Simple vs complex kanji

Yeah I just mean to imply that there’s like two different things that were at play in the conversation.

Amongst learners, the word “reading” can refer to a lot of different things. If an advanced reader picks up a book and reads it cover to cover in a few hours with 0 unknown words and grammar, we call that reading. If a beginner picks up the same book and reads 6 pages over a few hours looking up every other word and googling all the grammar and getting about 80% of the info, we still call that reading.

I just wanted to be clear about what part of the spectrum I am talking about at what time.

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That’s why I enjoy the term “slogging”. It’s frustrating, time-consuming, laborious reading that is much more study than immersion, but quickly builds a thick skin. You only have to do it a couple of times to gain a massive amount of vocab and grammar, and then everything you do after that will seem like a cakewalk.

I’ve actually heard a number of success stories about people doing that: laboriously translating a book and acquiring the language through that initial, monumental effort.

Yeah I don’t know if I would use the word cakewalk, but I mean it’s definitely not…hard. I mean, with a certain level of grammar stuff just becomes a lot easier. There are so many great tools nowadays that just make the lookup process effortless, so it’s not too painful and you just have to use your head. For the very early days of my immersion like 5 years ago, it was quite tough, however, and I would usually end my sessions with quite a bit of brainfog and mental fatigue. Big part of that was my lack of a foundation, though.

Even nowadays though, I don’t really consider my immersion a cakewalk. Like, I’m going for as high of a level as I can get, so I make point out of pushing my speed and making sure I don’t need context to know a word. So I feel like as long as you keep wanting to actively improve, you’ll be raising the bar for yourself and making sure you’re not having an easy time. I think I put in similar effort levels to an intermediate reader whenever I’m immersing, it’s just that I’m getting a lot more done so comprehending any individual sentence takes a lot less effort for me, if any.

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Hmm I would think there are a lot of words that are better determined through context than actively learned. Of the hundreds of English novels I’ve read, I think I can count the number of times ‘malfeasance’ has appeared on both hands with fingers to spare. Exacerbation is a much more fun word, and appears slightly more frequently, but not frequently enough that I would have ever looked it up (and didn’t need to after seeing it used a couple times in context).

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I’m not gonna argue with you, but if you wanna play the “but natives” game, be my guest. Get to the point where you only need context for the words heavy readers need context for


I wish this was the frequency list most sites actually used. I always felt like the newspaper-based one you see everywhere felt very off and inaccurate at times. Thank you for sharing this.

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Aren’t we saying the same thing here? That at a certain advanced level, new words are automatically acquired via context?

No, I’m saying do your best and get to a level you are happy with. Don’t be surprised if I’m not happy with that level though


That’s fair. I don’t have lofty goals in Japanese. I want a 90 something percent comprehension level and active recall of only about half of that. Then I’ll move on to other languages and do the same with those. I do love Japanese but not enough to devote the lion’s share of a decade to study of any intensity. I just want to be more worldly and gain the perspective that’s only possible stepping out of one’s native language.

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But won’t “only” 90% make it hard to understand key points of what you’re reading? Going by statistics alone that would mean there is a real chance that you’ll miss something critical in every sentence and only get the general idea :frowning: .

Regarding known words, I very much agree with what @Vanilla wrote earlier about knowing the right words and using that as a foothold to get into the target series. I kind of wish I took a similar approach when I started. I now have over 10k words in my Anki deck, but since they’re mined from various sources I still often come across words and kanji I’m unfamiliar with and for which I need a dictionary.


At 90%, sure, that’s fully a 10% gap in all communication. Good thing I said 90 something percent! I was thinking closer to 98%. 1 word out of 50 is fine in my book, and that is just the cutoff point where I will stop actively learning - I’ll still be absorbing the language through context. Those last few percent in understanding have such a hugely diminishing return that the vocab needed to cover them nearly doubles.

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Can I please have the link to the video?

The stuff you quoted is from, but the video is in the thread you see when you click my name


Thank you!

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