April 25, 2008

Today's language thoughts

Another Japanese-centric post. And long! If you would rather not see these in your feed, I think a little work with yahoo pipes may do the trick (I try to tag all such posts as 日本語). But I'll throw an unrelated bone out there to my non-moon speak talkers at the bottom.
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So... 好く is a real word, it would seem. Which means I incorrectly corrected a boy when he was translating my worksheet assignment today, and I will have to issue a retraction. I'll probably do it on the announcements so that I have the class' attention (I want to make sure that they don't get confused by my officially given translation on the blackboard, which was basically love instead of like). But anyways, it bugs me that I never noticed this word before, despite Mai always saying 好かん (I don't like it!) (I just thought it was hakata-ben)(don't get it into your head that she was saying she didn't like me!)(four parenthetical statements: bad grammar, or awesome grammar?). The issue got a little muddled because before class, a teacher and I got back into the thing about whether 好き is a verb. Most Japanese people tend to think it is, despite looking nothing like a verb. But in their minds it is 好む or 好く, more or less. And if we factor in the fact that だ is more or less a helper verb, 好きだ is very easy to see as a verb.--by the way, Bobby, if you are reading this, which I doubt you are while you are building houses in India, I have encountered a 国語先生 that thinks of na-adjectives as not 形容動詞 until you get that だ or な on there. Thought you'd like to know, though you won't, cause you can't read this. All aboard the digression train! Oh wait it already left!--But the question remains, why don't I ever see 好く? My best guess is it just sounds like too many other things, so people favor 好き. What do you think, lovely reader, with full red lips I could kiss? That was weird. Why did I say that? Still like this entry? Or are you going back to that Boing Boing* tramp? Okay, I have totally lost my Japanese readers now (as opposed to my readers of Japanese. No, wait, they're both gone).
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So, I thought a section on how Japanese is written, from Wikipedia, was interesting. Therefore, lets have some passages and my reactions!
ニュアンスを伝える日本語表記系

他の言語では説明を追加したり単語自体を変更したりしなければならない情報でも、日本語の表記システムを用いれば同じ単語の表記を変えるだけで伝えることができる場合がある。例えば英語の「 I 」、ドイツ語の「 Ich 」、ロシア語の「 Я 」に相当する「私」は男女兼用でフォーマルな文章にしばしば用いられる。ひらがなで書いた「わたし」は、優しい感じがするので、男女ともにインフォーマルな場や、親しみやすさを表現したい場合に使用される。例えば、女性が日記や友人への手紙で用いるなどは、その典型である。
Okay, fair enough, but I have to point out that other languages have tools such as italics, fonts, elitist French and Latin words, color, and CAPITAL PRINT to convey nuances. But yes, Japanese can get pretty fun when you mess with the characters you choose to write in, and perhaps less jarring than some of the methods I just mentioned.

カタカナの「ワタシ」はほとんど用いられず(時々一人称を強調する時や、外国人が片言で話すニュアンスを出す場合に用いられることがある)
Yeah what the article doesn't tell you is how much it pisses you off to read the local paper and see that all your quotes are in katakana implying that you speak Japanese as well as an animal. At least that's how we feel.

文体上の狙いで漢字の複合語を恣意的に読ませることもできる。例えば夏目漱石は短編『十五夜』の中で名詞の「接続」を動詞的に活用した「接続って」を「つながって」と読ませている。これは通常ならば「繋がって」「つながって」と書くものである。
Yeah Soseki drove me a bit crazy at first because I didn't know he was gonna be pulling this sort of thing. I was like, is this an archaic way of saying it? Imagine if we could get away with this in English. Printing something like "connection(tied)." Well, looks kind of annoying in English, but furigana can make it seem natural in Japanese somehow. Another thing you can do with written Japanese is have a word with foreign pronunciation implied by furigana. Like 獣化兵(ゾアノイド)(the Zoanoids from Guyver).
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Promised whatever:
I am finally getting into Battlestar Galactica. It is pretty good, but my theory that all SF movies and TV shows are kinda stupid is holding up. It is odd to me that the suave scientist is the only humorous character (gruff doc doesn't count). Don't get me wrong, he's my fav, but the rest of the show kinda doesn't match. They had one oddly funny scene, complete with stereotypical musical cues in season one, but otherwise melodrama. And I hate Lee. And I'm in love with many Cylons. And there shouldn't be so many episodes stringing things out, giving us stupid stories like Lee the detective. I fracking hate Lee.
Bonus fact: Did you know that the original series, and consequently this one, are littered with reference to Mormon concepts?
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*I stopped reading Boing Boing because I already had seen everything they wrote about. I really may be the king of the internet, as someone recently labeled me.