Teach Yourself Japanese
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Subject: Re: Studying Kanji readings
From: Glenn
Date: Sat, 09 May 2009 01:45:27 GMT
References: 1, 2

> 生 is a special case. Most characters don't require anywhere near as much memorization. It's worth knowing all the readings on that list, but only because it's worth knowing all the *words* on the list.
> Anyhow, unless you want to learn to be able to handwrite everything, there's not much point in just going through and memorizing lists of kanji. (I will admit though that for handwriting, there is no other method than writing all the characters in a list over and over again.) This method works for Japanese kids, because they speak Japanese already. They don't need to improve their vocabulary as much as their literacy. For foreigners, you're better off making word lists and just memorizing the readings of the kanji on your word lists. After a while, you get to where you can guess the on'yomi of new kanji based on their radicals, and then the process starts to go a little faster, but the main thing is to build up your vocab not your kanji alone.
> See http://www.guidetojapanese.org/blog/2008/09/03/breathe-relax-you-dont-have-to-know-it-all/ and http://no-sword.jp/blog/2009/04/kanji_as_argo.html

I used the Heisig method and learned the meanings and writings of 2042 characters, then started working on the readings. I rarely have problems writing anything by hand, and usually it's because I forget which ぜつ I'm trying to write, or something like that. Every now and then I add a stroke or something like that, but it's pretty rare. After that I just kind of picked up some characters as I went along, and I can write pretty much every character I want to, even the ones Japanese people have told me I didn't need to know, like 猥, 褻, 鄙, 膏, 躁, 鬱, 躑, 躅, 瓶, 狡, 猾, 躊, 躇, 疇, 遜, 辿, 驀, etc. I also went and learned 旧字体 (or should I write 舊字體?), partly because I just like them and learning them, and partly because I've started with Mandarin (although it's more like Mandarin allows me to actually use them). So, I don't really go for the "don't worry about writing them" line of thought.

Of course, I'm not going to try to convince someone that they have to learn to write the characters if they don't want to. It's a personal choice, and I decided I wanted to be able to write them at will. I also find that if you want to be able to write them and remember their meanings, using the Heisig method is the way to go (not that I used it for all of the characters above (or any of them, really), but it did lay the foundation of being able to make sense out of them more easily).

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