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Remembering the Kana: A Guide to Reading and Writing the Japanese Syllabaries in 3 Hours Each: part 1 Hiragna : par (Manoa) (Japanese) Paperback – 30 May 2007
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About the Author
James W. Heisig is professor and permanent research fellow at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture in Nagoya, Japan.
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Top Customer Reviews
For example, generally "ta" is generally pronounced similar to "TAp" or "TAtty" but in this book the author suggests using "TOp" as the pronunciation. Naturally, the author being American, all "a" sounds are given the sound of a British short "o" (as in "Orange") and all "o" sounds are given the sound of a rounded "o" (as in "Only"). There are other misleading US pronunciations given too. This leads to one saying words like "kun" - correctly pronounced so it rhymes with "pun" - in a very over-pronounced American way that rhymes with "loon".
In short, think of how Americans pronounce "Cecil" as "See-sill" and you'll see how you'll sound mispronouncing the Japanese syllabaries and consequently full words. You would normally only pronounce Japanese in such an over-pronounced way if you were shouting something, as you may shout to a friend on the other side of a road, or if you were singing.
As for the first given flaw, the author's slightly oddball method of teaching kanji meanings, attributing interesting connotations and keywords to the smaller elements and then building up from said smaller elements to the complex kanji, is employed roughly here to try and enable the reader to remember kana pronunciation and form.Read more ›
Other reviews detail Heisig's method for memorisation, so I won't go into that - except to say that I found it really helpful, and I would have undoubtedly found learning much harder going if not for his help. I could indeed learn the hiragana, as promised, in three hours - although spread out over a week, and I'd say it took me a couple of weeks to be confident in reading and writing at a reasonable speed. Ditto the katakana.
The main problem is the pronunciation. Even if we take away the issues caused by the American accent vs. the English accent, you're still not going to get a sense of how to pronounce things correctly if you go by the keywords. It's really easy to think `oh, the keyword for `ko' is `comb', so it must be pronounced like the co in comb' - but it's not. `Ko' is pronounced more like the co in `copier' or `cough'. Even said in an American accent, the co of `comb' is not going to sound right. Of course, this is not a problem if you're taking a class and or can get a native speaker to teach you the correct pronunciation, but if you're unfamiliar with the sound of Japanese and this book is your first exposure to it, you're going to pick up some bad habits.
A minor problem is the katakana section - which you do second. Heisig didn't write it himself, someone else did, and it's poor quality. Too many of the entries say `it's just like the kanji'. Since it's unlikely that many people will know kanji but not know katakana, for the majority of learners that's just a really irritating thing to say.Read more ›
To sum up my rambling, I found this a suprisingly effective method, although I think it probably helps to get some flash-cards to check your memory between reading chapters. ON TO KANJI!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love this book! I'd say I'm driven to learning Japanese, but this book makes it easier to jump right in; it's fun! Read morePublished 13 months ago by Uncle Brian (No relation)
This really works. The only issue that his phonological comparisons are with American English and so don't always ring true for my Northern British English pronounciation, but a... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Síol na nGael
It took me more than 3 hours, actually a week but in the end it did the job. The book is a bit disappointing if you expect the same efficiency as Remembering Kanji or Remembering... Read morePublished on 14 Feb. 2014 by Gandalfina
I'm not going to go into the ins and outs of how the system works, and I'm not going to agree with the author when he says it can be done in 3 hours each, at least not flawlessly,... Read morePublished on 27 Nov. 2011 by J.B
This book is a good book to help you learn the symbols in the hiragana, but it doesn't teach you some of the rules you would need to know in order to start actually using them. Read morePublished on 16 Feb. 2010 by T. Brown
A simple and clever solution to learning the Kana, using mnemonic stories to memorise the look of each character and its stroke order. Read morePublished on 22 Mar. 2009 by antiseptic poetry