This time around, I'll talk about the importance of kanji when trying to learn when translating something.
Remembering the Kanji
I find that the easiest way to learn a kanji is to understand it's origin. 90% of the time it's fairly easy to remember a kanji when you understand its etymology.
Pictographic Kanjis such as 大, 川 and 口 are the easiest to remember and barely require any effort to memorize at all. They are far and few in between however.
Indicative Kanji such as 下, 上, 中, 一 and ニ are also easy to remember but require some writing practice to commit to memory. I'd say it the form that requires the least but still some writing don't readily make sense to my brain and require an extra push to be assimilated.
The rest of the kanji vary. Some are easy to understand from an etymological point and readily commit to memory. Others have lost so much of their origins that it becomes much harder to understand and make sense of. Those need to be learned through rote writing and require the most time to learn and remember.
Learning Kanji through Vocabulary
I rarely (if ever) learn vocabulary just for their subjective, out of context meaning. I find that fairly pointless as it's too vague without a context. The Key to Kanji by Noriko Kurosawa Williams is an excellent book to learn from as it provides example of words for each kanji. This prevents associative mistakes such as 階 for ''story''. At a glance, you could mistake story for the wrong meaning. With examples such as 階下 ''downstairs'', you instantly recognize ''story'' for what it is and there is no room for interpretation mistakes.
I find rote writing surprisingly fun as I fill page after page of my notebook with vocabulary. There's something definitely artistic about how kanjis are written and it appeals to me. I've been into regular calligraphy before so this is definitely my cup of tea. I've bought an assortment of different pen to write kanji but none are satisfactory so far. They release too much ink (which muddles the lines of the kanji) or the lines are too thick which makes writing complex kanji very difficult from lack of space.
I find that writing with the very tip of the pen allows for some refined control and that a regular Pilot Pen work best for now:
I find that trying to perfect the writing of each Kanji really helps for motivation. Paying close attention to the position and size of each individual stroke is a great challenge. It forces me to repeat the same writing and therefore helps me to learn the kanji at the same time.
Here are some writing samples with some comments. I'd say I fill about two to three pages a day. I do so while doing other things like watching a movie, videos on youtube or just about anything which doesn't require my full attention. I've decided to provide the file in its original size this time around as opposed to using a hyperlink as this is just a personal blog that one or two people will read.
In this set nothing really proved too difficult. Here are the kanji which proved more challenging ni this set:
案: this one was (is?) problematic for me because my book doesn't really provide a lot of information about it. The top part is a phonetic reference which is great to identify the 音読み at a glance but doesn't provide any information about the meaning of the kanji itself. The plan, proposed idea is somewhat vague too. Vocabulary does help however:
案外: contrary to what is expect (proposed idea+outside).
案内する: to show around. I don't really see the connection there.
Either way, I've written it and reviewed it often enough that I think it's in my long term memory now.
延 & 演: these two are harder because they both convey a similar meaning of ''to extend''. It is therefore important to understand how they differ to better understand their individual meanings.
Some examples of 「延」include:
延ばす：to extend, postpone
Some examples of 「演」
So from my point of view, 演 seems to be more focused about acting-related vocabulary while 延 is more aimed at conveying the extension of something. I even looked up some dictionary entries for 演 and they were all related to acting and performance arts. So for now I'll stick to the distinction I've mentioned before.
Aesthetically speaking, I find that my pen limits me in how beautiful I can make my handwriting. The paper really soaks in the ink which blurs what would otherwise be clean, crisp strokes. This is pretty obvious on this page:
I stopped using the black pen I had because it was just too wide. You'll notice I switch back to my original pilot pen.
One aspect of my handwriting I want to improve on is the left component of: That ''road'' component doesn't look satisfactory to me. I find the it challenging to evaluate how I should draw the lower part that goes under the right part (semi-enclosed part) of the kanji. I realize there's a difference between how characters are typed and handwritten but I haven't found the result I'm looking for that component just yet.
I'm satisfied with the rest of my writing. There's certainly room for improvement but it's adequate for the point I've reached up to now.
Kanjis are everywhere when translating and are more often than not a great way to quickly understand the meaning of a passage without understanding the grammar:
I've highlighted the kanji in yellow in this excerpt. At at a glance we can immediately identify vocabulary:
Even with just that little information, I can have a hint of what it's about.
In my next entry, I'll talk some more about kanji and explore another grammatical aspect of Japanese in context.
Thank you for reading.