Archive for December, 2006

7th semester finals

2006 December 26

Yes, it’s going to start soon… Therefore don’t expect any posts until January 15th (2007 of course).

However don’t expect that there will be no posts either… I might be naughty and blog amidst the finals…

If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed. – Sylvia Plath

Is reading Japanese hard?

2006 December 26

Niigaki Risa in Hello! Morning's Hakkan CM segment

I found something funny in Hello! Morning ep. 338. There’s this CM (commercial) segment where new Hello! Project goods are announced. One of the items announced is Berryz Koubou’s new single “Munasawagi Scarlet” (munasawagi means uneasiness or premonition).

The problem is, munasawagi is written as 胸さわぎ while the kanji 胸 is normally read as “mune” (not “muna”). “mune” itself means literally chest but connotatively means heart. 胸 as it stands by itself is used a lot, such as for expressing “it blooms in my heart” or “you’ll always be in my heart”.

PS: “sawagi” itself means disturbance, so 胸さわぎ (munasawagi) literally means “disturbance of the heart”.

Munasawagi seems to be an uncommon word, so Niigaki Risa misread it as “munesawagi”. She’s not entirely sure herself, saying “mune…??? …sawagi” (listen, 85 KB). Quickly, a notice appears on the screen informing the viewers, “It’s munasawagi” (using furigana – see the screenshot above).

With all those various readings for a kanji, reading could be tricky even for a nihonjin. Or perhaps it’s just Niigaki Risa that’s under-educated :)…

(Of course the situation is no more coherent in English, where reading is highly irregular. Bahasa Indonesia is a lot better and I can only think of the letter ‘e’ where reading is ambiguous – compare “lempar” to “lempit”)

Random kanji and word dump: post-grade-4 queue

2006 December 26

While studying grade 4 kanji, I only did word dump stricty related to the kanji I was learning. However that didn’t stop me from collecting words to be learned later on.

Here are the notable sources for those random words:

  • Hello! Morning. I watched some random (unsubbed) episodes of Hello! Morning and saved new words I heard or saw. Japanese texts pops up a lot on this show which is a ripe source for word hunt. Note that I haven’t done any full Hello! Morning word hunt, max is around the first 20 minutes. Some of the words are 問題児 (もんだいじ, problem child), 入場 (にゅうじょう, entrance), and 発売 (はつばい, sale).
  • A subbed TV show featuring W and Thane (an American-born Japanese entertainer) going to Disneyland. The time was around last year’s Christmas. I did the whole show. Some of the words are 興奮 (こうふん, excitement), 海老 (えび, shrimp), and 盛り上がり (もりあがり, climax).
  • The seriously-awesome theatrical musical performance of Ribbon no Kishi. The story is from a manga by the legendary Osamu Tezuka. The cast are Morning Musume, v-u-den, and 2 “real” theater actors. Haven’t done the whole show but already got words like 魂 (たましい, soul), 宮殿 (きゅうでん, palace), 決闘 (けっとう, duel), and 后 (きさき, queen).
  • Midori no Hibi. I already watched this anime a long time ago (before I studied Japanese) but there are still some episodes lurking on my drive. Some of the words I got are おく病 (おくびょう, cowardice), 暫く (しばらく, little while), and 完成 (かんせい, completion).
  • Michishige Sayumi‘s radio show, Konya mo Usa-chan Peace (kon-usa-pi). It’s a boon that subs are made for this show. Lol actually I only gathered one word, 反則 (はんそく, foul play). That’s because I was actually listening while eating, not while deliberately gathering words :).
  • Words I picked while hearing random songs. Songs are actually a distractful thing so I only listen to them when 1) I indeed want to listen to them, or 2) I do super simple things that don’t require more than a quarter of my brain’s resources. So I don’t listen to songs while writng this blog entry (writing IS hard). I also don’t listen to songs while reading. An example of case 2 (listening to songs while doing other things) is when I move newly-learned words from Spreadsheet to Mnemosyne. That’s just copy and pasting.

Because the grade 4 kanji was finished some time ago, I have subsequently learned those randomly-collected words. There are 160 words which makes my word count 3575. With no more new words on queue, my next task is the kanjification of previously kana-only words.

Anyway, my word gathering procedure have actually changed starting from this batch. Previously, when a word contains an unknown kanji, I’ll just learn the kana. However now I will (mostly) learn the unknown kanji first. These are the 41 kanji from this batch:


What follows are the words on this batch:


Be careful in solving K-12 math problem: divison by zero

2006 December 23

When I passed “SD percobaan” this morning, I couldn’t resist the foods sold at the front gates (it was almost 12, and I was extremely hungry). So I went there and bought 2 lehers (lekers? forgot the name) which were put in a paper container.

The paper container was made from a used math book page, or a copy of it. I won’t talk about its hygiene but about a problem in it:

Simplify: a3 x a2 : a4

It was a “problems” page so there were no answers. However I could guess that the answer deemed “correct” by the book is a3+2-4 = a1 = a. That is also the answer that most, if not all teachers would give. However that’s wrong!

First, looking at other problems on the page, they use negatives (-13, -8, etc.) and fractionals (3/2, 4/9, etc.). So it is safe to say that the variable a is a rational number (as opposed to, i.e., a natural number). Now, remember that the set of rational numbers contains 0, and this is where we need to be careful.

If a is nonzero, the expression can be simplified to a3+2-4 = a. However if a is zero, division by a4 = 0 cannot be done so the result is undefined. Therefore the correct answer is:

a, if a is nonzero
undefined, if a is zero

Saying that the answer is unconditionally a is the same as saying that 03 x 02 : 04 = 0 which is of course wrong.

As a tangential side note, I once encountered a multiple-choice national (UAN) math test question about integrals. Because the problem question maker overlooked division by zero, none of the answers were correct. A math question then becomes a moral question: Is it a sin knowing that an answer is wrong, but answer it anyway because the question maker would probably regard it as correct? Indeed, ignorance is bliss.

Kanji and word dump: Post-grade-4 handpicked kanji

2006 December 23

For the closing ceremony of completing grade 4 kanji, I studied these 53 kanji:


That’s quite a lot! The previous handpicked kanji (after finishing grade 3 kanji) were only 25. I’ll explain my reasons for choosing them.

Some are chosen because I’m already familiar with the words themselves. So I just thought of some random words and then study the kanji for anything that came into my mind. They are 桜, 情, 報, 夢, 私, 段, 誕, 微, 房, 娘, 般, 僕, 甘, 丈, 了, 瞳, 誰, and 韓. For some cases I already know the kanji but haven’t formally learned it (putting it in Mnemosyne etc).

2 are taken from the song info part of’s lyrics page (such as this). They are 編 and 詞.

Some are from the remaining unknown kanji in the song Furusato. They are 暮, 粧, 寂, and 祈. Now I can fully write the song!!!

Some are taken from the navigation of Japanese Wikipedia. They are 責, 版, 状, 検, 示, 寄, 個, 移, 項, 免, 更, 況, 索, 絡, 端, 井, 履, and 詳. I expect the kanji to be useful for internet navigation in general.

The recent episodes of Hello! Morning has a segment for Morning Musume’s 8th generation audition (Tsunku chose only one, and I don’t like the winner :(). The first round was held in 10 places. So, for weeks I heard words like “Nagoya”, “Okinawa”, and “Oosaka” again and again. I could read some like 東京 (とうきょう, Tokyo). I thought it would be nice to know all of them so these kanji were picked: 沖, 縄, 沢, 仙, 鹿, 幌, 岡, and 阪.

The kanji 鑑 was picked because it has the most stroke count among Jouyou Kanji (23 strokes!).

The kanji 乙 was picked so that I know all Jouyou Kanji with 1 stroke. Likewise 又 was picked so that I know all Jouyou Kanji with 2 strokes.

So, now I know 710 kanji (grade 1 to grade 4, plus a bunch of handpicked ones). Not bad, but not even half literate! I still need some time to really assimilate all the new kanji. Therefore for the following days I’ll just play around with them (read: review).

What follows is the word dump related to the new handpicked kanji. 176 words which makes my word count 3415:


Wedding poem typos

2006 December 19

I found a poem on the first page of a wedding photobook album. It’s not printed into the album itself, but added by the documentarist (for the lack of a better word). Here it is:

Love blossoms in the hearts
of those who give and share.
And like alovely flower,
it brings gladnes

OMG typos! “alovely” should be “a lovely”, “gladnes” should be “gladness”, and “everywhare” should be “everywhere”. That’s like, possibly the worst thing that could happen to someone’s marriage! Be careful in choosing a documentarist (this one is done by “Saluyu”).

But thank God “the” is not mistyped into “teh“. Else the couple will be really “pwned“!

Kanji and word dump: Grade 4 finished!

2006 December 19

Yeah, so I’ve finished the rest of grade 4 kanji. Here they are:


Best pick goes to 選 (せん, choice; えら.ぶ, to choose). It should be a very common word so I was kinda suprised that I didn’t encounter it earlier.

Second best goes to 積 (つ.む, to pile up; せき, mathematical product). With this I can write various mathematical concepts such as 面積 (めんせき, area), 体積 (たいせき, volume), and 積分 (せきぶん, integral). Integral calculus is quite simply 積分学 (せきぶんがく).

Third best goes to 課 (, lesson). It is used in the compound 放課後 (ほうかご, after school) which is in the song title of 「涙が止まらない放課後」 (Namida ga Tomaranai Houkago). Finally I can write it!

However, I’m not yet stopping the kanji learning routine. It’s now time for handpicked kanji, and there are around 50 of them waiting…

What follows is the word dump related to the 15 last grade 4 kanji. There are 65 of them which makes my word count 3239:



2006 December 16

Are we mistaken about Takamizawa-san?

"私、タカミザワさんの事、後悔してたんじゃないでしょうか?" (listen, 44 KB)
"Watashi-tachi… Takamizawa-san no koto… koukai shitetan ja nai deshou ka?"

達 (tachi) is an oftenly used suffix to indicate plurality of person. For example, 私 (watashi) means "I" so 私達 (watashi-tachi) means "we". Some other examples are 子供達 (kodomo-tachi) which means "children", あなた達 (anata-tachi) which means "you guys/girls", and 田中さん達 (Tanaka-san-tachi, Tanaka-san’s group).

There is one glaring exception. While 友 (tomo) means "friend", 友達 (tomodachi) still means "friend" (yes, still singular)! I’ve encountered tomodachi-tachi (friends), but the kanji used is 友人達. It’s from Matsuura Aya’s song Zutto Suki de Ii desu ka:

眺める友人 (listen, 61 KB)
nagameru tomodachi-tachi
(My friends gaze)

I’ve heard 娘達 (musume-tachi) used to refer to the girls of Morning Musume. Probably the weirdest use of tachi I’ve met is 思い出達 (omoide-tachi) which means "memories" (actually 思い出 (omoide) alone already has a plural sense). Because the other tachis I’ve encountered were suffixes for a living entity, the use of tachi in omoide-tachi makes the "memories" feel alive for me. It’s from Goto Maki’s song Suppin to Namida:

涙拭いたら 思い出と「バイバイ」して帰郷るね (listen, 131 KB)
namida fuitara omoide-tachi to "baibai" shite kaeru ne
(After I wipe away my tears, I’ll say "bye bye" with the memories and go home)

Kanji and word dump: Grade 4 part 4

2006 December 16

I’ve learned 59 new kanji:


There are exactly 15 kanji left in grade 4, so I’m almost done with it.

For this batch, one favorite pick is 満 which means "full". Some example words are 満ちる (michiru, to be full), 満足 (manzoku, satisfaction), and 満開 (mankai, full bloom). This is the kanji used in the song title "Sakura Mankai", a song I like very much!

Another favorite is 最 which means "most". Witness its pervasiveness: 最初 (saisho, first), 最後 (saigo, last), 最高 (saikou, highest), 最短 (saitan, shortest), 最新 (saishin, newest), 最古 (saiko, oldest). There are many common compounds starting with 最!

Weird pick goes to 腸 which means "intestines". The compounds available are all related to intestines, such as: 大腸 (daichou, colon), 十二指腸 (juunishichou, duodenum), and 直腸 (chokuchou, rectum). Know where they are exactly located? I had to look on a dictionary! What’s weird is that duodenum in Japanese means literally "twelve finger intestine", which is what it’s called in Indonesia (usus duabelas jari)!

There are no bad picks for this batch. Actually there are many other kanji used in words I already know, so this batch is quite enjoyable.

For the word dump related to this batch, there are 257 words which makes my word count 3174. The list of words ends this entry:


The sound of kana “ga” (が)

2006 December 12

Ishikawa Rika in Hello! Morning

In Japanese, the kana が (ga) can be read either “ga” (obviously) or “nga”. The most prominent example is when が is used as a particle. Some examples from songs:

(ga) Furusato (Morning Musume): tanoshii hi ga atta (楽しい日あった)
(ga) Namida ga Tomaranai Houkago (Morning Musume): shiawase ga sugiru kara (幸せすぎるから)
(nga) Melodies of Life (FFIX): wakareru toki ga kanarazu kuru no ni (別れる時必ず来るのに)
(nga) Suteki da ne (FFX): kaze ga yoseta kotoba ni (風寄せた言葉に)

And two examples from a TV show (Hello! Morning 2006-11-19, World Children Games segment):

(ga) Ishikawa Rika: Kyou mo ne… e… tanoshii otomodachi ga.. asobi bla bla bla… (something like: Today we will also play with a fun friend)
(nga) Narrator: Soshite, Ishikawa-sensei ga “tonda tonda maru maru” to bla bla bla… (something like: And then Ishikawa-sensei will say “It flies! It flies! [insert-anything-here]”)

How about が not as a particle? It can also be read as “nga”! Compare these two songs:

(nga) Sougen no Hito (Matsuura Aya): shiroku nagareru (白く流れる(なれる))
(ga) Sougen no Hito (Tsunku): shiroku nagareru (白く流れる(なれる))

A person doesn’t even have to be consistent. For example, Matsuura Aya pronounces the が in “nagare” as “ga” in another song:

(ga) Watarasebashi (Matsuura Aya): zutto nagare miteta wa (ずっと流れ(なれ)見てたわ)

Other cases where I’ve heard が sounded as “nga” is in “onegaishimasu”. I don’t know whether there is a (unwritten) rule about the words where が can be read as “nga” so be careful or you might sound totally weird.

As a bonus, I’ve compiled all of those examples into a neat ogg file. The examples appear as they are ordered in this post. Download and listen! (491 KB, duration 1:08) Made with the open source audio editor Audacity.

(Your Windows can’t open ogg files? Download the codecs here.)