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Learning Kanji from a Math Person's Viewpoint

#1
Hey everyone. I make a Facebook page in which we learn Kanji from a viewpoint of a mathematic graduate cause I am one myself. It's all in Indonesian, though. Here is the page:
https://facebook.com/ShuugakuHitoKaraKanjiNiNarau/
This is the first image which I uploaded there:
[Image: 17992338_1249539205166478_58060928785978...e=59865DA7]
The Kanji for 1, 2, and 3 are similar to their Roman numeral (I, II, and III) rotated 90 degrees (一, 二 and 三).
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#2
(2017-04-30, 1:26 am)Monox D. I-Fly Wrote: Hey everyone. I make a Facebook page in which we learn Kanji from a viewpoint of a mathematic graduate cause I am one myself. It's all in Indonesian, though. Here is the page:
https://facebook.com/ShuugakuHitoKaraKanjiNiNarau/
This is the first image which I uploaded there:
[Image: 17992338_1249539205166478_58060928785978...e=59865DA7]
The Kanji for 1, 2, and 3 are similar to their Roman numeral (I, II, and III) rotated 90 degrees (一, 二 and 三).

Learning the kanji for 1, 2, 3 is .... about the easiest task ever, for anyone, regardless of their native language since it's, y'know, 1 stroke, 2 strokes, 3 strokes. I hardly think anyone needs a web page to teach them that.
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#3
(2017-04-30, 1:26 am)Monox D. I-Fly Wrote: Hey everyone. I make a Facebook page in which we learn Kanji from a viewpoint of a mathematic graduate cause I am one myself. It's all in Indonesian, though. Here is the page:
https://facebook.com/ShuugakuHitoKaraKanjiNiNarau/
This is the first image which I uploaded there:
[Image: 17992338_1249539205166478_58060928785978...e=59865DA7]
The Kanji for 1, 2, and 3 are similar to their Roman numeral (I, II, and III) rotated 90 degrees (一, 二 and 三).
Actually, thinking that is misleading, since the strokes for "two" and "three" are of different length, unlike their "rotated" counterparts the Roman numbers. Wink
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JapanesePod101
#4
Hit up some numerology in that decode. Use the force, Luke.
Crampin' up your own style with that numerical pop and lock.
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#5
Learning the kanji isn't the problem.  Acquiring vocabulary is the problem.
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#6
I may be wrong about this but I think the upward facing pentacle is the star of David and the downward one is satanic.
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#7
The Star of David is a 6-point star.
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#8
Had a look.

First things first, I don't understand Indonesian at all, so there are parts where I don't know what's going on. But please allow me to express some criticism (in the hopes it won't be too harsh): while the use of some ad hoc rules seems inevitable for any system trying to categorize kanji [1], your method so far seems like a big compilation of such improvised, special case rules with no further structure. I hope I'm wrong but, if that's the case, from a mathematical point of view I still prefer Heisig's method by several orders of magnitude, as it is a lot more structured than yours (hence, to me, the application of disciplines such topology, ordered sets, taxonomy, Boolean algebra, etc. to the whole kanji set is made a lot easier though a classification method like his).

I don't mean to discourage you from this endeavor: by any means, if it's fun, keep doing it ;-)...
But when we talk about a number of items as high as 2200 (as the bare minimum), a whole lot of structure is needed, as the human memory is as limited as it is. So you'd likely want to give some thoughts to the method as a whole before the number of "rules" gets so out of proportion that you no longer can put them in your memory.


Notes:
[1] For instance, Heisig uses more or less the same analogy to teach you the first three numbers (一、二、三)
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#9
(2017-04-30, 4:53 am)Splatted Wrote: I may be wrong about this but I think the upward facing pentacle is the star of David and the downward one is satanic.

The 5-pointed star is a pentagram, and has been used as a symbol for various things by various cultures for a very long time, sometimes pointing up and sometimes down, mostly with positive associations of balance and/or protection. As far as I'm aware the 'evil' or 'satanic' nature of the inverted pentagram is an invention of 19th century occultists, and wikipedia shows a similar timeline.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentagram#...gnificance

The 'pentacle' in modern speech usually refers to a pentagram with a circle drawn around it which is used also by a variety of religions. Modern Pagans and Wiccans use this symbol a lot, but so do some branches of Christianity as well as other religions. Modern satanists do in fact use an inverted encircled pentagram with a goat's head superimposed on it, and while they also use the plain inverted pentacle, that's not exclusive to them.

Pentacle can also simply be a synonym for pentagram, or it can refer to any manner of disks or seals with spiritual or magical symbols on them, but that's mostly only of concern to occultists.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentacle
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#10
(2017-04-30, 3:52 am)phil321 Wrote: Learning the kanji isn't the problem.  Acquiring vocabulary is the problem.

Expanding your vocabulary is trivial. For most learners, Kanji is definitely the problem.
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#11
(2017-05-03, 12:47 am)totalxxxtotal Wrote:
(2017-04-30, 3:52 am)phil321 Wrote: Learning the kanji isn't the problem.  Acquiring vocabulary is the problem.

Expanding your vocabulary is trivial. For most learners, Kanji is definitely the problem.

To be fair, both probably are problems. But which one is bigger? I like Tae Kim's perspective: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/blog/2014...arn-kanji/
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#12
(2017-04-30, 7:23 pm)faneca Wrote: Had a look.

First things first, I don't understand Indonesian at all, so there are parts where I don't know what's going on. But please allow me to express some criticism (in the hopes it won't be too harsh): while the use of some ad hoc rules seems inevitable for any system trying to categorize kanji [1], your method so far seems like a big compilation of such improvised, special case rules with no further structure. I hope I'm wrong but, if that's the case, from a mathematical point of view I still prefer Heisig's method by several orders of magnitude, as it is a lot more structured than yours (hence, to me, the application of disciplines such topology, ordered sets, taxonomy, Boolean algebra, etc. to the whole kanji set is made a lot easier though a classification method like his).

I don't mean to discourage you from this endeavor: by any means, if it's fun, keep doing it ;-)...
But when we talk about a number of items as high as 2200 (as the bare minimum), a whole lot of structure is needed, as the human memory is as limited as it is. So you'd likely want to give some thoughts to the method as a whole before the number of "rules" gets so out of proportion that you no longer can put them in your memory.


Notes:
[1] For instance, Heisig uses more or less the same analogy to teach you the first three numbers (一、二、三)
Thanks for the criticism. It's fun, so I will keep doing it. Also, reading you guys' comments made me glad since it shows that you guys actually visited the page instead of just sticking to the first example. I've put some new Kanjis there at the beginning of this month.
Edited: 2017-05-03, 9:50 am
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#13
(2017-05-03, 8:11 am)Askola Wrote:
(2017-05-03, 12:47 am)totalxxxtotal Wrote:
(2017-04-30, 3:52 am)phil321 Wrote: Learning the kanji isn't the problem.  Acquiring vocabulary is the problem.

Expanding your vocabulary is trivial. For most learners, Kanji is definitely the problem.

To be fair, both probably are problems. But which one is bigger? I like Tae Kim's perspective: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/blog/2014...arn-kanji/

As I've said in the past, if I could magically have a vocabulary of 30,000 Japanese words purely phonetically in return for giving up my knowledge of kanji, and then re-learning all the kanji, I would gladly accept the offer.

I did RTK1 ages ago and I remember all the keywords quite well but remembering Japanese words is a continuing struggle for me.
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#14
(2017-05-03, 11:03 am)phil321 Wrote: As I've said in the past, if I could magically have a vocabulary of 30,000 Japanese words purely phonetically in return for giving up my knowledge of kanji, and then re-learning all the kanji, I would gladly accept the offer.

Acquiring vocabulary in context, once you can understand most of everyday spoken Japanese, is trivial. In fact it's trivial even before that, as long as you can find materials that are appropriate for your level.

Trying to just memorize 30,000 words, in isolation, obviously isn't. But why would you want to? It would be a waste of time. It's not like 30,000 words would get you any closer to getting a grasp on everyday conversations, than one or two thousand would.

You should just quit measuring your Japanese knowledge in how many words you know altogether. It's the wrong unit of measurement. Measure it in what you understand: Can you count to ten? Can you understand various greetings and pleasantries? Can you understand someone asking for directions? Can you describe the things in your room? Do you understand a kids' story? Could you serve a Japanese customer, if you were a clerk or waiter? Do you understand Yotsubato! ? Do you understand a shounen manga? Do you understand a variety show? Do you understand a easy anime? Etc., etc.

Whichever level you're stuck at, I suggest moving on to the next easiest level, instead of trying to memorize vocabulary that's 50 levels above it.

What sets Japanese apart from other languages, and makes learning it non-trivial for someone who has learned a foreign language with ease before (by taking things one level at a time), is the Kanji. It's a pain in the neck to tell them apart, it's a pain in the neck to learn compounds, and, while I'm yet to try it, I'm sure it's a pain in the neck to write them too.
Edited: 2017-05-03, 3:36 pm
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#15
(2017-05-03, 3:18 pm)Stansfield123 Wrote: [...], and, while I'm yet to try it, I'm sure it's a pain in the neck to write them too.

I'm in the middle of learning to write the kanji after learning to recognize them years ago and getting a decent grasp on understanding written and spoken Japanese. It's not as bad as you'd think; it's certainly worse than learning the kana, just from the number of them, but it's a lot easier to remember them now that I have a whole bunch of words associated with them.

I'm doing them at about ten new cards per day. I'm sure others could do it quicker, but I really don't like doing a lot of kanji reviews in a day, since they take so much longer than vocab cards: I'd rather do something other than Anki reviews all day.
You could probably make due with just being able to write a thousand or so off the top of your head (assuming you even need to write in the first place), but I figured I might as well go for all of the jouyou kanji, and just learn any others as I go.
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#16
(2017-05-03, 4:17 pm)sholum Wrote: I'd rather do something other than Anki reviews all day.

Sad
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#17
Learning vocabulary is harder than learning kanji...consider that Japanese school children can already speak the language and have a huge vocabulary before they start formally learning kanji.  If you can already speak the language I imagine it's not a big deal learning the kanji that represent what you already know how to say.

For people who are not native speakers we're trying to learn both at once which is a lot harder.
Edited: 2017-05-04, 6:15 am
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#18
(2017-05-04, 6:15 am)phil321 Wrote: If you can already speak the language I imagine it's not a big deal learning the kanji that represent what you already know how to say.

It actually is. Natives generally have trouble with kanji: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJNxPRBvRQg
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#19
I just remember that the reason I promoted that page here was to explain its content in English. Let's start with numbers. First thing first, learning Kanji has made me change the way I draw a square:
[Image: 18118765_1249540185166380_91112913739001...e=598846D3]
Now let's talk about the next numbers:
[Image: 18118881_1249541268499605_46505942539296...e=5984A605]
The Kanji for 4 (四) has a square (regular QUADRIlateral), one FOURth of a circle, and one FOURth of a square.
[Image: 18118542_1251459234974475_89043982937229...e=59BE249D]
The Kanji for 5 (五) has 5 lines, although line 3 and line 4 are actually 1 stroke, so this Kanji has only 4 strokes. Weird? Not quite. In mathematic we have also something similar like Γ(5) = 4!.
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#20
(2017-05-04, 6:15 am)phil321 Wrote: Learning vocabulary is harder than learning kanji...consider that Japanese school children can already speak the language and have a huge vocabulary before they start formally learning kanji.  If you can already speak the language I imagine it's not a big deal learning the kanji that represent what you already know how to say.

For people who are not native speakers we're trying to learn both at once which is a lot harder.

The Japanese schoolchildren explanation is never a good indication for how easy/hard learning something will be for adults learning Japanese as a second or third language.  It's just different when you can already communicate and are likely learning Japanese outside of Japan.
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#21
(2017-05-04, 12:36 pm)yogert909 Wrote:
(2017-05-04, 6:15 am)phil321 Wrote: Learning vocabulary is harder than learning kanji...consider that Japanese school children can already speak the language and have a huge vocabulary before they start formally learning kanji.  If you can already speak the language I imagine it's not a big deal learning the kanji that represent what you already know how to say.

For people who are not native speakers we're trying to learn both at once which is a lot harder.

The Japanese schoolchildren explanation is never a good indication for how easy/hard learning something will be for adults learning Japanese as a second or third language.  It's just different when you can already communicate and are likely learning Japanese outside of Japan.

I guess I must be a unique individual then...for me, kanji=easy (meaning my recall of the RTK1 keyword); vocabulary=hard.  In fact sometimes I "learn" a new Sino-Japanese compound on Monday, on Tuesday I've already forgotten what the compound means (though I can remember the keywords for the two kanji that form the compound).
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#22
(2017-05-04, 3:02 pm)phil321 Wrote: I guess I must be a unique individual then...for me, kanji=easy (meaning my recall of the RTK1 keyword); vocabulary=hard.  In fact sometimes I "learn" a new Sino-Japanese compound on Monday, on Tuesday I've already forgotten what the compound means (though I can remember the keywords for the two kanji that form the compound).

You should notice I didn't say you are wrong. Just that what's true for Japanese school children isn't necessarily true for L2 adults. Your personal experience is a much stronger argument.

However, maybe I'm the outlier, but my experience is that vocabulary is easier for me to remember long term than kanji. The median card in my rtk deck has roughly twice the number of reviews as the median card in a vocabulary deck of similar vintage. It seems I can remember kanji well for a few days or weeks, but they don't stick well. So I'm failing a lot of mature cards. It's the opposite for vocabulary - I forget a lot at the beginning, but once it's remembered it tends to stay remembered much more than kanji.
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#23
(2017-05-04, 6:15 am)phil321 Wrote: Learning vocabulary is harder than learning kanji...consider that Japanese school children can already speak the language and have a huge vocabulary before they start formally learning kanji. 

So your point is that learning "vocabulary" (again, that's a terribly misleading way to say "learning spoken Japanese") is so hard that a five year old can do it?

(2017-05-04, 3:02 pm)phil321 Wrote: I guess I must be a unique individual then...for me, kanji=easy (meaning my recall of the RTK1 keyword); vocabulary=hard.

There are two possible explanations:
1. your mind is unique and entirely different from everyone else's
2. you're doing it wrong (probably by trying to memorize words in isolation, guessing from you calling it "learning vocabulary" instead of "learning spoken Japanese").

I'm going with no. 2.
Edited: 2017-05-04, 5:28 pm
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#24
Now, now. This is the reversed 666 pentagram, which looks like the Kanji for 6 (六):
[Image: 18056930_1251463678307364_52303399688667...e=5989B0C7]
This one only works for Indonesian because the Indonesian word for "seven" is "tujuh" which starts with a "t", shaped like the Kanji 七. Alternatively, the Kanji looks like the number 7 rotated 180 degrees:
[Image: 18157813_1251466148307117_67879175149985...e=597F942F]
For the Kanji 八 (8), most Indonesians are Muslims and most Muslims here were taught to read numbers in Arabic script in  their childhood. For 8, it is ٨. Just break the middle and bend it. Alternatively, you can imagine it as a broken Mobius strip.
[Image: 18193814_1254750414645357_35045590719426...e=598A63CC]
For 九 (nine), I hadn't got any idea, so I just followed Smart Kanji Book's suggestion to think it as a pictogram of the letter "n":
[Image: 18199340_1254766364643762_85425880201051...e=59B7BDBD]
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