Month: March 2018

Trying to remember Japanese Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia is probably one of the fun and recreative aspects of the Japanese language, and I have always been assuming that most Japanese learners remember and use these cute words effortlessly. The problem Now, I don’t think that I have a childhood trauma relative to onomatopoeia (but who knows?), but the truth is that I can’t remember them. I know some of them, of course, but only the most commonly used. Not being able to learn something that almost every text on the subject qualifies as “easy to remember” has been annoying me for a long time now, but I have done nothing to tackle this problem. The only way I dealt with onomatopoeia until now, was to add these words to my Anki deck as standard vocabulary. But I have come up against a few problems: It is a real struggle to guess an onomatopoeia through its English translations. Some share a similar meaning, and translations hardly convey the differences between related onomatopoeias. As a result, when I see the “English” card, it is a hassle …

Japanese News: Moritomo Gakuen scandal

Although it was one of the major political issues of last year, I have not read much in Japanese about the Moritomo Gakuen scandal. It is a complex story with difficult vocabulary, and the titles of the related articles have always discouraged me. I wanted to believe that this scandal was a last-year-thing and that I could skip studying it altogether. Alas for me, new developments have put the Moritome Gakuen in the headlines again and given the number of articles that have appeared on this subject, I am forced to admit that I can no longer avoid it. I will not study a specific article but focus on key vocabulary. Of course, the first thing I did was to pick up my Asahi Keywords and study the double-page devoted to the Morimoto Gakuen scandal. Context and Vocabulary Moritomo Gakuen “Moritomo Gakuen” is the name of a private “school corporation“. It has a very conservative education line and would, for example, include the reading of the Imperial Rescript on Education to its program. 森友学園・もりともがくえん: the …

Reading Notes on the novel「彼女がその名を知らない鳥たち」by 沼田まほかる

I am reading the novel 「彼女がその名を知らない鳥たち」by 沼田まほかるand the two main characters of the story use the Kansai dialect when they talk to each other. This particularity certainly confers a touch of authenticity to the novel, but it also adds difficulty for non-native readers. I will go through some of the features of the Kansai dialect, mainly thanks to the Wikipedia page on the subject and other Japanese forums or blogs I found when looking for a particular expression. I have consulted so many sites that it is hard to tell which of them were really useful. If I were to cite just one site, I would say that this one gives a useful list of some Kansai particularities. These are just personal notes that help me understand the novel I am reading. It is by no means a complete or structured presentation of the Kansai dialect. Some features of the Kansai dialect Thi first important thing to know is that the negation ない becomes へん in Kansai dialect. Thus, 寝られへん means 寝られない. With the verb する, I …

Some thoughts on language learning and emotions

Emotions can influence the way we learn a language. Positive emotions and motivation go together, but it took me a long time to realise it. Being aware of how we attach particular emotions to our target language is the first step to building a better long-term motivation. I consider that learning a language is an activity closely linked to emotions. I am sure that there are studies out there that have covered this subject, but I am not familiar with them. I will use my own experience to see how these emotions can be used to maintain our motivation. How negative emotions can influence language learning I am not an expert, but I feel that there is a difference between learning a language and learning something else. If I learn cooking, for example, and someone tells me that what I made tastes funny, it won’t prevent me from going on studying recipes. There are things that we learn and stay, somehow, distinct from us. If what I cook tastes awful, I would feel annoyed but not depressed or …

Japanese News: the discretionary labour system

The last two articles I have studied were about sports, so I thought that it was time to return to more political subjects. As a consequence, even if I was tempted to study an article about the Tokyo Olympic mascots that have just been unveiled, I focused myself on another topical issue: the discretionary labour system that should have been part of Abe’s labour reform. The context: An important element of Abe’s labour reform was to expand the “discretionary labour system”, or in Japanese 裁量労働制・さいりょうろうどうせい. If you are unfamiliar with this system, (as I was before starting this post), you can have a look at this Japan Times article in English. To summarise, according to this system, the employer and the employee agree to a certain amount of working hours per day, and the employee will be paid according to this agreement, no matter if he worked more or less than what had been decided. To justify the necessity to expand this system, the government has used a survey provided by the Ministry of Health, …