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Foreigners misreading Japanese kanji of “two men one woman” is too pure for Japanese Internet

My pick for the SoraNews24 article this week is something that a lot of Japanese-language learners can probably relate with: Foreigners misreading Japanese kanji of “two men one woman” is too pure for Japanese Internet.

Anyone who’s studied Japanese before has probably tried to “sound out” kanji before, that is, attempting to read a kanji you’ve never seen before by deducing its meaning through the parts that make it up. Sometimes they can make sense (“person” plus “tree” equals “rest”) but more often than not they don’t (“sun” plus “sound” equals “darkness???”).

And when misreadings occur because of assumptions, they can have hilarious results, just like the example in this article. I won’t spoil what the Japanese-learner read the kanji composed of “man-woman-man” as, but let’s just say it’s pretty far from the actual Japanese definition.

Read it and find out for yourself here!

Top image: PAKUTASO (edited by SoraNews24)

W.T.F. Japan: Top 5 Japanese words with cool ancient origin stories 【Weird Top Five】

This week for my RocketNews24 W.T.F. Japan article, I wrote about the top five Japanese words with cool ancient origin stories.

Everyone loves a good etymology, but the ones I find the most interesting aren’t just words passively being passed around from one language to another as it happens to often – I like the ones where there’s some kind of action.

Every language has cool word stories like that, even English with words like “clue” or “jumbo” that have pasts you wouldn’t expect out of them, and I wanted to showcase some Japanese ones this week.

There are of course plenty of other cool Japanese words out there with great etymologies, so if people like this one then maybe we’ll see some more in the future!

Read the article here.

Weekend Review: “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang

As a fan of linguistic-fiction (and you should totally read my story Devilese plug plug plug), I get excited every time I see a new entry into the genre. So when I heard about the upcoming movie Arrival where a linguist cracks an alien species’ language, I was sold from the get-go.

Here’s the teaser trailer for the film if you haven’t seen it yet:

And best of all, Arrival is based on a short story – “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang. Once I found that out I immediately read the whole thing, and I have to say it was one of the best short stories I’ve read… ever.

Kana Kinyobi: Hiragana う (“u”)

Hooray, it’s kinyobi (Friday)! That means it’s time to look at another kana from the Japanese alphabets. Today we’re looking at う (pronounced “u” as in “uber”).

little-hiragana-u

This one’s easy. There’s a “u” right there, just chillin’ on its side. Here, I’ll show you!

hiragana-u

Now you’ll know う whenever you see it. Awesome! Come back for next week’s Kana Kinyobi when we’ll take a look at the next hiragana: え (“e”).

Kana Kinyobi: Hiragana い (“i”)

Hooray, it’s kinyobi (Friday)! That means it’s time to look at another kana from the Japanese alphabets. Today we’re looking at い (pronounced “i” as in “Nintendo Wii“).

little-hiragana-i

Just pretend there’s two little circles on top of the lines and you have what looks like the letter “i” twice.  That makes it twice as easy to remember, right?

Here’s my attempt to illustrate this idea below (P.S. I TRIED REALLY HARD):

hiragana-i

Are you an い master now? Awesome! Come back for next week’s Kana Kinyobi when we’ll take a look at the next hiragana: う (“u”).

Kana Kinyobi: Hiragana あ (“a”)

Hooray, it’s kinyobi (Friday)! That means it’s time to do something that alliterates with kinyobi and learn some Japanese kana!

Even though I’ve retired my Learn Japanese through Ridiculous Manga series on RocketNews24, I still had a lot of fun making the kana mnemonic pictures, and I’d like to keep posting them here until I’ve completed all of the hiragana and katakana.

Hiragana and katakana are the two Japanese alphabets (or “syllabaries” if you want to be technical, and we always want to be technical here). Once you’ve learned to read them you’ll find that you can read a surprising amount of things in Japanese.

So to start, let’s take a look at the first hiragana: あ (pronounced “a” as in “father”)

little-hiragana-a

This guy is easy to remember because there’s an actual “A” inside of it. It’s like those ancient Japanese scribes wanted to give us English speakers a break. Take a look at my horrible attempt to illustrate this idea below:

hiragana-a

Got it? Awesome! You’ve taken your first step to learning how to read Japanese. Come back for next week’s Kana Kinyobi when we’ll take a look at the next hiragana: い (“i”).

W.T.F. Japan: Top 5 most perfectly translated Pokémon names 【Weird Top Five】

This week for my RocketNews24 W.T.F. Japan article, I wrote about the top five most perfectly translated Pokémon names. I always like it when I can write about translation, since there are surprisingly few articles out there about the topic. When it comes to gaming in particular, there are tons of articles and videos on game design, graphics, user interface, and everything else, but translation is one aspect that’s always lacking.

When you think about it, that’s kind of crazy since translation is one of the most important steps when it comes to introducing media to a new country. You could have the best book, movie, or video game ever, but if it’s translated/localized poorly into the new language/culture, then it’s going to flop.

All throughout my time in college, I was interested in historic translation. Yeah sure, learning about the politics and economics of the West coming to Japan and China for the first time was fine, but I wanted to know who was doing the translation between the languages, and even more importantly, how on Earth were they doing it? My professors never had satisfactory answers, and my own research never led anywhere, but I’m still hopeful that someday I can bring to light these important translators.

But for now, I’ll settle for just showing off how awesome the translators for the original Pokémon games were, because they were a huge part in how successful the franchise still is even today.

Read the article here.

W.T.F. Japan: Top 5 myths about learning Japanese 【Weird Top Five】

This week for my RocketNews24 W.T.F. Japan article, I wrote about the top five myths about learning Japanese. Even if you’ve never studied Japanese before and have no intention of ever studying the language, you probably still have some ideas about Japanese that are (dun dun dun!) wrong.

Having taught Japanese as a tutor for several years, I’ve encountered a lot of students coming into learning the language with a lot of preconceived notions, many of which are not true at all, and I wanted to dispel as many of them as I could with this article. The main inspiration for writing it was the #1 item, but all of them are just as prevalent and are in desperate need of being tidied up and disposed of.

Read the article here.