In my opinion, the automatic furigana feature should be removed until it can gain some semblance of accuracy. Looking at the “ask your tutor” forum you’ll see a bunch of beginning learners wondering why the furigana they’re seeing is completely wrong. Sure enough, even the most basic words in introductory lessons have mistaken furigana. This must be totally bewildering for any beginner attempting to start using lingq.
I’m against this proposal. I use the hiragana reading all the time and it would be a real problem for me if it were removed.
Beginners should be advised to double check pronunciation with the audio and get into the habit of creatng multi-word lingqs. After all, tkanji pronunciation does change depending on context and it makes sense that you need to take a whole phrase into account to make sure the reading is correct. Notice that if, e.g. you lingq the whole 六時 combination, text to audio correctly pronounces “rokuji”. And, of course, the lesson audio also uses the correct pronunciation. Automatic hiragana only provides a hint to the possible pronunciation but it’s still a very useful tool for some of us.
Thanks for the comment. Yes if you highlight the whole word, you will almost always get the correct reading. That’s why I think it would be better to have learners get used to confirming readings by highlighting words rather than using the automatic hiragana that is consistently wrong. That’s actually how I gained proficiency in reading Japanese.
Can I ask what problems you would encounter with no (often wrong) automatic furigana? I fail to see the utility of such a faulty feature.
To be honest, I doubt whether using furigana is ever a good idea unless you are already at a high level. But that being said, I also don’t really see the point of furigana when you always need to double check anyway.
This is my way to learn the language and kanji in particular. Although I’m going through some basic kanji books (Kanji from zero, at this moment), I don’t plan on memorizing lists of kanji. I plan to learn most of them through reading, so I need to be able to fall back on some other system. The idea is that constant encounters I could use romaji but reading hiragan gives me a lot of exposure to the language. Through my experience with other languages (e.g. Russian) I know that constant reading in the alphabet is the best way to really automate reading skills. When I find an interesting kanji that kind of seems familiar but I don’t know well, I practice writing it for a few times.
To sum up, this is my learning method: reading kanji with furigana to get exposed to both vocabulary and spelling. If others find this inconvenient, all they have to do is turn the feature off. It is useful to me. I can’t see how removing an option can improve learning experience.
Besides, I don’t find the Lingq furigana readings so inconvenient. I can tell when the readings may be off, essentially when several kanjis or kanji + okurigana series occur together but the system doesn’t recognize them as a single word. I simply lingq together the characters that make up the word and lingq that. It’s something you have to do anyway but because the system often does not parse the words in the most useful way so I don’t see any problem there. I do understand that LIngq should warn beginners of this issue but, again, they can just turn the feature off if it is confusing. I it gets removed altogether
I don’t even consider that current furigana is “incorrect”: it provids a kanji by kanji reading, not word by word. Even being reminded of the alternative reading (usually onyomi) is useful for my goals.
The fact is that every time you encounter a word you don’t know with kanji in it, you need to stop, lingq it and listen to the pronunciation, there’s no way around, unless you already know the word and the spelling. Automatic furigana does not add or detract anything from that process, so I don’t think how it can be detrimental. It is only so if you eschew this process, thinking that the furigana is enough. Notice that you have to do the exact same thing if you’re learning English, to check the pronunciation or many other languages.
On the other hand, furigana is very useful for words whose meaning and pronunciation I know but whose kanji I haven’t learned yet. There’s a ton of those.
This is massively important and greatly improves my reading fluency. I think this fact is lost in this kinds of conversations because participants are either complete beginners that get thrown off by the gotchas or advanced learners who simply read the kanji.
Beginners should probably not use the furigana system (which is off by default, anyway) and advanced learnners don’t need it but, a learner, you spend a loooong time in the intermediate level and I would argue that Lingq is particularly suited for this
For intermediate levels, automatic furigana can be a very useful feature, in fact the key to becoming fluent readers. IMO
There are many better ways to learn kanji than by using mistaken furigana. And yes, it’s a real stretch to say the mistaken readings I described are in any way correct. To make a bit of an analogy, it’s like saying you learn how to pronounce the “b” sound in English by vocalizing the ‘b’ in “subtle” (where the b sound is silent).
For example, as I mentioned before, making lingqs and highlighting is an excellent way to jog your memory. That’s how I learned and it really kickstarted my reading ability.
Substandard furigana confuses beginning learners and can lead to people developing bad habits. It also slows people down from having to double-check the furigana when they could just highlight it and immediately get an accurate reading. (EDIT: I would say this significantly detracts from the learning process)
Just seeing your latest comment now. I respect your opinion, though your experience is a little different from mine. I started lingq at an intermediate level and never used the furigana. I think it would have impeded the learning process. But if most Japanese learners here find the furigana helpful, perhaps my concern is misplaced. To me, there’s not much use in a system that requires constant double checking and a warning label for beginners.
I’s like saying you learn how to pronounce the “b” sound in English by vocalizing the ‘b’ in “subtle” (where the b sound is silent).
But that is exactly what English learners get!!! All they have is the standard spelling, which is misleading and they need to learn to double check it.
Anyway, the point here is that it is not for you to decide how I should learn, much less enforce it by removing existing options.
You asked me about my rationale and I obliged, but please don’t take this as a door to discussing my preferred methods. You just made a proposal to the Linqq team, which is inconvenient for me and I am just stating that much.
My proposal would be for the LIngq app to display a warning message when a user activates the hiragana option.
And I respect your disagreement. You are free to learn how you see fit, of course!
However, I wouldn’t describe removing a system that teaches mistaken readings as restricting options. Seems like a bit of a mischaracterization. All I’m saying is there’s no need to unnecessarily confuse people learning a writing system that is already confusing enough.
But for what it’s worth, I apologize for my previous comment, which I wrote too hastily. It ended up reading like a denial of your personal experience (which you were simply sharing to answer my question).
Will keep it up for now so our exchange makes sense to people reading this post.
But don’t worry about your comment. I did think that shifting the conversation to a discussion about how we can best learn kanji was besides the point but I didn’t take it personally. I also respect your different take on this matter and understand that you want to contribute to the community. I am also aware that you’re a knowledgable and advanced Japanese learner and I appreciate your contributions to the forum.
Ok, I think our positions are clear, let’s hear what other users have to say
In my book, that’s the very definition of “restriction”
Fair enough! You could call it a restriction, though to me it basically would amount to removing something that could potentially interfere with many learners’ progress.
Would be curious what other learners think about this as well.
As a beginner, I do not mind the wrong furigana, because I use them as a hint, I do not take them to be the correct pronounciation in that context. I’d rather have wrong-in-that-context furigana than no furigana. Because I need to “pronounce something in my head”. By context and repetition I will get to know the proper pronounciation for each context eventually. As Ftornay pointed out, learning English as a non-native by reading is also very similar to reading “wrong furigana” all the time… - you read “suBtle”, then eventually you hear it in a movie with a silent B and you learn it for the future. Plus furigana can be deactivated.
Thanks for your comment. Perhaps my analogy was a little imprecise. The difference between the wrong furigana and English spelling is that mistaken furigana is not a part of the Japanese language. If it’s helpful to learners on here, then I guess that’s fine, but I’m not sure why people prefer to put in the extra effort of unlearning and double checking erroneous readings.
My primary concern would be that the blatantly wrong furigana would misinform beginning learners and turn them off from using lingq. I suppose a warning label could be a good compromise if users such as yourself find it helpful as a hint.
The short answer is that if someone wants functionality, and that functionality can be easily toggled on for everyone who likes it and toggled off for everyone who finds it distracting— keep the functionality if it’s helping someone.
The answer to the bigger question, though, is how helpful is the furigana? For me, not so much. I’m a sound/listening guy.
I cold listen to Japanese lessons or I read an English or French translation first to L-R the lesson/acquaint myself with it. I never cared which reading route was the fastest (if any) but it ended up being full-on kanji. I find Romaji to be painfully slow to read and furigana to be just added clutter.
I also think that furigana dulls the senses and creates doubt in readers who already know what the meaning and readings of most of the kanji are when they’re constantly glancing at the furigana.
My analogy is that I just spent 6 days in a strange city. On day 3 I was already finding the GPS to be more of a hindrance than just going with my gut of where to turn.
The world won’t fall apart if someone sub-vocalizes jin-tachi/nin-tachi instead of hito-bito or nana instead of shi-chi.
The constant memory-jogging of the furigana inhibits the independent solidification of kanji you’re already mastering but won’t let yourself master because of the constant crutch of glancing at the superscript. And, yes, when it’s wrong it’s even worse because then you start to doubt yourself because it’s presented in almighty print right in front of you. Trust your instincts instead of the furigana.
Yes, it’s true I click a little more often on text for pop-up sound but not inordinately more than if I had furigana turned on. I trust myself for the most part even if my readings aren’t always perfect.
The Kanji is faster for me and probably for you too if you’re N4/N3 or higher.