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Joyo kanji

eeky

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I think it's quite widely acknowledged that the Joyo kanji list contains some characters that are pretty useless for learners, and omits others that one really ought to know. Does anyone know of a reliable list of the (for learners) useless Joyo characters and, I suppose more importantly, the most common, useful non-Joyo ones?
 

FinancialWar

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I concur, there are a lot of useless joyo kanji in kenken level pre 2 and 2, and some of the more use common ones are classified as jinmeiyo kanji.

Yes, I have both lists, useless joyo kanji and useful non joyo kanji list but they are accumulation of my blood and sweat for my goal of kanken test, so I won't publish publicly. However, I'll tell you that so far there are about 300 of the jinmeiyo kanji I find useful and about 80 non-joyo, non-jinmeiyo I find useful and and about 40 joyo kanji near useless, and I define useless kanji as those kanji that only are only use in fauna or flora or in location names or other things that have history Japanese values.

I still classify joyo kanji with only one compound combination as useful such as 摯 in 真摯, 迭 in 更迭 or 稽 in 稽古 (kanji compound found in 研究者新和英大辞典, obviously, there are more combination found in more comprehensive 国語辞典 such as 三省堂, 広辞苑 etc, but these vocabulary are rarely used). And there are a lot of these one trick pony joyo kanji.
 

Morphling

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They have revised the 常用漢字 list recently and now they got rid of stuff like 匁 and put in beauties like 鬱. Even the one hit wonders like 真摯 is included.

I think the new list is pretty good. Just stick to it really. I haven't found any thing too useless in there. Although after much debate, they still left 障碍 as 障害. Very lazy, just like 知恵 should be 智慧 and 編集 is really 編輯.

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/kyoiku/special/joyokanji/img/kaitei20101130.pdf
 

nekojita

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It shouldn't really come as a surprise that a government-created list is conservative and some inclusions are there for political/educational reasons not "common usage". 朕 is in there because all the kanji which are in the 日本国憲法 were brought into the toyo and thus into the joyo. I suppose there is an argument for trying to ensure that high school kids learn to read such things - less so second language learners.

Long before you ever hit the end of the joyo list you should stop learning from lists, and go by what comes up in the sort of things you want to read. There's loads of non-joyo kanji which are common if you read cooking/gourmet stuff, but not otherwise - seriously, 醤油のショウ is still non-joyo. The same goes for any specialist subject.

If you want an example of an alternate list, there is the 新聞常用漢字表 (used by several major companies)

From wikipedia, the five additions to the new joyo list which are on the 新聞常用漢字表:
磯(いそ) 絆(きずな) 哨(ショウ) 疹(シン) 胚(ハイ)
The seven joyo kanji that newspapers who use this list don't use:
虞 且 遵 但 朕 附 又
Additional readings for kanji on the list:
証(あか-す) 鶏(とり) 虹(コウ)

Individual companies may adjust further, some only a little, some quite a lot. These, for example, are the 66 kanji which are joyo but which 朝日新聞 treats as "non-joyo" according to wikipedia
挨 曖 畏 彙 咽 鬱 畝 謁 艶 虞 苛 劾 蓋 顎 且 毀 僅 憬 梗 喉 傲 刹 拶 恣 摯 璽 羞 遵 凄 脊 羨 詮 箋 塑 遡 唾 堆 戴 但 綻 緻 嫡 捗 朕 椎 塡 貪 氾 汎 罷 膝 肘 附 訃 蔽 貌 昧 又 冶 瘍 沃 辣 濫 慄 弄 麓

And the 18 non-joyo they treat as joyo:
磯(いそ) 炒(いた-める) 笠(かさ) 絆(きずな) 杭(くい) 釘(くぎ) 栗(くり) 捧(ささ-げる) 獅(シ) 哨(ショウ) 疹(シン) 蘇(ソ) 竪(たて) 杖(つえ) 辻(つじ) 扮(フン) 牢(ロウ) 禄(ロク)

The funniest thing about this list is that every time I see it I am surprised anew that 栗 is non-joyo. It's so simple, and delicious!

Since the kanken has been brought up, you could look at what kanji are included in 3級・4級, which ask for a subset of the joyo (but more than the education kanji). Up to 3級 covers something like 1600 kanji. Try this pdf
 
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nekojita

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That would be seriously impressive - I haven't ever taken it for real but I sometimes play on Kanken DS if I feel like frustrating myself (my handwriting is awful). The synonym/antonym section is the worst.
 

Morphling

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畿呉附朕 just to name a few...

I fail to see how these are useless. People living in 近畿地方 and 三国志 enthusiasts are outraged and you'd have trouble finding a kimono shop.

漢検2級's character count is pretty tame but the 呉音 唐音 漢音 combinations is seriously bonkers.
 

nekojita

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But I'm not a 三国志 enthusiast, I'm a 和菓子 nerd. Can we just make a deal that I won't insist they need to know 餡 and 羹 and they won't insist that I don't have to know 呉?

(There was clearly not enough foodie input into the new joyo list. Where do I lodge my complaint? :p )

There is a large gap between "completely useless" and "vital for everyone to learn", and a large chunk of the joyo falls into that grey area. In other words 'tis neither necessary nor sufficient, for the simple reason that anything labelled "one size fits all" actually means "one size doesn't really fit anybody, but it's less work".
 

Morphling

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Well 2000 characters is not a lot and I'd say 99% is pretty much essential. But you are right in that it's not enough.

As a Japanese learner, just learn what you need and use the list as a guide. However of you want to pass JLPT or 漢検2, they stick to that list so you have no choice.

But yes the whole list is silly but the fact they use it to restrict people's names is also pretty screwy.
 

eeky

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I may have touched on this somewhere in another thread, but I'm a bit bemused at how many non-Joyo characters appear in ハリー・ポッターと賢者の石. If these characters are ordinary enough to appear in a book at this reading level, and moreover usually describing fairly ordinary concepts such as 叩く, 掻く, etc., one wonders how they haven't made it onto the list.
 

FinancialWar

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The folks at kanjidamage only cover 1760 that they find useful. Kanji Listing | KANJIDAMAGE
I'm not advanced enough to judge how successful their selection is

1. He thinks radicals don't have any meanings and are equivalent to letters in English.

2. there are 2136 joyo kanji, he cut out 100 and left with 1760 kanji? How does the math work here?

3. He only find 1760 or so useful? How did a non-joyo 姦 (rape) made into his list and yet he cut out more than 400 other joyo kanji? Gives you an idea the kind of material this guy is into....

The site is basically a plagiarism of "remember the kanji" and a koohii. A lot of different materials you can readily find on the internet and mixed up together into which he calls his kanjidamage method.
 
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RickNZ

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1. He thinks radicals don't have any meanings and are equivalent to letters in English.
I think you only read the first two sentences of Kanji Facts | KANJIDAMAGE, if you read the whole thing, his point seems to be that most radicals don't give you a useful indication of the meaning of the word often enough to be useful. He lists 39 that he thinks *are* worth knowing for their meaning. If the others don't help, may as well just think of them like letters. kanji symbols, meaning of kanji, left-side radicals - SYMBOLIC | KANJIDAMAGE.
One thing I'm curious about... before you edited your post, your first point was that you wanted to know what qualifications the guy behind kanjidamage had,
and pointed out the Heisig has a PhD. I guess you probably looked into it further and realised that Heisig's PhD is in philosophy of religion and he has (
as far anyone can tell), no formal qualifications relevant to teaching kanji. Now that you know this, do you think less of Heisig or his method?
As I understand it, Heisig is a guy who learned Japanese as part of his "day job", and came up with a method that worked well for him and he published it so
other people could benefit from it if it worked for them. Isn't this likely what the kanjidamage guy is doing?
2. there are 2136 joyo kanji, he cut out 100 and left with 1760 kanji? How does the math work here?
He says he cut "over 100 kanji". Last time I checked, 376 is over 100. But that site has been around since before the latest additions to the Joyo list ( says copyright 2009-2012), I'd guess he wrote that when there were 1945 Joyo kanji, which was up until late 2010. 1945-1760 = 185. Which I believe is also over 100...
3. He only find 1760 or so useful? How did a non-joyo ナ?ツュ (rape) made into his list and yet he cut out more than 400 other joyo kanji? Gives you an idea the kind of material this guy is into....
I can only assume you're joking here, because if you're really saying that if someone teaches that a word exists it's proof that
they're "into that kind of material", then that is probably the most ludicrous ad hominem I've ever heard. You should probably call the cops immediately on the editors of Webster's and the Oxford English Dictionary, you wouldn't believe the range of sick and illegal things those freaks are into!
In fact, he tags that as a "dangerous" word, as defined here Offensive, Embarrassing, and Vulgar Kanji - ABU | KANJIDAMAGE . Seems to me like he's sensibly pointing out these words exist and you should know to be wary of them.
The site is basically a plagiarism of "remember the kanji" and a koohii. A lot of different materials you can readily find on the internet and mixed up together into which he calls his kanjidamage method.
Really? As far as I can tell the only similarity between Heisig and Kanjidamage is they both use mnemonic stories. Kanjidamage's mnemonics try to be silly in order to be memorable, they mostly revolve around crude humour, slang and 80s pop culture references. Is there a lot of that in Heisig? Can you give an exmaple of something you think Kanjidamage plagiarised?
I haven't tried koohii but from the looks of it, it seems to be a flashcard spaced-repetition system, which Kanjidamage is not. I don't see the relevance?
 

FinancialWar

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I would probably call the cops if editors of Webster's or Oxford released a dictionary of 1700 most important English words that included "rape".

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the kanji 姦, but if someone give that kanji priority over 400 other joyo kanji jinmeiyo or non-joyo.
 

nekojita

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I may have touched on this somewhere in another thread, but I'm a bit bemused at how many non-Joyo characters appear in ハリー・ポッターと賢者の石. If these characters are ordinary enough to appear in a book at this reading level, and moreover usually describing fairly ordinary concepts such as 叩く, 掻く, etc., one wonders how they haven't made it onto the list.

I presume they were furiganaed in Harry Potter (shut up, Firefox, that is so a word), though 叩 is one of those "I kinda assumed that was joyo already, isn't it?" kanji. I'm guessing 掻 didn't hit the commonness threshold (and isn't in a prefecture name). While it is a common concept, writing 汗をかく is pretty usual. One of the criteria was whether or not people were using it/thought it important to know - not that something should be common use, but that it already was and therefore should be taught/could be used as such in official contexts. All the additions to the joyo were arguably in common use before they were "common use".

There are practical considerations to adding kanji to the joyo list - one, if they're on the joyo list they have to be taught in high school (reading and writing) and are useable on entrance exams (currently being phased in - 2015 exams are the first to use the new list). Two, anything in the joyo is legally usable as a name, which is apparently why 癌 still hasn't made it.

You may be interested in this list of the 85 kanji at one point considered for the new joyo but which were later removed:
叩 噓 噂 濡 笠 嬉 朋 覗 撫 溜 鷹 揃 頷 摑 翔 喋 嚙 洩 禄 栗 馴 駕 鴨 淵 駿 蘭 胡 蘇 狼 蝶 搔 惚 蒼 腿 菩 吊 雀 樽 壺 祀 卿 歪 棲 磯 桶 鷲 媚 寵 秤 套 醬 疼 賤 顚 糊 誼 截 綬 庄 毅 揆 躇 躊 憐 狽 萌 撥 謳 蔓 捏 饉 倦 屛 恍 斡 膠 疇 謗 乖 誹 蒙 聘 憚 哨 諜

In the early stages there was also a suggestion of splitting the list to have the "準常用漢字" which would have been kanji for which it was only required to be able to read them.

I will reiterate: it's not really the sheer number you "know" that matters; think depth, not just breadth. There's a reason the pass rate for the higher levels of 漢検 is so low. Rather than forcing themselves studying every single last one of the joyo, many people would be better off increasing their vocab/deepening knowledge of the more common joyo and common non-joyo (for a personalised definition of common).
 

Morphling

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The reason Harry Potter uses none joyo is really because in the literary world, nobody cares about some government sanctioned list.

Also the average educated Japanese knows far more than the dinky 2000. Even if they don't go to university, the average high schooler is exposed to 古文・漢文 which can't function on 2000.

Nobody learning Chinese gets all obsessed over the 2500 常用漢字 list there (yes not much more than the Japanese one but again not enough). It's only relevant if you must pass JLPT, 漢検 etc. So instead of obsessing over some list, just learn it according to your circumstance.

Btw 常用漢字 came from 当用漢字 which the original intent is to get rid of Kanji altogether post war. Well that didn't work, not the first time they tried either.
 

Glenn

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叩 噓 噂 濡 笠 嬉 朋 覗 撫 溜 鷹 揃 頷 摑 翔 喋 嚙 洩 禄 栗 馴 駕 鴨 淵 駿 蘭 胡 蘇 狼 蝶 搔 惚 蒼 腿 菩 吊 雀 樽 壺 祀 卿 歪 棲 磯 桶 鷲 媚 寵 秤 套 醬 疼 賤 顚 糊 誼 截 綬 庄 毅 揆 躇 躊 憐 狽 萌 撥 謳 蔓 捏 饉 倦 屛 恍 斡 膠 疇 謗 乖 誹 蒙 聘 憚 哨 諜

Aww, no 恍惚 or 誹謗中傷? 疼痛 is also out? And what of 漏洩, 摑む, 頷く, 溜まる...?...

I find it hard to believe, as you said earlier, that 噂, 嘘, and 嬉 (seriously?) aren't 常用. And 笠? What about 小笠原諸島? :( I'd already known that 鷹 wasn't going to make it, even though that town lobbied so hard to get it in there. Makes sense 鷲 wouldn't be either. Let's be fair to the birds of prey, but 梟 wasn't even considered? Hmm... Also, 雀 was considered but 燕 was not? Where were the ornithologists when this discussion was going on?

Anyway, that was a fun exercise. I find it odd that half a word is there but the other isn't, though. That's right -- I'm talking about 饑饉 (飢饉). I'm bummed I blanked on 疇, but then again, I'm not sure I ever really learned it. I'm kind of half and half with the readings anyway. For instance, I only know 媚 as こぶる, and can't remember the 訓読み of 倦, only 倦怠, and that the meaning is similar to 飽きる (I think...). I guess that's not all bad, though.
 

Glenn

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Oh, and my take on the whole 常用漢字 thing is that they shouldn't have an official list as such, and they especially shouldn't call it 常用. I feel like having a list taught in school should be enough. It's like how there's a list of vocabulary that we learned in school up until grade 12, but it's not like there's a list of words that can be used in newspapers and can't, and what substitutions should be made. I get that it's not 100% the same thing, but it's similar enough in my opinion.
 

eeky

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So instead of obsessing over some list, just learn it according to your circumstance.
The comments that I have posted hardly amount to "obsessing".

I am generally not keen on rote learning or learning from lists. Where kanji are concerned I make an exception. When I hit a kanji in a printed book that I don't know, it takes me forever to draw it in my IME widget, find the right character, and copy and paste it into a dictionary. Multiply that by the number of kanji per sentence that I wouldn't remember if I hadn't learnt them by rote, and every sentence would take me about five minutes to decode. For me, learning the Joyo kanji by rote has been a massive benefit. I don't care that it's specifically "Joyo kanji" or not, just as long as it's a list of the common characters in everyday use.
 

eeky

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I presume they were furiganaed in Harry Potter
Mostly, yes, but not always. 叩く is one I remember that isn't (at least, not after the first couple of instances maybe).

You may be interested in this list of the 85 kanji at one point considered for the new joyo but which were later removed:
叩 噓 噂 濡 笠 嬉 朋 覗 撫 溜 鷹 揃 頷 摑 翔 喋 嚙 洩 禄 栗 馴 駕 鴨 淵 駿 蘭 胡 蘇 狼 蝶 搔 惚 蒼 腿 菩 吊 雀 樽 壺 祀 卿 歪 棲 磯 桶 鷲 媚 寵 秤 套 醬 疼 賤 顚 糊 誼 截 綬 庄 毅 揆 躇 躊 憐 狽 萌 撥 謳 蔓 捏 饉 倦 屛 恍 斡 膠 疇 謗 乖 誹 蒙 聘 憚 哨 諜
Thanks for that.
 

Glenn

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Speaking of furigana, I find that a lot of times its use is a bit... puzzling. It'll be on some (I think) fairly common word, and then suddenly up comes something whose reading isn't obvious (to me), and the reader is left to their own devices. I've been frustrated by this many times, perhaps as many as words that could have been written in kanji, but weren't for some reason, and left me confused as to the meaning and even how to parse the words. There's a really good example of this in my head; I just can't seem to extract it at the moment. Lots of times it'll be words that start with は and come after a particle (にはたらく instead of に働く, for example), or there'll be a が hanging out that could either be part of a word, or the subject marker. Sometimes I don't get how either of those stylistic choices are made.
 

Morphling

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Nice joke there. average educated Japanese can't pass Kanken 2 even if their live defended on it.

They don't need to pass 漢検 to graduate. They do need to read 学而時習之、不亦説乎 or ありがたきもの。舅にほめらるる婿 to get good marks as part of 国語. Something 漢検 is not going to help you to do.
 

FinancialWar

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They don't need to pass 漢検 to graduate. They do need to read 学而時習之、不亦説乎 to get good marks as part of 国語. Something 漢検 is not going to help you to do.

Neither do they know " far more than the dinky 2000".
 
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