Thursday, January 29, 2009

Japanese Sentences – Making a Start



Thank god that’s over.

And I mean both Christmas and learning 2042 squigglerly wiggerly scribbles (otherwise known as kanji) found in ‘Remembering the Kanji’.

After much self adulation and back slapping, it quickly dawned on me that the ‘journey’ had just begun, the actual learning Japanese part starts here. To be exact, the learning of Japanese sentences starts here.

By all accounts it seems that the most difficult part of the sentence phase of learning is getting started. If you lurk around various forums you will quickly realize that there are a hundred and one ways to start sentences, all of them being the best way of course.

So how will I approach the infamous sentence learning method? Well, as a beginner it is pretty difficult to mine from real, bonafide, Japanese media, so to start with it seems sensible to me to pull sentences from grammar books and dictionary’s. But which sentences? On the recommendations of alljapaneseallthetime my approach is to source sentences which incorporate the following vocabulary:

Demonstrative Pronouns
This
That
Here
There
Which

Interrogative Pronouns
Who
What
Where
When
Why

Indefinite Pronouns
Somewhere
Someone
Something
Many
Anything
Everything
Everyone
Nothing

Prepositions (Postpositions) Particles
In
On
To
From
At

Conjunctions (Particles)
And
With
But
Or

Action Verbs - Native Japanese words
Come
Go
Eat
Drink
Work
Buy
Sell
Sleep
Play
Give
Take
Think
Believe
Read
Write
See
Watch
Look
Hear
Listen
Smell
Touch
Make
Do
Taste
Have
Need
Want
Cost
Break
Learn
Study
Teach
Ask
Answer
Repair
Fix
Wash
Clean
Put
Choose
Happen
Live
Die
Find
Lose
Rest
Drive
Fly
Sail
Walk
Run
Ride
Stop
Stay
Hurry
Understand
Worry
Fear
Fall
Get up
Burn
Hit
Hide
Find
Enter
Exit
Send
Receive
Win
Cost
Try
Join
Gather
Decide
Desire
Borrow
Lend
Owe
Promise
Rent
Use
Laugh
Cry
Dream

Conditional/hypothetical
Here is a small selection of conditional sentences taken from Giles Murray’s excellent, ‘13 Secrets to Fluent Japanese’.

Q:あなたが日本に来なければよかった…

A: あなった が にほん に こんなければ よかった
If only you had never come to Japan…

Q: 彼がまだ私のそばにいてくれたら、どんあにしあわせでしょう。

A:かれ が まだ わたし の そば に いて くれたら、どんあ に しあわせ でしょう
If he were still with me, how happy I’d be…

Q:日本に留学しないよ、本当の日本語を覚えられません。

A:にほん に りゅがく しない と、ほんとう の にほんご お おぼえられません。
If you don’t study in Japan, you’ll never learn real Japanese.

Once the above is completed I will then move onto Tae Kims ‘Guide to Japanese Grammar’ by importing sentences from this fantastic Google document file put together by a fellow AJATTeer and RETK Forum member.

Tae Kim Sentences

Oh, almost forget, there is a similar file for a load of iKnow sentences as well, happy SRSing!

iknow sentences

Credit: A huge thanks to Nukemarine for pulling these together.

Qu: What has been your experience with sentences so far? What approach have you taken or will take?

5 comments:

Burritolingus said...

Now the real fun begins!

Indeed, just as you said, the hardest part of sentence mining is figuring out where to start. I had quite a bit of difficulty in actually starting because I just wasn't sure what, where and how to mine.

The most simple answer is that there is no best way. Beginning will be difficult pretty much no matter where you start, especially coming off from RTK where things are generally straight to the point and easy to understand.
However, it really looks like you have a solid thing going on with your current outline.

Whatever the case, you'll soon reach a point where you feel comfortable with mining sentences from practically any source, and then you have a huge world of 日本語 open for the taking. I've gone monolingual dictionary recently, myself, and it's pretty incredible how much of an impact that makes.

Oh, and... I must be missing something, but is it possible to import those spreadsheets into Anki? I tried for the longest time to figure it out, but eventually gave up.

Kerubin said...

Burritolingus,

Yes it is possible to import spreadsheets into Anki. Took me a few goes. There is probably several ways to do this but I did it using the following steps:

1, Save the Google Document file as an Excel (xls) file.
go to ‘File’ = ‘Export’

2, Strip the columns of information you need and place them in another Excel spreadsheet. I didn’t need every column of information in the Tae Kim spreadsheet so I just copied and pasted the three columns: Sentence, translation, reading.

3, Make sure that your data fields match your Anki deck model in the correct order.

4, Save the Excel spreadsheet as a text file.

5, Open Text file and re-save that as a UTF-8 text file. This is the file type which Anki is able to import.

6. Open Anki, select ‘Import’.

I’m really interested in the monolingual approach to sentences. I notice that you went quite early into this. Which dictionary would you recommend? I’m around the 400 mark, when would you advise to go monolingual. I still feel I have quite a lot to learn before I could give it a proper go.

Alyks said...

Hm, the short answer is that you will never be ready to make the switch. It's best to just take the plunge and jump in.

I recommend the 大辞林 as a monolingual dictionary, it's awesome. I wrote a guide somewhere on my blog if you're interested.

Kerubin said...

@Alyks

Thanks for the tip. I will give that dictionary a try.

It seems it would be best to just jump in at the deep end. I imagine it to be quite painful in the short term but will get you to where you want to be alot quicker. Lets see!

Burritolingus said...

Thanks a bunch for the help with importing! I figured it would be as simple as something like that. I use OpenOffice, however, which doesn't even seem to allow saving a spreadsheet as text... but I'm probably missing something silly. I'm sure I'll figure it out from here, at any rate!

And yes, I'd honestly echo what Alyks advises. Personally, I went monodic after the first two steps (400 items) of iKnow. It's definitely slow (very, VERY slow) going at first, but try not to get frustrated - the more you use it and the more you read in general, the easier and faster it'll get. (I'm still on the sluggish side myself, but I've really gotten used to the layout and format of the various dictionaries - helps a whole lot)