Monday, July 16, 2007

I started learning Japanese

It's true. I started learning Japanese this week. It's kind of late in the game, but there's no motivation like panic-motivation. It's hard to study a foreign language other than Spanish in the Oregon suburbs. There's just not many places you can get the positive feedback that makes learning languages fun.

Japanese people have tended to be really happy to help, and encouraging to beginners like me. I'm comparing them to my mental image of me going into a Parisian bakery and "jay voodray-ing" a sandwich, and imagining that I fare better here.

Anyway, there is a whole hell of a lot of stuff to learn. I haven't even gotten into Kanji yet, but there's a lot of talk about "2,000 characters is a good foundation" getting thrown around. It's been a while since I've rolled up my sleeves and slugged through some rote memorization, but here goes...

Also, Zachary sent me the link to a pretty interesting method. It's some CS dork who got himself fluent in a year and a half. Check it out if you're so inclined:


d said...

We're looking for the Wordtank since it looks like you'll be needing it soon. I'm sure newer and better versions can be had at Akihabara, however. You might want to locate a copy of Pimsleur Japanese *somewhere*.


Nate said...

yes, "somewhere," *WINK*

d said...

Why, yes, like here:



zachary said...

Hey Nate,

Learning the Kana should not take you very long at all, and it will very likely have the side effect of helping you with your pronunciation.
Hiragana and Katakana are both syllabaries; each character represents a specific syllable. After you learn Kana you will be better able to say things properly, IMHO.

Regarding Pimsleur: I doubt you really want to spend @least $125 for what amounts to three audio cds. Perhaps you'd rather use some of that blazing fast Japanese internet infrastructure... If so, fire up Azureus and go

Nate said...

zachary, thank you for the advice. however, I believe what you are describing would be a violation of United States copyright law, and as such I can't condone this course of action for anyone UNLESS they are simply creating a back-up for a course they've already legally purchased. now let me look around and see if I have my Pimsleur CDs around here somewhere....

zachary said...

Yeah, well... Here's the thing. I am not a fan of intellectual property theft (says a guy who used to engage in said theft gleefully). Stealing, as a rule, is most definitely not cool; Choosing to download instead of pay is stealing, at least most of the time.

I would agree with the Cory Doctorows and Lawrence Lessigs of the world that copyright law is broken and unfair. I also believe that major media companies are often anti-consumer, anti-artist, anti-choice, and generally nasty. Many products are sold at extortionate prices that cannot be justified rationally. I just don't think that any of that truly justifies ripping stuff off.


I am a big hypocrite sometimes, and I don't necessarily think it is indefensible for one to download an educational product that would otherwise be inaccessible due to availability or inadequate funds. Libraries used to provide this type of service legally, but many public libraries are no longer able to fill this need.

That said, you can afford to go to amazon and buy Pimsleur, so...


When you know your Kana, you can start to learn how to
Talk Like a Yakuza