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Remembering the Kanji 2

James W. Heisig

Publication Year: 2008

Following the first volume of Remembering the Kanji, the present work takes up the pronunciation of characters and provides students with helpful tools for memorizing them. Behind the notorious inconsistencies in the way the Japanese language has come to pronounce the characters it received from China lie several coherent patterns. Identifying these patterns and arranging them in logical order can reduce dramatically the amount of time spent in the brute memorization of sounds unrelated to written forms. Many of the "primitive elements," or building blocks, used in the drawing of the characters also serve to indicate the "Chinese reading" that particular kanji use, chiefly in compound terms. By learning one of the kanji that uses such a "signal primitive," one can learn the entire group at the same time. In this way, Remembering the Kanji 2 lays out the varieties of phonetic patterns and offers helpful hints for learning readings, which might otherwise appear completely random, in an efficient and rational way. A parallel system of pronouncing the kanji, their "Japanese readings," uses native Japanese words assigned to particular Chinese characters. Although these are more easily learned because of the association of the meaning to a single word, Heisig creates a kind of phonetic alphabet of single-syllable words, each connected to a simple Japanese word, and shows how they can be combined to help memorize particularly troublesome vocabulary. Unlike Volume 1, which proceeds step-by-step in a series of lessons, Volume 2 is organized in such as way that one can study individual chapters or use it as a reference for pronunciation problems as they arise. Individual frames cross-reference the kanji to alternate readings and to the frame in Volume 1 in which the meaning and writing of the kanji was first introduced.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. v

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pp. 1-7

As the title suggests, the present book has been prepared as a companion volume to Remembering the Kanji: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters. It presumes that the material covered in the first book has already been mastered and concentrates exclusively ...

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Note to the 2nd Edition

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pp. 7-8

The material in these pages was composed during the third month after my arrival in Japan. I had just completed a volume describing the method I had used to learn the meaning and writing of the kanji, and I was anxious to try my hand at systematizing the notorious haphazardry of the readings. ...

Part One: Chinese Readings

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1. The Kana and Their Kanji

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pp. 11-19

The two japanese syllabaries known as the hiragana and the katakana (or collectively, the kana) originated as stylized versions of Chinese characters used to represent the sounds of Japanese without any reference to the original meaning of those characters. In modern Japanese not all of the kana retain the sound ...

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2. Pure Groups

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pp. 20-75

The easiest groups of character-readings to learn are those that share common on readings by virtue of the presence of a common primitive element, called here a signal primitive because it "signals" a particular sound for each character in which it appears. Let us begin with a concrete example. ...

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3. One-Time Chinese Readings

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pp. 76-81

This collection of "one-time" readings sifts out all the on-yomi (Chinese readings) that are not homonyms, at least not in the confines of the standard readings on which this book is based. We have already learned of these readings in Chapter 1: ...

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4. Characters with No Chinese Readings

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pp. 82-85

In the case of those that belong to the general-use kanji, this means that no reading has been assigned them in the official list, though many of them do have traditional readings. In the case of those that fall outside the general-use list, this means that no Chinese reading they may have is useful enough ...

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5. Semi-Pure Groups

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pp. 86-116

The kanji treated in this chapter differ from those of Chapter 2 only in one significant detail: the signal primitive bears a uniform reading for all but one of the characters in which it appears. Here again, secondary or tertiary readings for the kanji do not necessarily follow the rule. The point is only that one of the assigned ...

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6. Readings from Everyday Words

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pp. 117-145

By the time you pick up this book you will have already learned at least the rudiments of Japanese grammar and in the process have learned some of the most useful words of everyday spoken Japanese. Taking advantage of this fact, as well as the fact that you already know the meanings of all the characters treated here, ...

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7. Mixed Groups

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pp. 146-191

After the relaxing detour into everyday words, we must return to the work that remains with signal primitives. From here on, the work will be more complicated than it was in Chapters 2 and 5 because of the increasing number of exceptions. In spite of that, I am sure you will find that it does provide considerable ...

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8. Readings from Useful Compounds

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pp. 192-218

We have done everything we can with the signal primitives but are still left with 701 frames to complete our study of the Chinese readings. Now we return to the procedure followed in Chapter 6, focusing on the exemplary compounds. Many of the words that appear in the following 237 frames are not common to ...

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9. A Potpourri of Readings

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pp. 219-250

The main thing the kanji of this chapter have in common is that they do not fit the previous categories and are a bit too common to leave for the final chapter. It is arguable that a few of the compounds might have been included in the last chapter, and some left for the next. But there is no getting around the fact that we have come ...

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10. Supplementary Readings

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pp. 251-286

The final chapter dealing with the Chinese readings falls into two parts of roughly equal length. In the first part I have included what seem to me the most useful of the remaining readings to know - or at least, those least unusual. The second half of the chapter picks up all the left overs, uncommon and close ...

Part Two: Japanese Readings

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11. A Mnemonics for the Japanese Readings

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pp. 289-306

As explained in the Introduction, the kun-yomi or Japanese readings of the kanji differ considerably from the on-yomi treated in the last ten chapters. Kun-yomii generally stand on their own as phonetic units and not as components of compounds, are often inflected with a hiragana ending, contain far fewer ...

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pp. 307-397

i. Signal Primitives
ii. Kanji
iii. Chinese Readings
iv. Japanese Readings
v. Cross-Reference List

E-ISBN-13: 9780824864149
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824831660

Publication Year: 2008