Every Day Is A Good Day, Kind Of

Soon after I wrote this post, I was reminded of a certain Zen aphorism in Japanese: 日日是好日  which is read as nichi nichi kore kō nichi. This usually translates as “every day is a good day”, or “each day is a good day” or other such things. It is originally attributed to a Chinese ZenContinue reading “Every Day Is A Good Day, Kind Of”

The Challenges of Romanizing Chinese Language

Recently, I was reading a couple old-school fantasy novels set in the Forgotten Realms setting of Dungeons and Dragons: Horselords and Dragonwall. These novels, part of the Empires trilogy, revolve around a fantasy re-telling of the Mongol invasion of Song-Dynasty China. Dragonwall, in particular, centered on the fictional land of Shou Lung, an analog toContinue reading “The Challenges of Romanizing Chinese Language”

A Mirror of the Parents

As of writing it is the month of March, or in the traditional calendar of Japan, the month of Yayoi (弥生, “new life”). We frequently get certain Buddhist-themed calendars from Japan every year due to my wife’s family’s connections, in particular the Honobono calendar series. In addition to the terrific artwork, each month has someContinue reading “A Mirror of the Parents”

Rhythm in Japanese Language

Japanese language, on its own terms, isn’t that difficult a language to learn I believe, but it does have some things that are pretty different from English, and require re-learning. One of them, surprisingly, is rhythm and lack of stress accents. I’ve talked about the “flat” sound of Japanese, but I haven’t really talked aboutContinue reading “Rhythm in Japanese Language”

Happy Year of the Rabbit

Hello Readers and Happy New Year! In Japanese, people greet each other for the first time using the stock phrase akemashite omedetō gozaimasu (明けましておめでとうございます) which means something like “congrats on the opening of a new year”. Note that Japanese New Year is based on Chinese New Year, but since early industrialization period, the Meiji Period,Continue reading “Happy Year of the Rabbit”

Bad Aura

Recently, I learned of a clever proverb in Japanese culture: 息の臭きは主知らずiki no kusaki wa nushi shirazu Japanese Proverbs: Wit and Wisdom, by David Galef This proverb, literally means that the owner doesn’t know the stench of their own breath. Obviously this is not meant to be literal, instead it is about people being unaware ofContinue reading “Bad Aura”

Less Is More: Basic Japanese Sentence Structure

A little while back, I wrote an article about Ukrainian verbs and was going to write a similar one about Japanese verbs. But halfway through writing that article, I realized that I really needed to explain Japanese sentence structure first. Japanese sentence structure is quite different than European languages, and so when I use somethingContinue reading “Less Is More: Basic Japanese Sentence Structure”

Japanese and Homophones

Japanese, as a language, is somewhat unusual in that it has many, many homophones. Many of these are originally Chinese-compound words that were imported into Japanese, and subsequently lost their kind of intonation found in modern Chinese languages that would help to distinguish them. Their sound became flat and mostly indistinguishable from other similar words.Continue reading “Japanese and Homophones”

Palatization Nation

One of the challenges of pronouncing Ukrainian language is the pronouncing the “soft-sign” ь. It is not an independent sound, but simply softens the letter before it through a process called palatization. I’ve struggled to understand this concept even after watching some helpful Ukrainian introduction videos.1 However, it turns out that other languages use palatization,Continue reading “Palatization Nation”

JLPT N1: Swallowing a Bitter Pill

Despite some early signs of success, it’s become rapidly clear that if I take the N1 level of the JLPT exam this year, I will get crushed. My scores in taking the mock shorter-length essays were pretty good (hence my earlier confidence), but my scores in middle-length essays were not very good, and I gotContinue reading “JLPT N1: Swallowing a Bitter Pill”