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Learning Chinese before/after/at the same time as Japanese as an L2


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NinjaTurtle
Just now, amytheorangutan said:

I did notice the person asking the question said ホン is pronounce "hoso" which should be "hon".

 

Correct. Distinguishing between ン and ソ is tricky for beginners. (It threw me for a loop when I was learning Japanese.)

 

Just now, amytheorangutan said:

an explanation of the broader picture of how kanji is used in the language which is helpful for beginners to understand before just randomly memorising each pronunciation of all kanji.

 

I agree. The important thing here is that kanji are pronounced differently in different words. I think the best way to learn kanji and their pronunciations is not to memorize one kanji and all of its pronunciations. (I believe 生 has 16 different pronunciations in Japanese.) Learn them word by word rather than pronunciation by pronunciation. My method is to choose a kanji, pick one of its meaning, then write it in a sentence. One of the most commonly seen forms of  生 is on beer cans where it appears as 生ビール (nama bi-ru) meaning “draft beer”. In this way, the student does not get confused by all the different pronunciations of 生, they just work on how it is pronounced “nama” in this one situation. Later, the student will come across the word  学生 meaning “student”, pronounced “gakusei”, where 生 is pronounced “sei”. There is no need to fixate on how 生 is pronounced “nama” in one word and “sei” in another word. In fact doing this is counterproductive. Just focus on how 生ビール is pronounced “nama bi-rur” and 学生 is pronounced “gakusei” without making a big connection on how both words contain 生. That is how Japanese people do it.

 

If you are interested in why kanji have different pronunciations in Japanese, please do not hesitate to ask.

 

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alantin
17 hours ago, mungouk said:

In other words does the modern mandarin pronunciation help with knowing the kun'yomi reading, or is the connection too far back in time?  Maybe it works for, say, 70% of Kanji?

 

Probably depends on how good your imagination is. For me I would say that knowing the Japanese pronunciation has maybe helped with say 10% of the Hanzi. And the problem with Japanese is that there are usually multiple Kun yomi as well and they can be quite different to each other too.

You can find some examples by considering the list here and copying the Japanese words to Google Translate for example to hear how they are pronounced.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Chinese–Japanese_false_friends

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carlo

There's really nothing systematic that helps in translating between Chinese and Japanese readings. Sometimes knowing the Ch reading may work as an approximate mnemonic device, but Japanese phonemes don't map consistently, and having a long or short -u-, or an -o- instead of an -u-, is a big deal.

 

Compared to when I started, at least now you can input a character on a Japanese dictionary using the Chinese pinyin input on your phone. It occasionally fails (when the character variants are different) but it's often a time saver.

 

A difference I noticed between Chinese and English-language textbooks of Japanese is that the former typically notate pitch accents for all vocabulary words. I later came across this debate between people who say you should learn them and people who say you shouldn't. I did memorise them, though admittedly I don't normally pay too much attention to them (I never lived in Japan for a long period of time though).

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alantin

The pitch accent is also heavily dependent on where the speaker is from.

 

I never payed attention to it and instead just picked it up listening to people talk but I can see how it would make a lot of sense for Chinese material to include it while material in English might even argue that it doesn't matter.

 

Not paying attention to pitch accent also has never affected anyone's understanding of my speech even though I hear for example that the pitch accent is different for the words for bridge and chopsticks. Adding the polite "o" in front of the word for chopsticks (this is not used for bridge) is IMHO a much more important distinguisher if the meaning is not apparent from the context. I just never remember which one is used for which and I hear they are actually opposite in Kansai and Kantou areas.

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Anica

I would also not be too focussed on taking the most efficient way for learning kanji. Learn them as they come up, use Chinese readings (where possible) as a memory aid and do not neglect the rest. For me, the most difficult part was everything that is not written in kanji, i.e. grammar, including verb forms, and entire words written in hiragana (although a kanji would exist - this is done quite frequently in texts for children, but also in other texts so as not to overburden a sentence with kanji) . Not that these things are immensely difficult, but I tended to not really internalise them and then, when the texts got more difficult, I really felt at a loss.

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Thanks everyone for your detailed insight!

 

Furigana is definitely one of the great "scaffolding" aspects of learning Kanji, regardless of whether it's for kids or for L2 learners.

 

If those of you who have studied both languages have suggestions, please keep them coming... this seems to be a somewhat niche area.

 

 

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