How much Japanese is needed to play imports?

Discussion in 'NDS - Console and Game Discussions' started by lalalalala, Oct 9, 2008.

Oct 9, 2008
  1. lalalalala
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    Newcomer lalalalala Advanced Member

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    I'm motivated to learn Japanese because there are a lot of Japanese exclusive games I would like to play. I already know a lot of kanji, actually, I would assume most kanji. Does anyone know roughly how many words I should know in order to play JP games with 80-90% comprehension? And roughly how long it would take in hours? I'm not planning to play any JP intensive games like RPG.

    Thanks


    Edit:


    I know Chinese. I suppose I should have clarified that. Most of the Kanji are very similar to Chinese in meaning, though I would have no idea how to pronounce it.

    I have tried playing JP games. I can guess and deduct meaning but because I don't know hiragane/katagana, I'm screwed for all the non-kanji letters. Besides, don't I need to know words, which are made with a combination of the 3? Which is really what I'm asking... How many words do I need to know?

    And I find that grammar structure btw the 2 languages are also very similar. So really, I need to get the words down.
     
  2. Ferrariman

    Member Ferrariman Hip-Flop and cRap

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    It depends.
     
  3. saxamo

    Member saxamo Spaaaaace!

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  4. Issac

    Member Issac Mini-mod

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    you know most kanji you say? all... how many is it... 32 000?
     
  5. galneon

    Member galneon GBAtemp Regular

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    There are about 6000 kanji in modern Japanese, so you're a little off.
     
  6. xJonny

    Member xJonny ...

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    There are probably around 50,000 hanzi, although a lot of them basically never used now.

    You could guess some meanings from how the characters are made up, and their etymology, since Chinese characters can be made up of recurring parts. e.g. ? clear/bright = ?sun ?moon. I think this is what the original poster is alluding to, when saying that they can assume characters?

    Studies show that about 3,000-5,000 hanzi will be able to get you around most Chinese. So, for Japan less kanji than that because of the writing systems in Japan.

    I digress, but if you know a thousand or two, that's quite a lot.
     
  7. lalalalala
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    Newcomer lalalalala Advanced Member

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    Hmm. I know Chinese. I suppose I should have clarified that. Most of the Kanji are very similar to Chinese in meaning, though I would have no idea how to pronounce it.

    I have tried playing JP games. I can guess and deduct meaning but because I don't know hiragane/katagana, I'm screwed for all the non-kanji letters. Besides, don't I need to know words, which are made with a combination of the 3? Which is really what I'm asking... How many words do I need to know?

    And I find that grammar structure btw the 2 languages are also very similar. So really, I need to get the words down.
     
  8. Densetsu

    Former Staff Densetsu Pubic Ninja

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    The Shin Daijiten, a kanji dictionary published by Kodansha, contains over 21,000 kanji characters. Obviously no one knows that many kanji, not even Japanese people. Most Japanese with a university-level education will know about 3,000 kanji. You only need to know around 1,000 to be able to read 80% of the kanji in a newspaper or magazine, and around 2,000 to be able to read 100%. But just because you can read it, it doesn't necessarily mean you can understand it.

    I passed Level 1 (the hardest level) of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test a couple years ago, and I still find some Japanese novels and even some imported text-heavy games challenging to read. Much of the difficulty in understanding written Japanese comes not just from my lack of kanji knowledge, but from my lack of knowledge of cultural references as well.

    For example, if someone says "this movie is like a modern Romeo and Juliet story," you'd know that it's a love story. You might even figure out that it has a sad ending. But if you know nothing of Shakespeare's works, then you wouldn't understand that sentence. The Japanese like to reference Japanese pop culture in their writing a lot, so merely knowing 80-90% of 1,945 "joyo kanji" won't necessarily mean that you'll have 80-90% comprehension. A Japanese vocabulary of around 10,000 words is sufficient for understanding most of what you read.

    At any rate, I've been studying Japanese for about 10 years and I lived in Japan for 4 years, but I still find myself having to look up words in a dictionary whenever I read a Japanese novel. When I play a Japanese imported game (particularly RPGs), a lot of words pop up that I still don't know, but I can't be bothered to look them up in a dictionary mid-game. I just figure it out from context. Another thing is that games tend to use a lot of words that aren't even real Japanese words. When I was playing Bleach, I actually took time out to look up "reiatsu" (spirit force) in the dictionary, only to find out that it's not a real word. If you've been studying Japanese for a long time and you come across a word in a game that you don't know, chances are, that word is specific only to that game.
     
  9. ENDscape

    Member ENDscape REBORN! I will post with my Dying Will!!!

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    I swear alot of games is in hiragana or katakana? Then again kanji is also needed.
     
  10. Sendoh

    Member Sendoh GBAtemp Regular

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    Since you know Chinese, there are lots of Chinese patches for games which have been translated by fans. You can just go to any Chinese search engine and search for it. The names are usually tagged with (CN). Titles include Sigma Harmonics, Harvest Moon: Shining Sun and Friends, Tales of Innocence, just to name a few.
     
  11. Raika

    Member Raika uguu

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    [​IMG] too many words. hmm anyway for more text based games you would need more but for games like pokemon you should know what to do [​IMG]
     
  12. CockroachMan

    Member CockroachMan Scribbling around GBATemp's kitchen.

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    Depends.. but I can tell you that Hiragana/Katakana is essential.. most games use more hiragana/katakana then Kanji so kids can play them.
     
  13. daveteee

    Newcomer daveteee Member

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    Just because you know Chinese doesn't necessarily mean you can understand most Japanese words although it will make it easier to learn. Kanji is also just part of the writing system so knowing thousands of them isn't as helpful as you might think it is, you'd still have to know some grammar and vocabulary to understand properly.

    Usually if it's a simple noun or verb then you can guess the meaning of the word if it's written in kanji but it's hard to guess the exact meaning of more complicated and abstract words.

    Also knowing the kana is just as important, since they use it for grammar, verb conjugations and even when there is a kanji for a word it can be written in kana instead, which it normally is in NDS games.

    I really don't know how you find the grammar in both languages similar though, they couldn't be more different. English has more similarities with Chinese grammar than Japanese.

    As for how many words, I would guess having a vocabulary of maybe about 7000-8000 words would allow you to more or less understand what a sentence means without having to look up a new word every sentence.

    How long to learn all that? It could take years or even just 1. It really depends how committed you are and how much you can work on it each day.

    You can learn the kana in 2 days, then my advice would be to study some basic grammar and then just start playing the games you want to play, while looking up grammar and words you don't understand. Eventually you will know enough to the point you will understand most things and guess what words mean from the context.

    It won't be that enjoyable constantly looking up words, but if you're really that motivated to learn then it won't be a problem. I'm not trying to discourage you from learning by telling you this, just warning you that if you don't have the motivation it's not going to be easy. However when you do reach the point where you can read and enjoy something in Japanese it'll be worth it.
     
  14. lalalalala
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    Newcomer lalalalala Advanced Member

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    What would be the more difficult? Learning vocabulary or grammar?
     
  15. MyauChanDesu

    Member MyauChanDesu Kamineko is GOD.

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    I can read hiragana and katakana. I can play a Jap game, but when Kanji comes in, i'll be like... yeah.. can't read this.
     
  16. agentgamma

    Member agentgamma I dont know what to put here

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    Depends.
    If it is a side-scrolling shooter then you don't need to know any japanese.
    If it is something text-heavy like Phoenix Wright then we have a problem
     
  17. nephdj

    Member nephdj GBAtemp Fan

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    Learning japanese is like programming, you have to continue doing it for life to get to the perfect level.
    Its not something u can just do for 3years and be good enough.
     
  18. kikuchiyo

    Member kikuchiyo 大阪に生まれた男

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    Well, if you know Chinese, kanji shouldn't be a huge problem. Common use kanji is about 2,000 well educated people know around 3,000. However, some kanji have different meanings between the two languages (so I've heard - I don't know Chinese). That said, most games are easier than say a novel or something.

    However, Japanese and Chinese grammar are totally different. Chinese grammar is more like English while Japanese is much more like Indian languages (in word order and being able to drop words). I don't know how you'll pick up all the grammar just knowing kanji. It would take a year or two to get enough grammar to get reasonable (but knowing kanji will put you at a great advantage after that).

    Moreover, games are going to have more conversational Japanese (generally speaking). So it's going to be harder to pick up because they don't teach that grammar in textbooks - I've learned it just speaking with people, continuing to hear it and then being able to connect it to things I know (the way Prinnies speak in the Japanese version of Disgaea, for example).

    You appear to speak English so that will help you as well - I take Japanese classes with Chinese people here in Japan and it's interesting to see where we have trouble. The American students and I do really well with words taken in from English (katanaka words and waseigo) but it kills the Chinese students. On the other hand they know kanji at a level that kills us.

    At a college level, 4 semesters of Japanese will probably get you pretty fluent. Kanji is the hardest thing for me and I've been at Japanese language for 4 or 5 years seriously and I can do pretty well with most games, but the kanji makes it hard for me.
     

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