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Remembering the Kanji 3: Writing and Reading Japanese Characters for Upper-Level Proficiency (Japanese Edition) [Paperback]

James W. Heisig , Tanya Sienko
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 1, 2008 0824831675 978-0824831677 2
Students who have learned to read and write the basic 2,000 characters run into the same difficulty that university students in Japan face. The government-approved list of basic educational kanji is not sufficient for advanced reading and writing. Although each academic specialization requires supplementary kanji of its own, a large number of these kanji overlap. With that in mind, the same methods employed in volumes 1 and 2 of "Remembering the Kanji" have been applied to 1,000 additional characters determined as useful for upper-level proficiency, and the results published as the third volume in the series.To identify the extra 1,000 characters, frequency lists were researched and cross-checked against a number of standard Japanese kanji dictionaries. Separate parts of the book are devoted to learning the writing and reading of these characters.The writing requires only a handful of new "primitive elements." A few are introduced as compound primitives ("measure words") or as alternative forms for standard kanji. The majority of the kanji, 735 in all, are organized according to the elements introduced in Volume 1. For the reading, about twenty-five percent of the new kanji fall into "pure groups" that use a single "signal primitive" to identify the main Chinese reading. Another thirty percent of the new kanji belong to groups with one exception or to mixed groups in which the signal primitives have two readings. The remaining 306 characters are organized first according to readings that can be intuited from the meaning or dominant primitive element, and then according to useful compound terms.


Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Students who have learned to read and write the basic 2,000 characters run into the same difficulty that university students in Japan face: The government-approved list of basic educational kanji is not sufficient for advanced reading and writing. Although each academic specialization requires supplementary kanji of its own, a large number of these kanji overlap. With that in mind, the same methods employed in volumes 1 and 2 of Remembering the Kanji have been applied to 1,000 additional characters determined as useful for upper-level proficiency, and the results published as the third volume in the series.

To identify the extra 1,000 characters, frequency lists were researched and crosschecked against a number of standard Japanese kanji dictionaries. Separate parts of the book are devoted to learning the writing and reading of these characters. The writing requires only a handful of new "primitive elements." A few are introduced as compound primitives ("measure words") or as alternative forms for standard kanji. The majority of the kanji, 735 in all, are organized according to the elements introduced in Volume 1. For the reading, about twenty-five percent of the new kanji fall into "pure groups" that use a single "signal primitive" to identify the main Chinese reading. Another thirty percent of the new kanji belong to groups with one exception or to mixed groups in which the signal primitives have two readings. The remaining 306 characters are organized first according to readings that can be intuited from the meaning or dominant primitive element, and then according to useful compound terms.

About the Author

James W. Heisig is professor and permanent research fellow at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture in Nagoya, Japan. Tanya Sienko spent ten years working for the Japanese government and Japanese industry. After a period at the Warburg Institute in London, she returned to the U.S. and now works as an entrepreneur.

Product Details

  • Series: Remembering the Kanji (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 430 pages
  • Publisher: University of Hawaii Press; 2 edition (January 1, 2008)
  • Language: Japanese
  • ISBN-10: 0824831675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824831677
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,001,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James W. Heisig is professor and permanent research fellow at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture in Nagoya, Japan.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic idea August 8, 2009
Format:Paperback
As the editorial review claims, the 2000 or so Joyo Kanji are not sufficient for advanced Japanese literacy - even though I have committed to memory the Joyo Kanji, in my work as a translator I encounter kanji that fall outside the Joyo list every day. I consider these characters to be "de facto" Joyo Kanji, and putting them all together in one reference work is a fantastic idea for which the authors should be commended.

Ivan Rorick
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars use for going beyond very basic texts December 13, 2010
By Reader
Format:Paperback
This book teaches kanji that are useful for reading novels and other books. While some of the choices are a bit arbitrary, most of these characters show up fairly rapidly when reading something beyond primers.
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22 of 33 people found the following review helpful
By Jackal
Format:Paperback
Apologies but my kanji examples have disappeared. I guess it has to do with the encoding.

I really like Heisig's approach in volume 1. So no need to trash this review just because you liked that book. However, the current volume is in my view totally useless, or rather will involve a lot of wasted time. I get the feeling that it is written more for people who want to 'collect' kanji rather than learn Japanese. My concern is not with the approach Heisig has taken in his first book (volume 1). My concern is with the specific implementation in this book. His approach works for relatively frequent characters, but it is not so useful for rate characters - the focus of volume 3. Two problems:

First: There are several frequency tables of kanji available. Had Heisig used one of these tables, the situation would have been better. Now we are missing several quite common characters, for instance XX XX XX' (all ranked around 1800). Instead we get very rare characters included, for instance 'XX XX XX' (all ranked around 5000). So in terms of importance, I think Heisig's choice of characters is quite poor. Roughly speaking, every time a character ranked 1800 is used, the character ranked 100 has been used 80 time. For every time a character ranked 5000 is used, the character ranked 100 has been used 100,000 times.

Second: The meaning Heisig gives to characters is not all that useful for rare characters. For instance compare 'XX and 'XX. Their meaning is pretty much identical. However, Heisig gives the characters different keywords. This will obviously lead the learner to think there is some semantic difference in meaning. As a matter of fact one of the characters is an alternative to the other and is only included in the book because it is a name-kanji.
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12 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Made it in one and a half months!.. January 30, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I made it in less than two months.
I gained knowledge about all of the 2000 and more kanjis, the correct shapes and meanings without any exceptions in 45 days. I just neglected a little the writing practice. I took advantage of the Christmas period, so working sometimes six hours a day, but also much less (lately a couple of hours per day).
Of course I am not a layman about mnemonic associations. I have been used them all my life, but in a completely different context (mathematics, physics, art history..). Moreover I am not an english-native speaker. So I had to work a lot with the english-italian dictionary as well.
Nevertheless I am already in the volume 2.
P.S. As for the flashcards I highly recommend the White Rabbit.. they are the best!
Raffaele
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2 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Not as good as expected... You should take a look before you pay for it.
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