日本

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Archive for Language

Tumbling Toward Fluency

In the never-ending search for ways to integrate Japanese into my very Western life, I have started a Tumblr blog that I am writing solely in Japanese. For those who haven’t tried out Tumblr yet, it is rather on the buggy side but very handy for micro- and photo-blogging. This miniaturist layout is especially useful considering that I can barely eek out 2 or 3 sentences of Japanese at a time.

I see this as the natural progression from trying to keep a 60/40 split of English and Japanese (respectively) on my Twitter account.  It is a brilliant feeling when a Japanese word or expression spontaneously comes to mind, rather than attempting a laborious translation from English. Yet the hard work must be done, and mistakes have to be made.

To that end, I have put a request in the sidebar of the new blog for all corrections and comments on my pre-school 日本語 to be left in the comments. I learn best by being corrected, not only because it leaves a deeper impression, but also because there are more than just one lesson to be learned.

For example, I was writing an email asking someone to read my blog so that I could have their opinion. I immediately remembered a correction from a native speaker on Lang-8 that 読書 (どくしょ) is only used for reading books, or discussing reading itself; the form 読む (よむ) is much more appropriate for internet reading like blogs and online articles. It may seem a small point, but I haven’t forgotten it.

99.9% of the bloggers I follow are on Blogger or WordPress, so it will probably take a while for me to get integrated into this new community. If you have a Tumblr then have a look-see at leaving me a few corrections.

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It only takes one to Tangorin.

One of my worst blog titles. I promise, the post is much better!

Over on the philosophical/bioluminescent/日本語 wonder that is Gakuranman’s site, he recently held a competition for short entries on Japanese student learning methods. Considering how confusingly I worded that concept, I barely have enough mastery of the English language and therefore did not contribute anything personally. There are some excellent entries (click on the winner’s names to see their comments) and I look forward to his completed article on study methods.

おいしいいいい!

Being a beginner myself, I’ve got nothing in particular to offer. However, I did want to give props to one of the most clicked bookmarks on my browser toolbar: Tangorin. The site is the lovechild of Grzegorz Bober and the JMdict/EDICT collective, and the fruit of this vocabular orgy is – in my opinion – the best combination dictionary and grammar tool. (speaking of tools – see picture at right)

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Ustream, I stream, we all…well, you get it

First of all an apology to the readers coming back and seeing nothing but twitter updates. With my Japanese class beginning 8th of Feb, I’ve been studying even more in earnest (and not just in my insomniac hours!) and staying up to date with my ever-increasing news reader. Speaking of which – *ahem* – “How do you solve a problem like Ozawa? How do you hold several million yen in your haaand?” Oh, will the scandals never cease.

Anyway, my travels on Twitter took me to Jason Gray’s (@jgtokyo) new live broadcasts on Ustream and from there I did a quick search for similar videos. It’s not easy for a newbie like me to navigate, but I happened upon xojapan’s stream. It’s done by an adorable duo who want to bring Japanese culture and perspective to the rest of the world, from a native point of view. The vivacious Kaoru’s personality alternates pretty seamlessly between speaking Japanese and English. Mr. Idee is the quiet man behind the concept who represents the non-English speaking Japanese person who still wants to communicate his culture to the outside world. I haven’t come across many of his kind so far: generally, the blogs that I can read (as my Japanese is still that of a 1 year-old) are by foreigners fluent in Japanese. The live translation between Kaoru and Mr. Idee is much more personal and friendly than those you see at international film premiers and such, so the pilot video was a very interesting.

For other newbies to Japanese out there, check this episode out for some excellent ‘Real Japanese’ vocab and grammar tips, as well as real-time translation with a genuinely compatible translator and speaker. There promises to be many more topics covered like fashion, otaku, trends, etc.

The show is very new, so I hope they carry on with it!