) vessels toward the end of the sixteenth and the begining
                              >of the seventeenth centuries.
                              >
                              >
                              Japanese merchant vessels (at least to 1619) were limited to 250 koku
                              capacity (approx. 52.25 cubic meters). So probably about 30 feet (10
                              meters) long max. Adequate but not very impressive.

                              It is also known that at least one of the ships Will Adams constructed
                              for Ieyasu was of "more than 100 tons" (G. Sansom, _History of Japan,
                              1334-1615_, n. p. 403). A bit more impressive but later!

                              According to my book on Japanese Merchant Shipping, Date Masamune
                              (1566-1636) built a ship in his own fief to send to Rome. I suspect it
                              was at least a partial copy of Chinese/Korean or European vessels. It
                              apparently reached Mexico also! It was probably quite decent sized.

                              >From: Ii Saburou <logan@...>
                              >
                              >
                              >If you look, there aren't easier pickings.
                              >
                              Especially for a folk who weren't really great sailors.

                              >Then Perry comes in his Black Ships and forcibly requires Japan to open
                              >its doors. Up and coming Japanese come to the realization that the world
                              >will come to them unless they learn to keep the world out, and they build
                              >up a Navy and Army that are able to dominate their section of the world,
                              >defeating both the Chinese and the Russians.
                              >
                              >
                              In a very short period of time too! In the mid 1880's they are about on
                              par with the US, which is less impressive than it sounds.

                              Jim Eckman
                            • Solveig
                              Noble Cousin! Greetings from Solveig! ... The Korean take on things is not so much that the Japanese naval forces stunk, but that the Korean naval forces were
                              Message 14 of 26 , Jan 6, 2005
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                                Noble Cousin!

                                Greetings from Solveig!

                                >I agree, this is a very important reason. They really didn't do so badly
                                >except that the Japanese naval forces stunk, this is not good for over
                                >the water invasions.

                                The Korean take on things is not so much that the Japanese naval forces
                                stunk, but that the Korean naval forces were really good. They do have a
                                point there. They had several turtles.

                                >In a very short period of time too! In the mid 1880's they are about on
                                >par with the US, which is less impressive than it sounds.

                                It's still doing fairly well. Shortly afterward, the Japanese take on the
                                Russians and win. The imperial navy mas modeled on the British navy and
                                the imperial army was modeled on the Prussian army. At the time, the
                                British was about the only real global navy. The Spanish were of course
                                in serious decline by this point and were dispatched by the Americans in
                                the Spanish-American War. The French Navy's fangs were pulled during the
                                Napoleonic Wars and the Germans were always a primarily continental power.

                                Equaling U.S. naval power during a period of projecting "manifest
                                destiny" overseas is significant. U.S. expatriots in Hawaii stage a
                                Coup d'Etat in 1893 and the Spanish American War was fought in 1898.
                                --

                                Your Humble Servant
                                Solveig Throndardottir
                                Amateur Scholar

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                                | Barbara Nostrand, Ph.D. | Solveig Throndardottir, CoM, CoS, Fleur |
                                | deMoivre Institute | Carolingia Statis Mentis Est |
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                              • Ii Saburou
                                ... Which is fairly well substantiated by the history of the region: The Korean kingdoms were the ones that seem to have been doing much of the coastal trade.
                                Message 15 of 26 , Jan 6, 2005
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                                  On Thu, 6 Jan 2005, Solveig wrote:

                                  > The Korean take on things is not so much that the Japanese naval forces
                                  > stunk, but that the Korean naval forces were really good. They do have a
                                  > point there. They had several turtles.

                                  Which is fairly well substantiated by the history of the region: The
                                  Korean kingdoms were the ones that seem to have been doing much of the
                                  coastal trade. It was Korean ships and crews that piloted the Mongols
                                  over to Japan. I seem to recall it was even Korea that helped furnish the
                                  tributary ships which made it down around the tip of Africa (and possibly
                                  farther).

                                  In fact, the Japanese invasion only really seems to have worked because
                                  they caught the Koreans sleeping--they had no idea that an invasion was
                                  coming, and after the Japanese landed it was too late. Once they realized
                                  it, though, they played terrible havoc with the Japanese supply
                                  lines--attributed as one of the main reasons for Japanese defeat on the
                                  penninsula, iirc.

                                  -Ii
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