The Kanji Code: See the Sounds with Phonetic Components and Visual Patterns (英語) ペーパーバック – 2019/2/15
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Memorising kanji readings is one of the biggest hurdles when learning Japanese. The Kanji Code teaches a systematic method of learning the readings of kanji or Chinese characters. By studying phonetic components and other visual clues, students of Japanese can reduce their reliance on rote memorisation and feel more in control of their learning.
What people are saying
"An invaluable resource. It explains very well the relationship between kanji and kana, kanji and phonetic code, and kanji and visual code. Many of the phonetics listed here are the same ones my research identified as being useful for students of Japanese. The idea of seeing the relationships between kanji through a common visual feature is original and very interesting. I will be recommending it to my students." --Dr Etsuko Toyoda, Asia Institute, University of Melbourne
"5 stars. An absolutely brilliant textbook! If you're serious about learning Japanese or if you're planning to live in Japan you need to read this book and integrate its principles into your studies." -- Renae Lucas-Hall, author of Tokyo Tales
The Kanji Code teaches 150 phonetic components - the key to the readings of 450+ kanji characters.
You will also learn the link between kanji, hiragana and katakana - and use it to remember the ON readings of 50+ common kanji characters.
In addition, you will learn how visual features like shape and patterns like stripes can give a clue to the ON reading of 170+ kanji characters.
The book contains an easy to read explanation of the keisei or form-sound kanji characters, to deepen your understanding of the components and their functions. Graphics show the visual connection between kana and kanji, and visual similarities between kanji with the same or similar readings that would otherwise be overlooked. The visual approach will especially appeal to visual learners and students interested in art and design.
Each kanji features ON and kun readings, English meanings and example words. Kanji readings are written in romaji so they can be read by students of all levels.
The Kanji Code also includes several detailed indexes for ease of searching and improved understanding of kanji composition. The innovative radical index includes the English names of radicals and is sorted not by stroke order but by subject, making it more intuitive to non-native Japanese speakers.
Natalie Hamilton is a writer, translator and lecturer in Translation Technology. She turned her focus to Japanese study while living and working in Japan's rural Oita Prefecture on the JET Programme. She was awarded a Master of Japanese Translation in 2014, which included a linguistics dissertation entitled Cracking the ON Yomi Code. She is NAATI-Certified in Australia for professional translation from Japanese to English and has translated academic papers in social science and technical and corporate content for companies including Fujitsu, MUJI and Sony. She formerly wrote online content and elearning materials for global corporations. Natalie has taught English in Japan and Japanese at the Japan Foundation. Her Japanese was largely self-taught over four years living in Japan.
The author sets the context beautifully with an explanation of the different writing forms and their development through time. The historical insights peppered through are not only useful, but fascinating – even as something of a kanji-hater, I kept stumbling across “Aha!” moments and drawing connections that peaked my interest.
Once the stage is set, the book proceeds to introduce the eponymous “Kanji Code,” a phonetic-based learning approach. Each concept is supported by beautifully illustrated examples, illuminating connections between sound and image. It is almost like the author is letting us in on her own, personal mnemonic method – the extensive network of visual cues and shortcuts she has developed through her thorough study of the characters.
The system relies on some foreknowledge of the language, so it seems best suited to intermediate students. Also , this is not a workbook – it is a reference, and will require some self-motivation for students to get the most value from its pages. I think it will especially appeal to visual and conceptual learners – can I say, for a moment, that I love how she’s grouped radicals in the index by category rather than number of strokes? Thank you!
Overall, this text struck me as an excellent compliment to the mainstream kanji method of radicals and rote memorization – not replacing that method entirely, but harmonizing with it to help students build better reading instincts and a more well-rounded understanding. A recommended addition to the library of any Japanese language enthusiast.