Best way to learn Japanese for the total beginner?

Bob Hubbard

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So, I'm standing there at Borders, looking at the shelf full of options on learning Japanese, and have absolutely no clue. Theres CD's, and Tapes, and books, and flash cards, and dictionaries..I'm just lost.

Has anyone had any luck with anything? I've heard the Berlitz tapes are good, but before I plunk down $30+ for a set, figured I'd ask those in the know.

Unfortunately, I can't (yet) afford to goto Japan for 6 months (The GF would kill me if I didn't come back with a truckload of Pocky)

I'm trying the immersion method, along with a good dictionary. Listening and watching a ton of Anime, and looking up words as I go.

I'm picking up a few words here and there, but a good reference to really hit it would be good to have.

(Of course, listening to Japanese heavy metal is probably doing it the hard way.)

Any tips, etc greatly appreciated.
Thank you.
:asian:
 
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Nevlyn

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Before I went to Japan in 1988, I took night class for about a month to learn some japanese phrases...

I then spent 3 weeks in Japan with friends who spoke hardley any english...

I had a great time in Japan, but my only regret is not spending enough time to really learn the language..:asian:
 

KumaSan

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I took a year of Japanese in high school, and I actually learned something. I then proceeded to not use it and it all went away.

4 years later I got stationed in Japan, not remembering a darn thing. I found that the Japanese For Busy People book series was pretty helpful. I believe they have a tape series as well, but I've never listened to them. The immersion with Anime thing is actually pretty helpful for listening skills, but you also need feedback to correct your speaking.

What I found to help the most is unfortunately not available to you (unless you and your GF have some sort of "understanding") is to date someone who speaks Japanese as their primary language. Have to be careful though, or you end up like me - married. ;)
 
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Bob Hubbard

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Nope. No "understanding"...well, unless you count the "cheat and die" bit. :) I mean, she does outrank me in 2 systems :D

Where I'm at, theres a large Chinese population, along with some Korean, Vietnamese and Thai, but I haven't been able to ferret out the Japanese gals.

I've been sitting down with the lyrics from a few anime theme songs and trying to translate, but some words just aren't in my dictionary. wo and ai for example. Any recomendations on a good dictionary?

When I get a chance, I'm calling the local colleges and seeing if any offer a class. Also, maybe I should hit the library and see what they have. I can't be the only guy in Buffalo looking at learning....then again.... :)

Thanks for the tips guys. Tis apreciated. :)

:asian:
 
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TLH3rdDan

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i dont know if you can get any up there but you might want to try translating a newspaper written in japanese
 

KumaSan

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Originally posted by Kaith Rustaz

Nope. No "understanding"...well, unless you count the "cheat and die" bit. :) I mean, she does outrank me in 2 systems :D
Yeah, that's the same understanding we have. I outrank her, but I don't doubt she could pull it off. I have to sleep sometime...

Where I'm at, theres a large Chinese population, along with some Korean, Vietnamese and Thai, but I haven't been able to ferret out the Japanese gals.

For your purposes, it doesn't have to be women. In fact, in this case finding Japanese guys might actually be more beneficial. In Japanese there's a big difference between the way guys talk and the way women talk. I am often accused of talking like a girl :eek: at least in Japanese.

I've been sitting down with the lyrics from a few anime theme songs and trying to translate, but some words just aren't in my dictionary. wo and ai for example. Any recomendations on a good dictionary?

I only ever used the small Random House dictionary I bought when I first got there. There's lots of things that aren't in it, but it fit in my backpack easily and without much weight. There's an online dictionary here that may help. For things like song, and even colloquial spoken Japanese, not all things you see/hear will be in there. It's like in English, you're not going to find certain words in dictionaries either. They're just kind of special use things. I'll run those two past my wife when I get home for you though.

When I get a chance, I'm calling the local colleges and seeing if any offer a class. Also, maybe I should hit the library and see what they have. I can't be the only guy in Buffalo looking at learning....then again.... :)

Thanks for the tips guys. Tis apreciated. :)

:asian:

It can be tough finding classes, it's the same down here. The local community college has Japanese listed in it's catalog, but they haven't had a class in over a year. It sucks. One of the instructors where I train found a trade school kind of place that has lessons for 25 bucks a quarter. I might head over there next quarter and jump in 2/3's of the way through the first year class.
 

KumaSan

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Oh yeah, "ai" generally means love. "Wo" I'm not too sure about, I'd need some context on that one.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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Good tips. Thanks! :)

The 2 lines I tried to translate were
Jealousy Fire ikari wo komete
which I got as "Jealosy Fire fury ??? back in ???"

and

Watashi wa shitto no arashi Queen Beryl
Which I loosely got as "I ?? jealousy storm Queen Beryl" which makes no sence to me.

I need a babel fish. :)
 
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Nevlyn

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I found some of my old Japanese books..
but couldn't find the dictonary:confused:

The books are:
Japanse Simplified by Hugo's Language books Ltd
Berlitz Phase Books - Japanese for Travellers
Get by in Japanese by BBC Books
 
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Battousai

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Getting enrolled in a college japanese class is probabily the best route if you have some extra time and about five hundred dollars for the tuition. I did it for fun, and the class was acutally challenging.
The hardest thing, nearly impossible to learn if you don't spend years in japan, is learning to read japanese. Its easy to learn the romaji syllabary, and with some practice learn how to write all of the hiragana and katakana, but learning the kanji, thats whats extremely difficult. If you didn't grow up there, the task is enormous. Japanese newspapers are written with lots of kanji. Graduate students with japanese language as their major cannot read an entire newspaper.
All the japanese you hear in the learning tapes and stuff, from teachers, is somewhat deceptive, because in japan they speak it a whole lot faster! Desu becomes des, anything with tsu sounds different..
English I guess is harder to learn then japanese because of all the stupid rules and spelling that make absolutely no sense. Japanese is thought to be the second hardest language to learn, but at least all of the words and sentence structure make sense compaired to this english junk ;)
 

KumaSan

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Yeah, trying to learn kanji pretty much sucks. "Officially" there are either 1600 or 1900 or somewhere around there (I can't remember exactly). Really there are about 10 bazillion in common use. And they all have at least 2 ways to read them, onyomi and kunyomi. A word that you spell the same in romaji can mean a dozen different things depending on which kanji are used. When I lived there I knew a couple hundred, now I remember like 6. We're planning on moving back in a few years, so I better start studying again soon...
 

KumaSan

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Sorry it took so long to get back to this...
Jealousy Fire ikari wo komete

The wife says she's unsure what this is exactly, apparently there's more above or after that helps give it meaning.

Watashi wa shitto no arashi Queen Beryl

This is basically saying "I'm really jealous". The storm of jealousy is an idiom, a way of emphasizing an emotion, in this case jealousy. I should've mentioned that 'wa' is an article, it doesn't necessarily have a direct translation, but here it kind of means "am". As in 'Kore wa midori desu' - This is green.

I need a babel fish. :)

I know it. Just pop one in the ear, and understand all the languages of the universe.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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I appreciate the help. I found another listing of it, and cut the 1st 3 lines out
Jealousy Fire ikari wo komete
Jealousy Fire hitomi no oku de moeagaru
Nikushimi no yatsura kara ai no Energy ubaitore

Maybe that helps? Title is Ai no Energy wo Ubae which the original transcriber says means "Steal Love Energy".

I bought another dictionary, the Merriam-Webster, which seems to have a bit more depth over the other.

I end up with
Jealousy Fire, wrath wo komete
Jealousy Fire see my inner blaze increace
Hatred of them from love of Energy ubaitore

I can't find komete anywhere. Checked 3 dictionaries, even dropped the te and just looked for kome. I found rice. "Wrath of Rice" just dont make any sence. :D

:asian:
 
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Bob Hubbard

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Based on some suggestions I've gotten, I picked up "Japanese for Busy People, Vol 1", a cassete course to listen to in the car, and a second dictionary (little more elaberate, clearer pics.

I'm making a little progress, at least in that I can pick out more words, even though I can't process em yet. I figure, a couple more weeks and I'll be at the equivilent of preschool :D

(must remember to pick up bottle of school paste for lunch) :D

Anyways, thank you for the pointers and tips, please, keep em coming. Thank you a ton. :)

:asian:
 

KumaSan

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Okay, she says that this could be wrong, but here's what she's giving me right now:

Jealousy Fire ikari wo komete
Jealousy Fire hitomi no oku de moeagaru
Nikushimi no yatsura kara ai no Energy ubaitore

I give you Jealousy Fire with anger (not sure of subject, could be you give me jealousy fire with anger, or anything really. Just giving jealousy fire with anger)
Jealousy Fire burning in my (your ?) eyes
Steal (or take or get) the Energy of Love from people who have hatred

Sometimes it's hard to translate each word literally, but you can get the idea. I also forgot to mention earlier that "wo" is just a literary way to write "o". Same meaning.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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Hmm... line ones a toughy, The key to the last word seekms to be "KO" as I can find 'me' and 'te'. If I hazard a guess its "Jealousy Fire, O Great Anger"

Line 2 I'd say has to be "Jealousy Fire burning in my eyes"

Line 3, I'd say could go as "Steal the Energy of Love from the hated"

Back ground : from what I've been told, the person doing the singing is supposed to be Queen Beryl (from the Sailor Moon Anime), who sent her generals out to gather energy to revive a demon. (very short summary)

Thank you, and please pass my thanks along to your wife. I really appreciate the help and clarifications.

:asian:
 

arnisador

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I'll be very curious to hear what you think about the cassettee tapes--I've been thinking of trying that to brush up on my French and Italian.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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The set I got, I'm not too sure about. Its a nice breakdown, but the persons got a thick accent, so I'm not sure on what I'm missing. I'll do a full review shortly on it. :)
 

KumaSan

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Originally posted by Kaith Rustaz

Thank you, and please pass my thanks along to your wife. I really appreciate the help and clarifications.

She says "Anytime". She gets pretty excited whenever someone asks her questions about Japanese language and culture. I think I may have to sign up for classes just so she can have a fresh pool of people who will need tutoring...
 

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Well, I was fluent in Japanese 40 years ago but now that I am attempting to revisit that language am having a hard time with it. Using an old book I bought in 1959, A Guide to Reading & Writing Japanese I attempted to translate some old certificates I have that is written in Japanese. Kind of like trying to read chicken scratching in the sand! Anyway, this book has several major sections, one gives each of the 1,850 Japanese characters by the number of strokes that make up the character. Even with this it is hard to look at a character and count the strokes, then find the translation for it! Oh well, getting older does that :)

Having just returned from visiting Japan and stumbling through broken Japanese to my friends there I am interested in re-learning it. I will post my feeble attempts as time flies when youre having fun, time flies! If anyone is interested that is.:asian:
 
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