I think it can be hard to judge what grammar points need introduction or explanation, but questions about that might flow naturally from checking your comprehension. If you misinterpreted something it’s clear you missed something about what was said, and you can always ask a question about it. Whether it’s a grammar point, some nuance in vocab, or something else entirely is going to become clear from that pretty quickly, usually.
I love that idea, and to take it one step further, maybe we could also add answered grammar questions by order of page number… Meaning, beginner A asks question, more advanced reader B answers, B or other participant C records (maybe just quotes) the page number, question, and answer in the wiki. That way anyone reading after that point would be able to easily find the question and answer at the top of the discussion…
I love that! I’ve always found it a pain to read through old convos because everyone reads at a different pace or struggles with different things.
I was already looking forward to this book club, but now I’m really looking forward to it
I tried this, it’s a lot of work sadly and really can’t be easily kept up
Yeah, I believe this has been attempted a few times, and it always ends up being entirely too much work. Keeping on top of that much discussion is incredibly difficult.
While I like the idea, and maybe a wiki where others are helping out instead of it being solely on one person would make it doable, I still always advocate just teaching people about the search within thread function instead.
It is genuinely a decent search function, and finding what you need is really not difficult if you are aware it’s there and how to use it.
I’ll be posting my usual “things to know” comment here in the next day or so, and I’ll include a “how to use the search function” run-down as well.
Edit: Also, if one isn’t a Regular, we would have to tag the mods in every single thread to make the second comment a wiki, so that’s one caveat to keep in mind. (Or just making sure that a Regular is the one to post that second comment and make their comment a wiki). Or maybe I’m misremembering and every member can make their own comment a wiki. I am pretty sure that’s a Regular thing, though.
Well, since I mentioned it already, anyway, now is as good a time as any to get my “Things to Know Before You Dive In” comment posted!
The biggest thing to be aware of is that when you first start reading, it’s likely not going to really feel like reading as you know it in your native language. It’s much closer to doing a puzzle. You’ll be seeing and deciphering bits of information that you recognize and trying to match it up with the things you don’t know to try and pull meaning from the context. It’s going to be an exercise in patience, and it won’t always be easy. It might not seem like it in the moment, but you are learning and picking up information. @ChristopherFritz has mentioned many times in many places throughout the forums that the brain is a pattern-recognition machine. He’s right. As you continue to read and expose your brain to the grammar patterns, it will pick them up. Some grammar points will come more naturally than others – they’ll be obvious in context, or the English explanation will be all it takes to understand it. Other points, you might see 10, 20, 30 or even more times before it sticks. I still have grammar points that I forget and have to look back up, even now. It’s a totally natural part of the process, and we’ve all gone through the stage where we’ve wondered if it even counts as reading when you are spending that much time with the vocabulary sheet, or grammar resources, in between looking at the pages of the manga. It does count, and if you stick with it (as long as you are enjoying the process at least some!), it will net results. Those results will come a little easier if you make sure to utilize the resources I’ll be linking below and to ask questions in the discussion threads!
On that note, when you come across things that are difficult to understand, please, please, please feel free to ask in the discussion threads! If you have a question, there’s a good chance that somebody else does as well, and even if there wasn’t somebody else with the same question, answering the questions is a great way for some of us to take a closer look at something we thought we knew, and realize that there was some nuance we were missing. Asking and answering questions is a fantastic way to learn, and it’s a big reason why I’m a bit of an evangelist for the book clubs. It’s such a fantastic resource, with a wealth of knowledge that is just waiting for you to access it! The biggest thing I always like to stress is that there is no such thing as a silly/stupid question in learning environments. Every question is a good question, no matter how basic it might seem!
Be aware that sometimes you might come across a sentence that just makes no sense and you have no idea what it is. In those cases, of course, always feel free to ask about it in the thread, but also consider moving past that sentence and reading the next one or two. I can’t even count how many times I’ve looked at a sentence and wondered, “What the heck is this character saying?” only for another character to ask the other character the exact same thing because what was said was essentially nonsense or some complicated jargon that the author will break down and explain in the following panels.
Something that may be worth mentioning: While I don't know if it will show up in this manga for sure, it could come in handy: sometimes the furigana on a kanji is NOT how that kanji is actually read. For more information, click the arrow!
It is quite often the case that, if the furigana doesn’t directly match the kanji, it’s an attempt to insert some double-meaning and make a joke.
From “The Way of the Househusband”, in which 包丁, referring to a kitchen knife and which would usually be read as ほうちょう, is given the furigana ヤッパ, a slang-y term that is used by Yakuza members to describe a blade (like a weapon, not just a normal kitchen knife, generally). A lot of the humour of this manga is directly related to other characters misunderstanding this character because of how he speaks. The kanji is used to indicate to the reader that what he really means is a kitchen knife, but the furigana is what he says out loud, hence the concerned reaction of the gentleman to whom he is speaking.
More commonly in shounen manga, however, and something you’ll see in games quite often as well, is that something like attack/skill/technique/magic/etc names will be written as English words, or in katakana, and the kanji will be explaining the basic “idea” of what the attack actually represents. You’ll also often see this for organization names and the like, or unique in-universe titles/events.
From Tales of the Abyss, where 神託の盾 (which would be read: しんたくのたて if the proper furigana for those particular kanji were used “Shield of the Oracle”) is called オラクル or “Oracle”. (Incidentally, the group is called “Oracle Knights” in the English version of the game). As with the Househusband example, the furigana indicates what is being spoken by the character, and the kanji indicates to the audience what the actual meaning is.
From Cardcaptor Sakura. 封印解除, a made-up compound of the words 封印・解除 (actual furigana for those kanji: ふういん・かいじょ), given レリーズ as furigana, which would be the English word “release”.
Here is a list of the resources that I found absolutely invaluable when I first started out reading.
For unknown vocabulary, if it isn’t already in the vocabulary sheet, whether they be all-kana or kanji, I tend to use:
It’s an intuitive interface, and you’ll find a lot there, though it doesn’t have everything, so keep that in mind! One major pro, though it doesn’t necessarily pertain to this manga, given that it has furigana, is there are “Search by Drawing” and “Search by Radical” options, so even without furigana, you should be able to find a kanji on that site!
Is also a great source for finding words. It will also often give you a great list of example sentences, so you can see those words in context!
The downside is that the interface is primarily in Japanese, and if there’s a way to change that, I’ve not found it yet (also haven’t bothered to search around for it much), so it is a bit more difficult to use than Jisho, though the interface itself remains intuitive.
For looking up grammar, I’ll either literally just type the grammar point + grammar into google. (I.e., “てくれる grammar”), and look at those results, or I’ll consult a few different sites:
Bunpro has a free grammar reference (the only paid portion of the program is the SRS, I believe), and has decent, concise explanations of many grammar points.
JLPT Sensei | Learn Japanese & Study for the JLPT (日本能力試験の勉強) is pretty decent at breaking down grammar points and giving example sentences, though much like Jisho, it doesn’t have everything! It does have a very intuitive interface, however.
Maggie Sensei is very good at breaking things down in a way that’s easy for me to understand. One of the big downsides, however, is that she is very much a “wall-of-text” explainer, and with all the different colors she uses to color-code grammar points, the site can quickly give you a bit of sensory overload. Ctrl+F is your best friend on her website, in my experience, though once you find what you’re looking for, she does a good job of breaking those points down.
Organic Japanese with Cure Dolly - YouTube If you aren’t much a fan of reading your grammar, and have better luck with videos, this channel comes highly recommended by a number of people. In my experience, she does a good job of making some particularly difficult points make sense, once she stops pontificating on how her method is the best method. I also have a hard time with the voice, but the downsides are definitely outweighed by the upsides of her explanations.
Japanese Language Stack Exchange For some of the more difficult grammar questions, sometimes the best results are in Q&A forums like stackexchange or HiNative! I always take these sites with a grain of salt, but they can be useful in finding some answers on the off-chance that nobody in the book club knows an answer for sure! (One of the fun things about Japanese is its ambiguity, after all, so even when you think you know something, sometimes it’s hard to be sure!)
Ichi Moe. It does a fairly decent job in breaking down sentences to individual grammar points and words, so that you can maybe piece together meaning from there. This is especially useful when you come across a sentence that you just can’t crack the logic behind, as it separates everything out in an easy-to-read manner, and also can often tell you if something is an idiom! It’s not perfect however, and especially once you hit more slang-y Japanese, or you put in names, it starts to not do the job as well. My suggestion for sentences with names: replace the name with a pronoun like 彼 or 彼女. This just helps the parser out a little bit and can give you a better result sometimes!
Finally, the weapon of last resort: a translator. Sometimes you might find that you have a very difficult time parsing something, and there’s just no way it’s making sense. In desperation, you turn to Google Translate. If you’re lucky, it spits out something comprehensible. More often than not, though, because Japanese is such a contextual language, it requires more context before it could possibly help you out. If you absolutely feel that you have to go to a translator, I would recommend DeepL Translate over Google Translate, hands-down.
I’m going to supplement this with this major warning:
It REALLY should be your weapon of last resort. You will almost always get a better answer talking it out with the book club, with people who are reading the same book as you, than from a translator which doesn’t have any context to the situation from which you are feeding it a sentence. This is especially the case in Japanese, which relies so heavily on context. The translator can break down to a few different scenarios:
You put your sentence in, and the translator gives you an answer that makes sense, and it’s actually correct. (Best-case Scenario)
You put your sentence in, and the translator gives you an answer that doesn’t make any sense, and it’s wrong. (Bad scenario, but not the worst-case)
You put your sentence in, and the translator gives you an answer that makes sense, but it’s WRONG. (Worst-case scenario)
The problem is, that if you are fairly early in your Japanese journey, you might not be able to differentiate between Scenario 1 and Scenario 3, and you’ll go on with a misunderstanding on how a phrase is used, or what it means. That’s why I say it’s absolutely a last resort, and should be avoided, but I’d rather give a link to a translator that’s a bit more accurate than Google to try and equip you a little bit better.
And the last little bit of my rambles here will be talking about the Search Function that is part of the forums here.
While the discussion threads are excellent resources, if you’re maybe chiming in a little later, it can feel like an absolute chore to read through every post trying to find the answer to what you need – especially if the book clubs are as lively as we want them to be!
But fear not, the Search Function will get you taken care of. It’s quite easy to use and relatively robust (at least as far as forum search functions go)!
Using the Search Function
You might have no idea what I’m even talking about. No worries! The search function is really easy to find. You can either use Ctrl + F while in the forum (on Windows; I can’t speak to Mac for sure, but I assume it’s just Cmd + F) to open up the search, or you can simply click the magnifying glass that is next to your profile!
If you used the keyboard shortcut, it will default to searching in the specific thread. Otherwise, if you use the magnifying glass, just click the bit that says “in this topic”
From there, it’s super simple. Just type what you’re looking for.
My usual advice for using the search function is to use a section of the sentence that you have questions about. You can search by page number, if people are marking their questions and answers correctly, but sometimes, that gets missed, so it’s better to search by text, in my opinion.
As an example, say I had a question about a sentence in the first chapter of Teasing Master Takagi-san: 「ゆがんじゃったのかなー、ちょっと西片あけてくんない？」Let’s pretend I have no idea what 「じゃった」is specifically.
I go to the thread to see if that question has already been answered. There are over 500 posts in that week’s discussion thread, so reading through every single post is hardly an option. I would just pull up my handy-dandy search and type ゆがんじゃった (the more you can narrow it down while keeping it unique to the sentence that you are searching for, the better. It makes it easier to find instances where somebody asked a question, but maybe didn’t post the full sentence. In this case, I chose ゆがん as the presumably unique part of the sentence that will keep it relevant to my question, and of course, I included じゃった since that is the part I have a question about in this hypothetical). I am then given a list of each post that has that exact phrase, complete with previews that can make it easier to judge which comment is likely to have the answer I’m searching for:
In this specific instance, it looks like the question was originally asked by VikingSchism (since that’s the top result), with an answer by Phryne. Looks like it could have used more explanation, though, since it continues to get discussed. You’ll start to recognize some faces and names answering questions – pretty much every time, if you see an answer by ChristopherFritz, it’s worth clicking, and that’s certainly the case here as well.
And… that’s it. It’s really that simple. Use the search function by typing portions of what you have questions about, and you’ll have an easy way to click through a couple of posts instead of a couple of hundred.
Yah, only Regulars. Part of the reason I’ve taken great pains (i.e. reading the Poll threads) to maintain my Regular status.
I feel as though this should be pinned to the very front of the forum page, beneath the ‘New User Questions’ thread that’s pinned
This x100. This happened to me with my first Absolute Beginner Book Club, and again with my first Beginner Book Club. Both times I felt ill-prepared and like I’m not even reading because I had to do oh-so many look-ups, and like I should give it up for now and try again once I’m better because there’s no point continuing right now.
I actually did give up that ABBC, but I did power through that feeling and stick around for that BBC, and I’m so glad I did. I learnt so much, and once I was done I went back to try that ABBC book again, and this time I could do it in a few days!
If you want to make spoilers, you either need to do [spoiler]Thing[/spoiler], or for longer things it’s better to do
Latter can even have a title, if you put one in like this:
Okay, I’ll test it out now
そうか = and then this is where I would ask what そうか means, if I didn’t already know (in this case, I actually do know what it means)
[spoiler] isn’t in plural, and the closing tag of details a) can’t have a title, b) needs to be like [/details]
Keep in mind, you can see what your post will look like exactly after posting by checking the preview
And you can create these elements from here too:
I got it now, thanks!
I’ve the first two (full) pages of ルリ done, pages 9 and 10! I definitely won’t be able to keep up with 15 pages a week, but even if I got ~5 done and really worked on them, I’d be happy. I’m making lots of notes as I go and they’re all properly formatted now in the way you just showed me, looking forward to discussing with y’all!
You’ll probably pick up speed pretty quickly as you go along - you’ll pick up some vocab and grammar that’ll help you along the way and just get used to reading in general. It’s always a struggle at first.
Nice job! If you got the first 2 pages done in one day, I don’t think it’s impossible to get 15 in a week
Also, might I ask, how do you go about searching up things you don’t know? Maybe we can share some resources you might not be aware of
Well, at the moment I’m trying to keep the speed moderate. As in, make a conscious effort to understand each sentence, but don’t overdo it either. Just work towards getting a general gist and move on.
Normally if I was trying to decipher a sentence I’d go straight to ichi.moe for the breakdown, google translate for partial translations, and then deepl for a more thorough translation. However, for the purpose of this reading club, I’m trying to limit it to kanshudo as much as possible for individual vocab/grammar points and then try to infer the rest of the meaning for myself.
FYI, my grammar background is N5. I’ve the first 80 items on BunPro covered, so the bare basics are definitely there.
And we won’t be starting with 15 pages per week anyway
We had been talking about pacing a bit much earlier over in the ABBC main thread. The latest suggestion (that I still want to double-check by looking for good split points) is:
A speed-up after a few weeks might look scary now, but… it’s usually surprisingly doable. By then, we’ll have gotten all the basic questions for grammar that the author keeps using out of the way, and people have gotten used to the style and gathered some reading experience.
The second post could include the request itself to be made a wiki, the mods usually aren’t too slow to do it.
I see, I think you’ll be fine. Personally, I couldn’t tell you my grammar level, never touched Genki, BunPro or anything of the sort. Most of my grammar knowledge is picked up from years of watching anime (as stupid as it sounds), I wasn’t even learning Japanese back then, so just imagine how much you can pick up from actually trying to learn from reading. The most actual study I’ve done was watch a few CureDolly videos, which I should really continue…
Anyway, point is, for me, a lot of my reading is educated guesses. And sometimes that’s fine to just leave it as is, no need to search it up, unless I feel like my guess isn’t good enough.
Just to clarify, for chapters that have a +, that means they are being split into more than 1 week? Like 4 weeks for chapter 1?