Japanese books for your Kindle

Strange thing about Amazon: Japanese books (offered on amazon.com and amazon.de) are not available for the standard Kindle although it's perfectly capable of displaying Japanese content. This applies to all books in Japanese. Which sucks. So contacted support concerning that matter ...

Fortunately there are alternatives: 青空文庫 (Aozora Bunko) offers Japanese books for free and with 青空キンドル (Aozora Kindle) you can easily convert them to beautiful PDFs. :)
To do that, take a book from 青空文庫 (for example this), scroll down to the ファイルのダウンロード section and copy the URL to the zip file. In our example that's: http://www.aozora.gr.jp/cards/000311/files/2762_ruby_8768.zip. Head to 青空キンドル, paste the URL, change settings if you want (I recommend setting the 文字 to 大), hit PDF化, copy the PDF file to your Kindle and you're done. :)
Beautiful Japanese on your Kindle. What you may want to avoid, however, is using Japanese file names. They won't be displayed as expected, which I presume it's due to the FAT 32 file system.

2013-09-08

漢字 — 200+

Whew ... at last. Turns out a lot of free time doesn't seem to be the best thing for my learning efforts. I tend to approach other time consuming stuff that wouldn't be possible alongside lectures and end up having a hard time keeping up with making progress with my Japanese. D:

Looking at my Anki stats for the last month: the mostly hidden larger gap responsible for that first huge bar was a 5 day trip to Munic for a parkour jam, next gap was a spontaneous programming project iirc (something that doesn't show up in my Google calendar at least) and the third gap was Ludum Dare 27, a video game development competition.

Anyway: what I'm experimenting with right now is different methods for choosing which kanji to learn next. For some time I sticked with the JLPT kanji listed here, but it seems to take me longer and longer to find good candidates. I consider switching to going through easy reading material online and adding stuff I don't know yet. Another option would be using some frequency list.

Apart from that everything's going well. Creating mnemonics is still fun. :) Oh and when learning with Anki I now write out readings in katakana instead of hiragana from time to time — helps preventing that I forget those bastards. :D

Again, for the sake of documentation, these are the kanji I know so far.

2013-09-03

漢字 — 100+

So, a mere 5% of Jōyō kanji made their way into my head — and it's been fun so far, A LOT actually! :O

I can't really say why exactly, but I guess first off because as I continue learning kanji I'm able to read more and more Japanese stuff and also because I can play around with mnemonics. :3
When I wrote about taking Japanese courses in my last post I was totally hyped. But in no way was I ready to get into kanji. I did a lot of preparation because the task seemed (and still seems) huge and I wanted to approach it in the best way possible.
I thought about learning the 214 radicals before looking at a single kanji, I looked at guides like TextFugu and WaniKani and started hoarding useful resources like Jim Breen's Multi-Radical Selection ...

... after about a month I knew how I would do it: TextFugu and the like present a great method for learning kanji effectively, but there are two problems. Frist they focus on kanji only and don't present them in context, as compounds (afaik). Second and most imporantly, they use given mnemonics. No way in hell does it make sense to use other people's associations to remember stuff. If 肉 for me consists of a large gripper and two people which reminds me of Soylent Green and makes it super easy to remember then why should I try to remember it any other way?
The thing with the official radicals is that sometimes they don't make sense to me, and for a lot of graphemes of given kanji there are no radicals. I cannot remember 刂 as a mere variation of — they need very distinct mnemonic names/meanings or I'll mix them up.

So ... learning kanji for me works like this: I search for kanji made up of parts I already introduced to my mnemonic system that I'll use in sentences a lot. If I find no good candidates, I search for new graphemes/parts that will "enable" useful new kanji. As a new useful kanji is found I try to find at least two ways to use it in sentences — one where a kun reading is used and one where an on reading is used. Super easy example: I know and , now I find , super easy to remember and with 男の子 and 男子 I already have two readings involved. 男 with it's readings, meanings and a mnemonic wind up in a json file from which I generate a web page displaying all my kanji with memonics and their parts/graphemes linked for ease of use. 男の子 and 男子 are fresh input for my kanji deck in Anki. In the following days I then try to use 男の子 and 男子 in homework for my Japanese courses and in journals on Lang-8. And that's how it goes. :) Works really well so far and is a lot of fun. Coming up with good memonics and the populating of previously mentioned json file can be a bit tedious though. ^^

For the sake of documentation, these are the kanji I know so far.

And here are my current Anki stats (deck created 2013-05-21).

I plan to do this kind of review every 100 kanji, so there will — hopefully — be a total of 21 of these in the end. Beginning with the second one they'll very likely be notably shorter. ^^

And that's it. Learning kanji is now part of my [ladder to the sun][triceratops with a cap cleaning his mouth with a napkin] life. :3

2013-06-18

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