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ふしぎの国のアリス

qbicc

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Hello everyone, i recently started learning Japanese and know the meaning of only about 200 kanji yet.
I also started with some grammar aaaand i started reading my first book. It is ふしぎの国のアリス.
Well regarding that book, it would be awesome if i could some help regarding the translation of a certain sentence:
ある はれた 秋の日、アリスは、おねえさんと いっしょに、土手の 木の下で ほんを ぞんていました。
The parts i do not quite get are:
1: ある はれた 秋の日、 why is there a verb at the beginning and the middle of the sentence? To me it seems like the order here is reversed somehow. The first part until the comma is really not clear to me.
2: 土手の 木の下で does this part mean "on a bank under a tree?"
3: ぞんていました I am not really able to break down that verb yet. I guess i am still missing some important grammar. So please break it down for me. I get that よ does mean read and that ました is polite and past tense. But i would have expected something like よみました i don't really get the んでい part.

Sorry but the verb at the end of the sentence is よんでいました and not ぞんでいました. I am German and on the German keyboard y an z are swapped. I'm still trying to get used to that.
 
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Toritoribe

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No offense to you, but the book is too advanced for you yet. You need to learn "modifying clause", "verb conjugation", "-te iru form" or "the way how the possession particle modifies" etc. to interpret the meaning of the sentence.
 

Mike Cash

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One of the most frustrating things about beginning to learn Japanese is that you have to learn a relatively large amount of grammar before you can actually begin to read anything.

At this point, your time would be more productively used learning grammar than kanji.
 

qbicc

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Okay i got that and i will concentrate on grammar more now. I thought it might be a good idea to learn the grammar by reading that book (kinda learning by doing),that's why i tried it in the first place.
Could you give me a translation anyway? Since i tried to figure it out for quite some time now I'm really curious now what it actually means.
 

Mike Cash

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Okay i got that and i will concentrate on grammar more now. I thought it might be a good idea to learn the grammar by reading that book (kinda learning by doing),that's why i tried it in the first place.
Could you give me a translation anyway? Since i tried to figure it out for quite some time now I'm really curious now what it actually means.
One fine autumn day Alice sat with her sister reading a book beneath a tree on the river bank.
 

Majestic

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I'll have a go at answering your questions - but you will probably see very quickly why "learning as you go" is an unproductive way of learning Japanese:

1. In this case, ある doesn't function as a verb, and はれた is used as an adjective modifying 日. Together, the effect is similar to "Once upon a time", only in this case it is "One fine day in Autumn".

2. Yes

3. You have some typos in your sentences: ぞんでいます should be よんでいます. This is kind of clear from the rest of your question, but since it occurs twice it made me wonder if you read the hiragana correctly. Anyway, the ている form of verbs is a popular topic here on this forum. If you search around for it, you will find many threads discussing this. This one might be a help to you, but there are many others

~います/~ています | Japan Forum
 

qbicc

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You have some typos in your sentences: ぞんでいます should be よんでいます. This is kind of clear from the rest of your question, but since it occurs twice it made me wonder if you read the hiragana correctly.
Don't worry about that it is just that when i try to write yo, but hit the z button (since they are swapped on the German keyboard) it becomes zo. If i would have read my reply before hitting the "post reply" button, i would have noticed that error. I will work on reading my stuff before posting it.
I have now actually removed the German keyboard layout completely from my computer so i can get used to "the z button being the y button".

Anyway for the rest of your answer and also for Mike's answer:
ありがとうございます。

I will now focus a lot more on grammar and once i think i got enough and need some examples, i will go back to that book.
 

OoTmaster

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The difference between, 有る(verb): to be, exist, to live etc and 或 (Pre-noun adjectival(can say honestly never heard that one before)): a certain... some..., is one of the many reasons that knowing two words can sound exactly the same and be completely different based on the Kanji. Although both of these are normally written in kana and it's clear from the context which is meant. The important part of that sentence though is that はれた 秋 modifies 日.
 

qbicc

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The difference between, 有る(verb): to be, exist, to live etc and 或 (Pre-noun adjectival(can say honestly never heard that one before)): a certain... some..., is one of the many reasons that knowing two words can sound exactly the same and be completely different based on the Kanji.
So is it generally a bad idea to read a book for kids, where most of the words are written in hiragana on purpose, as a beginner level Japanese student? Or should I just keep going once I am done with my grammar lectures and feel ready to tackle that book again?
 

Mike Cash

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So is it generally a bad idea to read a book for kids, where most of the words are written in hiragana on purpose, as a beginner level Japanese student?
It serves as a wonderful lesson in humility, but that is all.
 

OoTmaster

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So is it generally a bad idea to read a book for kids, where most of the words are written in hiragana on purpose, as a beginner level Japanese student? Or should I just keep going once I am done with my grammar lectures and feel ready to tackle that book again?
I think it would be a good idea to learn quite a bit more grammar and words before attempting to read any books. I will be taking N4 again this year which I barely failed last year. It takes me about an hour to read 10 pages of a manga and understand what I read. This is by no means a dialogue heavy manga either. Learn a lot more then start slow if your goal is to read. May sound insulting but by no means meant as an insult but start with books literally meant for like toddlers and children beginning school.
 

qbicc

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May sound insulting but by no means meant as an insult but start with books literally meant for like toddlers and children beginning school.
Actually ふしぎの国のアリス is a book that was made for kids.At least that's what the shopkeeper I bought it from said. It also looks like one, it is written nearly completely in hiragana and has nice large pictures :)
I think it would be a good idea to learn quite a bit more grammar and words before attempting to read any books.
I consider learning new words by reading a good method, since it feels like I can remember them better when I learn them form applied examples. But I am definitely lacking some grammar, I get that. I thought it would be enough to read through the grammar guide that I'm using, but I noticed that I cannot memorize it that fast. That's why I started again at the beginning and this time I take my time and apply everything before moving on.
Learn a lot more then start slow if your goal is to read.
My goal actually is to move to Japan in about three years, once I'm done with my engineering course at university. I know it is a high goal, but I think 3 years should be fine when I put all my heart into learning the language. I have read more than once already that especially beginners have a hard time keeping themselves motivated, but actually I feel the complete opposite. I tried a lot stuff already in my life, like learning guitar, martial arts, etc. and I could never really get myself motivated for any of that. But this time it is different, it is fun and i actually have to stop myself sometimes to sleep or watch an anime or eat...
Well long story short I want to reach that goal by any means and will keep going till the end.

Sorry for that much to long reply, but I just felt like I need to get that off my chest.
 
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OoTmaster

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Actually ふしぎの国のアリス is a book that was made for kids.At least that's what the shopkeeper I bought it from said. It also looks like one, it is written nearly completely in hiragana and has nice large pictures :)
When I said "books literally meant for like toddlers and children beginning school" I meant books like you would read to your child. Like "see spot run" in or something similar. While the content may be aimed at Japanese children I am sure you would agree that ふしぎの国のアリス is a much more complicated book than a Japanese equivalent of "see spot run".
 

qbicc

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While the content may be aimed at Japanese children I am sure you would agree that ふしぎの国のアリス is a much more complicated book than a Japanese equivalent of "see spot run".
I actually don't know "see spot run", but i can imagine what kind of book it may be. So in the end all I bought was a "complicated book without kanji", from the point of view of a foreigner learning Japanese.
It kinda seems like books like the one i bought have no real benefit for foreigners learning Japanese. Since either you don't know the grammar and the book is kinda unreadable, or you already learned the grammar and are now interested in expanding your vocabulary, in which case a book without kanji has no real benefit either...
 

OoTmaster

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I think it's more important to understand a lot of the grammar behind what you'll be reading. I certainly learn new words from reading manga but I know what function the word has in a sentence even before I look up what that word is because I know the grammar behind the sentence I'm trying to read. I would say trying to read a book in a non-native is a bad way to learn the language but a good supplement to other learning methods once you reach a certain point.
 

qbicc

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I would say trying to read a book in a non-native is a bad way to learn the language but a good supplement to other learning methods once you reach a certain point.
Actually that was exactly the reason for me buying that book. I was already learning kanji and vocabulary everyday (though I have realized that I learned the grammar in the wrong pace) and thought it would be nice to have some examples to apply my knowledge to.
 
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