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Write or not to write, that is the question

Sultan

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So, so far I've been trying and writing as part of learning kanji / Japanese. They say it's useful for memorizing kanji. Today, when looking up some word / kanji on jisho.org, I saw some note "wanikani #10" or so. I went to this site, and they say (WaniKani — Log in
Will I learn to handwrite kanji and vocabulary with WaniKani?
We don’t require or encourage any focus on handwriting. Although handwriting is fine and dandy, and does help some people with memory and retention, we don’t believe that it is necessary. The pros of dropping it outweigh the cons.

First, all that time you spend on learning to handwrite (it doubles or triples the time you spend on each kanji) could be spent learning to read double or triple the amount of kanji and vocabulary. That’s very valuable time.

Second, people don’t write by hand much anymore. We would say it’s good to come back around and learn to handwrite after you’ve learned how to read the kanji, but it’s not a big priority until then. Ninety-nine percent of your interactions with kanji will be reading or typing, not handwriting. Hence, writing by hand is put on the back burner.

You can feel free to study writing if you like, but it will slow you down on WaniKani, prevent you from reading Japanese sooner, and make your hand get all crampy.

Why don’t you provide stroke orders?
We want people to think in terms of radicals, not strokes. Also, we don’t cover handwriting. Therefore, stroke order guides actually get in the way of learning in this case. We want to get rid of anything that might make someone think of the kanji as a set of individual strokes, instead of a few convenient radicals.

Plus, kanji stroke order is better learned by utilizing a set of standard rules that you can apply to all kanji.
To sum up, at which points specifically is it important to learn writing? If I learn how to type it, and if instead of spending time on learning how to write I spend it on other things like reading or other, what do I lose? Is it not faster to omit writing? Is it rational to write 土曜日 not type? I had been spending some days without training vocabulary and recently I stopped studying book to make up for vocabulary. I use Anki programme for this purpose.
 

Mike Cash

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Do whatever you like. I thoroughly disagree with WaniKani, though.

Tell us....in your country what would you think of people who could type your native language but couldn't write it by hand?
 

Sultan

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Do whatever you like. I thoroughly disagree with WaniKani, though.

Tell us....in your country what would you think of people who could type your native language but couldn't write it by hand?
Not really sure. I don't really know any/many foreigners in my country. I can't agree with that comparison though, because my main language is Russian, where typing and writing doesn't differ much except there's such thing as handwriting and no auto-correct/spelling hints. So people just make mistakes, even when typing though. It's hard to imagine someone to know how to type but no how to write in languages like Russian or English, isn't it. Asian languages are different in that sense, right?
 

lanthas

 
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It depends on how serious you are about learning the language. If it's about moving to Japan to spend the rest of your life there, then sure, it would be useful to be able to handwrite kanji (then again, people survive there even without knowing *any* Japanese). Not to mention it would help you read others' handwriting.

If on the other hand you're only planning to visit it a couple of times as a tourist, or not even doing that and only getting in contact with Japanese people/content via the internet, I personally don't see the point. It's like you said - there are thousands of kanji vs tens of Latin/Cyrillic characters, so the learning effort can't really be compared.

Learning to read kanji is already plenty of work on its own and (in my experience) does not require any handwriting practice. I learned to read by radical breakdown and mnemonics, then reading practice to the point that I now no longer need the mnemonics. As a result I can read 無 just fine but I couldn't tell you how many vertical strokes it has if you asked. Of course this would be totally unacceptable for a native Japanese; but I am not Japanese, nor will I ever move there or get a Japanese partner, so I'm fine with that.
 
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Sultan

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It depends on how serious you are about learning the language. If it's about moving to Japan to spend the rest of your life there, then sure, it would be useful to be able to handwrite kanji (then again, people survive there even without knowing *any* Japanese). Not to mention it would help you read others' handwriting.

If on the other hand you're only planning to visit it a couple of times as a tourist, or not even doing that and only getting in contact with Japanese people/content via the internet, I personally don't see the point. It's like you said - there are thousands of kanji vs tens of Latin/Cyrillic characters, so the learning effort can't really be compared.

Learning to read kanji is already plenty of work on its own and (in my experience) does not require any handwriting practice. I learned to read by radical breakdown and mnemonics, then reading practice to the point that I now no longer need the mnemonics. As a result I can read 無 just fine but I couldn't tell you how many vertical strokes it has if you asked. Of course this would be totally unacceptable for a native Japanese; but I am not Japanese, nor will I ever move there or get a Japanese partner, so I'm fine with that.
I don't think it's necessary to learn how many there are strokes in a kanji however much you write, but in other things I can see your point )
 

lanthas

 
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I simply meant to say that, from a native's point of view, I have rather shallow knowledge of the details of each character. I can't write, let alone describe, any kanji apart from 一, 二 and 三. And yet, I can read 纏める (21-stroke kanji for "to summarize", the irony) without any problem.

I guess it's like people having a hard time to draw a bicycle.
 
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KyonNeko

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That's exactly what I've been thinking!
I think that learning vocabulary/grammar/reading the kanjis are way more important than learning to write all of the kanjis because the other things are much more useful for me than handwriting.
Once I'll learn all of the things which are necessary for reading and speaking Japanese I'll learn to write as well.
 

madphysicist

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If you're really sure you don't want to go to Japan for an extended period of time then it's true you're unlikely to need to handwrite anything, and I admit my ability to handwrite is fairly low compared to my overall ability because I generally just don't need it. But some kanji are so close to each other it can be hard to even notice that they're different if you haven't bothered to learn how the radicals are written e.g. 特 and 持

My suggestion is at the very least you learn to write hiragana, katakana and the most basic kanji and radicals. That way at least you can copy things out if you suddenly have to fill in a form or write a postcard or something like that.
 

Majestic

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I don't think it's necessary to learn how many there are strokes in a kanji however much you write, but in other things I can see your point )
Stroke count is one of the ways, if not the main way, to look up kanji in a Japanese dictionary. Chinese is the same way, I think. You may not know how it is pronounced, but you will know how many strokes it has, and so you will be able to look up the word in the Japanese kanji dictionary as they are typically arranged by stroke order. Therefore, learning the stroke count is a great tool in unlocking both languages, even if you only have interest in one.
 

Sultan

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Stroke count is one of the ways, if not the main way, to look up kanji in a Japanese dictionary. Chinese is the same way, I think. You may not know how it is pronounced, but you will know how many strokes it has, and so you will be able to look up the word in the Japanese kanji dictionary as they are typically arranged by stroke order. Therefore, learning the stroke count is a great tool in unlocking both languages, even if you only have interest in one.
Oh, in that case I can count strokes, at least in radicals if not whole kanji. Look up by radicals often works, too. After all, I can just draw it in google translate even if i have no idea of stroke order, direction or how to break the kanji into strokes/radicals. Sometimes, I might know words, containg some or all kanji of an unknown word, so I might just, like, type words, delete unnecessary kanji, and voila!
 

Majestic

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Oh, in that case I can count strokes, at least in radicals if not whole kanji.

OK, I guess I misunderstood your email. If you know how to count strokes, you already know how to write, or at least know/understand the rudiments of writing. There are a lot of lines in kanji that we would intuitively think are two strokes, but are actually considered one stroke, and so life becomes easier when you know how to write the strokes. And in Japan there are many occasions when you are required to fill out forms by hand, or to write things by hand, and so having this skill is a benefit.
 

Sultan

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OK, I guess I misunderstood your email. If you know how to count strokes, you already know how to write, or at least know/understand the rudiments of writing. There are a lot of lines in kanji that we would intuitively think are two strokes, but are actually considered one stroke, and so life becomes easier when you know how to write the strokes. And in Japan there are many occasions when you are required to fill out forms by hand, or to write things by hand, and so having this skill is a benefit.
Well, I more or less know strokes, but I meant remembering kanji via writing so that you can write them by pen, like, without any additional tools, preferably not looking up kanji in order to remember, because when typing I can just type furigana and choose the appropriate kanji, whereas writing/being able to write it on paper would require (much) more efforts. Like 弁護士, I can just type "ben(n)" and then "tab"(x1+), "enter". Though I trained to memorize and write it by hand.
 
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Sultan

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And yes, I can write kana and some kanji, maybe one hundred or another, or at least some dozens, so please don't say more that I should at least learn. I mean memorizing kanji and being able to write by pen without looking up kanji, if not at all, then at least not too often to get annoyed / bothered. For example, I can read, count strokes, type, write 喫茶店、図書館、教科書。But writing them by hand just having paper and pen was not a trivial task, now more or less I remember them, but I may forget or need time to remember.
 

Toritoribe

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Like 弁護士, I can just type "ben(n)" and then "tab"(x1+), "enter".
Do you convert kana into kanji one by one in compound words? If so, try typing the whole reading of the compound word べんごし and hit the convert key, you'll get the kanji 弁護士 more efficiently and correctly at once. The same goes to conjugation forms of verbs/adjectives.
 

Sultan

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Do you convert kana into kanji one by one in compound words? If so, try typing the whole reading of the compound word べんごし and hit the convert key, you'll get the kanji 弁護士 more efficiently and correctly at once. The same goes to conjugation forms of verbs/adjectives.
No, no, I use auto-completion. Just type the beginning and get full word.
 

Sultan

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It's much faster using computer, then writing by hand, isn't it? )
 

Timelyn

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Ok, at first I thought you didn't want to know how to write at all, but you already know around 100 kanji, right? I didn't even think about not writting as an option, but when I try to remember the last time I encountered handwritting instead of typing (in any language) I have a hard time thinking of the situation. Maybe it's not so crazy after all, lol.

Stroke count is one of the ways, if not the main way, to look up kanji in a Japanese dictionary. Chinese is the same way, I think. You may not know how it is pronounced, but you will know how many strokes it has, and so you will be able to look up the word in the Japanese kanji dictionary as they are typically arranged by stroke order. Therefore, learning the stroke count is a great tool in unlocking both languages, even if you only have interest in one.
This is actually something I struggle with a lot. I spend a good average of 5-10 minutes to look up complicated kanji in dictionaries. Should I open a new thread for thorough advice?
 

lanthas

 
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There are some simple general stroke order rules that can help you count strokes even if you don't intend to practice writing (@Majestic made a very good point there). That way you know that you should look for the 囗 radical under the section with 3-stroke radicals for example - without guessing and looking at the sections with 1, 2, 3 and 4 strokes since those are all viable options for drawing a square.

Jisho's kanji-by-radical search is especially nice since it instantly trims down the list of available radicals and result kanji with each radical you click. That way you can count the strokes of the simplest radical in the kanji, use that number to find and select that radical, and then (now that the radical list has shrunk significantly) perhaps already find further radicals without counting.
 
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Sultan

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Or you can just give up on strokes and radicals and just draw it in "google translator" and copy it if you need. May be problems with hand-written kanji, ok.
 

Timelyn

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Yes, I get the square kanji and a ton of other basic ones, the problem comes with the more advanced ones. And when I'm on the computer I copy and paste obviously, but I'm generally reading magazines or other printed paper when I find kanji I want to look up.

One of the problems is that I can hardly see ALL the strokes, and then I normally miss by 1 or 2 which makes me lose SO much time on each kanji. Do you guys even bother looking them up when you find them on printed paper?
 

Sultan

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Yes, I get the square kanji and a ton of other basic ones, the problem comes with the more advanced ones. And when I'm on the computer I copy and paste obviously, but I'm generally reading magazines or other printed paper when I find kanji I want to look up.

One of the problems is that I can hardly see ALL the strokes, and then I normally miss by 1 or 2 which makes me lose SO much time on each kanji. Do you guys even bother looking them up when you find them on printed paper?
How do you look up them? Radicals? Did you try / do you use google translate hand-writing feature? Look, even if lose some some strokes, violate the order or like draw two strokes as one, it still ok. (I know I wrote that kanji not as it's supposed to, I wanted to show you that it still is recognised).
 

WonkoTheSane

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First, you can take a picture with Google Translate. Just use the camera icon to the left of the microphone icon. It will then analyze the picture and you can highlight which kanji you want translated. I do this with forms here quite a bit (also unfamiliar bus stops).

But I really came to revisit this thread because another reason to learn to write occurred to me.

I'm in a class with mostly Chinese students who (of course) have excellent kanji skills and I find that they can write the in class assignments significantly quicker than I can because they can use a lot more kanji than I can. Since I've been making a concerted effort to learn to write I've noticed I'm able to work through my book at a much quicker pace.

So learning to write kanji, for me, is speeding up my overall studying.
 

OoTmaster

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I've personally found that writing the kanji helps me to learn both how to write the kanji and the kanji itself. Now I haven't gotten to really complicated kanji yet, but I'm pretty sure that writing something helps your mind associate that kanji with it's mean, therefore each time you write the kanji the correlation is strengthened.
 
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