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The Everything Japanese Guide




September 14, 2007

Japanese for Busy People

If you don't yet have the Japanese for Busy People series, then you need get it.  (Here is a review of one book in the series that I found on the Web.) This series has been around since the beginning of time---or at least the 1980s, whichever came first. I used Japanese for Busy People when I started studying Japanese way back in 1988. 

Since the Japanese language instructional market is focused on beginners, most of the series is geared towards those who are below the intermediate level. Nevertheless, the Level III edition will teach you a lot even if you already know a fair amount of Japanese. The last time I checked, all the books in the series were available on Amazon.com.



September 13, 2007

Japanese studies popular in China 

Sino-Japanese relations have had their ups and downs over the years; but the Chinese are among enthusiastic students of Nihongo. Unlike the many, many Americans who dabble in Japanese and quickly discard it when it becomes difficult, I have observed that a large number of the Chinese people who study Japanese actually do master it. (Chinese people sometimes mention their advantage over Westerners when it comes to learning kanji. I for one, think that the Chinese have another key advantage: fewer television sets per capita.) 

As evidence of this continuing trend, here is an article about a private educational company that has recently made a $20 million investment in a Japanese language training facility in China: 

Global private equity firm The Carlyle Group said yesterday it has invested US$20 million in NeWorld Education Group, a Shanghai-based language institute specializing in Japanese. (continue reading...)



September 12, 2007

Yiddish with a Japanese accent? 

Well, I have to admit: Yiddish is one language that I have never even dabbled with. It seems, however, that some Japanese students in California have beaten me to it, as reported by the JewishJournal.com: 

UCLA is adding a second year of Yiddish studies to its curriculum, reflecting a growing worldwide interest in the culture of the Yiddish world…. 

Not all [the] students are Jewish; there's usually a sprinkling of Chinese and Japanese nationals in the class. 

"The Asian students seem to pick up the Yiddish alphabet right away," …. "For them, it's a piece of cake, although it is unusual to hear Yiddish spoken with a Japanese accent." 

Koral finds an ever-wider diversity in the Yiddish classes she teaches at the American Jewish University (formerly University of Judaism), with students including Latinos, African Americans and white non-Jews. (complete article here…)


September 11, 2007

One more way to study Japanese.... 

As MacWorld reports, now it is even possible to access Japanese lessons via your i-Pod.  (Read the full article for information about other types of courses that are now available as podcasts.)  

 ¿Habla español? If you wish the answer were “sí,” check out iTunes’ language offerings. Language podcasts are a great way to supplement a course, or to bone up on some foreign phrases if you’re traveling abroad. To locate language lessons, click on Podcasts in the iTunes Store box and then click on the Education category. Select Language Courses in the More Education box. You’ll find many different approaches to learning Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and other tongues (including one podcast dedicated to Argentine slang).


September 09, 2007

Is hiragana "feminine"? 

Moreover, are kanji inherently masculine? Apparently, some marketers of Japanese love hotels think so: 

In most love hotels "macho" kanji has been replaced by "feminine" hiragana, trendy katakana or, more often, romaji, that romanized script that carries no male/female associations at all.  (Read the complete article on the Japan Times) 

In medieval Japan, instruction in the Chinese classics (and therefore kanji) was often reserved for men. In fact the author of The Tale of Genji, Murasaki Shikibu, penned her masterpiece in kana because she didn’t know kanji. 

Nevertheless, I doubt that it is valid to specifically associate kanji with masculine identity today.



September 08, 2007

Now being a salaryman is "cool"?

According to the UK's Times Online, the Japanese salaryman has been getting a makeover:

"With his ill-cut suits and boring ties, his thick spectacles and thinning hair, he was the object of amused scorn at home and abroad. With the collapse of the Japanese economy in the 1990s even his prestige as a corporate warrior deserted him.

But the salaryman is undergoing an astonishing transformation, from company dork to a figure of glamour, cool and sex appeal. In glossy magazines, exquisite shops and even beauty parlours, businesses across Japan are competing to win the custom of the men also known as oyaji, which means uncle but has come to stand for middle-aged men in general.

This week Tiffany & Co, the New York jeweller, opened its first shop dedicated to male customers in the Isetan department store in Tokyo. Yesterday a men-only branch of United Arrows, a company that is catering increasingly to the oyaji customer, opened in the city’s gleaming Roppongi Hills complex...."
(continue reading....)


September 05, 2007

A fairly easy one---- if you know your kanji:

定期購読(ていき こうどく)= a regular subscription. By the way: the Japanese-language version of Time is a worthwhile investment for advanced students.


September 1, 2007

Here is an interesting ad that sells national bonds in Japan, courtesy of the Nomura Securities Company: 

個人向け(こじんむけ) targeted at the individual

国債(こくさい)   national bond

キャンぺ-ン   campaign