Archive for October, 2006


2006 October 14

I’m in holiday now… Probably this blog also…

(It’s still possible that I will blog randomly)


Kanji memorizing protocol

2006 October 10

Here’s my way of memorizing kanji. It is based on my experience of learning Japanese writing for around 1 year. I always tweak it from time to time.

The first is about picking which kanji to learn:

  1. Choose a batch of kanji to memorize. For example, I’m now memorizing grade 3 jouyou kanji (200 kanji). Some other examples are all kanji in a specific Japanese Wikipedia article and all kanji in a Japanese song. Making a list reduces the sense of being overwhelmed by the gigantic amount of kanji one needs to master Japanese, while at the same time creating a challenging target to accomplish.
  2. If the list is too large (like my current case), break it into more managable chunks. For example, I pick at least 10 kanji (from the total 200) to learn everyday.

Now to the individual kanji. For each kanji to memorize:

  1. Pick one reading and meaning from the Japanese to English dictionary EDICT. Dictionary programs like Wakan and JquickTrans use EDICT for their data. At its core, EDICT is just a text file (SHIFT-JIS encoded) and browsing the contents using Firefox is possible. I use my own console program EdictReader which displays homophones and homonyms for a search result (also supports grade filter and super-limited regex):


    To give a concrete example, let’s suppose I’m rying to memorize 光. For 光 I can choose the reading ひかり (hikari) with the meaning “light”. Another possibility is 光る which reads ひかる (hikaru) and means “to shine”. Note that some kanji cannot stand by itself, which means that it needs okurigana (hiragana suffixes) like 暑い (あつい, atsui, hot) or appears in a compound like the 曜 in 日曜日 (にちようび, nichiyoubi, Sunday).

    When the kanji only appears in compound and I doubt about its meaning, I take a look at the kanji dictionary KANJIDIC. KANJIDIC has information about associated meanings for a kanji. Again, dictionaries like Wakan and JquickTrans use KANJIDIC for its kanji data. I eat my own dogfood, using SharpJiten to do it. For example, the 曜 mentioned before has the meaning “weekday” associated with it.

    PS: As a side note, “weekday” means any day of the week except Saturday and Sunday. However, the kanji 曜 is used in both Saturday (土曜日) and Sunday (日曜日).

  2. After that, I make a mnemonic to associate its shape to its meaning. For the kanji 光, I separate its shape into subshapes:

    shape separation for the kanji 光

    and assign the mnemonic “he walks (儿) with a hat (亠) to protect himself from the LIGHT of the sun ray (\ /)”. This is a creative process which is limited only by imagination (see other examples here). The weirder, funnier, and more personal the mnemonic is, the easier it will be to remember.

    After creating a mnemonic, I write it in a computer file for future reference. This is obviously useful when I forget the mnemonic.

    When you have memorized lots of kanji and radical (shapes occuring in various kanji, like 广), memorizing new kanji will be a lot easier. This is because many kanji are just a mix and match of other kanji and/or radical. Some examples are the kanji 明 (bright) (mix and match of 日 (sun) and 月 (moon)) and 線 (line) (mix and match of 糸 (thread), 白 (white), and 水 (water)). Making a mnemonic will then be only about making a sentence out of those well-known shapes. An example is “the sun (日) and the moon (月) are both visible on the sky so it is very BRIGHT (明) today”.

  3. Next is to make a mnemonic to associate the sound to its meaning. Here’s an example for ひかり (hikari, light). In English, ひ (hi) is read like “he” and かり (kari) sounds somewhat like “curry”. So one possible mnemonic is (he (HI) cooks curry (KARI) by exposing it to sun LIGHT).

    I also archive the mnemonic in a computer file.

    After this step, the kanji, its reading, and its meaning are interwoven nicely with 2 mnemonics:

    kanji (光) -> mnemonic -> meaning (light) <- mnemonic <- reading (ひかり)

    For the sound-to-meaning mnemonic, I freely make use of Indonesian, English, Japanese, and any other language I could think of (Javanese, for example). I sometimes use my program WordFinder to find Indonesian words for the mnemonic ingredient (data from the Indonesian dictionary for, kindly provided by Benitius Brevoort):


  4. Then I see see the stroke order using my program StrokeReplayer (data from Taka and KanjiCafe). Then I scribe the correct stroke order in my stroke order reference book (the usual tree-killing book, not a a digital thing). I then try to "feel" the flow of the strokes by writing the kanji several times in my practice book.
  5. The finishing is to put two entries in Mnemosyne so that there will be computer-scheduled optimally-spaced review. One entry is to ask the reading and its meaning from its kanji, for example:

    Q: 光
    A: ひかり (light)

    Here’s an example entry for a kanji that has multiple meanings (note that multiple meanings is indicated in the question):

    Q: 体 (2)
    A: からだ (body, health)

    And here’s an example entry for a word that has more that one reading and meaning:

    Q: 一日 (2) (2) (1)
    A: いちにち (one day, first day of the month), いちじつ (one day, first day of the month), ついたち (first day of the month)

    PS: “(2) (2) (1)” means that there are 3 readings, two of them having 2 meanings and the other having 1 meaning

    The other entry is to test your writing, like so:

    Q: ひかり – light
    A: 光
    (grade info in category, for example “Japanese – Writing – Kanji – Grade 2”)

    When I encounter a writing question, I write it on the canvas of StrokeReplayer and compare it with the correct answer there also.

That’s all there is to it.

Is all the mnemonics really that useful? I can ascertain that it works great! When I can’t instantly recall a shape, word, or meaning, mnemonic allows me to rediscover it. When I’ve become familiar enough with the item, I won’t consciously use the mnemonic so it certainly isn’t a hindrance to instant recall. sorter

2006 October 10

This post has been moved to “ sorter”. Please visit the new server.

Kanji and word dump: from 度 to 服

2006 October 10

30 new kanji I’ve learned:


Here is the associated word dump:

Kanji Kana English
たび times (three times, each time, etc.)
金庫 かねぐら vault
にわ garden
しき equation
えき war
待つ まつ to wait
きゅう sudden
いき breath
あく evil
悲しい かなしい sad
そう thought
正意 せいい correct meaning
かん feeling
ところ place, spot, one’s house
打たれる うたれる to be beaten
投げる なげる to throw
じゅう ten (used in legal documents)
持つ もつ to hold
ゆび finger
放る ほうる to abandon
整う ととのう to be prepared
たび trip
ぞく race
むかし olden days
昭々たる しょうしょうたる bright
暑い あつい hot
暗い くらい dark
きょく piece of music
ゆう possession
ふく clothes

Word count is 1609.

Kanji and word dump: grade 3 start!

2006 October 8

I’ve finished writing the stroke order of all grade 1 and 2 kanji on my new reference book. I’ve also added the corresponding StrokeReplayer entries on Mnemosyne. I’m now I’m memorizing grade 3 kanji with the new infrastructure.

Here are the 60 kanji that I’ve memorized:


And here are new words I’ve memorized (most of them come from the new kanji):

Kanji Kana English
交わす かわす to exchange (messages)
じてんしゃ bicycle
じどうしゃ automobile
いもうと younger sister
あさ morning
汽車 きしゃ steam train
ちょう butterfly
ちょう leaf
両手 りょうて (with) both hands
ぬし master
乗る のる to ride in, to board
予め あらかじめ beforehand
こと thing
ほか other (esp. places and things)
だい era
じゅう dwelling
使う つかう to use
かかり duty
ばい double
ぜん all, entire
しゃ photograph
れつ row
じょ help
勉めて つとめて diligently
どう motion
勝つ かつ to win
action of making something
去る さる to leave
はん anti-
取る とる to take
受かる うかる to pass (examination)
ごう number, issue
向かう むかう to go towards
あじ taste
いのち (mortal) life
しな goods
いん member
しょう quotient
もん problem, question
さか slope
月央 げつおう middle of the month
始まる はじまる to begin
委ねる ゆだねる to devote oneself to
もり nursemaid
安い やすい cheap
定か さだか definite
じつ truth, reality
きゃく customer
お宮 おみや Shinto shrine
宿 やど inn
かん midwinter
たい versus
きょく department
パン屋 パンや bakery
きし coast, shore
しま island
しゅう province
とばり curtain
さち happiness

The word count is now 1579.

Minor variations of the fundamentally same shape

2006 October 8

The font MS Gothic and MS Mincho differs in how to draw some strokes. Here are 2 examples:

MS Gothic vs MS Mincho

The red strokes in MS Gothic are concave up, while in MS Mincho it is concave down. It seems that MS Gothic favors symmetry more than MS Mincho. Here are some more examples:

MS Gothic likes symmetry

In MS Gothic, the blue stroke is a horizontal mirror of the red one.

However there are some notable exceptions that I found:

MS Gothic breaks the symmetry

In the image above, MS Gothic and MS Mincho agree on stroke concavity.

All those examples suggest that concavity is up to the preference of the writer. MS Mincho’s style can be said to showcase wabi sabi more (wabi sabi is a Japanese view that states beauty is found in asymmetry and imperfection).

However, even on the same font there are variations for some shape. I’ll illustrate MS Gothic’s case.

木 variation

The first is regarding the red stroke in the 木 shape. In the top row, all of them are concave up. In the second row, where the shape appears on the half left of a “horizontal flow layout”, it is concave down and slightly displaced below.

A horizontal flow layout is a layout where items are arranged from left to right. Constrast it with a vertical flow layout. In 数 the 木 shape is inside a vertical flow layout so it is drawn like the normal 木. This illustration shows the difference between a vertical and horizontal flow layout:

木 in a flow layout

Next is the shape of 立:

立 variation

Appearing by itself, the blue stroke is unconnected to any other stroke and the red stroke is connected to the lowermost stroke. For the 2 kanji to the right of the first one, the stroke corresponding to the red one is connected to the top horizontal stroke also. For the last kanji, all of them are connected to the top and bottom horizontal strokes.

The shape of 父 also varies:

父 variation

In the last kanji, the red stroke is concave down, different from the first two.

The last example is 土:

土 variation

In the top row, the lowermost horizontal stroke is… well… horizontal. However, in the bottom row, where 土 appears in the left side of a horizontal flow layout, the lowermost stroke has a positive slope.

There are many more examples that I found. Because some variation rules can be found, it casts doubt that the stroke detail (concavity, connectivity, slope, etc) is completely up to the writer. Whatever the case is, all those variations makes the task of memorizing the shape harder for anyone who want to follow the style of MS Gothic (or Mincho) as close as possible.

6 Yi Se-tol games in hand (mind?)

2006 October 7

Using the combination of Drago, Mnemosyne, and KifuReviewer, I’ve memorized 6 Yi Se-tol games (first 50 moves). Here are them, from the order in which they are memorized:

White Black Event Date Result
Yi Ch’ang-ho Yi Se-tol 3rd Toyota Cup (semi-final) 2006-09-01 B+R (komi 6.5)
Hane Naoki Yi Se-tol 3rd Toyota Cup (round 3) 2006-08-30 B+R (komi 6.5)
Cho Hun-hyeon Yi Se-tol year 2006 Korean League 2006-06-22 B+R (komi 6.5)
Cho Hun-hyeon Yi Se-tol 2nd Korean Prices Information Cup (league D) 2006-05-25 B+R (komi 6.5)
Cho Chikun Yi Se-tol 19th Fujitsu Cup (round 2) 2006-04-10 B+R (komi 6.5)
Yi Se-tol Yamashita Keigo 10th LG Cup (round 2) 2005-05-18 W+R (komi 6.5)

All the results are Yi+R. No, Yi Se-tol does not always win by resignation. The games are deliberately chosen as such so that I can easily memorize the result.

I can’t say that those games improved my own play. It does broaden my joseki knowledge, especially on the komoku ones. I also found some surprising moves, such as approaching a hoshi enclosure from below and invading a double enclosed hoshi. However I won’t write more about it primarily because I just took note of them and haven’t bothered to study the positions in depth.

The openings are especially hectic. In most of the games, a complex fight starts early from one of the corners and spreads towards the center. When a fight like that occurs, other corners and sides will be untouched.

My purpose of memorizing the games is just to warm myself up for the real improvement activity: tsumego. If you can’t do life and death and solve tactical problems, you won’t get far.

I’ve started doing the Korean Problem Academy sets from gobase. For book 1 (200 problems, rated 25k-15k) I got all of them correct. Not surprising since I’m now 8k YIC and because I’ve been through book 1 quite a lot. For book 2 (200 problems, rated 15k-5k), my score is 96%. The mistakes are getting seki while a better solution exists. I’m currently redoing it again.

I’ll probably do daily (downloadable) soon. 30 minutes a day should be enough. I also need to study more advanced life and death concepts by reading Sensei’s Library (also downloadable). In the past, my theoretical study of eyeshapes (farmer’s hat, bulky 5, rectangular 4, etc) and elementary L&D techniques (nakade, throw in, oshitubushi) really helped me. There’s still very much to learn, from notchers to the dreadful carpenter’s square.

Though memorizing games isn’t my main priority now, I’ll add my collection from time to time.

Google Code Search

2006 October 7

Google now searches source code! The URL is Other than indexing easily accessible source files (.cpp, .cs, .java, etc stored in a web server), it also searches inside a compressed file (like .zip) and code repositories (like cvs).

Anyway, I got 2 hits on Google code search :)…

Memorizing kanji stroke order: Mnemosyne + StrokeReplayer

2006 October 3

This post has been moved to “Memorizing kanji stroke order: Mnemosyne + StrokeReplayer”. Please visit the new server.