2,500 kanji and counting :)

2008 April 9

This post has been moved to singularity.agronesia.net: “2,500 kanji and counting :)”. Please visit the new server.

Multilanguage support in Windows programs

2008 April 6

This post has been moved to singularity.agronesia.net: “Multilanguage support in Windows programs”. Please visit the new server.

I’m on Mixi! こんにちはミクシィの利用者の皆さん。。。

2008 March 29


Friendster. Everyone talks about it, everyone’s in it. However, I thought it was rather useless so I never bothered to make an account. Well, until one day my friend (Firdaus IIRC) pestered me or lets say, forced me to death. ‘It won’t do no harm’, or something like that. Obviously not with a grammatically-unsound (or so they say) construct such as the double negative.

So, to spice things up a bit, I decided to make it a pet social experiment. ‘Let’s see how many friends I can get if I just accept friend invitations…’, I thought. That means all my friends on my friendster list asked me to be friends first. Well, except for one, the almighty guitar kamisama, my high school mate, Andre (who can resist not adding him as a friend?). Right now I have 62 friends. Quite popular, I reckon.

But I jumped from my chair, unliterally, hearing a japanesepod101 podcast talking about Mixi, a friendster-like site but in Japanese. Naturally I was interested to join, as I’m currently a Nihongo student.

Mixi’s registration system is invitation-based, much like the beta gmail (right now gmail should be around version 3). They say that it would allow them ‘to create a comfortable place’, or to paraphrase it, ‘to make you suffer finding someone who owns a Mixi account’.

Getting someone to invite wasn’t that hard for me. Well, if you count several days as ‘not that hard’, that is. On the podcast, Peter and the gang told that one only need to ask them. So I visited the forum and appropriately posted on an already-existing ‘I want a Mixi account’ thread. But it’s a sticky thread so it’s always on the top which unfortunately made it less glaring if a new person posted there. n days passed without a reply.

I was sure I would get a reply by just directly mailing the staff or PMing people that gave mixi invites on that thread, but at that point I couldn’t wait longer and wanted a more real-time response. So I visited the place where one can easily encounter a random Nihonjin and chat with them, irc.2ch.net#japanese (and they actually speak English there if you’re still on your kanas)! a_a was kind enough to invite me, and long story short I’m now a Mixi citizen!

For me, the registration process was relatively easy to follow. The menus are also fully readable. However, the personal content, now that’s where the fun begins! I already found someone using a never-before-encountered non-ministry-approved kanji for eel 鰻 (unagi) on his ‘favorite food’ list.

If you need a Mixi invite, and can assure me that you’re not using it solely for the purpose of finding random Japanese girl pics, I’ll gladly confer it.


2008 March 21




Wish me luck…

A plane of dust

2008 March 19

Membuka pintu. Suara derikan terdengar.

This deserted place smells musty.

A cleaning up should be in order…


bbs.bookstudio.com back up!!! Let’s read Japanese stories!

2008 January 26

If you’re learning Japanese, or if you’re already pera-pera in it, and looking for reading materials, then


is the perfect site for you!

Well, the URL used to be that, but one day the server hard disk crashed. It was down for so long that I had given up my hopes. But now it’s back up again with a brand new URL!!! Ladies and gentlemen, please visit:


(accessing the old URL will bring you to the new one)

So now let’s talk what the site is about…

First of all, I don’t think the site has a name… The big banner on top says “shousetsu & manga toukou-ya” which means “the place to submit stories and comics” but I think that’s more of a description than a name. But who says you need to have a name to be useful?

Well the description sums it all. You can read such diverse genre of novels from SF (sci-fi), douwa (fairy tales) to BL (figure that out on your own). And of course the stories are free! Because the site is just back up, things are filling up from the beginning again. However there are already more than a hundred of stories there.

I’m far from pera-pera, but I’m peko-peko with Japanese. For me, this site is just perfect!

ni-sen ijou

2008 January 21

Excuse my laziness of blogging… You see, I’m now in this remote place called Sokaraja and circumstances force me to go to the town Purwokerto to surf the net. That’s quite far for my standard and so… Well enough excuses.

This will be just another monotone dump, but believe me the study isn’t as boring as this post looks. I’ve dumped 92 new kanji and 131 new words, for a total of 2,309 kanji and 10,354 words. Believe me, even with this amount of kanji I’m still humbled by the amount of new characters I found every day. Just keep moving on and know no surrender.

To spice things up a bit, I’ll tell you my current Japanese diet. I’m still trying to finish that WW2 article on Wikipedia. It goes roughly two paragraphs a day, so probably hell will freeze faster. I’m also playing freeciv, an open source game which has a Japanese translation! Not so much playing, but exploring all the text inside and trying to read it. If you’re interested in trying it but has problems, just mail me (for me I can’t just run it and get a usable learning environment, but I’m not writing about it now). Like explained on another post, I’m also still going through “Japanese: A Comprehensive Grammar”. All those and randomly leafing through Japanese books I have/borrowed.

Ah, I almost forget… I also now regularly listen to podcasts downloaded from japanesepod101.com. Be sure to visit that site!

So here are the kanji:


And the words:

Read the rest of this entry »

Dump: 2200 kanji and counting

2008 January 5

A regular run of the mill dump post. So yeah, I still read Japanese materials routinely to find new words and especially kanji, and right now my main sources are the WW2 article on Wikipedia which is still a long way to finish and starting to get extremely boring and tiresome (勃発、勃発、侵攻、侵攻), an encyclopedic Japanese grammar book “Japanese: A Comprehensive Grammar” from “Routlege Grammars” which I like very much because it contains translations and for every example which is written in genuine Japanese characters, and some other reading sources like the various Japanese magazines and books I have on my disposal which I open randomly and by whim (see screenshot above for an example). Oh, and if you think the previous sentence is too long, blame me for reading too much written Japanese in which sentences are unreasonable long which is apparently just for the author’s pleasure to torment foreign readers which are not accustomed for such lengthy parsing using their untrained brain which is actually a very capable biological computer.

For this dump, there are 100 new kanji and 178 new word. Now my kanji count is 2,217 and my word count is 10,223. It might be interesting to know that among those 2200 or so kanji, I still haven’t encountered six grade 5 kanji and three grade 6 kanji! So there you have it for the commonness of Jouyou kanji.

Note about my method of memorizing these words and kanji. When I encounter new words, I searched for it in an electronic dictionary and then put it on my spreadsheet file of Japanese words (and kanji). I just collect it there as much as I find. Then, I separately put the words there to Mnemosyne, first come first serve. These two are not synchronized, so I don’t have to directly put all words I find to Mnemosyne. In fact, I have almost 3,000 words that I’ve put on my word list waiting to be put into Mnemosyne.

Anyway, here are the kanji:


And the words:

Read the rest of this entry »

Book: Colloquial Japanese

2007 December 25

Colloquial Japanese by H. D. B. Clarke and Motoko Hamamura

One of the books I use to study Japanese is “Colloquial Japanese” by H. D. B. Clarke and Motoko Hamamura. I’m using the 1981 edition, but here’s the link to a newer one. It’s my cousin’s book that I’m currently borrowing.

The book aims to meet the needs of students “who require an overall understanding of spoken Japanese within a relatively short period”. It teaches the reader from the beginning, and the focus is on conversation, namely listening and speaking. The title of the book itself (i.e., colloquial) should already make this evident.

Every chapter starts with “benri na hyougen”, or useful expressions. Here’s a sample from the first chapter: (I use my own romanization, more about that later)

Japanese English
Ohayou gozaimasu. Good morning.
Oyasumi nasai. Good night (before retiring).

After that is “bunkei” or sentence patterns. This section contains short sentences that exhibit new grammars or materials which will be explained in the chapter. Here’s part of the first chapter’s:

Japanese English
Ikimasu. [I] go.
Ikimasen. [I] don’t go.

After that is “kaiwa” or conversations. The conversations are short yet numerous. Again, from the first chapter:

Japanese English
A: Tanaka san. A: Mr Tanaka!
B: Hai. B: Yes.
A: Owarimashita ka. A: Have you finished?
B: Hai, owarimashita. B: Yes, I have.
A: Jaa, kaerimashou ka. A: Well then, shall we go home?
B: Ee, sou shimashou B: Yes, let’s do that.

After that is the explanation and an excellent set of problems. Here are some sample problems from chapter 1:

A Change as indicated in brackets:
1 Wakarimasu. (negative) 2 Ikimasen. (past)…

B Substitute the word in brackets for the word in italics and wake other changes as the sense demands:
1 Ashita irasshaimasu ka. (kinou) 2 Kinou shimashita. (ato de)…

C Translate into English:
1 Ashita aimasu ka. 2 Ohayou gozaimasu. …

D Translate into Japanese:
1 He is coming tomorrow. 2 I didn’t see him yesterday. …

(If you have time, try to answer in the comment 🙂 )

Some design decisions are due to the book’s focus on conversation. For example, the book doesn’t use any Japanese characters. Except for the table of kana in the appendix, that is. The book is also accompanied by a cassette which is very useful to practice your oh-so-hard listening.

The romanization is based on Hepburn so it shouldn’t be alien. What’s interesting is that vowel devoicing (e.g., “-masu” sounding as “-mas”) and pitch is marked. For example, 行きます is romanized as “ikimásψ” (that’s ‘a’ with an acute accent ´ and the Greek character psi is my lame substitute for a ‘u’ marked with an oblique line). It should be great for people that want to sound as accurate as possible. I’m not going to explain how to read the pitch mark since I myself don’t use it :), but rest assured it is explained in the book.

Me doing exercises on Colloquial Japanese

If there’s one feature that I have to give thumbs up, it’s going to be the exercise set. It is numerous and has answer keys. What I usually do is to answer the questions using Japanese characters, thereby practicing my character writing ability (photo above).

This book is orthodox in that it teaches you the polite form before the plain form. In other words, it sacrifices the more logical and understandable approach for politeness on the get go. I think that’s not how one should teach Japanese.

So here’s the sum up:

The Good:

  • Lots of exercises with the complete key.
  • Japanese and English on facing pages so you can play “read and guess the meaning” easily.
  • Audio cassette.

The Bad:

  • Starts with the polite form (e.g., 会います) instead of the plain form (e.g., 会う).

I’m currently on the 6th lesson of this book and plan to go through all 20 lessons. For those of you wondering whether to get this book to start their Japanese, I frankly don’t recommend it! It’s better to start studying from Tae Kim’s guide which progresses logically (e.g., from the plain form up) and is very understandable. It will give you a much better grasp at the language’s foundation, inner working, and way of thinking. After you have studied Tae Kim’s guide, by all means use this otherwise excellent book to reinforce what you have learned with its conversations, explanations, and exercises. The cassette audio is also great for practicing your listening.

The corruption of the last syllable containing the vowel ‘a’ on Indonesian

2007 December 23

In spoken Indonesian, the vocal ‘a’ on the last syllable of many words change into ‘e’. When this colloquial corruption exists, using the correct version sounds very very stiff and formal. Here are some examples:

teman -> temen (friend)
Temenmu tadi juga kuliah di UGM? – Does your friend (which we met earlier) also study in UGM?

But not preman -> premen (even though it has the same last syllable as the previous example)

dalam -> dalem (inside)
Bukunya ada di dalem tas yang kecil itu. – The book is inside that small bag.

malam -> malem (night)
Gimana kalo ngerjainnya nanti malem aja? – How about doing it later tonight?

But not salam -> salem

tanam -> tanem (to plant), also its derived word tanaman -> taneman (plant)
Tadi aku ngeliat taneman aneh lo di kuburan! – I found a weird plant on the cemetery, you know!

enam -> enem (six)
Aku udah nyoba enem kali tapi masih belum bisa menang juga. – I’ve tried six times but still couldn’t win.

But not senam -> senem

senang -> seneng (to like)
Aku nggak gitu seneng lagu ini. – I don’t really like this song.

But not renang -> reneng

simpan – simpen (to keep something in a place)
Simpen di tempat yang aman lo! – Make sure you keep it in a safe place!

But not depan -> depen

malas -> males (lazy)
Kalau kamu males-malesan, mana bisa lulus? – If you act lazy, how can you pass?

But not kelas -> keles

Most of the words that I could think of ends with -n, -m, or -ng (which in Japanese is all represented by ん). Can you find other examples?

It is OK to use the corrupted vocabulary presented here when talking to someone higher (e.g., teacher). However, it is not used in formal writing or speech.