Archive for the 'nihongo' Category


Sunday, July 1st, 2007

SDB asks how シィ is said in ユーシィ. I think it is said “si”, same as more common フィ and ティ (the latter one also stands in for “thi”). So, official English name “Yucie” is a pretty good approximation phonetically.


Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Steven writes:

What she says sounds to me like ounbu. But I can’t parse that. The subtitles translate it as “Piggyback”.

Sounds like 負んぶ to me. So he heard it pretty much right, only it’s a short お.

Monday, July 9th, 2007

Everyone knows about But is there a Here’s a specimen:

Being suspicious, I verified that the real title is spelled normally. The announcement includes a picture, too.

J. Greely is my hero

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

J. is our Rock Lee. I am nothing by comparison (still stuck at KanKen 20Man level 9). We started at about the same time, but… OTZ orz etc.

Japanese archery

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

Girls of archery is something commonly seen in anime. They are not as abundant as mikos, the shrine maidens, but the type is well established. But with all my years of anime I noticed something odd just now. Look where the string of Lemmy’s bow is.

It can be seen plainly (with the help of slow-motion) that after the arrow is released, the string continues to move, circles around the left hand and comes to rest on the outside of the left wrist of the shooter. I can only presume that the bow turns almost a full turn in the grip. Not being an archer myself, I have no idea what purpose this technique serves, but since it’s painstakingly reproduced in anime I have to assume that it’s real.

UPDATE: Reader Refugee wrote to inform that the technique is called “yugaeri” (弓返り — literally “bow return”) and provided a link.

In the shooting form, the yugaeri allows the archer to return to correct toriyumi no shisei (bow holding posture). This is the beginning and ending shooting posture where the bow and arrows are held at one’s side. If the yugaeri is incomplete the bow must be readjusted after shooting in order to return to the correct posture, and that action takes away the fluidity of the shooting procedure.

Refugee also asked, “Why do Edo-era and older farm buildings have large rocks on their roofs? Lack of nails?” I automatically assumed that to be the case, although I do not know.

Name order

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

At a press-conference for Formula 1 Grand Prix of Japan, while speaking in English, Takuma Sato produced an illustration to the name-order debate (emphasis mine):

Q: A quick one for Takuma to follow up that previous question: how long did it take you to get up to Mt Fuji?

Takuma Sato: I think that, depending on where you start it, you can almost climb half by car. If you start the climb from the bottom, it takes six hours or something. I think that Ukyo Katayama, my favourite Japanese driver, he’s almost jogging up to the top of the mountain before having breakfast — he goes up and down in three hours. I’m not quite as quick as Ukyo-san, but I did normal climbing, and I think I was average. I was quite small too — I was just a little boy.

As you can see, if honorifics are used, it’s impossible to stick to the normalized order, but otherwise it’s the desired way to speak.

Not paying attention

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

I am on my own tonight and I was just going to have a supper of frozen taiyaki… Or what I thought were frozen taiyakis. By an accident, I recognized my error before I tried to thaw them, when I saw a cross-section on the side which displayed something white. A closer examination revealed a label “バニラアイス”.

In theory, reading food labels in katakana is well within my capabilities, but I suppose I just grabbed the box and went on. Oh well, ravioli time.

Hard to say

Friday, November 16th, 2007

AD2225 must be kidding:

Started another series. This time, Idolmaster Xenoglassia. One hell of a hard to spell name. Not quite as bad as Utablabla, but close. (I still can’t spell that one, and honestly I’m not sure I got this one right..)

Look, it’s not hard… You know how they say “So-and-so are xeno-phobic”? Say aloud: “Xenophobia”. Now, this is Xeno-glossia. It means that Haruka speaks foreign languages (she does not really, at least not in the first 8 episodes, but there it is; they probably meant that she talks to the Imbel’s core, which is an alien consciousness).

As for Utawarerumono, it’s not hard either. Mono is mono, like in tatemono, bakemono, kudamono. Uta comes from utau, to sing. The -reru is their passive, “was sung”, which applies to negative stem. You take utawanai, delete nai, slap reru on it, and get “sung thing”: utawa-reru-mono. Nee?

Now, say “baku-basu-gasu-hatsu” 50 times.

UPDATE: There was a reply.

Japanese understatements

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Seen in Nakama ch.10:


Which approximately means, “my house has burned down in a fire, no life necessities left, so it’s inconvenient.” It’s easy to remember FUBENDA: it’s like FUBAR, only with Japanese tint.

I’m not exactly sure how to use it though… Would it be appropriate to say: “Yakuza killed my family, FUBENDA”, or “We sat in a traffic jam on I-580 for half an hour, FUBENDA”, or “I’m all out of mayo, FUBENDA”? But no matter, we can start an internet meme and make it appropriate.


Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

I am back from JLPT. Ana-sempai took level 3, I took level 4. I think I did well on reading, rotten on listening and grammar. The test was very light on kanji.

In my room, out of 32 people, 3 were old weaboos (no women among them, naturally). A sad picture, really. The friendliest of them remarked how we form a distinct group. I promised myself to wear my most expensive skinz next time, the managerial garb: Ecco shoes, slacks, belt-collared shirt, blazer. Let them think I’m doing if out of respect for my new wife or something.

In the hallways, I heard of a girl from Norway, who took the exam a few hours ahead. She texted another girl here in America what kind of words were on the exam and things like that. It’s strictly prohibited and we were warned not to do it, but the girls apparently figured that if it’s not on the Internet, there’s no way to catch them.

An interesting question is, how we are supposed to step up from JLPT 4 to JLPT 3 or 2. The level 4 seems to be a bit below what 2 years of Japanese give you in a community colledge, level 3 is somewhat above, but manageable. Thereafter, I see no easy education opportunities. I suppose one can major in Japanese studies, but casual learners are out of luck. SFSU offers an “Advanced Study of Kanji” through the Open University program every year, and cancels it every time, ostensibly for low attendance. Nonetheless, crowds of examinees were present. Who are all these people?

UPDATE: I saw some native speakers taking fairly low levels. Not sure what’s up with that. I understand that somehow they can get this converted into units for the CSU system (of which SFSU is a part), and/or get a foreign language requirement fulfilled. Still the fellow I linked seems to worry (I can recognize “心配”).

UPDATE 2007/12/16: By a miraclous coincidence, J. Greely answers the question I posed above.