l33tminion: (L33t)
Programming: Here's an article on binary math in C. For more practical stuff (in you're a Python programmer), read this bit on the fileinput library in Python (very useful, but I hadn't heard of it previously).

Essays: Ever play Monopoly and wonder why the game (as you were taught) is so slow? That's because you were taught wrong.

Douglas Hofstatder makes a point about language by analogy.

A piece on the book and television series Game of Thrones and how it relates to the aesthetic of fascism.

Economics and Society: Foxconn (major Chinese electronics manufacturer) to replace workers with robots. But of course the increased automation will lead to new opportunities for those workers, once freed of the drudgery of such boring jobs?

Meanwhile, there's this HuffPo article about women increasingly turning to prostitution (called by other names) in order to pay tuition or student loans.

A Bit of History: A story about a computer virus that DDOSed the entire internet in 2003. (The Akami tech featured in the article is a friend of mine, he currently spends his time making the mathematical art published here.)

A story about the short and violent life of Robert "Yummy" Sandifer, gang member, murderer, and murder victim before he was killed in 1994 at the age of 11.

Misc: A talk on organizing an art show featuring 100 different artists, who are all the same artist.

An article on the challenges involved in Arabic-language localization for film.

A short story titled Nanolaw with Daughter.
l33tminion: (Bookhead (Nagi))
A conversation I had with a friend on Twitter this morning:

@Sorcyress: I am kinda weirded out by the idea of "hug a jew day" (girls were discussing in high school class)...
@Sorcyress: ...but I don't really have the background to fight it. Maybe I'm just reacting to the phrasing "a jew", which is a slur? I don't know.
@Sorcyress: (Also problematic in that what if the Jewish people in question don't *want* hugs. Or don't want hugs for that reason.)
Me: @Sorcyress "A Jew" is not a slur any more than "a Christian" or "a Muslim" is a slur.
@Sorcyress: More on "Jew" versus "Jewish" http://bit.ly/b2Myxv --implication is that "Jew" isn't technically a slur, but has a dubious history
@Sorcyress: @L33tminion It seems that "Jew" may not be a slur, but is still tainted by a history of being used as one.
Me: @Sorcyress Are you seriously making anti-Semites your go-to source for the definition of the word "Jew"?
@Sorcyress: @L33tminion Based on my research (bit.ly/b2Myxv, bit.ly/JSch1) "Jew" is not a slur, however it is/was so commonly used as one that...
@Sorcyress: @L33tminion ...some people shy away from the word. My best guess is that it's to other reclaimed language, ie, there is not a problem...
@Sorcyress: @L33tminion ...if a Jewish person chooses to self identify as "a Jew" or call themself/another Jewish person "Jew" but because of the...
@Sorcyress: @L33tminion ...history, it can be a little dicey for non-Jewish-identified people to refer to Jewish people a "a jew" or "jews"
@Sorcyress: @L33tminion That being said, IANA Jewish studies major or Jewish. I initially was unsure of whether Jew was a slur. Still am.

At which point I decided a longer post was called for.

Full Disclosure: I was raised Jewish. Many of my family members are Jews. I don't identify myself as "Jewish" / "a Jew", primarily because that implies things about my religious belief and/or practice that are incorrect. (Secondarily, because I put more focus on the religious connotations of the term than ethnic/racial concepts of "the Jewish people".)

Jew as "Reclaimed Language": First off, I take issue with the characterization of the word "Jew" as "reclaimed". Jew is not a word originally applied to practitioners of Judaism by their detractors, but a word with straightforward historical origins that trace back to the biblical story of the origin of the Jews. Wikipedia has an article on the word itself, which contains an excellent summary:
The Jewish ethnonym in Hebrew is יהודים Yehudim (plural of יהודי Yehudi) which is the origin of the English word Jew. The Hebrew name is derived from the region name Judah (Yehudah יהודה). Originally the name referred to the territory allotted to the tribe descended from Judah the fourth son of the patriarch Jacob (Numbers). Judah was one of the twelve sons of Jacob and one of the Twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis). The Genesis 29:35 [1] relates that Judah's mother — the matriarch Leah — named him Yehudah (i.e. "Judah") because she wanted to "praise God" for giving birth to so many sons: "She said, 'This time let me praise (odeh אודה) God (יהוה),' and named the child Judah (Yehudah יהודה)", thus combining "praise" and "God" into one new name. Thereafter Judah vouchsafes the Jewish monarchy, and the Israelite kings David and Solomon derive their lineage from Judah. In Hebrew, the name "Judah" (י ה ו [ד] ה) contains the four letters of the Tetragrammaton — the special, holy, and ineffable name of the Jewish God. The very holiness of the name of Judah attests to its importance as an alternate name for "Israelites" that it ultimately replaces.

[...]

The Middle English word Jew is from the Old French giu, earlier juieu, from the Latin Iudaeus from the Greek Ἰουδαῖος. The Latin simply means Judaean, from the land of Judaea. In the Old English the word is attested as early as 1000 in various forms, such as Iudeas, Gyu, Giu, Iuu, Iuw, Iew. [links omitted]
The first article that @Sorcyress cites, Jonah Goldberg's Proud and True: He's A Jew, claims that "the word 'Jew' is being rehabilitated". The article correctly identifies some problematic uses of the word "Jew". "Jew" as a verb and as an adjective are problematic and that usage both originates from and ties back to an anti-Semetic context. However, the article makes some bizarre statements, for example:
Ironically, the Jew-Jewish distinction was brought to the fore recently by - or to be more fair - because of, another Democrat: Hillary Clinton. The allegation that she called an aide a "f***ing Jew bastard" 30 years ago, fairly or not, reminded some people that "Jew" can be a hurtful word. "F***ing Jewish bastard," oddly enough, would not have been as offensive. [emphasis mine]
Wait, what? I suppose that last statement is technically true. A reduction in the number of syllables conveys emotional intensity (think how many slurs and swears are one syllable), and also has the connotation of force of habit. One would not be unreasonable to conclude that the speaker of the first line is more vehement in their anti-Jewish sentiment and guessing that they more habitually rant about their dislike for "the Jews". But talk about missing the forest for the trees, if the reminder there has to do with the usage of "Jew" versus "Jewish" as opposed to the association of either with "F-ing bastard"!

Another paragraph of note from the same article:
[...] Hitler was largely successful in smearing the word "Jew." The word was so beaten up that after the Holocaust most American Jews took to saying, "I'm Jewish," rather than say, "I am a Jew."
Hitler speaking of "Jews" would have been rather uncharacteristically in English, so that leads to some fascinating sociolinguistic questions about the effects of a word with similar derivation in a different language being used as a slur. (I'm being a bit unfair here, I'd guess that the effects of English-speaking anti-Semites had a more significant direct effect on the perception of the word "Jew" in English. A rhetorical reference to Hitler in the context of the recent history of anti-Semitism can surely be forgiven.)

Identity and Labeling: Proponents of political correctness (and yes, I would count myself in that group) often focus on the use of labeling language. See, for example, the discussion of "person-first language". It's true that language can be hurtful because it implies that an attribute is more of a core part of someone's identity than it actually is. Unfortunately, that cuts both ways: Language can be hurtful because it implies that an attribute is less of a core part of someone's identity than it actually is. Especially if that connotes, "I don't want to treat this as a core part of your identity because it's bad." When someone uses "Jewish person" when "Jew" would flow better, I wonder if this is an expression of discomfort with their own negative attitude about Jews, or an excessive focus on speech norms as opposed to the actual effects of speech. To give an exaggerated example, think what it would imply if someone consistently referred to Jews as "people who are members of the Jewish religion" or "people who practice the Jewish faith", especially if they didn't refer to members of other religions in a similar manner. (I considered using "person with Judaism" as my example, but I'm pretty sure that crosses the line from rhetorical exaggeration into satire.)

On Consistency: Speaking of that last, the connotations of "Jewish person" versus "Jew" may also depend on how the speaker refers to (more specifically, how the listener expects the speaker to refer to) members of other religions. "Jew" is the ordinary noun for "a member of the Jewish religion". So if you refer to "Christians", "Muslims", "Buddhists", "Hindus", and "Jewish people", I don't think the connotation with regard to Jews/Judaism is positive. As the Wikipedia article concludes:
[...] when used as a noun, "Jew" is preferred, as other circumlocutions (e.g. "Jewish person") give the impression that the term "Jew" is offensive in all contexts.
Note that the last is not an argument from any authority, simply a long-standing consensus among the article's editors. I'm just quoting that to say "I agree".

"Hug a Jew Day": Of course, none of that addresses the original question of whether or not "Hug a Jew Day" is weird or offensive, except to object to the characterization of "Jew" as "a slur". I can see why "Hug a Jew Day" could be problematic.

However, a bit of searching revealed a more interesting historical context than I'd originally expected. It seems that "hug a Jew day" dates back to 2009. It originated as a Facebook group formed in opposition to Kick a Jew Day, which in turn was inspired by Kick a Ginger Day, which was inspired by an episode of South Park. Hard to say without further information how @Sorcyress's classmates' discussion fits into that context, but there's clearly some substantial stuff to dig into.
l33tminion: (Default)
l33tminion: (Do Something!)
Again, I delay posting because I can't decide what to post about, but there's stuff to say. So this is a little disorganized:

Fitness: Went climbing on Wednesday:
Courses )
Working out, I've succeeded in some of my major goals. I can back-squat or deadlift two plates (225 lbs.), and as of today I can bench press my weight (170 lbs.). My medium (8 reps) on bench press has gone up from 50 lbs. to 170 lbs. in the last 9 months, which isn't bad at all.

I've been trying to revive my social life since getting back from camp. Patti, Dan, and Tegan's housewarming party last Sunday was fun, and I'll be hanging out with Tegan again this evening. I'll also be hanging out with Lynn on Monday, which is cool, scheduling is tricky since she's farther out from the city proper.

Still memorizing kanji, using Mnemosyne to get back up to date on the one's I've previously learned. Trying to avoid confusing 後 and 終; 北, 比, and 化; 可, 同, and 向; etc., etc. Probably more posts on studying Japanese later.

Speaking of posts later, I'll probably get back to doing my chapter-by-chapter of Megatrends, mainly because I do plan to finish the book and don't like quitting when I'm halfway through. Good writing practice if nothing else.

And news: How about that Goldman Sachs story? Record quarterly profits, record compensation for executives ($18 BILLION; $600,000 per employee, although not actually so evenly distributed, obviously; they paid back the TARP funds first to avoid restrictions on executive pay, but that's a paltry portion of their bailout billions). Goldman seemed to be one of the few firms that realized the subprime mortgage market was "toxic", they sold what they could and then heavily shorted what they sold (the financial equivalent of selling your neighbor a time-bomb and then taking out a large life-insurance policy). What they couldn't dump on the unwitting, they insured with AIG. Given that they knew how bad the subprime bubble was, they must have known that AIG risked becoming insolvent, but that was okay since the US Treasury was run by former Goldman execs (Paulson, among others). Goldman manages to pull of the functional equivalent of crimes in such a way that it's not clear they're crimes at all: Were they misrepresenting the subprime securities they sold, or just taking advantage of less clever competition? Was the relationship between Goldman, AIG, and the US Treasury an elaborate kickbacks scheme planned in advance, or was Goldman just taking advantage of preexisting (and stupid) government policy (most importantly, the "too big to fail" doctrine)?

What really surprises me about the above is the low incidence of actual outrage, even in the easy-to-anger domain of the blogosphere. There's a lot of "we should be outraged", the facts of the matter are pretty outrageous. But it seems that Americans are used to the idea that organizations like Goldman are willing to help destroy the economy for their own (evidently really significant) benefit. Or maybe there's no reason to care about the economy beyond employment and grocery prices... who cares if the government gives billions to the wealthy financial class, who cares about the machinations of the rich? Maybe there's some subconscious belief that it's all a house of cards, and the state of our existence in the lower stories of said house isn't worth much concern, even if the whole thing is seeming rather shaky...

Unrelated, but also political, sort of: While I was at camp, had an argument with a climate skeptic who believes that the last few years of evidence say solar cycles are driving climate in a cooler direction, regardless of anthropogenic global warming. A few thoughts on that:
1. The scientific modeling work is really interesting, there's still a lot to discover.
2. Activists for political change related to global warming will be really reluctant to believe it. And for good reason. Politically motivated climate skeptics were in favor of sun cycle theories of climate change way before the last few years, when the trend was clearly warming, seemingly for reasons of fatalistic denial as opposed to solid science.
3. The guy I was arguing with took the "they'll totally destroy the economy" whine line, which is really annoying. Even if that was climate liberals' goal (it really isn't), the chances of regulation that would actually be economy destroying getting passed and implemented is slim to none. (Unless it massively benefited the rich, I suppose.) I expect whatever gets passed will be minimal, commonsense stuff wrapped in lofty language.
4. Sun-driven cooling is either good news in the sort term (temporary reprieve to global warming, giving us time to get some of those factors in check) or really bad (little ice age during an energy crisis!).

More to write about various books, but I'll do that later, maybe.

That's enough of a brain-dump for now.
l33tminion: (Japanese!)
JapanesePod101.com has started the following challenge: Given a key kanji and a bunch of other kanji, how many compounds can you make containing the key and at least one of the others? Today's challenge: [日] 二、本、一、国、人、十、中、三、時

Probably Only Interesting if You're Studying Japanese )
l33tminion: (Grammar)
Word counts from candidate speeches graphed over time: Here's leadership vs. change. Looks like McCain has come a long way from his "leadership over change" pitch from early in the campaign.

Bonus:
l33tminion: (Japanese!)
Ah, this is the life. Went to the Sunset with Olin friends, had some delicious food, a caribe (coffee + coconut rum + creme de cacao), and a black o'lantern (Guinness + pumpkin ale). Good times were had by all. David also brought me some manga back from Japan, and with any luck I'll be able to read it (albeit slowly).

I've been expanding my podcast listening a bit lately. I started listening to Clonepod (an EscapePod-like sci-fi fantasy podcast run by some kids), and although it's not as polished as EscapePod (perhaps not a fair comparison). I've also picked up [livejournal.com profile] kmo's C-Realm Podcast (mostly interesting interviews and thoughtful discussion).

I also took some time this weekend to watch this lecture by Cory Doctorow and Obama's acceptance speech (which even impressed conservatives).
l33tminion: (Grammar)
I take it you already know,
Of tough and bough and cough and dough.
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, laugh and through.
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps. Beware of heard, a dreadful word,
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead - it’s said like bed, not bead,
For goodness’ sake, don’t call it ‘deed’!
Watch out for meat and great and threat,
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt). A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother.
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear.
And then there’s dose and rose and lose –
Just look them up – and goose and choose.
And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword. And do and go and thwart and cart –
Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start! A dreadful language? Why man alive!
I’d mastered it when I was five.

-T.S.W.

(From here.)
l33tminion: (Japanese!)
Japanese sign translations use some of the oddest English words sometimes. I saw a sign on a crepes stand today that used the word "hither". While I guess ここ, そこ, and あそこ (koko, soko, and asoko) could be accurately translated as "hither", "thither", and "yon", that's not the wording I would choose.

Also, Japanese 7-11 ATMs now accept foreign bank cards.

In more relevant news, my finals are done, and they all went well. I had time today to help with a few research projects, too, with was interesting and profitable. I've given thank-you gifts to my language exchange partners, and much of my end-of-semester cleaning and packing has been completed. The Sayonara Party is tomorrow, I return home the day after tomorrow... only two nights left in this country.
l33tminion: (Train)
My last weekend in Japan...

Friday was my kanji final. Yesterday, wrote my other final paper (for sociolinguistics). Today, went to a festival in Narita (forgot my camera, unfortunately) and had a totally awesome sushi dinner at a fairly fancy place (also in Narita) with my host family. What a great birthday gift (my birthday is on Tuesday, can't believe I'm almost 21). Tomorrow, I have my final for kaiwa. Tuesday and Thursday I have my final for Japanese class. Need to go to the bookstore one last time on Wednesday, to start packing by Thursday, to cancel my rail pass on Friday. The farewell party is Friday afternoon.

Update: Corrected error, my Japanese final is Tuesday and Thursday, not Thursday and Friday.

Speech!

Jun. 16th, 2007 03:13 pm
l33tminion: (Japanese!)
Lovely weather this weekend. Too bad I have so much homework.

Speaking of which, I have to write a speech (in Japanese, obviously) for kaiwa class, on the topic of 日本の[something or other]. The speech is supposed to end up 3-4 minutes in length. I'm going to write about 日本の食べ物 (nihon-no tabemono; Japanese food). Posting my (very) rough draft here in the hopes that my sempai will mercifully help me with grammar and vocab (I'm trying to use quite a bit that I don't really know...).

English: Because of its varied and interesting flavors, Japanese food is wonderful. It has been influenced by Japanese culture and the cuisine of various other countries. Some of my favorite foods are udon and gyuudon (beef on rice). I like udon because it is tasty and cheap. There is an udon shop at the Carrefour near KUIS, so I often eat lunch there. What I most often order is called "kama-tama-udon", a food made with udon, egg, and onion, which only costs 330 yen. I like gyuudon because it's fast (to make) and convenient. You usually order from a vending machine, hand in the ticket, then get your gyuudon a little while later. I like gyuudon served with egg and kimchee, I usually mix them together. However, be careful. If you eat too much kimchee, it's too spicy.

Japanese: たようでおもしろい味があるから、日本の食べ物はすばらしいですね。 日本のぶんかと色々な国の料理にえいきょうされました。 私の好物はうどんや牛丼ですよ。 安くて美味しいので、うどんが好きです。 神田外語大学のそばのカレフールにうどん屋があるから、ひるごはんをそこでよく食べます。 一番よくちゅうもんするのは「釜玉うどん」と言ううどんとねぎと玉子の料理ですが、330円だけですよ。 牛丼はつくるの早くて便利です。 いつも、じどうはんばいきでちゅうもんして、きっぷを出して、短時間で牛丼を持ちますね。 たまごとキムチがある牛丼は大好きですが、よくまぜました。 でも、気をつけて。 キムチを食べすぎると、もっとからいですよ。

I'll be editing this as I work on it.
l33tminion: (Default)
Tuesday: Talked about "foreigner talk" in sociolinguistics class. Among other features, English speakers are a lot more casual and use a lot less grammar when talking to English learners, whereas Japanese speakers do the opposite (more grammar, more polite wording). Japanese learners also tend to use more grammar than necessary (trying to include all the particles, for example), as we need to practice our grammar and don't know what to leave out. This explains the common, somewhat backhanded compliment 「あー、きれい日本語ですね」 (ah, kirei nihongo desu-ne; "ah, that's beautiful Japanese, isn't it?").

Wednesday: Had lunch with Vito at 日本のデニーズ, which is a bout a billion times better than American Denny's. (Actually, Japanese Denny's is owned by an entirely different company which bought the rights to the Denny's branding. That company in turn is owned by 7&i Holdings, which owns 7/11.) In the afternoon, I went to the national museum of Japanese History in Sakura (fairly close to my host family's home). The museum was quite interesting and definately worth the time, even though one of the museum's five galleries is currently closed for renovations.

Thursday: In the afternoon, there was a guest lecture at the IES center on Japanese popular culture, given by a neo-Marxist, anti-technology reactionary, otaku woman who's working as a professor (teaching English?) at some other university in Tokyo.

Friday was uneventful, so that's about it. This weekend, I have a ton of Japanese studying to do, and I need to make more progress on my project for marketing class (on McDonald's Japan).
l33tminion: (Japanese!)
今日じしんがあった、でもみじかくて強くなかった。 そとはいいてんきだから、ごごは外で勉強した。 勉強の間に順天堂大学から音楽を聞こえできた。 そして勉強を終わって、順天堂大学へさんぽに行きました。 一見、今日は順天堂大学のはだかまつりの中だ。 (カメラをうちでわすれちゃった。) ぜんぶよかった日。

(日本語の先輩: しっぱいがあったら教えてください。)

Translation:

I'm Writing This Post in Japanese

Today, there was an earthquake, but it was short and weak. The weather was good, so I studied outside in the afternoon. While I was studying, I heard music coming from Juntendo University, so I finished studying and took a walk to Juntendo University. Apparently, today is the middle of Juntendo University's Hadaka Matsuri [apparently, this festival was held on June 11 last year; note also that the running around half-naked carrying a shrine part doesn't happen until the last day of Juntendo's festival (tomorrow)]. (Unfortunately, I left my camera at home.) All in all, a good day.

(To my seniors in Japanese: If I made mistakes, please teach me.)

[Note: I wasn't sure if I should write journal posts in plain or polite form, but I decided to use plain form because (among other reasons) I need more practice with it.]
l33tminion: (Default)
My kanji book (A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters by Kenneth G. Henshall) arrived over break, and is it ever awesome!

The book contains brief entries that excellently explain the etymology of each of the jōyō kanji. Each entry also contains pronunciations, examples, stroke count, suggestions for memorization, and a brief mnemonic. The mnemonics are (as in most textbooks) of inconsistent quality (some are just weird), but some are quite good, and the suggestions for memorization are useful. The book is well-indexed (the index of characters by reading is extremely helpful) and well cross-referenced (very useful when encountering new components in a complex kanji).

The only major strike against this book is its somewhat misleading title; it really should be called A Guide to the Origins of Japanese Characters or something similar. While some people (including myself) will find the etymological information alone to be a major help in learning and memorizing characters, some will find it far less helpful for that purpose.

Minor strikes against this book include the lack of kana readings (and the author somewhat confusingly writes both "ou" and "oo" as "ō") and the lack of stroke order (leaving that out was probably a good decision overall, though, since adding that would make the book quite a bit bigger and it's quite sizable as it is). It's worth noting that this is neither textbook nor kanji dictionary, nor is it a substitute for either. Still, I think this book is an excellent reference for any serious student of Japanese writing, preferably as a supplement to a good kanji textbook and dictionary.
l33tminion: (Conga!)
ゴールデン ウィーク です!

It's Golden Week at last! No classes tomorrow, and I leave for Hiroshima on Saturday!

I feel like things have been going a little better for me language-wise the past few days. I'm suddenly having a slightly (but noticeably) easier time remembering the words and grammar that I've learned, and I've carried on a few real conversations (both in and out of class) in Japanese (quite limited and somewhat broken Japanese, but still).

Yesterday, Kyoko-san took me to a sushi and udon restaurant for lunch, which was awesome. I tried 雲丹 (うに; uni; sea urchin), which was very unusual tasting but rather good.

釜玉うどん (かまたまうどん; kamatama udon; udon with egg and green onion) is awesome. That's the ¥330 lunch I mentioned early on in my trip. Also, いもけんぴ (imokenpi; candied sweet-potato sticks) are one of the best snacks ever.

An Australian paper has an article on the FHCers in Harajuku, which I find amusing.

Also, have you seen this guy?

The G-Word

Apr. 25th, 2007 10:39 am
l33tminion: (Default)
In the comment threads two posts ago, I used the word "gaijin" (lit. outside person; outsider, foreigner) as opposed to "gaikokujin" (lit. outside country person; foreign national, foreigner), and a fellow IESer chewed me out for that, asking me (politely, if somewhat condescendingly) to stop using the word. I'm not sure I have an informed opinion on the subject, so I'll just open the floor to discussion.

So, "gaijin": When is it acceptable for foreigners to use the word referring to themselves? What about referring to other foreigners? Does it make a difference if they're expats as opposed to those staying more temporarily? Is it acceptable for Japanese people to use it ever? In what contexts is it pejorative? Is using the word "culturally insensitive"? Is it equivalent to "nigger" (and therefore deserving to meet the business end of the PC ban-hammer), or is that an overreaction? Is it better for racist epithets to be co-opted or excluded by the group that they refer to?

Food for thought:Update: I asked my host mom 外人と話すのは失礼ですか (gaijin-to hanasu-no-wa shitsurei desu-ka; "is it rude to say 'gaijin'?" [although "hanasu" is probably not quite the right verb, among other problems]), and her response was that it wasn't, although she noted that the word makes some older Japanese people uncomfortable (that's heavily paraphrased, though... I may have missed some of the details of her explanation).

Update 2: The above is totally wrong (wrong verb, can be misinterpreted as "is it rude to talk to outsiders". The correct phrase is apparently 外人の言葉は失礼ですか (gaijin-no kotoba-wa shitsurei desu-ka; "is the word 'gaijin' rude"). According to Kyoko-san (again heavily paraphrased) the word is impolite because it seems to imply that there is some fundamental difference between "nihonjin" and "gaijin" (Japanese people and all other people).
l33tminion: (Japanese!)
My advice to language learners:
1. Speak the language. When you can't speak the language, speak pidgin.
2. Use more grammar. When you don't know the grammar, guess.
3. Participate in language creation.

A guide to Romaji (Japanese written in English characters) pronunciation:
Some of you already know this... )

Kyoko-san's neighbor wanted to pay me to teach her daughter English while Kyoko-san was babysitting (I never met the mom, I heard all of this through Kyoko-san). I wasn't comfortable doing that (seems like accepting money for a job I'm not qualified for; namely, I don't feel I know enough Japanese to do a good job teaching English to a young Japanese child (even though Kyoko-san was helping with translation)). However, I think my objections were not understood / misinterpreted as confusion, so I ended up going along with that plan. Maybe I should have objected more strongly, but I'm not sure that would have been polite...
l33tminion: (Default)
First, I would like to say that I really like the extremely expressive way in which Japanese people speak.

Second, I feel that I'm getting a bit behind on kanji. I really haven't started on the kanji class assignment from last Friday, and there's another short kanji assignment for Nihongo this week.

I'm doing all right on vocabulary... nouns and adjectives, anyways. Verbs still need quite a bit of work. Doing all right on grammar, but we're going through a lot of it really quickly.

Vito and I are going to Hiroshima for Golden Week (end of April, beginning of May), assuming all goes well. (Ben might be joining us as well.) I have accommodations reserved, I just need to buy train tickets.
l33tminion: (O RLY?)
On Thursday, I ran into a Nigerian oil company man on the train. He immediately struck up a conversation, which surprised me, since there isn't much solidarity among gaijin. (I would have expected, "hey, we're both foreigners!" to be a more common starting point for conversation between strangers, but that doesn't seem to be the case.) The guy was named Moses, which led to the following conversation:

Long entry is loooong... )

Also, I haven't been run over yet.
l33tminion: (Grammar)
I didn't have a Japanese goal for today, which is just as well as class provided me with more than enough to do. Kaiwa focussed on time, which is really annoying in Japanese. In particular, out of the 31 days of the month, 13 are irregular. There are also odd rules about when to use "shichi" and when to use "nana" for 7. That gives me goals for the next two days; learn the other set of counting numbers tomorrow, then master the days of the month on Saturday. Other homework: Listening exercises for kaiwa, review my notes for marketing, lots and lots of vocab, ditto for grammar (the "te" form, mostly, plus a lot of grammar that everyone else in the class has already mastered).

I signed up for the Language Exchange program run by the SALC (self-access learning center; an awesome language library) at KUIS, which will be a good opportunity to meet KUIS students and learn Japanese / teach English. I've had some very good conversations in the SALC lately.

I had natto with dinner and though it was very tasty.

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August 2017

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