Translation

This is my first Wanikani post, and I have literally no clue how this works so bear with me!

I read sparsely since I don’t want to burn out on reading before I even reach level 20, so if I do encounter something in Japanese, it’s on a social media site.
I always have google translate open. It’s literally always a tab on google chrome because I use it when having conversations with myself in Japanese, (I know it’s weird but it’s helping me study.)
Every time I encounter something in Japanese that I can’t read right away, or that’s more than 75 characters long, I find it easier to just copy and paste it into google translate, rather than take the time (and frustration) of reading it.
It’s not really a problem now, but I should probably break the habit before I get into serious reading.
What do you all do to combat this problem?

If you want a faster and arguably more accurate way to do translation, you might think about using DeepL because it’s got a desktop application that allows you to translate something just by hitting Ctrl+C twice. DeepL is generally considered to be more accurate and to give more nuanced translations than Google Translate.

I don’t know if I’d consider what you’re experiencing a problem, per say, while it’s certainly a good idea to try translating yourself first, it’s not always feasible to do that on a long piece of text if you’ve not got the time.

Also, while I’m here and since it’s your first post…

Maybe you could use Rikaichamp to ween yourself away, instead only relying on it for the kanji you don’t know while still piecing stuff together? I don’t know how helpful or healthy that would be for your learning but it might be worth considering.

Oh yeah, or this. I sometimes use Rikaichamp rather than DeepL to do just a word in a sentence if I’m otherwise happy with my understanding of the rest of it, just to give me a hint as to it’s meaning.

From my experience, google translate tends to give you rough translations of what’s being said, although due to its nature it can’t really parse context, which for the Japanese language where you can leave out a lot of elements which are supposed to be clear in context, doesn’t always give the most accurate results.

So if you quickly need a rough indication of what is being said somewhere, you can certainly use it. Although I’d seriously recommend against using it to practice grammar.

Personally, if I’m actually reading a piece of text with the intention of fully understanding what’s being said, I’ll look up every word and grammar point I don’t know and try to figure out the structure of the sentence. It’s great for learning grammar, although it goes terribly slowly if you actually want to understand something. Although usually I’ll just pick relatively simple texts for now as my current reading ability isn’t that good yet, which means I would not have to look up every word in a sentence.

You absolutely need to break that habit. Our brains are very good at finding the easiest, laziest way to accomplish a task. If you let yourself immediately use google translate, you will never learn to actually read text because your brain will choose the easy way out. That being said, you can always try to use a tool such as google translate after you make an attempt to read the sentence, but it’s definitely a bad habit and can lead to you feeling like “why should I even bother to read if I can just copy-paste.”

It’s especially bad because machine translation often produces unnatural or even incorrect results, which can give you a mistaken idea about how the language works or cause miscommunication (if you’re using it to talk to someone). It’s also a terrible way to check your own sentences, because it will always try its best to produce a sensible English translation, even if you put in something ungrammatical, or even meaningless nonsense into it.

As you can see, google translate makes an admirable attempt, but gives the impression that what I entered was a real sentence and not just gibberish.

As you learn more Japanese, you will find that google translate is the least useful resource available to you. To help with starting to break the habit, I’d suggest using something like jisho.org to look up individual words instead, since that will give you more accurate information and still requires you to use grammar knowledge to piece the sentence together. Starting to read is a huge hurdle, especially with kanji, so don’t be afraid to look up unknown words or kanji. But you definitely need to start challenging yourself if you ever want to be comfortable reading without using a machine translator. I would also suggest studying grammar now, it will make things a lot easier!

I don’t think using something like DeepL is necessarily inherently bad, it depends on what you do with it. If you just blindly look at the translation and don’t do anything else then yeah, you probably won’t get much from it, but if you use it as a sort of base hint (especially with sentences that would be overwhelmingly complicated early on) and then try to work out how the Japanese is working with that as a guideline, I definitely think there’s merit to that. I might be biased though, since that’s basically how I’ve been “reading” 風が強く吹いている :sweat_smile:

I feel like it’s important to have different kinds of exposure though, like I have some reading practice (animal crossing mostly :joy:) where I just read it and get what I get out of it without thinking or researching too much, and some where I put in the effort to look up everything I don’t fully understand. Changing it up like that helps to keep any one aspect from getting stale, too! This is just what’s working for me at the moment though, really it boils down to what keeps you engaging with the language regularly, which can definitely take some time to figure out.

Thanks for the warm welcome, I guess the rumors I heard about this place being super nice were right. Anyways, I looked at DeepL and the “alternatives” function was incredible. Also, being able to translate documents is incredible. Anyways, with that message, I can finally say a bittersweet (but mainly bitter due to all the weird translations it’s given me) goodbye to Google Translate

No problem; we certainly try to make it that way ^-^

For Japanese I’ve found DeepL significantly more accurate on identical phrases that I know the meaning of.Though @phyro makes a very good point about trying to wean off it altogether and translate as much as you can from looking up the vocab and grammar points and about machine translation never being entirely perfect.

That said, when it’s a whole social media post and you just want to get the gist quickly, having a tool to do that without a lot of copying and pasting can save you a lot of time. All that saved time can be used to do some structured reading practice when you DO have a spare moment, hehe.

Looking up individual words actually sounds like a good strategy, since I’m pretty good at grammar but still working on kanji. Per the previous replies and yours, I can say that I’m going to start reading short stories now, using DeepL and Jisho (the sites I got reccomended) hopefully infrequently. I’ve been using Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide to brushen up my skills. Hopefully I’ll be able to read books with little to no machine assistance by level 40 or so.
Thanks!

No one has mentioned ichi.moe yet. It parses the sentences for you, but you still need to do the hard work of making sense of it.

まずは、仮名をかくれんしゅうから始めましょう

I recommend checking out Organic Japanese with Cure Dolly on youtube. Her lessons on grammar and structure explain what is actually going on better than any other I’ve encountered. I was already reading by level 25 (slowly) with the only machine assistance I needed was looking up words I didn’t know.

If you can, use physical books. It will make it a hassle to look stuff up, so you’ll naturally start doing it a lot less.

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