- Capa comum: 364 páginas
- Editora: University of Hawaii Press; Edição: 3rd Revised ed. (30 de setembro de 2012)
- Idioma: Inglês
- ISBN-10: 0824837029
- ISBN-13: 978-0824837020
- Dimensões do produto: 15,9 x 2,5 x 22,9 cm
- Peso de envio: 599 g
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Remembering Kanji V3 (3rd) (Inglês) Capa Comum – 29 set 2012
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BASIC PROBLEMS WITH THE RTK SYSTEM AS A WHOLE
Before I comment on the failings that are specific to the third volume, I will comment on the failings of RTK3 that represent weaknesses of the RTK series as a whole. What this book shows very clearly, and what you don’t realize when you get hooked in by the opening chapters of the first volume, is that the whole system sacrifices all other goals to the ill-advised objective of rotely memorizing how to write all the kanji by heart, at the expense of far more important matters such as understanding the actual correct meanings of the kanji (instead of arbitrary English keywords) and learning kanji through real Japanese vocabulary that would allow you to see how the kanji are actually used and how words are constructed from them. This series would only make sense if your only purpose were to memorize how to write 3000 characters for the purpose of some game show or contest, and had no intention to actually use the Japanese language.
An equally big problem is that the series uses arbitrary English labels for some kanji elements (“primitives”), labels that work nicely for a few kanji at the beginning (for which the author provides beautiful — even poetic — mnemonic stories) but then don’t work well at all for many other kanji later on (for which the author revealingly provides no mnemonics at all), so that the series ends up making it HARDER to remember kanji meanings, not easier. The method does have special strengths for the purpose of remembering how to WRITE kanji, but this is far less important than remembering the MEANINGS of the kanji, and that these meanings be CORRECT. The fact is that RTK’s system of primitives, while it can be used in fanciful stories for remembering how to write characters, usually does not work very well for understanding and remembering the characters’ meanings. It is no wonder that the series provides mnemonics only for the limited number of kanji for which the system works, and leaves all the others BLANK (and in characteristically glib fashion, presents this as a FEATURE!).
For example, how does it help me to spend time trying to memorize that a kanji means “a” as in “a certain” by virtue of containing the primitives ‘mouth’, ‘floor’ and ‘fiesta’? Similarly, even though it is easy to remember the kanji for “leek” just by seeing it a few times in the context of a REAL JAPANESE SENTENCE, RTK asks you to learn it in a totally roundabout way isolated from any meaningful context: first you have to memorize by a component primitive called “green onion”, and then somehow you have to remember that the combination of “green onion” + “jail cell” + “floor” means “leek”. Truly I cannot think of a harder way to learn kanji than this!
Another example is that the “dog” radical is labeled instead as “pack of wild dogs”. This is useful within the RTK system, which cannot have two primitives with the same label. But it is the opposite of useful for the purpose of properly learning and remembering the meanings of all the kanji that contain this primitive.
What becomes especially clear in RTK 3 is that is that the series’ strategy of having you learn kanji in isolation from words is a horrible idea, particularly at higher levels where you’re only likely to see a given kanji in a few words, or even one word. For example, the characters in 琵琶 biwa (lute) are rarely if ever seen except in this word, so there is no logical reason why one should bother to learn these two kanji separately. Yet this book asks you to do just that, by memorizing arbitrary English labels for the primitives in order to memorize other arbitrary English labels for the characters, which themselves are merely component parts of the word 琵琶 and practically never appear elsewhere. Why not just learn the word 琵琶 biwa?! What a total waste of time. Oh wait, I forgot, I need to use the RTK system because otherwise I won’t be able to write the word for “lute” from memory, in a pinch, without having to pull out my smartphone.
Similarly, the book forces you to dedicate special time to learning the kanji 噌 SO of 味噌 MISO independently from the word, when it is never used independently of that word. Just learn the word MISO for Pete’s sake! And to top it off the book “teaches” you the kanji 噌 without even showing you the word MISO. This is what I mean when I say the book has lost all contact with reality.
The series takes so much pride in being “unconventional”, but this is more like “delusional”. The series lives in its own imaginary world where the goal is to “remember” each kanji and the actual Japanese language is immaterial. But even WITHIN its make-believe world of isolated individual kanji the book is wrong, since that kanji by itself does NOT mean “miso”, as the book would have you believe, but merely designates the sound “so”. Only the two kanji 味噌 TOGETHER mean “miso”. So you're not just wasting your time; you're actively impeding your ability to properly learn the language.
A BAD APPROACH FOR LEARNING ADVANCED KANJI
RTK1 has 2136 kanji. For learning more than that, it does not make sense to follow some arbitrary prescribed list, but to learn the kanji you need for functioning in your fields of interest. There is a reason the Japanese Ministry of Education does not prescribe more than 2136 kanji, which is that trying to fill the gap between there and 3000 would just produce an arbitrary selection of rarely used kanji that did not fit any one person’s needs, so people should be free to go their own way from here. But RTK takes a more authoritarian approach, prescribing a centralized list for everyone, apparently for the purpose of selling more books. Because its list is so eclectic and arbitrary, the list is useful to no one, except within RTK's warped reality in which we don’t care about the actual Japanese language.
Far better to learn the characters you need as you need them. You won't be any worse off, because this book doesn't provide any real instruction about the kanji it does include, and doesn't organize them into groups of any special usefulness.
Also, you should not be rotely learning kanji in isolation at this advanced level. The fact that RTK would use such a strategy just shows how out of touch it is with the real language as native speakers use it.
Another problem is that this book teaches you traditional forms as if you should be learning these as separate characters. The RTK series is forced into this wrong-headed strategy by virtue of its emphasis on using mnemonic stories to learn to WRITE kanji by heart. For this reason, it must treat traditional forms as separate characters. But they are NOT separate characters, and you should not wait to see them until after you have learned all the other characters. Instead you should become aware of them when you learn the kanji the first time around, so that you will be familiar with the relationship between the traditional and simplified characters.
POOR INTEGRATION WITH RTK1 AND RTK2
The introduction to RTK3 well describes much of the arbitrariness in the process of selecting the characters and readings, and the ways in which it is difficult to make this book and its set of characters work with the existing RTK1 and RTK2 books. Indeed in the third volume the whole tenuous RTK system falls apart, to an even greater extent than it already has by the end of both RTK1 and RTK2.
For one thing, the semantic structure RTK1 builds up from the primitives fails when the RTK3 kanji are added into the mix. For example, the kanji 此 (ko[re]) is added here, but had not been incorporated in RTK1 as such. Same goes with the left side of the character for separate, 離, or the right side of “neighbor”, 隣, when RTK adds these as independent kanji. These kanji could have been learned the right way when they were presented as primitives before, but this does not occur. So with respect to these primitives and others, RTK1 and RTK3 can each hold up within themselves, but not together. This illustrates how RTK3 was just clipped onto the earlier books, instead of the whole series being systematically organized to take all 3000 kanji into account.
Similarly, the reading groups of RTK2 also fall apart here, which only goes to show that the whole project was not thought through holistically. As the book puts it, ”Strictly speaking, the addition of secondary and tertiary readings would do away with most of my pure groups”. Here the book is being very kind with itself, because often the “secondary” readings are arguably as important as the “primary” readings. The phrase “strictly speaking” is a typical example of the glib way in which the RTK series tries to downplay its weaknesses and make sensible criticism sound like nit-picking.
The description of the yomikata ”groups" at the beginning of chapter 10 makes clear how the whole system for trying to learn the readings is excessively cumbersome and tenuous. The fact is, the whole approach is flawed from the beginning — these readings should not be learned in this fashion to begin with, but it's too late by the time you reach this book because you've already committed yourself to an approach which ultimately is not effective.
This all goes to show that the RTK series was not organized systematically, but was accumulated piecemeal, without “backward compatibility”. I was led to believe that these three books fit together into a coherent system. Isn’t that the point of having a series? Now I buy the third book and find out that what I learned in the previous books no longer applies. This book is basically two steps forward and ten steps back.
This book attempts to extend the RTK method up to 3000 kanji, but in the process just ends up further clarifying the inherent weaknesses of the RTK system. Moreover, the book has you study hundreds of kanji you likely will never need, learn them in groups that are generally too small to be of any use, learn them often without sample words or proper meanings, and learn their readings based on “signal primitives” that are much less useful than the book would have you believe. It would have been better to work on improving Vol. 1 than to scrape together a Vol. 3.