Basic Vocabulary




Word Focus

Business Japanese

Gift Shop

The Everything Japanese Guide





October 4, 2007

Studying Japanese in Indiana?

You may be able to find a job in the Indiana town Westfield. As this article explains, town leaders are taking proactive steps to lure Japanese companies to town.

Two interesting statistics from the above article:

Japanese companies have 300 locations in Indiana.

500,000 Indiana residents are employed by Japanese companies.

Here, another article explains similar efforts in Alabama.


October 2, 2007

Ambitious translation claims for new Fuji copier 

Fuji Xerox claims that a new copier (still in the prototype stage) can “scan a page of Japanese text and quickly translate it into Chinese, English or Korean” 

These are some hefty claims. Machine translation is typically just accurate enough to be dangerous. BabelFish translations, for example, are full of mistakes. They do allow a reader without proficiency in a particular language to at least grasp the topic of a text; but you wouldn’t want to stake a business decision on a translation that BabelFish had spit out. 

I am skeptical about any claims that Fuji Xerox’s new gizmo will be able to produce [reliable] translations of complex commercial and technical documents. As a rule, machine translations can handle “See Spot run,” sentences with a fair degree of accuracy, but they quickly implode when give more difficult real-world tasks.


September 30, 2007

Anime drives youthful interest in Japanese 

If you have spent much time on this site or read any of my books, then you know that I began studying Japanese in the late 1980s. Back then, most people who were learning Japanese were doing it for career/business reasons.  

There are still plenty of people learning Nihongo for business; but many young people are drawn to the Japanese language by their interest in anime: 

Japanese has grown in recent years among American youth because of animation. 

“They are really interested in Japanese ‘manga’ or comics and ‘anime’ or cartoons and animation, which have become very popular in this country,” he said. “If you go to Books-a-Million, you’ll see a whole section with nothing but Japanese comics.” 

(Read complete article in the Meridian Star)


Botany and Japanese studies 

Here Yomiuri columnist Kevin Short describes the confluence between Japanese language studies and his interest in botany.

You probably aren’t as interested in botany as the columnist is. Nevertheless, he makes an important point: you can increase your progress in a foreign language by finding a way to connect it to your non-linguistic interests: 

Actually, I have always been a bit slow picking up Japanese. Being totally tone-deaf and very seriously rhythm-challenged, I experience difficulty in distinguishing and reproducing the sounds of a language. But by concentrating my efforts on very specific vocabulary sets (I also know a lot of terms related to geology, astronomy and folklore), I have managed to open up avenues of very meaningful communication with people who share my interests.  ----Kevin Short