Pages 15-35 accounted for. I finished Chapter 2 a couple days ago and was amazed at how much of a pleasure it was to be in the End of the World. Murakami provides so much specific detail for the world, specifically for the beasts but also for characters like the Gatekeeper, and he really takes his time with that first chapter and uses the beasts to introduce the world.
It was easy to understand what 望楼 (ぼうろう) meant from context, but I had to look up the pronunciation. 望 was familiar from compounds such as 展望台 (てんぼうだい) and 願望 (がんぼう), but I didn’t know 楼, which on its own is pronounced just ろう.
It’s made up of the 木 radical on the left, which makes sense since watchtowers are wooden, and then on the right there is 米 above 女, which points to the other meaning of the character suggested by the third definition in Yahoo – a restaurant (?) where johns retreat with a prostitute. That makes it easier to remember the radicals involved – food and ladies in a wooden building…up high.
Update: NOTE: This is just my personal mnemonic and is not based on any actual etymological history. Check out the comments for the actual 字源. Neat stuff.
A couple of notes about the chapter:
- Birnbaum translates the End of the World section in present tense, which works so nicely. The Japanese, although told in past tense, does seem to fit to present tense somewhat naturally since Murakami is describing the unending repetition in the town as it goes through the seasons. The last sentence in the chapter is このようにして街の一日は終わる。
- Only two minor cuts and an adjustment or two. One sentence details the three small watchtowers along the wall, and the other provides more specific details about the violence of the beasts when they fight. When Boku asks the Gatekeeper why he uses the knives, Birnbaum has him answer “I’ll show you” when the winter comes, but the Japanese is closer to “You’ll see” when winter comes. Nothing major beyond that.
Pages 15-22 are in the bag. This was my first time reading Japanese for about 4-5 months, and there has been noticeable deterioration in my kanji recognition skills. I noticed this at Japan Fest the other day when I wrote ヨ and thought to myself, hey, that looks like a backwards E. This is not a good sign.
When I was reading through these pages, 静物画 (せいぶつが) really stood out to me. I had to stare at 静 for a while to remember what it meant and how to pronounce it, but I knew from context and memory what it meant in Japanese – it’s hard to forget the initial elevator scene in Hard-Boiled Wonderland. Long, wind-up opening chapters became Murakami’s trademark with this novel, and nowhere is it more fun to read than here. We’re locked in
boku’s Watashi’s consciousness and humor: he sees himself as a still life portrait in this strange elevator.
The compound 静物, a very cool homophone with 生物, follows the pattern ADJECTIVE + NOUN (still/quiet + thing) and is then attached to 画.
The good news is that I did not have to look this one up and was still able to rustle up the meaning and pronunciation. I wasn’t so lucky with 歩幅 (ほはば), a NOUN + NOUN compound. I blame this on the stupid compound 几帳面 (きちょうめん), which came a few sentences before and primed my brain to read any 巾 kanji as ちょう.
I think I probably knew this kanji before, but in its grandfatherly お爺さん form; on its own, the pronunciation is じじい (which I discovered thanks to furigana in the book I was reading), and it means dirty old man. For whatever reason, when I was reading I found it very cool that a single character had three syllables in the pronunciation.
It’s a cool kanji in its own right – the character for father (父) right above
the verb “to take” (取) the somewhat rare character 耶 that means question or father, making the easy mnemonic “Take this, old dad guy man! *heaves rotten tomato*” “Dad?”
But the kanji led me into the rabbit hole that is the おじいさん entry on Wikipedia. Did you know that おじいさん can refer to twelve distinct individuals? These are:
1. One’s father’s father
2. One’s mother’s father
3. One’s husband’s father’s father
4. One’s husband’s mother’s father
5. One’s husband’s father’s grandfather
6. One’s husband’s mother’s grandfather
7. One’s wife’s father’s father
8. One’s wife’s mother’s father
9. One’s wife’s father’s grandfather
10. One’s wife’s mother’s grandfather
11. An elderly man of equal age or older than 1-2
12. A self-applied name used by a man who fits 1, 2, or 11
Whew…deep breath. The article goes on to explain some of the nuances of the word, comparisons with Chinese, and the fact that it can be used as a first person pronoun by old dudes when talking to young kids like their grandchildren. I can’t wait to be that crazy older uncle type and get all 爺d up.
Update: Fixed teh character issues with teh kanjiz. Also fixed the errors in 2 and 6 as pointed out by Arline. And I totally forgot to mention that the Wikipedia article also mentions that when おじいさん refers to family members, the kanji are お祖父さん.
This one is pretty easy to break down. 復 means “multiple” and can be seen in such useful compounds as 複数 (ふくすう, “multiple numbers” → plural) and 複雑 (ふくざつ, “multiple miscellaneous” → difficult, complicated).
習 you should recognize from your basic set of verbs – 習う (ならう, to learn).
Put them together and you get 復習 (ふくしゅう) which means “to learn multiple times” or “to learn again” – to review.
Yes, it’s that time of year again – finals time. I’ve got several meaty projects I have to finish up before the second week in December, so How to Japonese will be taking a little break. I finish my last presentation on December 9, and I’m flying out to Japan for two weeks on December 10. Regular posting will resume at some point over the holidays, most likely at some point during my visit to Japan.
Until then, go ahead and “review” some of the old material from the site. I recommend:
- the three original posts.
- my definition of かわいそう
- proof that laughter is the best study partner
- my guide to kanji compounds
- any of the posts about “airbag expressions”
See y’all again in December!
Some guys wish they were taller. Others wish they had more money or were better looking. I wish I could drink more coffee. I have written about the reasoning previously – drinking coffee makes you cool, duh.
When I went out to coffee with a Japanese friend last Friday, I was trying to explain my caffeine deficiencies. I get a massive initial rush and then crash hard not long after, often requiring a nap. (Although I do feel like a genius during the rush.) I opt instead for tea, and I dole it out in small amounts from a thermos so that I can have lots of little doses to sustain me through the day.
I was having a hell of a time explaining this. I went round and round, dodging the potholes that have worked their way into my vocabulary over the past five months, trying to get my point across. Finally she figured it out and said, ああ、微調整. And I was like, なるほど!
I won’t go into 調整 (ちょうせい) all that much – it means to adjust/to make adjustments. The real point of the post is to take a closer look at the prefix 微 (び). You’ve probably already gathered this from my story, but 微 in this case means “small” or “slight” – I make small or slight adjustments in my caffeine level to prevent any highs and lows.
If you are a fan of Japanese canned coffee, you might have recognized this character from 微糖 (びとう), which means a small amount of sugar. This is less sugar than 低糖 (ていとう), which means low sugar. But these are two-character compounds, and 微 isn’t as clearly a prefix. A quick perusal of ALC reveals that 微気候 (びきこう, microclimate), 微欠点 (びけってん, minor defect), and 微生物 (びせいぶつ, microorganism) are other examples of 微 in action as a prefix. So a good English equivalent is “micro,” but it doesn’t always work – “microdefect” doesn’t sound quite right.
The moral of the story is know your prefixes and know their pronunciations; they’ll make it much easier to parse long kanji compounds and will make your Japanese much more efficient.
The massive amounts of English required for grad school are slowly wearing down my Japanese ability, but I’ve found a couple of conversation partners (one who just returned to New Orleans) and I still get translation work every now and then (and some of those times I can actually fit it in my schedule). I recently did a little work for a company, and just this past Monday a check finally came through for some work I did over the summer. Both of these events reminded me of a critical translation/project management vocab word – 請求書 (せいきゅうしょ).
To break this fool down literally, first we have to chop off the suffix – 書. You probably recognize this as the character that means “write”; it gets tacked on to the end of almost any document. 身分証明書 (ID). 説明書 (instructions). 契約書 (contract). 計画書 (plan). I could go on for a while. So we have a document of a 請求. If we look at the different types of kanji compounds, I believe this is a combination of two different synonyms. Both 請 and 求 mean, loosely, “to ask for, to request,” so the combination together means the same thing – to request. What are we requesting? Payment, of course! We’ve done all the hard work. We’ve looked up words (not too many). We’ve Googled mercilessly and left comments where we couldn’t find an answer about something in the text (not too many). We’ve revised (quite a bit to smooth out our awkward translationing). And now we’ve finally sent the work in. Time to get paid. 請求書, in more familiar English, means “invoice.”
First I’ll address this from a translator’s perspective. Most companies want invoices by the end of the month, so you can save it until then or you can submit the invoice along with the finished translation. I always take the latter course so I don’t forget. If you get a lot of work from a company, then you can save all your invoices and send them together at the end of the month. Companies may charge a transfer fee of $10 or so, and if you are a yen pincher, then you could try and combine several months’ worth of invoices into a single month. Be careful, though – some companies ask that invoices be submitted within a certain amount of time after the translation is completed.
You want to make sure you have all your bank info on the invoice along with contact info and the job number (if you were given one). As a translator, you should expect to get paid a month or two after you submit your invoice. If you finish your work early in the month, then you may end up waiting as many as three months.
As a project manager, when you receive an invoice, the first thing you should do is print it out. At least that’s how we handled it where I worked. Whether or not you print it may be up to the company policy, but you should immediately take the first step toward processing the invoice. Forgetting to file a translator’s invoice properly is one of the most embarrassing things you can do – trust me. Translators help you look good (or at least try to help you look good), and it pays to take care of them. Once I printed and filed the invoice, I always confirmed this fact with the translator so they could have peace of mind.
Hooray for the weekend! This semester I don’t have any class or work on Friday, so I automatically get 三連休, and this particular weekend expands to 四 thanks to Labor Day. (HOLY SHIT IT’S GOOD TO BE A STUDENT!)
The Japanese for weekend is 週末 (しゅうまつ). The kanji 末 is a handy one to recognize. It often gets used as a suffix to mean the end of something. For example, 年末, 期末, 月末, and 世紀末 among others. Once you recognize it, you’ll be able to parse it as a suffix in unknown vocab much more easily.
(Note: Never confuse 期末 [きまつ, end of school term] with 末期 [まつご, end of life, terminal]. Damn you, Japonese and your flipable compounds.)
It also gets pronounced すえ and used in the construction “X〜た末、Y.” It still means an “end” of sorts in this case, just an end of the verb that comes before it, implying the English tone of “after much ~ing, Y occurred/I managed to Y/I did Y.”
いろいろ考えた末、日本で留学することにした。 After thinking about it quite a bit/After much consideration, I decided to study abroad in Japan.
長い間がんばった末、やっと翻訳の仕事を見つけた。 After a lot of hard work, I finally found a translation job. (Weird translation – ignore it, remember the Japonese, please.)
Since I’ve been home, I’ve spent a significant amount of time going through all my worldly possessions and – sometimes at the insistence of my mother, sometimes at my own insistence – throwing out what I don’t need or want anymore. I weeded out all the unnecessary books. Most of the stuffed animals can go. All my toy figures can go. I’ll try to sell some of the comic books. One thing I will keep is my college notes. Not all of them, but the ones that matter, and my Japanese notes definitely fall into that category.
I hadn’t studied Japanese before college, so I can pinpoint the day I began to study the language – June 25, 2001. For some reason I chose to study Italian my freshman year. Halfway through the first year, I knew that I’d made a mistake and that I really wanted to be studying Japanese. Initially I looked for study abroad programs, even going as far as asking my Italian professor to write me a letter of recommendation (!). In the end I signed up for the intensive summer course, because it was the only way I could get credit for the work.
I had class from 9AM to 1PM five days a week. Additionally, we were supposed to do six hours of study and preparation outside of class each day – 10 hours a day! I remember calculating the workload at some point, and each day amounted to a week of study during the normal school year: it was a challenge, but I really enjoyed it, and it enabled me to catch up with my classmates.
It’s been 超懐かしい to look through my old notes. The image above is the first page of my first legal pad. As you can tell, nothing got by me:
I also found the very first hiragana I ever wrote:
And my very first kanji:
I’ll be digging through my notes over the next few months to see if I can glean any nuggets of wisdom that I’ve forgotten over the past nine years.
Still trying to get my feet under me back home. I’m not jetlagged anymore, but I’m still in the process of getting organized, so just a small cool compound this week.
This post, “Reading Strategies – Skimming and Kanji Compounds,” on how to break down different kanji compounds is probably one of the most important that I’ve written. Study Japanese long enough and eventually you make it to the point where kanji compounds don’t even look like two characters – they parse like a single word when you read them. But inevitably you’ll come across ones that you can’t remember or don’t recognize. In those cases knowing how the characters work together is invaluable.
One of the prefixes which I did not include in the prefix/suffix category is 未. It implies incompletion. You see compounds like 未払い (みばらい, unpaid), 未婚 (みこん, unmarried), etc. While reading 1Q84 I came across this compound 未明 (みめい), which I hadn’t seen before but figured out from context and the characters. 明 means dawn or to dawn, and when prefixed with 未 it takes on pre-dawn or early dawn connotations – I guess when it’s light out but the sun has not risen yet. Pretty cool. This Google Images image best expresses the idea.
I was out in Futako Tamagawa walking around with my parents this past week, and I noticed this as we walked up to the entrance of the Garden Island annex of Takashimaya:
Yup, those are trucks parked in a special spot for 納品車 – vehicles making deliveries. Closer inspection reveals…
…that the regular parking lot is just over to the right.
This sign was interesting to me because it was the first time I’ve seen 納品 used for actual, physical deliveries. I’d used it often in the office, as I wrote when I introduced the compound, but it was always in regards to nebulous, digital deliveries. Very cool to see it out in the real world.