Feature Request: Indicate non-jouyou kanji and words usually written in kana

There are many words in the vocabulary lists which are spelled in kanji, although they are normally written in kana; for example, 其の is normally written as その. It may be important to be able to recognize the kanji spellings when they do occur, but it is surely not as important to focus on memorizing these kanji spellings as memorizing the spelling of words which are normally spelled using kanji. This could be indicated by a word like "其の" being shown in a different color, or having something like "(usually kana)" after the vocabulary item in parentheses.

Similarly, it would be nice to indicate kanji in some of the words which are non-jouyou kanji, for a similar reason. One may want to be able to recognize non-jouyou kanji, but many people will not want to worry about knowing how to write them. It is helpful to be told when first seeing such a kanji that it is a non-jouyou kanji. This could also be indicated by showing the kanji in a different color.
posted by fuonk

Comments 12

  • fuonk
    fuonk
    I was thinking about showing these indicators in the lessons and in the questions.

    I don't want to suppress the kanji spellings or the appearance of non-jouyou kanji; I just want it to be clear to the user that they are present, so that the user can make his or her own choices about how much emphasis to put on studying the kanji spellings of the words and how to write the non-jouyou kanji.
  • beeant
    beeant
    I just see that edict have the indicator for non jouyou kanji and words usually written in kana. I wonder where do you prefer to see the indicator, in the question, multiple choice or in the lesson? or you just don't want to see the kanji for these words?
  • beeant
    beeant
    I just re-looked at the vocabulary lesson page, we actually have (uk) indicator (if you hover it, it will show more explanation) on the vocabulary lesson page. Do you want similar indicator on the question? Is it better to show them all including adj, n, suf, etc ?
  • fuonk
    fuonk
    Oh-- it might also be nice to indicate special readings, such as きのう for 昨日, ひまわり for 向日葵 and いなり for 稲荷.
  • beeant
    beeant
    I think 昨日 is usually read as 昨日, alternative/special reading would be 昨日 (maybe more polite way?)
  • fuonk
    fuonk
    Hmm. I'm starting to have my doubts as to whether indicators should be shown in the questions. For example, telling the user that a question involves a special reading is probably too much help; telling them that the word is usually written in kana only is kind of pointless when they are being asked a question which requires them to recognize a kanji spelling anyway. Maybe the lessons are the right place to keep this information-- I hadn't noticed that "uk" marker before.

    I still think it would be nice to highlight non-jouyou kanji and special readings in the lessons, and perhaps find some more effective way of telling the user about the "uk" marker, which I think is an important piece of information to pay attention to. I'm sure there are other users who have never noticed them. ^^;

    As for the markers such as adj, n, suf, etc., I think it is a bad idea to teach people the parts of speech of Japanese words in English grammatical terms. I think that was an unfortunate choice on the part of the designers of edict. Students of Japanese should be encouraged as much as possible to learn Japanese grammar on its own terms. Words such as 静か should be called 形容動詞 or "adjectival verbs", not "na-adjectives", and so on.
  • fuonk
    fuonk
    What I meant by calling きのう a "special reading" of 昨日 is that the pronunciation does not correspond to any 読み of the individual kanji 作 and 日; the 読み "きのう" only makes sense for the two kanji combined together. I forget what the Japanese term is for this. さくじつ, in contrast, even though it is a less common pronunciation of 昨日, is not a "special reading" in this sense, because さく is an 音読み of 昨 and じつ is an 音読み of 日.
  • Arachkid
    Arachkid
    I don't know what the term is for words, but I know that for names it is "ateji".
  • Kimbo
    Kimbo
    In December's N1 test, in the 4 point choubun question, the writer had used the old forms in every single place he could. So even simple words used difficult kanji, however at the bottom of the dokkai was the usual list of words that showed all the readings (not meanings).
    So it isn't super important to learn all these rare 'spellings' but it doesn't do any harm. In modern day writing, they really aren't used much - many Japanese can't even write the difficult ones.
    But what you're suggesting seems like a lot of work for poor Beeant, for little benefit.
    As long as these rare readings aren't in the levels Beeant consider's 'beginner-low intermediate (N5-3)' vocab, it should be fine. I don't see any problem with just a little [uncommon] sign on the FEW rare alternative ways to write it.
  • fuonk
    fuonk
    Actually, quite a lot of the spellings in the existing vocabulary lessons contain non-jouyou kanji and are usually spelled either partly or entirely in kana. I wouldn't have brought up the issue if there were a small number.

    If there's any editing work to be done, I will be happy to do it; but a lot of this information is already available in edict and other similar sources. The program zkanji contains a database which combines this sort of information from several sources; beeantさん could either use the original databases or perhaps even use zkanji's database (the project is now open source). One useful piece of information is the grade level of each kanji, which is the grade in which it is normally taught in Japanese schools. This is between 1 and 8 for jouyou kanji.

    I was surprised the other day when a highly educated and articulate Japanese friend told me that she had never seen the kanji spelling of わびさび (詫び寂び). It seems like overkill for students at the N3 level and below (and perhaps even at the N2 level) to be studying spellings which are unknown to well-educated Japanese people. There are more important things about the language to spend time on learning.
  • mog86uk
    mog86uk
    JCJP's heavy non-jouyou kanji usage in vocabulary is actually pretty tame compared to the Android Japanese learning app, Kotoba-chan. And on the flip side, there are some instances where JCJP lists words in kana instead of using kanji that could have made the words easier to understand.

    But yeah, it's probably a bit much to be using for a site which seems primarily aimed at beginners.
  • mog86uk
    mog86uk
    This reminds me, I need to get around to updating my thread on JCJP's kanji usage statistics, now that level 8 has been added.

    If you can make sense of my messy calculations, you might find this old thread interesting for JCJP non-jouyou kanji usage info:
    http://japaneseclass.jp/forum/thread/1202
fuonk

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