Inquiry about the Japanese language learning curve

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By Oliver AKA The Admin on 57 comments
in Categories: Just Talking

Hello guys,

I don’t know for you, but I must say I am always terribly frustrated I can’t read japanese, not being able to understand something that looks bloody interesting and promising. For instance, until I cashed out 29$, I had stayed frustrated for 6 or 7 years with a chapter I was dying to understand.
I’m also reacting to a recent comment made in a blog post.

So, this is a question to the knoweledged people, about the time it would take to learn Japanese language in an “hentai mangas” focus, and with what tools or guides. You’re more than welcome to share your opinion in a comment (I can’t promise I’ll reply in details to be frank, but I’ll definitely read it ^^; )… (more details follow)

If I wanted to learn Japanese language,
– in order to be able to understand hentai mangas (I don’t care about having a conversation with a real japanese person, I don’t care about understanding animu either)
– considering I have no opposition to using online tools (I don’t know which, but I know there are such tools),
– considering I am relatively talented in learning languages, including languages with a different alphabet (like Russian) and grammar
– with the limitation I can hardly spend more than 30 minutes per day working on it

Would you have even a very approximate idea of how long it would take me to learn it ?

If that would require a crazy amount of time I’ll just give up (life is full with cool things to do or learn, after all), but who knows ! I risk nothing in asking the opinion of more knoweledged persons :)

Thanks if you share your opinion or links :o

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Elkboy
Elkboy
14 years ago

With only 20 minutes per day, it would probably take years to get to the point where you can fluently read manga. Hentai manga japanese usually isn’t very complicated, but you would still need to reach highschool levels of reading. That takes time.

As for online tools, check out Rikaichan, a plugin for Firefox that translated kanji. JapanesePod101.com have online lessons (some free) that are quite good. You might want to check out jisho.org and jgram.org as well.

24/7 Otaku
24/7 Otaku
14 years ago

I must admit that I am also wondering how long it would take to learn in this, ah, *specific* field of japanese :) As part of my Univeristy course I took an elective for Japanese language but to my lasting regret there was not enough attendees to continue after a few weeks, but I learned a few phrases and how to write the hiragana and katakana tables.
After a final conversation with the teacher I learned that most printed text in Japanese uses Kanji which is a huge load of icons to learn and remember the meanings of. (True some printed texts will have the hiragana equivalents in little type next to the kanji, but these are usually in books aimed at younger readers that will not know the kanji yet). Indeed, the japanese schoolchild is given various sections of kanji to learn at various years of their life, in order to build their read-write knowledge.
I would guess you probably know all this already but I would assume that in order to learn how to “read” the manga like we would a book in our own language would require a learning course similar to that which the children of japan do. However, if you just wish to be able to “translate” then that is a different story :D
As you have said their are tables, resources and the like on the net, and although you will have to know a basic understanding of the language to get most of it, you can look up the meanings of the more difficult kanji from these resources.
I guess this is even more so considering that a lot of written similarities will occur across many hentai (for instance, if you can read the hiragana you can spot “Onii-san”, “Oka-san”, “baka” – and you can guess what “ikuuuu!” means if you have read enough untranslated hentai, just from guessing :D )
As for me, I tried to see if google translate would work by comparing each kanji in the speech bubbles to those in the tables in wikipedia, and copy-pasting them, however it gave very poor results, even though it gave me a very rough idea of what was being said.

On that note, and speaking as someone who cannot read Japanese, nor knows of the proper tools to do so – I find the translator notes that some hentai translations have in side panels and the like very interesting, and some blogs that talk of the specifics and difficulties of translating things accurately have helped me increase my small knowledge of how their language works. I would imagine they are a better authority to speak on it than myself, but I guess the point of this post is for me to say I also share your desire to read Doujin’s, and I dare say a lot of others would be too :)

randomguy passing by
randomguy passing by
14 years ago

I dont Speak Japanese buti think to just learn the Signs(Katakana Hiragana Kanji) you could use the program kanatest(for linux)
which you find here:
http://freshmeat.net/projects/kanatest/
but the language itsself willl be alot more difficult and it will take time

appztetra
appztetra
14 years ago

you should go to a school or something 10 hours per week will be fine ^_^ i’m studying too

C W Price
C W Price
14 years ago

The US Army Language School at Fort Ord California USA over the past 50 years has been teaching specialized troops many different languages. They ranked them in terms of difficulty in the number of months it would take to make you really fluent in a language. The various romance languages, Spanish, Italian etc (French, too, I think) took about 6 to 8 months of eight hours a day seven days a week study and practice. Mandarin Chinese took 33 months. Japanese was slightly less than that only because the pronuciations of the spoken language are a bit less challenging.

Anonymous
Anonymous
14 years ago

Definitely take years, u will need to understand at least “minna no nihongo” (book 1 and 2) and “nihongo: Chuukyuu kara manabu”‘s grammar to at least understand anime, u will automatically learn hentai manga jargon on the way of understanding the minna no nihongo, plus from self-experiment, by reading RAW manga or watching anime…

Dust
Dust
14 years ago

Hentai with scenario have complex dialogues so there wont be a hentai-focus learning except you just want to knows words such as “i’m cuming” or “you’re so big”.
It will take years, gentlemans. Speaking Japanese isn’t all that hard and the grammars are easy but the characters are a pain in the ass, it’ll take a hell lot of efforts to learn to read .I dont know how much time or effort you’re willing to put in but it will probaly be 2->4 years untill you see decent results of your work

Consent Fan
Consent Fan
14 years ago

Do not even try to learn Japanese. I can not make this point any clearer, it along with Chinese, Korean (various other asian character based languages) and Farsi are among the hardest (commonly spoken) languages to learn. I myself attempted to learn Japanese over a period of 6 months while in Japan and was hopelessly frustrated by their usage and interminlging of 3 different alphabets and most importantly of all-different grammar structure.

Unlike western languages Japanese is Subject Object Verb whereas Western languages are Subject Verb Object. So whereas in English we would say “I saw the dog” in Japanese it would become “I the Dog saw”, this may not seem like such a hard thing to wrap your head around-but trust me, it is.

qw3rt
qw3rt
14 years ago

the other posters have a valid point , i myself am bilingual in english and chinese. even then i’m half fucked when it comes to chinese.

the character languages are tricky to learn mostly on the point in the grammar and the way the words are written. a small change here and there can result in a different meaning.

since your not planning on actually talking to a person , i suppose you could eliminate one hard part which is the pronunciation.

the characters each have a certain trait , meaning a certain symbol will 95% of the time have the same \topic\ association so to speak.

but with half an hour a day at most…i personally reckon it’ll take too long for you to learn. relatively speaking anyway, your going to be looking at a few years. then again , no harm trying. if u have the knack for languages , who knows =)

i plan to but haven’t started learning jap yet. but i find at least i can read somewhat due to similarities with chinese.

TheyCallMeTomu
TheyCallMeTomu
14 years ago

Yessssss Oliver, listen to we, the naysayers. Be consumed by your despair, and abandon all hope of learning!

Okay, in all seriousness, I took Japanese for 3 years in High School and a year and a half in college. Granted, I could have studied more and paid more attention, but fuck that, right? Still, the only thing that’s stuck is the basic pronounciation patterns of Japanese (so at least I can shout out special attack names) and a few words that are very common in anime (Ike! Bakayarou! Omae wa mou, shinderu)

It’s not theoretically impossible to learn Japanese, no. But it’ll require monumental amounts of effort, including physical resources. But the number one thing you’ll need is persistence. If you slacken your pursuit of justice, you shall be burned by the sword of valor. And whatnot.

Elkboy
Elkboy
14 years ago

I disagree with Consent Fan. Japanese isn’t such a tricky language to learn. Hiragana and katakana aren’t difficult at all. Kanji is tedious, sure, but there are nifty ways to learn the basics and then there are dictionaries for the rest. Japanese grammar is pretty simple, at least to begin with. There’s for example only two irregular verbs. Compare that to the verb nightmare of French. :)

Teaching yourself any language without a teacher or a native to speak with is tough. You really should try an evening class or something, at least to get started. Then go live in Japan for a while. :)

entropy13
entropy13
14 years ago

Sorry Oliver, but besides the languages you’ve learned to speak before you turned 7, and the languages taught to you before you turned 21 (basically up to around university age), any new language you’re trying to learn will be a difficult learning curve. Difficult but not impossible. With much patience and effort you’ll get to learn Japanese (or any other language for that matter).

entropy13
entropy13
14 years ago

Oh and something to add, French really sounds nice, but I found it quite difficult to speak it fluently…6 units (taking classes 2x for 3 hours in total per week for each semester, two times) was enough for me.

Dust
Dust
14 years ago

@qw3rt : i dont think pronunciation is that hard, actually Japanese is the easiest language to speak, at least in my case. English Pronunciation is more tricky in certain situations

dvda
dvda
14 years ago

Learning Japanese for 30 minutes a day? It will be years until you know the language well enough to hold a conversation, unless you are EXTREMELY adept at learning new languages.

Learning spoken Japanese isn’t the worst, once you can wrap your head around subject object verb. Your pronunciation will suck, but as far as I can tell, you don’t really care about that. Spoken Japanese is probably easier than the romance languages, which have all sorts of weird grammatical rules. Example would be English, which has a grammar or writing rule, then a rule regarding exceptions to the first rule, then a whole list of exceptions to that.

Learning to read Japanese is a screaming bitch. Katakana and Hiragana are easy enough, but there are literally thousands of Kanji. Hell, even the Japanese don’t always get the Kanji right. And yet, Kanji is by far more commonly used than Hiragana or Katakana. And while its true that some of the mangas and books aimed at younger readers may contain Hiragana transliterations of the more complex Kanji, there’s no way in hell that hentai manga bothers, as they’re ostensibly aimed at adults.

Oh, and you’re pretty much screwed if they use slang.

Ryu
Ryu
14 years ago

Hmm it will take some time to learn to read Japanese. I am trying to teach myself and speaking it seems to be the easy part. I use the books from Tuttle and Genki,they have some free lessons and info at genki.japantimes.co.jp and it is real simple to understand. I also think it helps to watch the movies and videos with the Jap and romanji subs added in. that way you can match up the symbols with a word you understand.

But I agree with everyone else on one point it is going to take some time and patience. It all depends on how much you want to do it. Good luck

Ryu
Ryu
14 years ago

Okay I thought that would show up as a link but it didn’t so I am going to try again. I hope this helps out. http://genki.japantimes.co.jp

VorodinD
VorodinD
14 years ago

Sometimes I think it’s a good thing not to be able to read Kanji. I’d probably be disappointed.

This is hentai we’re talking about after all. If you read ‘western’ erotic comics (with a similar number of ‘sex frames’ / page), you will not be impressed by the dialog. It gets in the way. Unless there’s a decent screenplay (== less nooky), knowing what is said does not add much (except when it’s sexy of course).

I’ve noticed that when I re-‘read’ some issues
by Yamatogawa (which I own in both Japanese and English, thank you forever Icarus Publishing!),
they don’t REALLY make the story more exciting.
Or more logical.

You can however learn the hiragana for AAAAAAAAh!
in a surprisingly short time. When there’s a long row of the same symbols, and when the girl’s yelling them at the appropriate time, THAT is
the hiragana for A. This concludes your first lesson.

I only find the names of the authors and the title of the issue really interesting (for finding out more about a particular author/circle).

(Real) names are even more difficult in Japanese. There is a set of Kanji that is almost exclusively used for names (although circles usually choose simpler names).

thedarkness
thedarkness
14 years ago

I’ve had 3 yrs of Japanese in high school and one year of Japanese in college, and I still can’t understand untranslated manga without a LOT of help. Personally, I use a program called WaKan (which is free: http://wakan.manga.cz/) that you can use to not only look up words you don’t know (using romaji), but you can also do kanji lookup based on stroke number, radicals, etc.

After you learn the hiragana and katakana (about 50 chars in each set) you can use the program to do basic lookup. Basic understanding of Japanese grammar helps, too.

IMO, the best way to learn the kana is to make flashcards, study them, and write out the chart over, and over, and over, and over…

In my college class we had to learn katakana and hiragana in two weeks, but that was with a 50 min class 5 days a week.

Anyhow, hope this helps.

thedarkness
thedarkness
14 years ago

Sorry, got the parenthesis caught in the link. For your convenience it’s:

http://wakan.manga.cz/

RareHero
RareHero
14 years ago

To chime in, Japanese isn’t hard, it is rather easy. Having taken French in highschool, I’d say Japanese is easier.

For reading hiragana and katakana, it just takes practice. 20-30min a day transcribing something like song lyrics in phonetic Japanese will help you learn it in no time. I learned it without use of software.

Kanji is time consuming, not hard. Once you understand how things are made up, and have decent vocabulary, it become rote memorization. Use flashcards, or the program Anki.

Pimsleur is great for structure/grammar. Get it from a library or pirate it if you don’t to pay.

Ultimately, you need to set a goal and work at a pace, EVERYDAY, to get to that goal. H-Manga literate in 1 year would be a challenge, but not impossible, H-Manga in two, more than doable if you are devoted.

firath
firath
14 years ago

i dunno about working on it at only 30 min a day but if you try to take a class it would be simple to learn the basics

the best way to learn would prolly be to learn japanese in romanji then try to associate the romanji with the various kanji(mostly used for words), hiragana(mostly used for grammatical things but sometimes used for words), and katakana(used for non-japanese words)

which would be a tedious time consuming process but it shouldn’t be too hard

the most difficult part of learning it is the fact that there are over 2000 kanji that exist

rabite
rabite
14 years ago

I must agree with Ryu that Genki (http://genki.japantimes.co.jp/) ist definitely the best for normal learning of Japanese.
The best online course for me is http://www.mangolanguages.com/, but that is actually too much based on actually speaking (and not even free any more) that it could be best for you.

For what you want to archive it might be best to first learn hiragana and katakana (not only for the very important sounds as moaning and such :)).

For the Kanji there is this book:
Remembering the Kanji, by James W. Heisig
In my opinion it might make any further learning after what you want more problematic and therefore i don’t use it but it might just be what you want

Alexandre
Alexandre
14 years ago
Flood
Flood
14 years ago

I think some of the comments above have slightly overstated the difficulty while others have dramatically understated it.

I will tell you this: I have been studying Japanese for 5 years and I still have a lot of trouble reading manga. Often it is easier for me to read real literature. Why? Well, the answer’s simple really–manga is full of slang, colloquialisms, contractions, and, by far the worst of all, DIFFERENT DIALECTS! Example:

Shiranai (“I don’t know”) in eastern Japan becomes shirahen in western Japan. And then, putting dialects aside, if the characters are speaking in a pseudo-classical style, it might become shiranu or shirazu–that probably won’t be much of an issue in hentai manga, but you never know.

In short, because the Japanese language developed in almost complete cultural isolation from the West, it will take you years to acquire the necessary knowledge–both of the writing system, which is very difficult, and the culture–to translate manga with ease.

nyaest
nyaest
14 years ago

J’ai un ami qui parle japonais mais qui ne s’interesse qu’au jeu ( quel gachis -.- )

Que tu veuilles lire un H un manga ou autre ça reviendra au même de toute façon.

Pour commencer c’est plus simple de comprendre le japonais à l’oral qu’à l’écrit donc tu ne peux pas vraiment prendre les parties qui t’interesse surtout que un kanji peut avoir plusieurs sens et ça c’est celon le contexte, les deux gros obstacles imo c’est surtout les kanji et les formations des phrases, si tu comprends comment se forme les phrases comment marche la politesse -> t’as déjà un truc en moin sur les épaules.

les kanji y’a pas de secret c’est la mémoire et le dico, si tu lis beaucoup et que t’as une bonne mémoire je pense qu’en 2 ans tu pourras lire n’importe quoi en japonais.

( PS : si tu as une expérience dans les langues chinoises ( les kanji viennent de là bas même si ils sont pas tout à fait pareil en jap ) tu as déjà un gros avantage. )

Jankull
Jankull
14 years ago

Like I said, I can translate hentai doujins, but I can’t read japanese.

I only decipher the symbols and rewrite them on some nice website translators. Then, with those random chains of words, (they’re often out of context or grammatically wrong) and a lot of logic and sexuallimagination, I put them in the bubbles.
But it’s more like a 90% accurate translation. And some eastern jokes needs to be replaced with something we can laugh at. But it is possible to translate like this, just requires some knowledge of common japanese expressionsand a lot of patience. (some authors write so badly you can’t read the kanjis…)

The biggest advantage with this method is the free choice of words, you can pick the most arousing one for yourself. For example: “suck my cock bitch” or “give me a blowjob right now”. You pick the one you love the most. You can also replace the taboo like “come fuck your mommy” by “come fuck your teacher” if you’re not into incest. (and also change the 15years old by 18 if you prefer)

Everyone can do it, not a the same speed, but practice makes it easier.

But frankly I prefer the faketrad.
You take a one shot of a non-translated manga, you clean it, and you fill the bubble with your imagination. Try it and you’ll be surprised how much you can get horny with it. :)

Kaeruu
Kaeruu
14 years ago

I think learning Japanese really depends on two things:

1. The material you use for learning it.

2. Your ability and fervor in understanding.

30 minutes would take you a long while. Generally for all languages, the normal route is listening-speaking-reading-writing. Your desire would be on the third tier. Personally, I learned the first two in about 2 months, 45 minutes a day (Sundays off). I’d say in about a year, you could learn up to reading, and in two you could be a fluent speaker/reader. Writing is another thing; it requires getting used to physically writing symbols. You don’t need writing per se when it comes to manga translation, right?

My source of info here is myself. I translate manga spoilers (the RAW versions) for forums (like OneManga).

Yuyuko
Yuyuko
14 years ago

Well, I have learned Japanese myself in University and High School and certainly it is significantly different than most European languages. Aside from Hiragana and Katakana, it is also necessary to learn Kanji which is prevalant in most H-manga because they expect older people/adults to read it (you won’t find children’s H-Manga lolz).

The grammar structure is very different than English, and certainly even with proper tuition my proficiency is only around JLPT (Japanese Language Proficency Test) Level 3 even after studying it for 4 years. So yeah, prepare for a long journey ahead.

Basically, I would recommend that you try to pull up old copies of JLPT and use it to gauge your skill. If you can do Level 1, then you would be as proficient as a normal Japanese person (completed High School). For Manga reading, I would think that you would do fine with Level 2 (once you get some particular vocabulary memorized, H-Manga plots don’t go very far anyways).

Just my 2 cents.

darknight
14 years ago

I’d also suggest using genki to learn the basic grammar, vocab, kana, some kanji, etc. It’s straightforward and gives you a lot of easy exercises to work through.

in terms of online tools, Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC (http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1C) is probably the most useful online kanji/dicitonary resource out there, it’s pretty much where everyone else online gets their englishjapanese dictionaries from, not to mention it has about 5 mirrors, meaning it’s never ever going to be unavailable.

but in general, once you’ve got the grammar and whatnot, your most useful online tools are an online multi-radical kanji search and an online dictionary. type those terms into google and test out some different ones to find which one’s interface works for you. (WWWJDIC has both functions, but there are other interfaces out there using the same dictionaries and whatnot, I generally use http://tangorin.com/mr-kanji to find kanji I’m not familiar with myself.)

also be aware that most hentai involves slang/alternative spellings/etc. (things like ねー=ない, onomatopoeia, and so on) so even once you’re done learning the basics, it’ll take some time to get used to reading them.

Ryoushi
Ryoushi
14 years ago

As a native French speaker, the grammatical issues should be relatively easy to overcome (Japanese actually has a pattern similar to German in that German is also basically a subject object verb language beyond the use of simple past or present tenses) Japanese also use suffix/prefix markers to show grammatical meaning (whether a noun a subject or object, etc…) The biggest problems are learning the writing system, and Japanese’s unfortunate tendency to by rather idiomatic, like English. Native speakers I talked to say to have a decent level of literacy you need to know around 2000 Kanji, better than Chinese but still a lot. The idiomatic part shows up in double doses, both as spoken, and as written. That is take an imaginary word – tokawaha. Depending on how you break apart that string of syllables, you could have a half a dozen completely different Kanji, complete with different meanings, that ‘sound’ the same. In other words, my imaginary word could mean ‘little flower’ written with one kanji or set of kanji, and the same group of syllables with a different kanji could mean ‘bright light’. See the final chapter of “A Boys’ Empire on page 14 about this problem, where the child of Makoto and Hitomi will be named Makoto, but whereas the elder Makoto’s name means ‘faithful’ the younger’s, written with different kanji will mean ‘truth’ In other words, meaning is dependent upon the type of kanji used and the context in which it is used, much like English or Arabic.

In other words, spoken Japanese is probably MUCH easier to learn than written Japanese, and both will take several years. But, being a fluent speaker of TWO languages already should give you a big leg up, as your brain is already used to two different modes of thinking and expressing thought.

Jesy Blue
Jesy Blue
14 years ago

my girl studied japanese for 2 years in high school, majored in it for 4 years of ivy league college graduating with a BA in Japanese Culture & History and then went to teach english to japanese children for a year in japan; her original dream was to translate books into english.

after all this time, she has pretty much given up on this route because she realized she will be well into her 40’s before she is competent enough to be allowed to translate properly and quickly enough to be a professional. the speaking part is MUCH easier than the reading part and the speaking part is a nightmare!

i’m not trying to discourage you, but i just want you to know what you would be getting into.

Steve
Steve
14 years ago

I second this website: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/start.html

Everything up to until the fourth or so section of \Essential Grammar\ isn’t too hard.

BlaZ
BlaZ
14 years ago

Salut Oliver,

Je peux te faire part de mon expérience, je suis de langue maternelle française et j’ai décidé il y a qlq années d’apprendre le japonais.

Comme dit ds d’autres messages, l’oral est bien plus facile que l’écrit, mais il ne faut pas que cela devienne un obstacle. Les 80 hiragana et katakana sont assez simple a apprendre, tu sauras donc prononcer tous les mots (tu as surement du remarquer que les kanjis sont souvent “surtitrés” en hiragana) mais tu ne comprendras pas forcément leurs sens.

Avec 30mn de boulot par jour, je pense qu’il te faudra dans les 2 semaines pour apprendre toutes les prononciations et les hiragana. Ensuite il faudra te concentrer sur les kanjis spécifiques au Hentai et les apprendre gentiment par coeur, dans leurs différentes utilisation possibles. Je dirais qu’avec un travail régulier, tu pourras plus ou moins comprendre le Hentai en 4-6 mois.

dross
dross
14 years ago

My personal learning experience has been much more laid back, and it took me about 4 years to the point that I could read untranslated stuff (including on this site) the way I would the translated. If you’re doing 30 minutes a day and you’ve got the polyglot thing going for you, Japanese while different is not especially difficult. You’re time budget seems a little tight, but since you have a self professed affinity, it might not be so bad: the language itself is the difficult part, relatively speaking, and not the writing system. But even then, Japanese is nowhere as hard as what you’d believe from all the horror stories about it: frankly, I think if I had to learn French, it’d actually be significantly harder: Japanese’s grammar and writing are both extremely regular, the sound system is dead simple, and kanji is not the all consuming satanic fire of 2000 pictures once you’ve actually sat down with it. I don’t know what time frame you’re considering, but as long as you’re willing to put in a reasonable few years I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t be done. I don’t know that that helps or not, but either way good luck in your decision.

Schaden
Schaden
14 years ago

Let’s see where to start? Japanese is, well it’s different, very different, it’s hard but it’s also not something that can be learned in an afternoon, much less a few years. As for myself, I’ve been hacking away at it for the last seven or so years, in an on/off, formal/casual manner and I know enough to realize that I know almost nothing. However, my Japanese is, more-or-less, at the level where I need it to be so that I can play through a game or read a comic and not be completely lost. The point being is that you should focus your efforts on the reason you want to learn Japanese and not and learning Japanese as a whole. If you start from the very beginning and work your way up to where you want it to be it will take a very long time. If your willing to skip ahead a bit and forgo some comprehension you can, at the very least, start to understand what’s in front of you. Yes, this is a a horrible way to learn a language; yes, you won’t be able to understand even the most basic and fundamental elements of a the language; however, you can at least make some headway in the direction you want and not be discouraged that you can’t understand what you want.

My personal advice, if you want to read than start by learning Kana. It isn’t nearly as hard as it might first seem and can easily be picked up in a month or so. Starting with hiragana might a little more practical as it’s used for everything not in kanji or katakana but unless you have the vocab to back it up it won’t do much good. Conversely, starting with hiragana is a method to picking up some vocab, as to whether or not it’s a good method, well….

A simple lesson plan for learning hiragana, start with the five vowels. Practice writing them for a week and each week move on to the next set (it’s a consonant, vowel combo after the solo vowels) while practicing what you learned in the past week. It’ll take some time but you’ll be able to read and write hiragana which is an important first step. You can wiki “Kana” and get the information you need to start your studies as well as a bunch of extra information you don’t really need.

As for resources, http://smart.fm/ is a sort of online Rosetta Stone, I’ve played with it, never really used it.

Yue
Yue
14 years ago

Ok Oliver if you want to learn Japanese.
you only need one things it’s commitment.
because if you only need it to read manga you only need to know hiragana & katakana + about 1500 kanji.
don’t let the numbers fool you. it really isn’t that much. and if you only really want to read only Hentai I even suggest you to remembering only the words like pussy = omanko, tits = chikubi, love = ai/suki, etc. windows to have IME UI which can help you search for the kanji if you don’t what it’s. it at control panel -> language.
so yes Japanese belong to the harder part but not as hard as chinese believe me. even chinese not that hard. I know cause I speak English, Chinese, and a little Japanese.

Robster
Robster
14 years ago

Ok, Oli, lemme tell you something: if the purpose is simply to read, not to speak nor write, then there are 2 problems: reading Kanji and learning vocabulary.

Kanas (katakana and hiragana)can be fully memorized in less than a week. All you need to do is read the letters, memorize, pull a pice of paper, and rewrite them again and again. That’s what I did and I memorized all in 3 days.

Kanjis in hentai are NOT given kana translations, that is because hentai is considered for adults, thus the use of kana is deemed pointless. This is where the real problem lies, during the 6 years of elementary school Japanese are required to memorize 1008 kanji letters. Each kanji letter has up to 2 different ways of reading it. After that there are about 1400 more to learn up to highschool student level.

True, there are dialects in Japan, but most of the time they use Tokyo dialect which is the most common one.

Grammar isnt hard, it’s like, there’s a -nai form (means not…) or -itta form (the same as past tense i English) of the same word. As for vocabulary, the only way to master it is by experience.

Overall, to be honest, if you want to read a manga then the learning curve isn’t bad at all, but if you want to read something that requires mastery of kanji (that includes hentai), then it’ll be tough as hell. Even as a Chinese speaking person myself, I say it’s tough.

Killdozer
Killdozer
14 years ago

After taking 3 years of Spanish and 1 year of Japanese with English being my first language, I would say the easiest of the two to pick up was Japanese. The basic stuff I had learned was easier to put together than spanish, and spanish has a lot of tenses that get realllllly mangled. In terms of the characters, flash cards can help if you’re down with that, and if you look at it this way, you learn the basic english alphabet and then you learn cursive, and it’s easy to view hirigana and katakana in the same way. Even some of my Japanese friends struggle with Kanji, and after awhile you just kinda figure it out.

I will say it will be difficult without an actual teacher/sensei, but if all you want is to be able to read hentai, and since A LOT of the plot lines are similar, you will find dialog easier and easier to make out. Good luck on your endeavor, once you get a taste I’m sure you will want more.

Kaeruu
Kaeruu
14 years ago

You don’t need a specific course per se to understand Hentai’s special “grammar”. Normal learning of Japanese would do. Let’s say you read normal Japanese and then encounter words Hentai manga that you can’t understand. Mostly context clues would give good results for translation. Others require a little getting used to (I mean, getting to repeatedly read one phrase in a lot of mangas and by comparing the events of each manga you get to say: Oh, so that’s what it meant.)

laurenth
laurenth
14 years ago

I’ve been learning japanese on and off for ~1.5 years now and I’ve recently found out a few interesting websites and plugins (ff):
Kanji:
http://kanji.koohii.com/
http://ichi2.net/anki/ (super useful, with different plugins for different usages)
Online dictionary:
http://www.saiga-jp.com/kanji_dictionary.html
http://linear.mv.com/cgi-bin/j-e/sjis/dict
ff plugin:
http://moji.mozdev.org/ (both words and individual kanjis, damn useful)

Hope that helps.

Ryoushi
Ryoushi
14 years ago

As laurenth posted, the are a lot of websites that teach basic Kanji. Remember though, translator plugins can do weird things (especially if the language is highly idiomatic, like Japanese) and meaning in Japanese, both written and spoken is highly contextual – that is you can’t just translate word by word, you need to grasp whole phrases, since word by word translations will give you a literal meaning, but not the real intended meaning.

Nevertheless, I wish you luck and as I said before, as someone who already moves comfortably between two languages, a third will not be as hard to learn as a second.

N00N3
N00N3
14 years ago

If you had the knowledge of Kanji (Hanji in Chinese) first-hand (like Written Chinese, or Written Korean Hanja, or the obsolete Written Sino-Vietnamese Language, then it would be less of a hassle. But spending 1/2 an hour would require a tremendous effort and lots of time to master the language, even if you had talent, and would require quite some time to learn it. Speaking the language does help a lot when you are trying to master the language, so pick up a buddy that will help you speak the language (If you can).

muffing
muffing
14 years ago

Even Japanese people have more difficulty learning written Japanese than those of us who live in countries with phonetically based written languages. Learning to speak Japanese is quite difficult; I spent three and a half months there in 1979 and picked up quite a lot, but it was hard because who you are talking to can be a more important part of speech than the content of the sentence.

The aramaic alphabet we use in most lagnuages consists of a mere 26 characters. There are thousands of characters to lean in classical Japanese writing.

muffing

ghostmage
ghostmage
14 years ago

Ok, this is not as hard as most people here are making it out to be. At least it wasn’t for me. A year and a half of study of both writing and speaking and I could read most type bubbles that pop up in hentai manga as well as most shounen manga. Furigana helps a whole lot. But for the most part there are only a 1000 kanji that you need to be familiar with on a decent level. All others so rarely pop up that a site like jisho.org can be used to find the kanji or word you need. And don’t worry about handwritten Japanese; after 2 years of study and 4 months in country I still can’t read it.

The basic necessities:

1 Learn hiragana and katakana to death. You should be able to read it in your sleep.

2 Learn the grammar. It helps if use all of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. You’ll remember better that way.

3 Learn the First 500 basic kanji. It helps to learn meanings first and then the sounds of the character.

Then practice with simple manga and hentai until you get better while skipping the heavy descriptive bubbles (ie. explanations of shounen physics or history).

Nohbdy
Nohbdy
14 years ago

lol, to be honest i can’t believe how many words i have learned from watching hentai.
A few are, brother, sister, and stop! ;P

Moose1223
Moose1223
14 years ago

If you’re older than 21, it usually takes 3 to 5 years to learn how to speak a language (though you’ll never reach the language level a native speaker has). However, since you won’t be speaking but reading, you’ll learn japanese in about 2 years. Their writing system is extremely complex (in my opinion) and you’ll need to get acquainted with the basic vocabulary; so it’s not going to be easy. I’d say Russian is a piece of cake compared to Japanese.

A note of hope: You will never spend only 20 minutes a day learning Japanese. You might only learn things by heart for 20 minutes, but you’ll steadily be trying to think in japanese as well. Which means you’ll be spending 24 hours a day on Japanese :p

Tjodolf
Tjodolf
14 years ago

I don’t know about hentai, but I read Dr Slump, a pretty funny manga, after a year of studying on my own. That wasn’t so difficult. Get a self-study book and a dictionary, you’ll be able to figure out most of the basic plot of the mangas you want to read (nearly) right away. Learning more is more difficult, of course.

chuboo
chuboo
14 years ago

I have been learning Japanese for four years now and I will tell you now, it is not easy. You must be incredibly determined to learn it with daily practice or its not going to do you any good. There are three different sets of characters Kanji, Katakana, and Hiragana. Knowing all of these characters( at least 1000 characters or more) and understanding them in one sentence is extremely hard. But I don’t know. Maybe if you just learn Boob, Penis, and Vagina in Japanese, you’ll be a bit satisfied. the rest is scenario :)