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Japanese Language Study Log: satogaeru

#1
Now that the JLPT is over it is time to lay out plans for 2018 study.  I want to start off the year by working on pronunciation and writing.

Pronunciation
I want to spend the next few months really focusing on pronunciation.  In August I started formally studying pitch accent with an italki tutor, "Japanese Specialist Shuji", but I soon realized two things.  First, I didn't have enough time to devote to it, given my plans to take JLPT - I wasn't able to study much outside of my sessions, and finally had to drop it about a month ago.  Second, my pronunciation needs a LOT of work.  I've developed a number of misconceptions and bad habits over the years and it's going to take some focus to try to correct any of them.  For example, I had no idea the pitch accent pattern of a word affected the pitch of the following particle:

[Image: Waseda-Japanese-Pronunciation-Course-EdX-Review-1.jpg]

My spoken Japanese in no way respects these kinds of rules.  

My pronunciation plan is to resume lessons with Shuji-sensei.  Thought I'm slightly embarrassed at not having studied hard enough for his lessons, I have really enjoyed working with Shuji-sensei so far.  He is very organized and very strict.  I have had problems in the past with Japanese tutors or conversation partners who wouldn't not correct me out of politeness, but Shuji-sensei does not hesitate to correct me when I say something wrong.

I have also signed up for Dogen's Patreon.  So far I think this is a good resource.  At $10/month patronage is cheaper than an italki tutor, and Dogen explains the concepts clearly and helpfully.  The downside is, you don't get that instant feedback.

I plan to spend money on this for a little while, but eventually I'll want to transition to free resources.  Dogen does have a YouTube video with some resources that I have found very helpful.  He starts with the Apple dictionary. I personally don't have a Mac, but the comments explain where the Apple dictionary's comes from, and it turns out that weblio.jp is usable the same way.  Below is the chart Dogen references.  The white circle is the particle.

[Image: oEjxhWU.jpg]
larger image

I have started to update my flashcard deck with the pitch accent numbers, but I am probably going to need to just make a new deck.  I don't have cards for words like 目 or 耳 but those are the kinds of words I'm mis-accenting.

Writing
Writing in Japanese is really frustrating because I'm terrible at it.  It takes me forever to put together even a couple of sentences on how my day went.  I have no enthusiasm for starting to write again.  So, the goal here will be just that: to write one or two sentences a day for the next couple of weeks about how my day went.  This is in the hopes that developing a daily writing habit will help me get over my lack of will to improve my writing.  If this is successful, I will try to gradually work up the length using writing prompts or something.

Where to write?  I was thinking of dusting off my old lang-8 account and doing this there, but I've heard lang-8 essentially stopped allowing new signups.  I wonder how much traffic that site gets these days.

Any better ideas on improving writing?  I'm all ears.
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#2
If you don't feel specially motivated to write, your idea of starting out with a couple of simple sentences each day and making a habit out of it, before any other steps, sounds like the best way to go, if you ask me.

While the writing prompts are an interesting aid, maybe you could find motivation in a different way. For instance, you could incorporate a short, silly game of observation into your daily routine, anything you'd enjoy at least mildly, and then write about it in your daily practice. As an example, if you commute every day, you can look around and find someone looking interesting enough, and then try to figure out what he or she is thinking, where that person is headed, and so on: "That man looks like he has a katana inside his suitcase. He has the air of being fed up with the world. As soon as he'll get to the office, he'll kill his boss for sure. I'll hear about it when I watch the news tonight". Just an idea

Whatever you do, let us know how it goes ;-).

As an aside, I seem to recall from other threads that lang8 isn't accepting new members, but old members can still use it just fine. Don't take my word for it, tho, I never had an account myself.



And now, something way off-topic (and probably pedantic AF ^_^; ):

[tl;dr: marking pitch accent with "0" is wrong, "∞" rules!]

Looking at the chart you posted (which otherwise is a pretty nice visualization tool, thanks for it!) I was reminded of how I never liked people using "zero" to indicate something "isn't happening" (like, in this case, the pitch never dropping) while, mathematically speaking, in some circumstances like the ones at hand the correct concept to mark exactly that should've been the complete opposite: "infinity".

(OTOH, I have to admit almost everyone understands "0" as meaning "not happening", while lots of heads will start smoking at the first sight of an infinity symbol :-D).

(As I just felt like digressing about the mathematical aspects of this, I set aside the obvious historical and legacy reasons for not using "∞", like the evolution of math literacy, the incorporation of occidental mathematical symbols, font printing matters or computer-age character-set incompatibilities, all of which also have a role to play.)

If you were wondering what I really mean, the reason "0" is wrong is it would mean the pitch accent already fell by the time you reach the first syllable (actually, "mora"), i.e. an all-low pitch word.

On the contrary, the reason "∞" is right (or at least better, with an alternative being "n+" or ">n" for words composed of n syllables) is it means the accent, after going up between the first and second syllables (as it's always the case, except for the special pitch "1"), never goes down again after any of the syllables of the word.

Back to the chart, just by looking at it it becomes pretty obvious (or is it just me?) the "0" column belongs to the exact opposite side of the table. The graphs with the dots would then follow a nice progression, and the two opposite degenerate cases ("1" and "∞") would be on both extremes. A finishing touch (if you did some algebra you know exactly what I'm talking about) would be to add a (pseudo-)column with an ellipsis between columns "6" and "∞".

But then I guess it would be really confusing for most people, while being only marginally clearer just for the mathematically inclined Big Grin.
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#3
(2017-12-10, 11:33 pm)faneca Wrote: While the writing prompts are an interesting aid, maybe you could find motivation in a different way. For instance, you could incorporate a short, silly game of observation into your daily routine, anything you'd enjoy at least mildly, and then write about it in your daily practice. As an example, if you commute every day, you can look around and find someone looking interesting enough, and then try to figure out what he or she is thinking, where that person is headed, and so on: "That man looks like he has a katana inside his suitcase. He has the air of being fed up with the world. As soon as he'll get to the office, he'll kill his boss for sure. I'll hear about it when I watch the news tonight". Just an idea.

Ha, that's great!  I work from home so most day I don't see any other living beings but my dogs.  Although I could probably write a whole novel trying to guess what my dogs think that dastardly mailman is up to and why they go nuts every. single. day. when the mail comes.

(2017-12-10, 11:33 pm)faneca Wrote: As an aside, I seem to recall from other threads that lang8 isn't accepting new members, but old members can still use it just fine. Don't take my word for it, tho, I never had an account myself.

So far so good.  I've written twice and looks like there are still people on there.

(2017-12-10, 11:33 pm)faneca Wrote: [tl;dr: marking pitch accent with "0" is wrong, "∞" rules!]

This was really interesting to read.  I work in a very mathematical career but I came to it in a very unconventional way, and I definitely don't consider myself to be a dyed-in-the-wool mathematician.  I am occasionally surprised by certain examples of what my coworkers label as "innumeracy"* (same idea as "illiteracy" except for mathematical concepts), and I bet this would qualify as something that I like but that fundamentally bothers them.  I liked this chart immediately because of its staircase visual pattern - nice clean horizontal and vertical axis progressions.  It never occurred to me to actually look at the zero and evaluate its appropriateness as a pitch accent marker.  I'm reading it as a symbol, not a number.

I'd be really curious to know if my coworkers would react to the zero the same way as you.  Too bad it would probably take too long to explain pitch accent to them.

*For example, the pronunciation of the name deadmau5.  Clearly it's "dead mouse".  But I once mentioned this name in passing to a coworker who was surprised (and I suspect, somewhat displeased) that was the pronunciation.
Edited: 2017-12-11, 12:14 pm
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JapanesePod101
#4
(2017-12-11, 9:39 am)satogaeru Wrote: I work from home so most day I don't see any other living beings but my dogs.  Although I could probably write a whole novel trying to guess what my dogs think that dastardly mailman is up to and why they go nuts every. single. day. when the mail comes.

LOL. That's a book I'd definitely read, specially if written as a "dog's diary" ;-).


(2017-12-11, 9:39 am)satogaeru Wrote:
(2017-12-10, 11:33 pm)faneca Wrote: [tl;dr: marking pitch accent with "0" is wrong, "∞" rules!]

This was really interesting to read.  I work in a very mathematical career but I came to it in a very unconventional way, and I definitely don't consider myself to be a dyed-in-the-wool mathematician.  I am occasionally surprised by certain examples of what my coworkers label as "innumeracy"* (same idea as "illiteracy" except for mathematical concepts), and I bet this would qualify as something that I like but that fundamentally bothers them.  I liked this chart immediately because of its staircase visual pattern - nice clean horizontal and vertical axis progressions.  It never occurred to me to actually look at the zero and evaluate its appropriateness as a pitch accent marker.  I'm reading it as a symbol, not a number.

I'd be really curious to know if my coworkers would react to the zero the same way as you.  Too bad it would probably take too long to explain pitch accent to them.

*For example, the pronunciation of the name deadmau5.  Clearly it's "dead mouse".  But I once mentioned this name in passing to a coworker who was surprised (and I suspect, somewhat displeased) that was the pronunciation.

From the top of my head, I can think of an easier-to-explain example, but it's not as interesting (and you'll lose the diagram!): years ago, my parents had an electric air freshener (man, how I hate those things) that sprinkled its hideous stuff into the air at set intervals. The interval could be chosen by a switch with several positions, like this:
Code:
0    1min   2min   5min  10min  30min
|______|______|______|______|______|
Obviously, the "0" position means "off"... but if you think it though, it makes no sense: the off position, if we are mathematically strict, should be on the other side, and be labeled "∞". See: if we add a bunch of values between the points of the scale, as you move from 1min to zero you'll progressively switch to 45sec, 30sec, 10sec, 1sec, 0.5sec, and so on, so the device will be working more and more frequently accordingly, until you reach 0, where the meaning would be "keep sprinkling your pituitary-killer thing like there's no tomorrow" (or, to put it in a more formal way, "work continuously"). Going to the other side of the spectrum, the contraption would take longer and longer pauses between the "working moments", until the pause is just infinite (i.e. switch off the device).
In this case, I realized the inconsistency because whenever I tried to reduce the aggressiveness of the gadget (but not switch it off completely to not piss off my parents), I moved the switch towards zero, which seemed logical, only to find out the device began to spit more instead of less frequently.
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#5
I managed to write at least two sentences every day except yesterday.  To help things stick better, I am trying to fold whatever corrections I get into a subsequent writing attempt.  This is challenging enough that I'll probably stick to just two or three sentences for a while.

In addition to adding the pitch accent markings to my existing flashcards, I've added about sixty words that I already know (but don't respect the pitch accent for).

e.g.
  • 耳が
  • 鼻が
The former goes low-high-low, but the latter goes low-high-high. Easy words, but I'm never going to keep the accents straight if I don't drill them.

(2017-12-15, 5:24 am)faneca Wrote: From the top of my head, I can think of an easier-to-explain example, but it's not as interesting (and you'll lose the diagram!): years ago, my parents had an electric air freshener (man, how I hate those things) that sprinkled its hideous stuff into the air at set intervals. The interval could be chosen by a switch with several positions, like this:
Code:
0    1min   2min   5min  10min  30min
|______|______|______|______|______|
Obviously, the "0" position means "off"... but if you think it though, it makes no sense: the off position, if we are mathematically strict, should be on the other side, and be labeled "∞". See: if we add a bunch of values between the points of the scale, as you move from 1min to zero you'll progressively switch to 45sec, 30sec, 10sec, 1sec, 0.5sec, and so on, so the device will be working more and more frequently accordingly, until you reach 0, where the meaning would be "keep sprinkling your pituitary-killer thing like there's no tomorrow" (or, to put it in a more formal way, "work continuously"). Going to the other side of the spectrum, the contraption would take longer and longer pauses between the "working moments", until the pause is just infinite (i.e. switch off the device).
In this case, I realized the inconsistency because whenever I tried to reduce the aggressiveness of the gadget (but not switch it off completely to not piss off my parents), I moved the switch towards zero, which seemed logical, only to find out the device began to spit more instead of less frequently.

Eww!  They had one of those in the bathroom at a place I once worked.  You'd be in there minding your own business and suddenly POW can't breathe too fragrant!  I can't imagine voluntarily putting one of those in my house.
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#6
(2017-12-10, 8:22 am)satogaeru Wrote: I want to spend the next few months really focusing on pronunciation.  In August I started formally studying pitch accent with an italki tutor, "Japanese Specialist Shuji"
Would you mind describing how he goes about teaching/correcting pronunciation? I'm pretty sure my accent is awful, but I'm not sure how best to go about fixing it (back when I was doing class lessons they did a bit of trying to demonstrate minimal pairs for pitch accent like the various different 'hashi', but I could never really hear the differences reliably...)
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#7
(2017-12-24, 5:23 pm)pm215 Wrote: Would you mind describing how he goes about teaching/correcting pronunciation? I'm pretty sure my accent is awful, but I'm not sure how best to go about fixing it (back when I was doing class lessons they did a bit of trying to demonstrate minimal pairs for pitch accent like the various different 'hashi', but I could never really hear the differences reliably...)

He goes through Genki.  After establishing some pitch accent terminology (I have since learned that his terminology is an Anglicized version of the actual Japanese terminology, which means one day it'll transfer over to "real life"), he sends worksheets in advance of each Genki section, introducing the pitches for the vocabulary in the section.  We go through the worksheet until he is satisfied with my pronunciation, then drill using Genki itself.  He uses do-re-mi (from music) to describe the relation of the pitches to each other. He moves somewhat quickly and he expects you to review what you have learned outside of lesson.

On a tangent, I do have some thoughts about "hearing" pitch accent, thoughts which I am not at all qualified to have. For example, for the different hashi, I can hear the difference between 橋 and 箸 but 橋 and 端 sound the same to me. But if you put the particle after them, it's easy to distinguish all three of them. My guess is that a Japanese person cannot really hear the difference between 橋 and 端 either, but they know there is a difference and so they think they can hear it. I am basing this guess on what I learned way back in college about American English speakers' conceptualization of ending consonants. If we say "like" by itself with no word after it, we frequently don't say the "k" at all. Same with "light", we often don't ever get around to actually saying the "t"... unless we are thinking about it. Then we carefully pronounce it, because we "know" it's there, and we will swear up and down that we always pronounce it. But you can analyze voice recordings of us and confirm that that's just not true. We think we speak the language differently than we actually speak it. In my opinion that seems to be true for Japanese people as well.

So to take another Japanese example, one common pitch accent pattern is low-high-high-high. 賛成 follows that pattern. But if you listen to the speakers at forvo they are not staying on the same pitch through all the "high" moras. That makes it harder for my ear to hear the difference compared to 先生 which is low-high-high-low. But note! If you listen to those forvo speakers again, there is a difference, clear as day... except... in my experience, the forvo way is not how Japanese seem to actually say 先生 unless they are thinking about it. (If they add the particle, though, it's clear as day again.)

Again, this is all just my highly unqualified opinion. If I were teaching pitch accent, I don't know whether I would teach it any differently from how I'm being taught. It's complicated enough for a non-native adult learner like me, without layering on a bunch of nuances.

In any case, I couldn't form any opinions, even highly unqualified ones, on pitch accent even a few months ago. So I do think Shuji-sensei's lessons are definitely helping me to hear. And maybe even to speak. I'm less sure about that, but like I said, I've accumulated heaps of bad habits along the way and I don't think I'm going to be an easy fix.
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#8
Thanks for the description. I wonder whether it would be possible for a computer to analyse language learner speech to give you immediate feedback on this kind of thing (pitch accent and also other common pronunciation issues like long vowels, not turning two-vowel sequences into a dipthong, and not putting in stress accents). Being able to see a frequency graph or something so I could tell whether I was actually changing the pitch of things seems like it would be helpful. (Also, IIRC pitch accent is *perceived* by native speakers as being a per-mora high/low thing, but that isn't exactly how it's produced if you analyse speech.)
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#9
(2017-12-27, 6:22 am)pm215 Wrote: Thanks for the description. I wonder whether it would be possible for a computer to analyse language learner speech to give you immediate feedback on this kind of thing (pitch accent and also other common pronunciation issues like long vowels, not turning two-vowel sequences into a dipthong, and not putting in stress accents). Being able to see a frequency graph or something so I could tell whether I was actually changing the pitch of things seems like it would be helpful. (Also, IIRC pitch accent is *perceived* by native speakers as being a per-mora high/low thing, but that isn't exactly how it's produced if you analyse speech.)

There was something like this in Rosetta Stone.  It was the only good thing I got out of my free trial of RS, which was otherwise garbage and which I did not pursue.  

Dogen recommends recording yourself daily and listening to it.  I think I might try doing that while shadowing something / someone.  I'm not really a tech enthusiast so I don't know if there's any other software to visually represent speech this way but it seems like it'd be so easy to do that it's probably already out there.

Edit: I should actually update with my study progress on writing, too, shouldn't I? It looks like I've missed four days of writing so far... and that's not technically correct; one of the days, I actually was on Lang-8 responding to a question someone asked me on a previous entry, but answering the question took me an hour so I didn't post a new entry. The person was asking me specifics about how I would like my entries corrected. I wanted to reply in a way that was both polite and precise and I suspect that turned out to be beyond my abilities. Ugh, writing is hard. There's nothing for it but to keep trying, I guess. Hmm. Maybe I need to do a couple of entries just about politeness, to settle those qualms.
Edited: 2017-12-27, 9:47 am
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#10
I was watching Dogen's intro video where he recommended studying tokyo dialect. I live in the Inaka and really enjoy the local hyogen.. I immediately put him in the elitist jerk box when he said I probably sounded like a mushroom farmer. Should I overcome my prejudice and give him another chance I wonder..  

As for writing, This Q and A dairy is a book of daily writing prompts, with examples in japanese and english. It is for english language learners, so you might have to google translate camera app some kanji, but I think its a nice way to have something to write, even if you only change a few words from the example to begin with.
Edited: 2018-01-02, 2:30 am
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#11
(2018-01-02, 2:29 am)m8719705030 Wrote: I was watching Dogen's intro video where he recommended studying tokyo dialect. I live in the Inaka and really enjoy the local hyogen.. I immediately put him in the elitist jerk box when he said I probably sounded like a mushroom farmer. Should I overcome my prejudice and give him another chance I wonder..  

Well, I think you might have misinterpreted what he said.  His segment on this is long and a little rambling, and by the time he gets to the mushroom farmer bit he is not actually talking about studying hyougen; instead he is talking about taking a shortcut to approximate some particular hyougen.

Speaking to your larger point, while I don't know how I would feel about Dogen as a person, I do think that, for the vast majority of his potential audience, he gives good advice regarding dialect.

First, just by living in Japan I think you might have a considerable leg up on many of us. I'm living and studying in the US, starting from somewhere just north of zero on accent study.  In these respects I think I am probably pretty representative of Dogen's audience.  For me, trying to study the particular "non-standard" dialect that interests me would be a fool's errand.  It would be difficult for me to come by materials that were accessible to me, not to mention tutors or even audio input to practice with.

Second, people judge each other based on dialect. In the US, for example, a Tennessee dialect = uneducated. A New York dialect = elitist jerk (to borrow your term). It's a characterization that a person who speaks a dialect may find that they need to overcome - an extra barrier to whatever they are trying to do. If you are from the US we can debate whether that is changing over time, but there's no doubt it's there. It's there in Japan too; some people would say it's worse in Japan. Most of Dogen's audience will frankly be unequipped to understand this context, and he would do them a disservice not to mention it.

But whether you personally would get anything out of his stuff, I don't know. Like I said, you probably have a leg up just from living in Japan. I find it helpful for my situation though.

(2018-01-02, 2:29 am)m8719705030 Wrote: As for writing, This Q and A dairy is a book of daily writing prompts, with examples in japanese and english. It is for english language learners, so you might have to google translate camera app some kanji, but I think its a nice way to have something to write, even if you only change a few words from the example to begin with.

Oh wow, this looks great! It would be even more fantastic to find something like this geared to Japanese learners. I might have to take a look around.



I fell right off the study wagon over New Year's. I did no writing. I studied pronunciation with my tutor as usual but did very little outside pronunciation study. I did read yesterday for tadoku, but tadoku might be one thing too many for me this month. We'll see how it goes.
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#12
(2018-01-02, 7:52 am)satogaeru Wrote: I fell right off the study wagon over New Year's.  I did no writing.  I studied pronunciation with my tutor as usual but did very little outside pronunciation study.  I did read yesterday for tadoku, but tadoku might be one thing too many for me this month.  We'll see how it goes.

It's funny to read this. Last night I got to a good spot in my book and ended up spending wayyy too much time on tadoku.

For writing, I only wrote four days this week. A few of those times, I feel like I was making the same mistakes I made in earlier entries. Embarrassingly basic stuff, too - using に versus で, for example. I am going to try to go back through my recent entries this week and rewrite them correctly to reinforce the grammar points I got confused. I am pleasantly surprised to report that I haven't actually run into too much new vocabulary. There was 爆弾低気圧, of course, but I don't even really understand what a bomb cyclone is in English (other than it's COLD!) so I'm not going to sweat it. Smile

For pitch accent work, I'm still studying with Shuji-sensei, watching Dogen's videos, and adding pronunciations to my existing flashcards. For the former two, we are starting to move off of the pronunciation of individual words and into sentence pronunciation, which feels MUCH easier to me for whatever reason. I have a few books with audio recordings included / available, and I think I will start shadowing the recordings, maybe in February. (But the books themselves were still a little too high-level for me, last I checked - last year sometime.)
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#13
Life is about to get super busy again.  In-laws in town next weekend, business trip the following week, my mom in town the week after that, and then another business trip to kick February off.  On the bright side, I tend to get a lot of flashcard time in on the airplane.  I'll need it.  I'm in flashcard hell.  Again.  It's because, in addition to gradually notating the accent on the existing body of cards, I've been adding in those "easy" words where I keep getting the accent wrong.  E.g. by default I want to say HYAku for 百, instead of hyaKU. I've added dozens of words like that over the past few weeks, and naturally, they have supplanted my normal reviews. I'm back up over 2300 cards waiting review. My love hate relationship with flashcard programs deepens.

...it occurs to me that I'm going to be a funny fellow passenger on the next few flights. Since so many of these cards are for accent and not for meaning, I'll almost certainly be muttering to myself at least some of the time.

Last week I got five lang-8 entries posted. I was planning to go back and correct the ones I've already done, but realized that I can use the plane time to work on that, too. So instead I'm just pulling them down into a document that I can open up on the plane without relying on airport or plane wi-fi.

I'm about two thirds of the way through 闇の守り人, the second book in the 守り人 series. It's astonishing to think that I will almost certainly have finished my second full Japanese novel by the end of the month. Tadoku is the best.
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