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Thread: Suggestions on learning Counters?

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    Senior Member ScienceDivison's Avatar
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    Default Suggestions on learning Counters?

    Alright. Counters... I hate them and learning them are being a true pain in the A$$. Are there any helpful websites on how to learn them? By counters I am referring to the counting scheme on counting various objects and how each one in Japanese seems to have its own version..

    (small animals) - ipiku etc...
    "Psychologically, you have to have confidence in yourself and this confidence should be based on fact."

  2. #2
    Али Димаев AliDimayev's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions on learning Counters?

    Just memorization.
    hon for round long objects
    satsu for books
    mai for flat items/sheets
    etc.
    <a href=http://www.ithinkimlost.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=3134&dateline=1245615339 target=_blank>http://www.ithinkimlost.com/image.ph...ine=1245615339</a>
    Quote Originally Posted by Hyakuman View Post
    As usual, you all (Aliを除く) have your heads up your asses.

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    VIP UPGRAYEDD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions on learning Counters?

    Draw up some pictures. Having the visual reference really helps with counters.

    Or you can just learn 一つ、二つ、三つ 一個、二個、三個 and you can use them in place of specific counters you don't know.

    Fun fact - is the counter for ships at sea
    You see, gentlemen, a pimp's love is very different from a square's...
    (郷に入っては郷に従え.)

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    Али Димаев AliDimayev's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions on learning Counters?

    Fun fact: we have counters in English, too!
    <a href=http://www.ithinkimlost.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=3134&dateline=1245615339 target=_blank>http://www.ithinkimlost.com/image.ph...ine=1245615339</a>
    Quote Originally Posted by Hyakuman View Post
    As usual, you all (Aliを除く) have your heads up your asses.

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    Cool Cutie Fighter! Hyakuman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions on learning Counters?

    Yup, counters is just straight memorization, and you will learn most by hearing someone say them methinks.

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    Senior Member Mindflux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AliDimayev View Post
    Fun fact: we have counters in English, too!
    Fun fact! You're totally wrong!

    Well, not really. We have things like counters (i.e. sheets) but they have a structural function in Japanese that doesn't exist in English...so mostly wrong.

    edit: oh, and yeah, you just memorize them. They're just words like any other words.

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    Али Димаев AliDimayev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mindflux View Post
    Fun fact! You're totally wrong!

    Well, not really. We have things like counters (i.e. sheets) but they have a structural function in Japanese that doesn't exist in English...so mostly wrong.

    edit: oh, and yeah, you just memorize them. They're just words like any other words.
    We do have counters. Not many. You don't say give me 3 wines, you say give me 3 BOTTLES of wine.

    You dont say give me 5 papers. you say give me 5 SHEETS of paper

    etc.

    I am not saying they are exactly like Japanese counters!
    <a href=http://www.ithinkimlost.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=3134&dateline=1245615339 target=_blank>http://www.ithinkimlost.com/image.ph...ine=1245615339</a>
    Quote Originally Posted by Hyakuman View Post
    As usual, you all (Aliを除く) have your heads up your asses.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Suggestions on learning Counters?

    When living in Japan, I suggest reading about the various counters and tricks of pronunciation and then just taking part in normal conversations in Japanese. Then reading about the counters again and then continuing normal Japanese conversations. Etc. It's something that you can put lots of energy to memorizing or you could simply let yourself get used to it. It seems so natural to me to say "sangai" and "happun" and "roppiki" just as it is to say "ichimai" "nihon" "gokai". It also seems natural to say "sangai" for third floor of a building and "sankai" as in third time like "sankaime". But thinking back I can recall, a bit vaguely, the horror of having to memorize all those when I was studying with the "Japanese for Busy People" book. I never did get to memorizing them, but somehow they are in my head. The common ones at least.

    How much came from reading about them and how much came from just hearing them in normal conversation, its hard to tell. But I wouldn't suggest struggling through memorizing them like a list. It's too boring. And I wouldn't suggest entering conversations totally blind either. Just read about them in a grammar book. When you've finished the section or get bored, stop. Then go listen to some Japanese. Repeat. Eventually they will come. I think knowing about the exceptions but not memorizing them is key to putting the analytical side of your brain to work while letting the acquisition part do its thing.

    If you have a certain date you must know them by, then memorization is your only hope. But if you don't have a deadline, then just read about them and take it easy. There's a fairly limited set of common ones that you will hear often enough to pick up from conversation. There are some odd ones you won't hear too often, but that's because either people don't really use them in normal conversation or because they don't know them. Some are technical or jargon.

    Anyway, have fun.

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    Resident ewok wicket's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions on learning Counters?

    Get a whole bunch of post-it notes, label them with the counters; and stick them on relevant objects around your apartment. You'll feel ridiculous, but it works.
    "Like anyone with a sliver of honesty in them I believe what I find I believe when I wake up each morning."
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    Али Димаев AliDimayev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wicket View Post
    Get a whole bunch of post-it notes, label them with the counters; and stick them on relevant objects around your apartment. You'll feel ridiculous, but it works.
    I have to agree with Wicket on this one, folks!
    <a href=http://www.ithinkimlost.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=3134&dateline=1245615339 target=_blank>http://www.ithinkimlost.com/image.ph...ine=1245615339</a>
    Quote Originally Posted by Hyakuman View Post
    As usual, you all (Aliを除く) have your heads up your asses.

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    Resident ewok wicket's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions on learning Counters?

    Please don't, Ali.
    Just... don't.
    "Like anyone with a sliver of honesty in them I believe what I find I believe when I wake up each morning."
    Stephen Fry, The stars' tennis balls

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by wicket View Post
    Get a whole bunch of post-it notes, label them with the counters; and stick them on relevant objects around your apartment. You'll feel ridiculous, but it works.
    To double the ridiculous factor, that works great for learning vocab. My mother was learning Spanish, so for years we had stickers all over the place in our living room and kitchen. Needless to say, I remember all that vocab and now do the same (often) for Japanese.

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    Senior Member Mindflux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AliDimayev View Post
    We do have counters. Not many. You don't say give me 3 wines, you say give me 3 BOTTLES of wine.

    You dont say give me 5 papers. you say give me 5 SHEETS of paper

    etc.

    I am not saying they are exactly like Japanese counters!
    You can't have three wines because wine is uncountable, it's a liquid. Three wines semantically can't mean anything because it's not a unit, you could mean bottles, glasses, barrels etc. Though, I will give you that it's weakly analogous to counters. On the other hand, many objects are inherently countable but in Japanese you have to unify them unnecessarily. Three cats is not semantically ambiguous like the wine or paper example, they're inherently unified.

    But yeah, they're annoying but not difficult to get a grasp on since there is that similarity in English.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by wicket View Post
    Please don't, Ali.
    Just... don't.
    Wicket, you're supposed to be the nice one!

    I think you guys are being too hard on Ali. Of course, it's not the same as Japanese counters, but I think he recognizes that and it's not a bad comparison: whatever the grammatical logic, there are objects whose number you have to specify with some extra word tacked on. I would likely have said the same if he hadn't already.

    Also: one sec. MattyJaddy's post mentioned that floors are "gai" and not "kai", or at least when combined with "san". I had no idea. Is this true everywhere? I feel like I've always heard "sankai" or "sankaime". Of course, I have definitely in the past continually misheard things...I think that perhaps the same mechanism that makes it easy to "hear" English words in a foreign song if they're flashed in front of you as you listen also makes it easy to convince yourself people are saying whatever you think they should be saying.
    Last edited by Wakatta; March 16th, 2009 at 09:27.

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    Senior Member kamukamuume's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions on learning Counters?

    Quote Originally Posted by wakarimashita
    Also: one sec. MattyJaddy's post mentioned that floors are "gai" and not "kai", or at least when combined with "san". I had no idea. Is this true everywhere? I feel like I've always heard "sankai" or "sankaime". Of course, I have definitely in the past continually misheard things...I think that perhaps the same mechanism that makes it easy to "hear" English words in a foreign song if they're flashed in front of you as you listen also makes it easy to convince yourself people are saying whatever you think they should be saying.
    no, I think you're right. my girlfriend is from yamagata, where pretty much every consonant sound eventually becomes "g"; sure enough, she says "sangai." but when she was looking around at apartments, I noticed the kyoto apartment introduction people were consistently saying "sankai."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanes...ord#Exceptions
    Last edited by kamukamuume; March 16th, 2009 at 11:22. Reason: this very point is actually addressed in the link

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mongkut王様 View Post
    no, I think you're right. my girlfriend is from yamagata, where pretty much every consonant sound eventually becomes "g"; sure enough, she says "sangai." but when she was looking around at apartments, I noticed the kyoto apartment introduction people were consistently saying "sankai."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanes...ord#Exceptions
    Yeah, here in Miyagi (Touhoku), consonants get softened, too. Ga/gi/gu/ge/go are noticeably softer than I remember from Toyko. I sometimes mishear a "ga" as a "na", even, when the softening implicit "n" is stronger than the "ga" itself.

    I recently got back from Kyoto, and although I was trying to listen for the accent, I'm not sure I caught it. I don't think my listening skills are good enough yet. I -think- I remember people speaking a bit more textbookishly than I'm used to up here in the north, but that might just be a confirmation bias or whatnot. Also, it's not like people here speak crazy "zuuzuu-ben" or anything...it seems pretty mild.
    Last edited by Wakatta; March 16th, 2009 at 19:57.

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    Senior Member kamukamuume's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wakatta View Post
    Yeah, here in Miyagi (Touhoku), consonants get softened, too. Ga/gi/gu/ge/go are noticeably softer than I remember from Toyko. I sometimes mishear a "ga" as a "na", even, when the softening implicit "n" is stronger than the "ga" itself.

    I recently got back from Kyoto, and although I was trying to listen for the accent, I'm not sure I caught it. I don't think my listening skills are good enough yet. I -think- I remember people speaking a bit more textbookishly than I'm used to up here in the north, but that might just be a confirmation bias or whatnot. Also, it's not like people here speak crazy "zuuzuu-ben" or anything...it seems pretty mild.
    no, that sounds about right. I don't have a ton of experience with the tohoku accent (my girlfriend always uses hyojungo, and now increasingly kansai-ben), but when she's on the phone with her mom or friends, her speech sounds pretty slurred and softened, about like what you're saying.

    I think kansai and kanto accents are pretty close in a lot of ways--they're both well-enunciated, and when you get used to some of the intonational differences and little grammatical touches they have here, it's a snap.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Suggestions on learning Counters?

    I'm not really sure about -gai, now that you ask. That's because I stopped studying counters formally like I said. I just let exposure help me get used to them. I'm on Shikoku in Kagawa where Sanuki-ben reigns. So perhaps it's a Kagawa thing. I just raised it as an example because a teacher had said it earlier that day so I felt confident in using it as an example. Perhaps it's one of those either is OK situations. For example, I believe that "hachifun" is more textbook and more "correct" but everyone around here usually says "happun". It's funny to get Japanese people on a conversation about which is right. They don't really know. Just listen for what they say in normal conversation without thinking about it. That's what's right.

    As far as the 'n' being added to soften the ga-gyou, that's not a Sanuki thing. Tokyo-ben is all about suNgoi. In Kagawa it's sugoi. No n. So that's not in play with san-gai in my neck of the woods.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Suggestions on learning Counters?

    My preferred counter-study method: take a guess or default to "tsu", and listen to their instinctive correction in the reply. Then say that.

    I should add that I really like Tohoku-ben. I throw in an "O-ban desu!" or a polite bow and an "oban de gozaimasu" every now and then, and I'd like to learn how to use "~べ" properly. I'm actively trying to acquire an accent like that to replace my terrible American accent. Don't get me wrong...I'm talking like a mild Miyagi-ish accent, not a crazy-strong far-northern one.

    I mentioned this to a friend of mine (also American) when we were talking about accents, and he was like, "So...you want to sound like a hick?" Fair critique, but I dunno, I have positive associations with a mild Tohoku accent. And I have always secretly wanted a American southern-states accent ... a subtle gentlemanly one, not a redneck one.

    The only American accent I can do at all reliably besides normal and Keanu Reeves Surfer-Speak is a Minnesotan one. ... I have to say that I would not want to sound like that. Still, it's kind of fun, oh sure, you betcha. Thankya much. (Fucking Palin going and ruining that for me!)

  20. #20
    Senior Member ampersand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wakatta View Post
    I'd like to learn how to use "~べ" properly.
    It's a straightforward suffix added to the dictionary form (well, the dictionary form if your dictionary is in Tohoku-ben) to form the volitional. The only trick is that るべ turns into っぺ.

    いぐ+べ=いぐべ(行こう)
    する+べ=すっぺ(しよう)

    And, yes, you will sound very much like a hick if you use this construction. If 行きましょうか is something like "Shall we go?", いぐべ should probably be rendered as "Let's git" said as slowly and with as strong a drawl as you can.

    If you want more of an educated but still Tohoku accent, stick to things like めんこい and すぶらすい.
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