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Page history last edited by Charles-A. Rovira 13 years, 5 months ago

コニチワ (konichiwa in katakana) or  こにちわ (konichiwa in hiragana)* & ** & ***


This contains my exploration of Japan (日本 [Nihon]) and of the Japanese people (日本の人々 [Nihonjin]) and language (日本語言語 [Nihongo])


I have been watching w-a-y to much animé [ あにめ ] and reading too much manga [ まんが ] :-)


See all of the manga I read, animé I follow and live-action shows I watch to boot.


I am currently trying to learn Japanese. I'm taking a course in September at New Jersey City University.


It would be a lot easier if I could go somewhere for a short immersion period.


There's too much here, like a wife and the entire cultural superstructure of the entire hemisphere, that pulls me back to the SVO (Subject, Verb, Object) sentence structure and the vocabulary is proving to be painful to acquire.


Nah, its fun. The language is like a high-speed chase of a ねこ (cat [Neko]) and きすね (fox [kitsune]) round a たたみ lined cell, (if you've never heard of the woven straw mats, it just points out the difficulty in interpreting a foreign culture [tatami]. There is no English equivalent since we use woven carpets and tapestries. )


Japanese uses an SOV sentence structure (so does high-German, so the use of that type of sentence structure is not unknown in the Occident,) but the use of a syllabary, multiple writing scripts in the same document (makes the selection of typefaces seem trivial by comparison, an "a" is an "a" after all,) and a whole new vocabulary makes the learning of Japanese specially difficult.


Of course, I bought:

  • Kana (hiragana and katakana) syllabary flashcards and
  • Kanji flashcards 1 & 2 from White Rabit Press™,
  • the Random House™ Japanese-English, English-Japanese Dictionary,
  • Japanese for Dummies©,
  • Japanese Phrases for Dummies©; because English is not my mother tongue I knew the importance of knowing how to curse like a native if you want to make your life much, much easier,
  • D!rty Japanese©; for further research
  • Japanese Step by Step©, and a whole mess of
  • Japanese in Mangaland© 1, 2, & 3, & the workbook,
  • Kanji in Mangaland© 1 & 2, and
  • Japanese for Busy People©.


Of course I know I am not Japanese, could never be Japanese, don't think like a Japanese person, with the web of interrelationships and obligation [ giri  ぎり ] that being Japanese implies.


The Japanese are not perfect. Far from it. But that doesn't mean that the Japanese have nothing to teach me.


As proof of the former allegation I offer the following:


If its vile, what's love got to do with it? :-) (It should be vial.)


The language is extremely unwieldy. Input is huge because the iconography evolved without any thought as to order, radix or collating sequence.


The syllabary is already an unwieldy mess.


The only way to reform it is incredibly Draconian.


We no longer live on the kind of planet where the Langue D'oc could be wiped out, as surely as the original Anglic tongue was, as surely as the original Germanic tongue was, as surely as the original Arameic tongue was, well ... you get the idea.


The world has grown too complex and amalgamated too many concepts.


The evolution of language has to proceed on the kinds of speeds available with the internet.


I worry about the Japanese people being able to adapt fast enough.


But in that respect, I, uh, respect them.




Good question with an even better answer.


i know that they're authoritarian, xenophobic, hide-bound people in cultural straight-jackets where individuality is something to be suppressed and collectivism is the ideal, (modern wisdom of the crowd and/or Amerindian feminist tradition not withstanding.)


Japanese combine the worst attitudes of my father who so misunderstood me that he would have me hoisting boxes due for a living due to his own lack of vision, knowledge and/or understanding.****


Since I made my own decisions, I went into computing (which didn't even exist when he tried giving me fatherly advice,) and made my own way in the world. I made more money than he ever imagined, doing things he couldn't understand, on machines that worked by fuckin' magic as far as he was concerned. (And my father had a doctorate in Chemistry. He was not an ignorant or a stupid man. Quite the contrary. He was learned, but he made the mistake of thinking that school let out. It doesn't ... ever. [Keep rowing because when you stop pulling them oars is when the world pulls away from you. {I'm into podcasting because I like being "exante", looking back at the future from a point out ahead of where the trends are pointing to.}])


Japanese animé and manga tend to focus on school-age heroes and heroines because school is the last environment where there exist some ways to escape the web of obligations, the giri, [ ぎり ] that forms the web that entraps all Japanese.


I come from a French background; Appolinaire, Baudelaire, through Hugo, Rimbeau, and Voltaire to Zola were my heroes; it is where the illustrated novel and animation are respected as viable alternatives to writing, radio, film and television production.


The French term for the illustrated novel is La BD, short for la bande dessinée. It is a valid and recognized form of entertainment. Hergé, St. Exupery, Uderzo and a host of others, were artists who actually had some influence.


Le Petit Prince by St. Exupery is not "kid-lit" but is instead is the subject of innumerable doctoral theses.


English, and more specifically American, has never respected the illustrated novel and movie. Because of certain accidents of history, the first comic Mutt and Jeff was a strip drawn to carry, camouflaged in the text, race track results for some of the more notorious race tracks around the United States. As such the comic, from its very name on out, was always frowned upon from the very beginning.


The kerfuffle over MAD Magazine and the rise of the comics code further reduced the chances for the graphic novel to take hold in the English speaking world. English speakers are so much the poorer for it.


I have read/seen and absorbed far more entertaining plot lines in the past few weeks that in all the rest of my formal education.


*) I'm still learning and I could use an email pen-pal.


**) I know about konban wa (こんばんは [good evening]) ohayo gozaimasu (おはようございます [good morning]} and oyasuminasai (おやすみなさい [good night]) but frankly, I'm sticking to when I wrote the greeting and I'm not bothering with when you're reading it.


***) I've just bought a Japanese keyboard from JList.com to speed up text entry. It should work very nicely with OS X.


While I wait for it to get here, from Japan, I have come to a conclusion about how the Japanese actually learn their kana and kanji. Its done by muscle memory, not by rote. (This was sort of confirmed in a manga where a student broke his arm and hand and was unable to learn anything new until he was healed.)


That's why the writing is an art. It can take years to learn a mere 3,000 kanji. No wonder they all learn kana. :-)


I have made some inroads into acquiring the kana by doing calligraphy on a Buddha Board (slate with paper stuck to it,) and water dipped brush.


I managed to learn more kana in an hour by letting my MS riddled nervous system actually attempt some (its funny its so pathetic) than in days of trying to visually remember and pattern match.


**** Fathers are such fucking ass-holes.:-) I'm glad to have escaped such problems. I've been careful not to have any issues with issue throughout my life.



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