All posts tagged: Japanese

すみません vs. すいません

So, I’m not crazy. I was re-watching きみはペット (incidentally, one of my favorite Japanese dramas) and I confirmed a long-standing suspicion. A lot of Japanese people pronounce すみません as すいません. For years I’ve thought my brain was somehow not computing the み sound correctly until I actually saw it spelled with い in a manga I was reading. The general consensus from all the language forums I’ve combed through seems to be that すいません is a colloquial and more casual way of pronouncing すみません. The latter is always used when you’re being exceptionally apologetic (as opposed to simply trying to catch someone’s attention) and/or speaking formally to superior. Probably because I don’t know the language that intimately, I’ve always assumed Japanese to be a really rigid language compared to Korean. There aren’t any complex pronunciation rules like in Korean, hiragana/katakana spelling is pretty much 100% phonetic, and verb conjugations are shockingly regular…. I guess that’s why this ‘mispronunciation’ surprised me so much. I am getting to the point in Japanese where I’m finally starting to pick up on colloquialisms and slang, which is kind of …

Language Tag

Well, this is fun! Riccardo of Kaito Monogatari tagged me in this language learning questionnaire. Of all the people I know studying Japanese, Riccardo is the most prolific reader of Japanese literature that I know of. I hope I can be just as good some day. Anyway, thanks for tagging me, Riccardo! I’m always happy to talk about myself (heh). What would you consider your native language? English and Marathi (of the South Indian variety, but who’s nitpicking?). Marathi is my mother tongue; my entire extended family speaks it and I’m still attached to it, though I’m not very good. What was your first language learning experience? French class in 5th grade. I don’t know why my elementary school offered a second language, but I’m glad it did, and I learned a lot, surprisingly! Pretty much all of high school  French 1 was a repeat of what I had learned in 5th grade. What languages have you studied and why did you learn them? Oh gosh. Where do I even begin. French  – I studied this for four years in high school (and that …

Blogging resolutions for 2016

I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, mainly because I think people can and should resolve to improve themselves throughout the year. (Besides, most people end up giving up on their resolutions mere weeks into the year, so why set yourself up for failure?) Dividing up time into years and such is a human construct and celebrating a new year is actually meaningless. But no need to get nihilistic about it, right?! Joking aside, I get it. What with the holiday spirit in the air and days off from work/school and time spent with family, people get nostalgic at the end of the year. They reflect and realize things they could have done better. Things they will do better in the coming year. On that note, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can be a better language blogger in the coming year. So here we go. These are my blogging resolutions for 2016. Post more.  I’ve been fairly regular with my blog posts, averaging about 1 a month. What a sad number though. I’m not going to get too …

積ん読

I stumbled across the Japanese word tsundoku some time ago on Buzzfeed.  It was one among several Japanese words included in a list (listicle?) of “untranslatable” words from foreign languages. First things first: This is a cool word.  I feel particularly attached to it because it describes an act that I commit with alarming frequency.  For various reasons,  have an issue with calling this and any word “untranslatable” – but that aside, it’s still interesting to consider its etymology.  (Found in Translation by Anjana Iyer)   First off, 積ん読 [つんどく] is a compound of two words 積む + 読.  Breaking that down, we have: 積む [つむ]: to pile up  読 [どく – note the on’yomi reading]:  to read Now the interesting thing is that the whole word is actually a pun on the word 積んどく[つんどく] which is a contraction of 積んでおく [つんでおく].  The latter verb ending – VERB STEM +ておく – indicates doing something and leaving it that way for a while.  (Think 아/어 두다 in Korean).  So, 積んでおく = to leave piled up for a long time The “books” part of the word comes in when you substitute the contraction of …

サカナクション 「ミユージック」

My Japanese conversation partner Haruna introduced me to Sakanaction a while back.  Usually it takes me a while to warm up to new music but after listening to the song above, it was pretty much love at first listen.  The last time I got this excited about a Japanese band was back when I first discovered flumpool. Anyway, as with most Japanese bands, their name confused me (at the time Haruna was spelling it phonetically like ‘sakanakushon’).  Sakana – as in 魚, one of my favorite kanjis?!  Turns out I was kind of right. The name Sakanaction is a portmanteau of “sakana” (魚, “fish”) and “action”. In the band’s own words, their name reflects a wish to act quickly and lightly, like fish in the water, without fearing changes in the music scene (source). I’m not sure how true to their name they’ve stayed since I’ve only listened to one album, but their music does have kind of floaty, otherworldly feeling to it.  Like the sensation you get when you stare into one of those giant aquarium water tanks.  Yeah. Their sound is …

명심 해야 할 속담

So I have a job and, aside from that, I have a million other hobbies. Korean and Japanese are my more serious hobbies (I’ll be taking TOPIK for the first time this year!)  I’m pretty bad at sitting down and studying everyday but my everyday life is inundated with those languages.  I wouldn’t have it any other way. But then there are my other hobbies – knitting, origami, blogging, writing fiction, reading, teaching myself how to code, designing websites – and when I get those rare pockets of time I have outside of the job, I’m literally scurrying from one hobby to another.  And, now that I’ve decided to take the 40th TOPIK exam, I feel guilty when I’m not spending my free time studying. On the one hand, having a goal to work towards is great, especially since I’m this busy.  On the other hand, the more I throw myself into studying Korean, the less time I have to develop my other hobbies.  Maybe it’s the new year, but I just got back into writing fiction, reading again, and practicing Japanese conversation …

Cécile Corbel & songs in foreign languages

Good music makes me so, so happy. I’ve been listening to a lot of “experimental” electronic, indie rock, and singer/songwriter type music these days.  When I listen to music in a language I can understand (English, Korean, and some Japanese), lyrics are often the most noticeable element of song for me and vocals tend to stand out against the backdrop of instrumentals.  But in other languages, vocals become mere morphemes without meaning, indistinguishable from the other layers of sound in a song.  A friend and I were discussing how sometimes we prefer to listen to songs in languages we don’t understand – for me, at least, it’s because it lets me interpret and feel the song in my own way without being hindered by semantics. Recently, this friend introduced me to a singer who, as she described it, has “the voice of a siren.” Cécile Corbel is a Breton singer and harpist who, in addition to having the most enchanting voice I’ve ever heard, also composed the score for the Studio Ghibli film 借りぐらしのアリエッティ (The Borrower Arrietty).  That’s …

進撃の単語

It’s been a really really long time since I’ve been this obsessed with an anime series.  Last month I started watching Shingeki no Kyojin on a whim and… well, my life hasn’t been the same since.  Heh. その日 人類は思い出した、 ヤツらに支配されていた恐怖を。 鳥籠の中に囚われていた屈辱を。 On that day, humanity remembered the terror of being ruled by them, the humiliation of being held captive in cage. Thus started the first episode of arguably the most epic anime of 2013. SNK is so hyped these days that even I somehow came to know about it, even though I have been totally out of loop with anime/manga since high school.  I watched it with no prior knowledge of the plot and, let me tell you, that first episode sucked me in so fast that I spent 6 straight hours watching all the episodes that had aired in one day.  I resisted reading the manga for a couple weeks before caving and spending 2 sleepless days catching up on all the chapters.  I now spend a considerable amount of my free time sobbing over fan …

Inspirational Japanese

Just popping by to share one of my favorite tumblrs out there, Inspirational Japanese. (click) If you’re ever down, there’s really nothing better than scrolling through a few of their posts. It really leaves you feeling um… inspired… about life… ;D

デスノート鑑賞中

So I’ve been home for a couple days now, relaxing, (though I probably shouldn’t be quite as carefree as I currently am), reading 우행시, and marathoning Death Note! I think this is one of those animes that all fans of anime HAVE to see if they haven’t seen it already.  Scratch that.  It’s an anime that even people who are NOT fans of anime have to see if they haven’t seen it already.  I’d read the original manga too but it’s nice to listen to spoken Japanese and my sister says the anime is pretty faithful to the manga anyway. The plot centers around a seventeen-year-old boy who finds an otherworldly notebook that gives him the ability to kill anyone whose face he knows and whose name he writes in said notebook.  Needless to say, he gets carried away. That meme cracks me up. Anyway, I think I joke a lot about how my two semesters of college Japanese went in one ear and straight out the other, but surprisingly I can understand quite a bit of …