Some crazy stuff is brewing…

It’s hard to imagine but as a kid, the internet didn’t really exist for us common folk. We still had to write letters the old-fashioned way and played with sticks and rocks for entertainment (slight exaggeration here). It’s hard to imagine what it would be like growing up nowadays where your social life’s fate hangs in the balance on closed social network platforms designed to encourage exposing every aspect of your private life so that companies can data mine and monetize you for stock holders. (Yes, I’m getting old and cynical) We now live in a world where a single wrong tweet or photo on facebook can ruin your job prospects or even land you in jail.

But we ain’t seen nothing yet. Governments want to monitor our formerly private but now online lives and intrude on people’s privacy more than ever before and in secret. Massive cyber wars and espionage are now taking place online domestically and abroad. 3D printers are able to print guns and high security keys. Glasses with video cameras will able to record what we see at any time. Shit is going to get real.

You know, I was looking forward to colonizing stuff in outer space, self-driving cars, and cheap, renewable energy, not this social media crap. Yes, all those are being worked on but I doubt I’ll see it in my lifetime. At least I have the Oculus Rift to look forward to.


This post is about how you shouldn’t be reading this post.

Still here? Tsk tsk.

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with the ratio of how much English vs Japanese to use in my guide. The more Japanese I can get you to read, the better. But if there’s too much, it will be too difficult and overwhelming, having the opposite effect.

I’ve noticed that many websites for learning Japanese use WAY too much English. You can spend hours reading pages and pages of English text on how to learn Japanese (which seems ironic to me). This blog is mostly in English as well, so really, you should stop reading this and spend your time on something more productive.

I’ll try to keep it short, then. If your Japanese study material consists of reading a lot of English, you might want to try something else that has more Japanese text. Oh, I dunno, maybe something like this? (I know, totally no bias here).

As a fellow Japanese learner, I should probably be writing this in Japanese too… でも、めんどくさいからやめとこう。

Personality change by language?

Have you ever felt like your personality changes slightly depending on what language you speak? For example, in Japanese, I feel like I’m a little bit more polite. For example, I might say “shit” or “damn” sometimes in English but I have never felt like saying 「くそ」 or 「ちくしょう」. The kind of jokes I tell are different too. I’m a 天然ボケ in Japanese but a sarcastic wise-cracker in English. Do you think you control language or are you controlled by it?


The VOCALOID phenomenon

There was a story a while back on NPR covering the live concerts with virtual characters, which is pretty interesting but I didn’t realize how cool Vocaloid really is until recently. It has basically opened up song writing and singing to the general public. With sites like ニコニコ動画 and koebu, anybody can write songs with Vocaloid and singers online can cover them. It basically splits up the parts of creating songs so that people online can collaborate to create regular songs. Aspiring song writers or singers can just get started online anytime and may even get picked up by record labels or get their songs used for animes. Yamaha, the creators of Vocaloid is plainly aware of this phenomen since it’s explained in a video right on their homepage.

Really cool, it’s like the open-source version of music.

Sound more Japanese with interjections

When I tutor Japanese, I try to correct non-Japanese interjections whenever possible, the most common one being “umm”. Even the most skilled speakers including native speakers sometimes need to fill the air with fillers to buy a little time to collect their thoughts. But it doesn’t sound very Japanese to say, 「私の趣味は umm サッカーです」. I also suspect it taps your English part of the brain and makes it difficult to stop thinking in English. That’s why I gently remind my student to say 「ええと」 instead of “umm”. It’s a simple change that can instantly make your Japanese sound more natural. Have you been saying “umm” while speaking Japanese? If so, a quick tip from me, replace it with 「ええと」.

Here are some other interjections to practice:

  1. ええと – Err, umm
  2. あのう – Umm (usually to get somebody’s attention)
  3. あれ? – huh?
  4. えっ – eh?
  5. あっ! – Oh!, Ah!
  6. こら! – hey!
  7. うーん – hmm (wondering/pondering)
  8. へえ – really? (surprised/impressed)
  9. いたっ – ouch
  10. よいしょ – when exerting effort such as picking up something heavy

More SEO stuff

Just for curiosity’s sake, I searched “learn Japanese blog” on Google and my old blog which hasn’t been updated in well over a year turned up near the top of the search results. On the other hand, this blog which is what I moved the old blog to is on page 4. I guess all those CS PHDs can’t figure out how to rank two identical blogs where one hasn’t been updated in almost 2 years vs one that still has an author.

Also, Bing seems to be pretty much exactly the same as Yahoo now.


Converting to a pay site

Not me but it seems more and more language sites are converting to a paid subscription model:, RTK, ChinesePod, JapanesePod101, etc. As a user, it kind of bummer since I don’t feel like shelling out the cash meaning that I won’t be using those sites anymore. But I get that running a site costs money. It would suck if I didn’t have and I had to pay for hosting AND work on the site for free (though I still pay for my domain names, no biggie). I’ve spent a lot of time on this site because I want to, not to make money.

As a language learner, I spend most of my money on learning materials (books, comics, electronic dictionary), not on hosted service subscriptions. What do you think about these paid subscription services or when they do a bait+switch from free to paid?