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June 2018


Learning Japanese has been frought with challenges – I mean it’s been really, really difficult.  I think one of the reasons is the scattershot nature of the resources I’ve been using to learn.  They all seem to emphasize something different, and each advertises itself as the only resource I’ll ever need. That is, of course, bull-pucky. But the word that is the title of this post is an example of why I feel this way.  大丈夫.  Pronounced “daijoubu”, this word seems to be one of the most commonly used words… Read More »大丈夫

The Genius of Kanji

I think I understand now why kanji have lasted as long as it has. Today, I saw a kanji pair.  気楽.  It means “relaxed” or some such.  The kanji by themselves mean “mood” and “comfort” (in this context).  I thought they were pronounced “kigaku”, but I looked it up and realized it was “kiraku”. But here’s the thing – I haven’t forgotten how to pronounce the word!  I forgot several times, but then I just think of the two kanji, and then I know how to pronounce it. So the… Read More »The Genius of Kanji

Post in Japanese #1

Hi all.  I am going to try to write a weekly post in Japanese, mostly to address the issue in “Crisis of Confidence“, which I wrote about earlier.  It will have a lot of mistakes and I will need to look a lot of things up.  Feel free to correct.  The point is just to do it no matter what.  Honestly, it will probably take me a long time to write this, as I refuse to use Google Translate except to check that my work is halfways intelligible… 🙂 こんいちわ。私は日本語学生です。私がとても恥ずかしいい日本語をかいてます。… Read More »Post in Japanese #1

Sunday Song #3: 女子かしまし物語 (モーニング娘)

Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari (“The story of Noisy Girls”) by Morning Musume is one of the first songs that made me think that J-Pop is a little bit more than just stupidity, even if, paradoxically, it’s one of the least intelligent songs of the whole batch. The reason is both structural and not.  Structurally, it’s extremely high energy.  I find myself rather envious of the energy those girls exhibit when performing this song, but then I have to remember they’re young and, well, as they say, youth is wasted on the young. … Read More »Sunday Song #3: 女子かしまし物語 (モーニング娘)

What Exactly are Kanji?

I think one of the most difficult things for a westerner to wrap their minds around is kanji. I don’t mean memorizing the kanji or their readings, but exactly what they are in the first place. We think of them as words, but I don’t really think that’s what they are, not really.  I think they are, instead, concepts, and those concepts are represented as logographs.  But I think you don’t really directly translate a kanji.  I think you take the concept that the kanji represents, crystallize a contextual meaning… Read More »What Exactly are Kanji?

Crisis of Confidence

I am a reasonably accomplished early-40s man.  I can play the piano reasonably competently.  I know how to program in quite a few programming languages.  I became an expert at the Linux operating system.  I have studied, to varying degrees, math and electronics, and I consider myself to be of significantly above-average intelligence.  I have thoughts about theology that make pastor friends tell me that they remind me of C.S Lewis, or even Augustine. All this is to say that trying to learn Japanese is probably the first thing in… Read More »Crisis of Confidence

Interesting Language Tidbits

On my previous post Understanding Spoken Japanese, I talked about how Japanese is highly dependent on context, and I used the word 行きます as an example of this.  A nice commenter pointed out that in many cases, a different word would be used, signifying “I’m entering now” rather than “I’m going now”.  This commenter agreed that both could be used, but pointed out that one would be used over the other in most cases. This got me thinking – what is the difference between these two phrases?  Both have essentially the same… Read More »Interesting Language Tidbits

Monday English Colloquialism Corner #1: Goldilocks

Goldilocks and the Three Bears Sometimes you will hear an English speaker say something like “We’re looking for that Goldilocks sweet spot”.  What does that mean? As you can see from the story, Goldilocks is a fairy tale, which is a story told to children at a very young age.  It usually has a “moral” to it, but it also sometimes is just a short story meant to entertain children.  It’s usually read at bedtime, so this means that most people know the stories, and the stories have entered our… Read More »Monday English Colloquialism Corner #1: Goldilocks

Logan Paul: An Apology on Behalf of my People

I’m a bit late to the party on this one, I think the kerfluffle happened before I even started blogging.  But I want to chime in on this anyway, because I think it’s really important for me to. Logan Paul is (or, maybe, was) a YouTuber who was known for his over-the-top style of videos.  That’s fine.  Logan Paul went to Japan.  That’s fine. Logan Paul managed to get himself in so much trouble he’ll likely be arrested if he ever sets foot there again. He took a video in the… Read More »Logan Paul: An Apology on Behalf of my People


“Ganbatte” is a word that, in Japanese, means “try your best”.  It seems to be a very frequently used word, particularly in competitive contexts, such as variety shows, etc.  But looking at the context in which it’s used, I don’t think it translates very well.  The reason is, as with many things, cultural. In English, “Try your best” has a connotation of “Do the very best that you can, and it’s okay if you still fail”.  I mean, obviously you don’t want to fail, but English speakers tend to have a… Read More »Ganbatte