Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A while ago 先生 taught me あいかわらず, "as always". Just realized that this is the -らず form of 変わる, to change -- ie, "without changing". Still don't get the 相; seems to mean "inter-" or something, as in 相手 (N3 単語), but still ちょっと分からない.

Friday, October 8, 2010

More on N3 prep (vocab and kanji).

Another run through the vocab quizzer today. These are the ones that tripped me up this time:
ukagau (forgot -- i think this space in my head is occupied by ugokazu, because when the definition comes up i think of movement)

tsukamaru (i said tsumareru, but i got it the next time)

namakemono (i said nakamemono; got it right the next time because i remembered the kana ke)

suisenjou (i had a brain moment and said rirekisho—very silly, especially because just today i handed off a suisenjou)

hikkosu (am getting better with this one because hiku suggests being pulled from somewhere)

sashiageru (i said sashiagaru, like meshiagaru, but i won't do that again)

jirojiromiru (i wrote jirojiro in katakana, like perapera)

jugyouryou (i forgot "ju" and said just kyouryou, probably conflating it with kyuuryou. will think of jugyou in the future)

sawaru (i said samaru)

anzen suru (i said ansen)

perapera (jirojiro had scolded me for katakana, so i did this one in hiragana)

yakusoku (sometimes i unthinkingly say yoyaku when i mean yakusoku)

shiten (i said tenshi, but i'll remember the ten in the future)

kankyou (i said kankyuu)

shingou (i said dengou. maybe i have electrons on my mind)

shousetsu (i had setsu immediately but couldn't remember shou until i pictured the kanji)

zutto (couldn't remember at all; briefly thought of nandomo)

mudadzukai (i had to sound this one out by syllable but said ta instead of dzu)

koukan suru (it'll help to remember kou, criss-crossing)

sansei suru

kokusai kankei

shufu (i always think kanai)

sugu, mousugu, and imasugu (and massugu) (maybe it'll help to remember that it has the same temporospatial duality as in English: "directly", meaning "go straight through this intersection" or "do this before anything else")

keizai (had to think about it, probably because economics occupies a money space in my memory) first i was thinking sai-kin (okane)

atsumeru (i thought ayamaru, though of course i rejected that immediately)

kankou (got it but had to think because the syllables were rearranging themselves in my head)

I also tend to say yoroshikereba instead of yoroshikattara, because asking whether something is convenient for someone (for me) doesn't carry the same sense of "pastness".

とにかく、the list is a lot shorter than it was yesterday, so that's good. And there were only one or two that I really couldn't think of at all; most of the mistakes were in on'yomi. One aspect of this quizzer that's both an advantage and (sometimes) a limitation is that the user's kana entry has to match the database entry exactly. So it's a stickler for long vs short vowels and voiced vs unvoiced consonants (good), but then sometimes when the database entry is off there's no way to get the item right (bad).

Also gathering flashcards per the N5–N3 kanji lists. Studying kanji is definitely a priority.

Wondering about パンクする, having a flat tire. It must be a borrowed word, but whence? (Addendum: it's from puncture.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tango (and not the Argentine variety).

So I've finally made it through Usagi-chan's 23-chapter vocab
quizzer. I made a list as I was going through of any word
that took some work to remember. Most of the words below I
now have no problem with, but I want to keep them in mind
as a vocab list:



chikoko suru vs okureru vs osoku naru

chuumon suru

gakkari suru



hitorigurashi—helps to learn that kurashi means "to live / get by"

houtteoku—weird word structurally! Kotoba says it can be written with 放 and 置

ijimeru (ijiwarui?)

jirojiro miru




keikaku o tateru




kinchou suru


kokusaikankei—same kokusai as in the phone call, so that helps

konnafuu—i kept saying konna *ni* ("in this way")


koukan suru

kyoujuu ni


makoto ni

ma ni au—i've seen a lot of 間 as ma recently. hmm


mezamashidokei—fine with the tokei part


mudadzukai—the quiz doesn't give parts of speech, so this threw me for a while as just "waste"




netsu ga aru

nodo ga kawaku



rirekisho—this will be easier now that i'm associating reki with history, but the ri still throws me

ryoushin—"both parents", but i still have a hard time remembering it. it's one of those that send a bunch of syllables rolling through my head, trying to match up


sansei suru





shiai—didn't know it, but it makes sense. i think this entry may have been one of the few bugs in the program (ie, the code wouldn't recognize しあい however i typed or pasted it)




shokudou—another one that i learned long ago but don't often use shoukai vs shoutai—it's helping me to think of the "coming together" sense of kai


shucchou—the little tsu is what threw me in this one

shufu—confusing because in fuufu the wife has a long vowel


shuushoku suru


tameru—helps me to think of the "for the sake of" sense of tame—i am saving money *for* something else

tebukuro—te, of course

tokoya—toko?—any relation to tokasu?

tonikaku—this one is super-strange. the quiz says it means "anyway", but what can its origin be? Kotoba gives kanji for it but says they're ateji

tonkatsu—the infamous pork loin or whatever

tsugou ga warui—warui makes sense; need to find out what "tsugou" is

tsukamaru—hopefully i'll never have empirical knowledge of this one (or of chikan)

uchuujin—this makes sense as a spaceman, but it's tough to remember




yoshuu—i know both the kanji but keep forgetting

zeikin—kin is fine, but strange to start a kanji with a "z" reading

Most of them I can define right now, just looking at them, but in the quiz they're still not coming to me as quickly as they should. I'll do some thinking about them; that'll help.

Genki vocab.

A thing I don't love about Genki is its apparently scattershot approach to vocabulary. Sometimes it seems to include words just so it can use them in dialogues. A prime example that keeps coming up in Usagi-chan's quizzer (which I like to play with at work when I can) is とんかつ, a pork cutlet. Why do I need that at this stage in my life? I don't think I know the word for sink or chicken or socialism, but I need to know pork cutlet? Why not beef shank? Why not balsamic reduction?

I'm quizzing on all chapters at once, but you can tell which chapters some of the words come from—eg, どろぼ (burglar) and ちかん (sex offender).

More mnemonics.

It's not so much that I use mnemonics intentionally; it just that I get an image in my head and then I don't miss the word anymore in Usagi-chan's pan-Genki vocab quiz. An example just came up: へんぴんする, henpin suru, to return something to a store. へん means weird/strange, of course, so I got this image of a woman returning a pin to the store because it was weird.

Another mnemonic that happened that isn't really a mnemonic at all: もんくをいう (文句を言う), monku o iu, to complain. The meaning has nothing to do with a monk, but when that term comes up in the quiz a monk appears in my head and reminds me.

And then there's the strange case of びんぼう, poor. The first time I saw that, I associated it with a beanpole, so I got that wrong in Usagi-chan. Now sometimes I have to remind myself that it's binbou, not binpou.

This is a favorite: もてる, "to be popular in terms of romantic interest". S/he will meet you at the "moteru" down the street.

ゆうしょうする (yuu shou suru): to win a championship. You show 'em! (Of course, they may in turn shou yu with soy sauce.)

And an ironic one: せいふ, seifu, government. The government makes one feel so safe!

A while ago I got 犯人 wrong, so I wrote it down, and then when it came up again I remembered the written-down version. I must be a pretty visual learner.

I really need to learn more kanji. That'll make it easier to remember tough ones like 推薦状 (suisenjou, a letter of recommendation) or 割引券 (waribikiken, a coupon). Out of the six kanji, only the third, fifth, and sixth are familiar, and I can only positively identify the fifth as hiku (because it's so pictographic).

What's really tripping me up at the moment is 中 at the end of a phrase, -ちゅう vs -じゅう. "In the middle of" something, "for the duration of" something. 授業中に (ちゅう) but 一日中 (じゅう). Maybe with practice I'll get better at feeling the sound.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Oshieru, oboeru, manabu, omoidasu, etc.

For a while I've been vaguely trying to tease our distinctions among these verbs of putting things into, or taking them out of, the memory.
oshieru (教える): it's a standard "to teach", but it also applies to imparting info, such as a phone number (電話番号を教えてください.)

manabu (学ぶ): feels studious, like a person at school (gaku 学)

oboeru (覚える): usually carries a sense of memorizing, but then in "Chijou no Hoshi" Nakajima sings, "地上の星を / だれも覚えていない", which wouldn't carry that sense at all

omoidasu (思い出す): to remember (from the omoide, combining kanji for thinking and leaving/extracting)

I'm sure there are more. Manabu uses the same kanji as all the gaku variants, so there's a definite sense of study and studenting. Oboeru (to me) suggests effort and intention; the 勉 in 勉強, study, has a tsukuri of 力 (strength) and carries a reading of tsutomeru, to work, a verb that's usually written 勤める, again with 力. Exertion, effort. Manabu 学ぶ might suggest the longer-term process of being in a school environment and learning gradually, as opposed to applying oneself acutely. 今日学校に行ったけど、あまり勉強しなかったから、何も学ばなかった。

So maybe Nakajima isn't saying just that no one knows/remembers, but also that no one makes an effort to remember.

Jisho offers a bunch of neat variants on remembering and keeping in mind. The first entry is 思い出す, of course. The second is the enchanting 思い起こす, omoiokosu, combining thinking/memory and awakening—the active form, rather than 思い起きる. Jisho also offers 偲ぶ, which adds ninben, which may carry that reading of "shi" (but does it carry meaning?). It also offers another kanji for oboeru, 憶える: apparently, 憶 can also be omou, like 思う, and the kanji is the 意 in "meaning" (いみ) plus an additional kokoro (mind/heart) for flavor. 注意 (warning) is particularly interesting because it seems to carry a specific sense of attention—eg, you can use 逸らす, actively diverting/digressing, on it to distract someone from something. (注意を逸らしていただきませんか。) Of course, with sorasu (divert) there's also soreru, to wander or digress (on your own—牛が逸れちゃった?).

There must be nuances among all these verbs; so frustrating to see them all listed as "to remember"! Why can't dictionaries say anything useful?

Addendum: And where does 習う fit into all this? Feathers? It's used in 見習い, young women practicing their dancing &c. Is 習う more physical than, say, 学ぶ?

Another kanji moment.

Another happy kanji discovery (though this is probably obvious to everyone else):
汚す yogosu, to soil

汚れる yogoreru, to become soiled

汚い kitanai, dirty.

I like those connections; they're energizing, and they suggest that there may be some logic here. (It definitely helps that 先生 and I have been working on active and passive verb forms.)

So I'm trying to prepare for JLPTN3. Here's a resource I'm using a lot: Usagi-chan's Genki Resource Page at Sacramento State. Lots of helpful resources for kana, kanji, and vocab, but I've been focusing on the vocab quizzer. The app can quiz on vocab from all 23 chapters of Genki, more than 1,000 words in all, and it removes items from the list once you've gotten them right. I'm in Genki chapter 19, but I've been running the whole program, and I've learned a lot. Trying to gain some familiarity with the kanji, too. These two-kanji する combinations are killing me. Maybe it's just that I grew up with English, but I find on'yomi tough to distinguish sometimes -- しゅ vs しょ vs しゅう vs しょう vs じゅう vs じょう. So as I've been going through and speaking everything very carefully.

It's encouraging to know that I'm improving, though. I can go through hundreds at a time without making mistakes other than typos. And it feels pretty good to look at something, think I don't know it, and then have the correct reading or meaning just float up from somewhere deep in my head. Truly, 思い出す.

Fun to tell myself stories to keep the kanji straight. Like, in semai 狭い, the wild dog (けものへん) is in an alley with that bulky つくり and is being squished -- because the alley is narrow (semai). 絵 is literally threads-together, which Henshall says refers to old paintings on silk. 類 is one I'll have to look into when Henshall is handy. Funny that 輪 means rings/circles/wheels; it's one of the most right-angled kanji out there. (But I guess I can see that the hen is 車, a vehicle, and 冊 in the tsukuri may suggest binding together, as with books. I'm tickled that shoko 職, employment, has 耳, 音, and 戈—ear, sound, and halberd—because, of course, employment (shoku) is a state in which you listen to a lot of noise or get chopped. 働, working, has similar charm: a person, heaviness, and strength/force. Sisyphus.

Of course, I'll have to do a lot more for N3; I have some vocab and kanji lists and am making kanji flash cards. Long row to hoe. But I'm encouraged with the progress I've made so far. 頑張ろうね。

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

覚えにくい単語 / 「たからくじ」の漢字。

So here's a word that I just can't keep in my head: lottery. I'd give the Japanese version, but I'm determined to fish it out of my tired brain. I know the verb for "to hit the lottery" is 当たる, which makes perfect sense, but the word for the lotto itself is a meaningless jumble of syllables.... like five syllables.... たからくじ! Is that right? 意味はなんでしょうか。 takarakuji. Let's see what Kotoba says.

(If Genki doesn't teach you a certain kanji, it won't use it, so sometimes it's difficult to tell what's habitually written with kanji and what's not.)

So there are two kanji in takarakuji:

宝 takara
籤 kuji

Apparently 宝 means treasure, and 籤 in both forms means lottery or raffle. Interesting: although the two forms of kuji both carry the meaning of "lottery", they have some differences in readings: the common-use one is SEN, kuji, and kazutori, and the old one is KYOU and kuji. All the kanji compounds that Kotoba lists for both have something to do with lotteries, drawing lots, luck, etc. Interesting stuff. ヘンシャー先生に相談しよう。。。



takara 宝 is a gimme: 玉 under a roof. Pretty literal.

籤の漢字は。。。。 見つけられないですよ。 Henshall has nothing to say about kuji or its origins. それでは、部首を調べましょう。。。 おほぅ! Jisho lists three that I can see that are about lotteries: 籖, 觽, and 鬮.

籖: kun: kazutori, kuji; on: SEN. Lottery or raffle. Not jouyou. Looks like we have 竹 as tsukuri, with tsuchi 土, hoko 戈, and this crazy 韭, which Jisho says means a leek (but which has no kun'yomi whatsoever). I guess leeks aren't big in Japan.

觽: kun: kujiri, tsunogiri; on: E, KI, KEI, SUI. Judging by its variants, this one has a sense of ivory or horn (角, which is its hen). (Why is tsuno 角 the same kanji as kado 角, corner?—ahh, なるほど, Henshall says kado came from a pictograph of a horn.) The tsukuri includes yama 山 and the weird 隹, which I've seen interpreted as "feathers", "bird in tree", and "old bird". (Henshall says it's a pictograph.) Also not jouyou. "Giri" is interesting; is it related to this sense of obligation, 義理? Some kind of obligation/debt brought on by a horn that resulted in (perhaps) a chance or death or something. Obscure!

But this one is the real prize:

鬮: This one is a bona fide pictograph! You can see an animal in it. Blow it up if you don't believe me. The outer structure is 門ish, but it doesn't connect; just a vertical on the left and a vertical with kick on the right, and inside two 王. Beneath those there's what can only be a literal interpretation of some kind of animal—perhaps a tortoise? Ah, yes—Jisho says that the 鬥 part ("broken gate") is no longer in use (and lists 0 readings for it) but the 亀 part is jouyou and jinmeiyou and means turtle. (You can see the shell and tail.) Exciting!

There are some other sources that follow up on the on'yomi kazutori (which may have something to do with drawing numbers—kazu 数 and toru 取る?), but probably that reading was assigned way after the fact. Still have no idea what the origins of "kuji" might be.

Bet on the turtle.

日本語能力試験 N3.

So I've committed to N3級—my registration is confirmed. It's in December. I have a lot of work to do.

So I'm making new kanji flashcards, and at the moment I'm running through a fantastic app (hat-tip to Usagi-chan) that quizzes on all vocab from both Genki books, about 1100 words in all. I figure it's a good starting point, even though right now we're only on ch. 19 (book 2). It's helping me learn the vocab I don't already know (or have forgotten), and it's exposing me to kanji that I'll need to make friends with at some point. 私とこの漢字はいま知り合ってみてる。

But here's something wonderful: the kanji combo for "resume" (りれきしょ). 履歴書. Sho is obvious; the 履歴書 is a 書類. Reki, too, is pretty clear; a history. 歴史. But the first one—履?! Kutsu?! The written history of my shoes? Is this ateji, or what?

Also: I love that you can sing the praises of something/someone with Homeru. Perfect! 理想だね!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

日本語能力試験 3級

ところで、I've registered for the JLPT again this year, 日本語能力試験, level N3. Work has been pretty exhausting for a long while, so it'll take a lot of work to be ready, but 頑張りましょうね。 Already making flashcards. Whether it works out or not, I'm looking forward to trying.


(Apologies—this needs editing, but I haven't had time.)

日本語の授業 on Thursday. Much fun. We discussed honorific forms, 遠慮, etc. What I'm finding most fascinating about these honorifics is how they can combine: meshiagatteiru, meshiagatteirasshaimasu, meshiagatteirassharu. Tabeteirasshaimasu? Tabeteirasshatta koto ga arimasu ka? Tabeteirasshatta koto, aru? They create interesting possibilities, like おなおしになっていらっしゃったら onaoshininatteirasshattara, something like "if/when you have so kindly been correcting". Such a combination seems possible grammatically, but what would it mean to an actual person? And what about onaoshininatteirasshareba?

This is one of many reasons why I'm glad to have my 日本語の先生 as a guide—he's very, very good at explaining the nuances of meaning. I wish I were as good at understanding them!

すみません sumimasen: presumably from すむ sumu, to feel at ease. 遅くなってどうもすみませんでした (osoku natte doumo sumimasen deshita)—very sorry I was late; I didn't feel at ease about it—or, more literally, i became late and was very uneasy (about it). Interesting question, then, of apologies for things you didn't realize at the time were wrong:
Xさんのりんごをたべてすみませんでした. だれのだったか分からなかったんです。
X-san no ringo o tabete, sumimasen deshita. dare no datta ka wakaranakatta n desu.
Sorry I ate your apple, X-san. I just didn't know whose it was.
That (or something like that) is how we'd probably translate it and how it's probably understood, but funny that from a strict semantic perspective the (-te...verb) construction doesn't work: it's not that I ate the apple and felt bad about it at the time, but that I felt bad only when I discovered that the apple had belonged to X-san. Then again, maybe it does work, as a sequence: I ate the apple and later felt bad about it. ringo o tabete, sumimasen deshita. And presumably the speaker is still in that state (and thus is apologizing for it). So, then, could you apologize for a past action with a present-tense sumimasen? ringo o tabemashita kara, ima sumimasen. Or has that specificity of sumimasen been lost? Is it now a stock phrase of obscure origin? 面白いですね。

There's a kanji that I need to follow up on: it had the same first two strokes as 有る, and sensei said (I believe) that it's pronounced ある, but the tsukuri was 子. I think. I haven't been able to find it anywhere.

ごめんなさい gomennasai: We talked about なさる with the other honorific verbs, so now I'm into that. I've wondered before about the -sai endings in ごめんなさい、ください, おやすみなさい, etc. Now it seems that the -nasai endings may derive from nasaru なさる, the honorific form of suru する, to do. So that got me thinking that in gomen the go may also be honorific, and now I see (from jisho.org) that the men in ご免 go-men does have a meaning of "pardon". So that makes sense. But I'm still wondering about ending all these things with -sai, especially as that's complicated by the more formal -saimase, which I assume must come from the -masu form. I've heard before that ごめんなさい can sound childish; would saying ごめんなさいませ make it more formal/appropriate? Google turns up only six results for ごめんなさいませ in romaji but almost 24,000 in kana. お休みなさいませ。 Now I'm suspecting -sai is an imperative form; that would make sense. Ringo o kudasai = kindly bestow upon me the/an apple. Gomen nasai = perform your honorable pardon [on me]. Could there be an irrashai, "honorably come on in"?

Aha: the Internet tells me that -sai and -mase are indeed, respectively, informal and formal imperative forms. (まだimperativeを学んでいないんです。) One page says that you can use いらっしゃい to a friend arriving at your house, and of course いらっしゃいませ is for shop clerks to greet customers. "Come on in" vs. a much more polite way. (So where would 食べませ leave us?)