You’ve come this far with Anki, and only have a little further to go before everything is in place. This is where Anki really becomes your ultimate weapon. Don’t you dare give up now.
Q: How do I actually input J-J sentences?
As you can probably guess, input is similar to J-E sentences, except that the E is a J. When you are reviewing a card, it should look something like this:
So far nothing new. The word I was trying to learn through this sentence was 仰ぐ. The only difference is that the definition of the word is in Japanese. So what’s so hard about J-J? The fact that you most likely don’t understand the J-J definition. You look up a word you don’t know to find a definition with more words that you don’t know. But no worries, this is actually good. This is where you start the definition branching process, which while sounds intimidating at first, becomes a fun game.
Q: What is the definition branching process? Did you just make that up? How do I deal with Japanese definitions I don’t understand?
Ignoring the fact that I just made this phrase up, the definition branching process will cause the one sentence you found to turn into many. The immediate benefit of this is that it saves time in searching for new sentences.
Starting with the above J-J definition:
Let’s assume you don’t know the words 優れた, 尊敬, or 敬う. How are you supposed to understand the original word 仰ぐ. First, even without knowing those 3 words, you should have an idea of what they mean. When you did the Heisig method, 敬 had a keyword of awe and 仰 had a keyword of faceup. So if you’re clever , you maybe can guess the meaning “to revere/highly respect”. But if you can’t, not to worry, because for the most part, the meanings are hard to guess.
Once you’ve already inputted the original sentence, you will now need to input 3 new sentences to learn those 3 words you didn’t know. Using the Yahoo’s online dictionary, taking the example sentences they provide for each of the definitions, you will end up with 3 new cards. The new definition is below each sentence.
Ok now you have a total of 4 new cards by branching 3 definitions to get to the original 1. Did adding these new cards with each of their definitions help you learn the original word (仰ぐ)? If they did, great. If they didn’t, which will be very common in the beginning, you are probably stuck now with 3 new cards with words in their definitions that you don’t understand.
Can you guess what you’ll do next? You now look up the individual words in each of those 3 definitions that you don’t know, and add new sentence cards for each of those words:
So let’s say you don’t know the words 能力 and 価値 from card 2, 業績from card 3, and尽くすfrom card 4. Take those 4 words, put them in Yahoo’s online dictionary, and you now have 4 more new cards.
Next, suppose out of these cards you only don’t understand 成果 and 成し遂げる. Those become new card 9 and 10, and you continue with those definitions.
You continue branching until you finally get to words you do know. You then work your way back up until you get to 仰ぐ, knowing all the words that are used in the definition.
This works for 2 reasons: 1) Branching results in similar definitions using similar words, so you eventually end up at words you know or can figure out through comparison, 2) Your knowledge of kanji will give you the extra push.
If you look just at the 3 sentences that came out from the original definition, notice how words overlap. In the definition for card 4 (敬う) you see the phrase 尊敬. This happens to be the card 3 word you were looking up. Under card 3 (尊敬), you see the phrase (敬う), which is the word you are looking up in card 4.
Graphically this is how it should look if you end up understanding the J-J definitions of your final cards for 成果 and 成し遂げる. Notice how 1 card became 10 cards:
Now sometimes you get lucky and you can end the branching at a small number of cards. But other times your cycle may look like this:
Some examples may become this extreme, and yes you just added 40 new cards spawning from 1. The chart shows how you will hit upon words which were in the earlier definitions. Sometimes by the time you get to the word again, you already know it, and other times you still don’t know the word based on where the other branches are at.
Before you start freaking out, keep in mind that the deeper you delve into the process, the deeper your knowledge of Japanese will go, and the easier it will become. You are developing deep Japanese word connections in your brain. The branching process will eventually work its way down to 5-6 new sentences per one word, and then finally you won’t even have to go through the branching anymore, since you will understand the definitions fully.