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How Learning Japanese in Japanese Makes a Difference — 12 Comments

  1. When talking about 悔しい, you can’t leave out ザブングル, whose face alone apparently embodies everything that is 悔しい.

    • Thanks for sharing! I didn’t know about him. Yet, if I type 悔しい onto google, almost every picture is of his face! How could I have missed this!

  2. That feeling when you know what a word means from seeing it in many different contexts but are unable to come up with a definition of it on-the-spot by a non-native speaker of the language: 悔しい!

    • Yes! I often feel the same way! Translating and knowing a language are two different things. Translators work years and are trained professionally or/and have a lot of experience to get to where they at, from what I’ve heard. 悔しい is exactly the feeling when being asked on the spot!

  3. I like to think of it as “Japanese isn’t just English written in a secret code.” Which sounds stupidly obvious, but it actually came as something of a revelation when I realized, some time back, that I was treating a block of Japanese text as something to be deciphered rather than understood. I’m looking forward to trying monolingual (again), but this article is a good reminder that even a native definition doesn’t give the full nuance and flavor, which can only come from multiple contexts.

    • I think many language learners start off as “code-breakers”. I loved breaking codes as a kid! Thanks for sharing your realization that Japanese is more than just a code! I really love going monolingual. It’s even more exciting than code-breaking! Thanks for the comment!

  4. Thanks for the reminder Rachel!
    This article actually made me stop procrastinating and finally switch my iPhone J-E dictionary (imiwa?) to a proper J-J one (大辞林/daijirin).
    I made the transition to J-J over a year ago BUT on my iPhone I only had the J-E dic. So I used to only look up the words I really, really needed and piece together the rest of Adshap’s definitions from that.

    The results from the switch: A wake-up call & reminder of the fact that J-J definitions are waaaay superior to the English crutches I used to utilize. +You get to read a lot more Japanese.
    So thanks again Rachel and for those who haven’t made the transition – it’s worth it.

    • Thank you for your comment!

      Apps are a hard one (especially for someone like me with an Android, though Android apps tend to be free). I’m glad you finally made the switch! Now you’re completely switched over!

      Sometimes you just can’t escape the J-E. Android doesn’t have as many options as iOS (though Android apps tend to be free more often). I just recently installed Kanji Recognizer to look up kanji on the go (works offline and copies to clipboard). Technically, it’s a J-E dictionary, even though I don’t use it for that feature. I still can’t find a J-J dictionary on Android that’s free, works offline and isn’t just a trial that’ll expire. I do however have a J-J electronic dictionary (no kanji drawing feature). But it’d be nice to have one on my tablet too.

      • Not being free was one of my excuses for not switching from “Imiwa?”.
        But the built in Kanji drawing possibility of iPhone and depth of the 大辞林 dictionary made me hopeful that this was the first AND last expensive app (around 25 bucks!) I need to buy – ever.
        Hope you find what you are looking for Rachel!

        • Thanks! That app does sound incredibly useful and worth the money! I may invest in a old electronic dictionary that does draw kanji one of these days. Uncomfortable with buying apps. They don’t feel physical enough.

        • For dictionaries on the i-phone, I can recommend “imiwa”, “japanese”, and “midori.” Imiwa is free. Japanese has a good range of words and midori has rather nice example sentences and a space to cut and paste blocks of text to do a massive dictionary search on.

  5. This post is probably the best argument for the benefits of J-J that I’ve seen yet! Makes it concrete, tangible. Plus it was really interesting. Thank you!

    Also, googling for 悔しい was one of the more rewarding experiences I’ve had lately…

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