Breathe… relax… you don’t have to know it all

A short post today since real life is starting to be more demanding and clamoring for attention.

Today, I learned a new word: 【準える】

I’m always surprised to see a completely new word based on a Kanji that I’ve probably known for well over 6 years. 「準備」 was probably one of the first few words I learned with Kanji (it helped that the same word in Korean sounds identical). I later picked up other words such as 「基準」、「水準」、「標準」、and 「準決勝」. Later on, I even picked up more advanced vocabulary such as 「準じる」 and the older style: 「準ずる」. And now, after over 8 years since I started studying Japanese, I just learned a completely different word based on the same Kanji.

Another similar example happened to me several years ago with 「集う」, which as far as I can tell is virtually identical to 「集まる」 except used like almost never. At that time, I came upon the word at a local community event at 「川口市」 called 「新年の集い」.

The moral of the story is: don’t worry about learning everything about a given Kanji at once. Relax, give it time, and learn things in context as you go. And whatever you do, DO NOT try to remember all the readings at once. You’ll eventually get to all the various readings and associated vocabulary in time. It might take over 8 years but hey, I’ve been using Japanese happily all these years without knowing 「準える」 precisely because it’s so rare to see it used anywhere.

As an interesting aside, 「なずらえる」 seems to have 3 possible kanji: 「準える・准える・擬える」 but the 「なぞらえる」 reading seems to only accept 「準える」. Probably a modern upgrade, as indicated by older usage of 「ず」 (similar to 「生ずる」、「準ずる」、etc).

Figuring out Chinese: 在 vs 着

Can anyone explain to me the difference between 在 and 着? I looked online to no avail. Here are the differences that I came up with. However, I have no idea if they’re correct and I’m sure I’m missing a whole bunch of other usages.

  1. 在 can be used to indicate location, 着 can’t.
    Ex: 我住在美国。
  2. 在 is used for a continuous action.
    Ex: 他在打电话。
  3. 着 is used for a one-time action that changes a state and remains in that state.
    Ex: 她手里拿着一本书。

The best I can figure out is that 着 is not actually an action but a description of a state resulting from the action, which explains why it comes after the verb. For instance, 下着雨 describes the condition as being rainy. This explains why translates it as “rainily” which I don’t think is even a word. On the other hand, 在下雨 is the continuous action of rain falling. That’s why you can have what at first seems to be a crazy duplication such as 雨还在下着. It makes sense when you consider that it’s a continuous action of the “rainily” condition.

Yeah, no wonder I hate Chinese grammar. Next, I’ll try to figure out the difference between 一点 and 一些. Ow, my poor head!

WPtouch, cool but sounds kind of risque

I just installed WPtouch on this blog for you iPhone users. Personally, I would never spend that much money on a phone every month. It would definitely fall under the “Latte Effect” on my budget. But I thought it would be a nice touch for those of you who can afford it. Now you can read my pointless ramblings with ease wherever you go! Yay!! \(^〇^*)/

So if you’re reading this from an iPhone, how’s it look? I tested it out using iPhoney (OS X only) but it only works so-so. Maybe I’ll try it out on an real iPhone the next time I visit the Apple Store.

The plugin seems to work pretty well but I don’t know why Pages don’t have comments despite the fact that they’re enabled (this has now been fixed). Also, I wish there was a way to get the Archive Page on the iPhone version only and without having to manually hack the Theme. Finally, it doesn’t work with WP Super Cache yet so I had to disable it. Oh well, it’s not like the meager traffic on my blog is going to put any kind of strain on a server that also runs Groklaw and Project Gutenberg (both directories are next to mine under “g”). 🙁

Google, what will they think of next?

I don’t know when this was released (couldn’t find any announcement on the Google Japan Blog) but it looks like Google finally introduced street view for Japan. I suppose it was only a matter of time once they figured out how to censor people’s faces automatically. They covered an amazing range of streets for Osaka and Tokyo and partial areas near there such as Kyoto, Saitama, and Chiba. Smaller areas are also viewable in Sendai, Hakodate, and Sapporo. I can’t even imagine how many hours it took to drive through all those tiny little streets!

Hopefully, with the ability to actually see where you want to go, this will become another tool in our arsenal to navigate the crazy no-name streets of Japan. Although without any street names, it’s almost impossible to even know where to put the little yellow guy. But with a little bit of searching, you can at least use it to show your family where you lived or are living in Japan!

For instance, if you work for Hitachi, you might end up in their 第二志村寮 like I did. And here’s the crappy old building I used to work at before they moved their headquarters to the fancy and new ダイビル in 秋葉原. Before that, I worked briefly at the ironically named 新丸の内ビル near Tokyo station just before it was torn down to be rebuilt. (I wonder if it’s already been rebuilt and reopened?)

If you have never been to Tokyo or Osaka before, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the never-ending spans of concrete with the occasional tree or bush here and there. It gets pretty hot once all that concrete and metal starts baking in the summer. Who says we need nature? Ha!’s daily classroom

My current favorite online Chinese dictionary, has recently been upgraded with lots of new features. For instance, while Chinese Perapera-kun already takes care of this for me, non-Firefox users will appreciate the automatic look-up of highlighted words.

Personally, my favorite feature is the 每日课堂, which will allow you to learn a little bit of Chinese every day with a little story or even just a simple sentence. While this site and most of its features are obviously geared for Chinese speakers learning English, the fact that 每日课堂 has both English and Chinese makes it a valuable resource for us learning Chinese as well.

[2008-08-01] 每日学口语

I have been putting on weight.

I have in fact, been putting on some weight lately so the sentence above is nice to know. 我要少吃多运动。

Finally, this might have been there already, but they also have a 繁体字 dictionary. Technologically, there should be no reason why it would need to be split up but I guess I shouldn’t complain since the site is already free and useful.

The Internet Chinese Text Archive

Here’s a Chinese resource that looks pretty cool: The Internet Chinese Text Archive.

The biggest problem with the site is it doesn’t set the proper encoding information!! So you have to manually set the encoding to “Chinese Simplified” very time. It’s really, really annoying. I’ve tried everything on the browser such as setting my preferred language to Chinese with no luck. Ugh… One trick I came up with is to mouse over each link and just read the url on the bottom bar of the browser. It’ll tell you what you’re looking at (in English no less) without having to reset the encoding every time. Then you can finally set the encoding when you get to the text you want.

Anyway, while this site looks cool, the material is far too advanced for me to make any recommendations. I thought I’d try to tackle some short stories first but it’s slow going.

Ooh la la, the 色情性爱 category looks interesting. Could be a good motivator to study Chinese.

Any good suggestions for people like me learning Chinese? Preferably something interesting, not too difficult, and as modern as possible.



This chair is worth 2 playstations…

I was reading this blog entry on chairs (did I mention the huge number of blogs in my Google Reader?) and was shocked to see a picture of the exact chair I was sitting on.

Taking a closer look, I realized that indeed, I was sitting in a $979 chair. I think the best proof of how great this chair is in the fact that I never thought about my chair. This is in sharp contrast to the days of cursing at my crappy chair in Japan which didn’t even have back support beyond the first 5 lower vertebrae.

Not bad for working as a software developer for Library services. I also have a dual-monitor Dell dev box and a MacBook Pro for work. We’re located in Fremont, the center of the universe, a great location in Seattle. The atmosphere is really great and laid back as well. We’re currently really hurting for Database and QA resources so if you’re interested, take a look at the list of our open positions.

But… but… Japan is such a small country!

Thought I’d share a fun link off my Google Reader. Now the site has some NSFW stuff in it but this link is safe (except for the occasional header) and shows a plethora of various dialects: 女の子が喋る方言で一番最高なのってなに?

「べっ、べつに好きやないき!勘違いせんといてや!」 by 愛知
「べっ、べつに好きとちゃうんやに!勘違いしやんといて!」 by 三重
「べっ、べつに好いとーわけじゃないっちゃけん! 勘違いせんどって!」 by 福岡


So which is the cutest dialect? Having lived in Tokyo, I admit I have limited exposure to various dialects. But I would probably put Hiroshima near the top of the list, Tokyo at the bottom, and various Kansai dialects around the middle.




99 posts and 80 drafts... trouble finishing much?

99 posts and 80 drafts... trouble finishing much?


Whoo hoo! This is my 100th post! Thanks everybody for reading this blog and for the comments! Obviously, I haven’t run out of stuff to write about. In fact, I’m having trouble just finishing my drafts.

If you’re curious about how I took the screenshot, check out FireShot. It’s awesome.

And I’m probably wasting my breath (or keyboard strokes) but I’d like to say to the spammers to just give up please. Your crap is going right into the trash.

Another approach to the textbook

I haven’t been spending as much time as I’d like on the textbook project and I think I’ve figured out the reason why. It’s just not turning out the way I like and therefore I don’t feel any excitement about working on it.

I’ve been approaching it the traditional style, basing the dialogue on lesson themes such as introductions and greetings. The problem is that it’s nearly impossible to make any kind of interesting dialogue with those kinds of themes. How many more books do we need with the same old dialogue as below?

A) おはようございます。おげんきですか?
B) おはようございます。はい、げんきです。Aさんは?
A) わたしも、げんきです。

I think I’m going to take time to think about another approach. One idea I had was to write all the dialogues first and based the book around them. Each chapter would break each dialogue down and work on practicing and expanding the concepts and grammar within the dialogue. Each dialogue would also build upon the previous one and grow more and more advanced. I know, it’s probably easier said than done, but I think my first goal should be creating a large selection of useful and interesting Japanese and less on the explanations.

Ultimately, my goal is to grab the reader and get him hooked from the very beginning. And what I have now just isn’t cutting it. Any suggestions for topics, characters, and story lines?

By the way, some of you may have noticed already but I added a new Feedback page. It’s currently empty but I hope to build it as a page for your feedback (duh).