The Amazing Adventures of Xuanzang

One of the most important figures in Buddhism and East Asian history, arguably, is also one of the least known outside of some cultural circles. I am talking about a famous Chinese monk named Xuan-zang (玄奘, 602 – 664).1 Recently, I found an old, but fascinating book on my shelf I had forgotten about, titledContinue reading “The Amazing Adventures of Xuanzang”

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”

Stop Memorizing Kanji and Learn Through Convergence

From time to time, I meet other folks who, like me, are interested in Japanese culture and language.  I have been studying it more or less since I married my wife, but more seriously about 10 years ago when I was focused on passing the JLPT exams, and through it all I’ve made a lotContinue reading “Stop Memorizing Kanji and Learn Through Convergence”

Keigo: the Spice of Japanese Life

No study of Japanese language would be complete without learning how keigo (敬語) works. Ostensibly, keigo is just honorific speak, but it’s also a good window into Japanese culture as well and reflects a lot of unspoken, cultural rules. Kinship Terms One cultural/linguistic rule is how you address your own kin versus another person’s kin.Continue reading “Keigo: the Spice of Japanese Life”

Japanese Sound Effect Words

Since I became a dad and we raised our kids to be bi-lingual in Japanese and English, I’ve come to incidentally learn a lot of “baby” Japanese words, but also a lot of sound-effect words too. Compared to English, Japanese has a large vocabulary of descriptive words for sounds, movement, moods and such. These areContinue reading “Japanese Sound Effect Words”

Agamemnon Was A Total Dick

As my studies of Ancient Greek continue, thanks to the Greek 101 course available at The Great Courses, I have been translating small sections of ancient text, The Iliad, as part of the homework.  You can see my crazy chicken-scratch above for lines 17-27 in the first book.  For today’s post, I wanted to drawContinue reading “Agamemnon Was A Total Dick”

Part Three: Learning Hiragana Ain’t Hard!

In lesson one we covered basic concepts of Japanese hiragana writing and in lesson two we covered some more advanced features.  Today, we’ll focus more on how to learn hiragana. If you’re studying Japanese, hiragana is a “learn once, learn early, use often” feature of the language.  The sooner you make the leap, the better. Continue reading “Part Three: Learning Hiragana Ain’t Hard!”

Part Two: Learning Hiragana Ain’t Hard!

In part one we covered the basics of how Japanese Hiragana script works. In this post we’ll cover some of the more advanced concepts. First let’s review the basic hiragana characters: n w r y m h n t s k (blank) ん わ ら や ま は な た さ か あ a りContinue reading “Part Two: Learning Hiragana Ain’t Hard!”

Part One: Learning Hiragana Ain’t Hard!

Recently a colleague expressed interest in learning Japanese language and asked me for advice.  I’ve been learning Japanese on my own for about 10 years ever since I married my wife, and have reached a point that, while certainly not fluent, I can still read Japanese without too much difficulty. Japanese language seems difficult atContinue reading “Part One: Learning Hiragana Ain’t Hard!”