日本語一筋 [JP]

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vonPeterhof
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Re: 日本語一筋 [JP]

Postby vonPeterhof » Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:48 pm

Sizen wrote:I’ve also found some small resources for names and place names on the internet.

Thanks a lot, those should be really useful! The one with place names actually gave me some food for thought regarding a question I've been pondering for a while now, namely whether or not Japanese phonology/syllabic structure allows for true diphthongs, as opposed to adjacent vowels with each belonging to a separate syllable. This has some relevance to my work, as I have to use the Polivanov system for transliterating Japanese names into Russian. Polivanov himself preferred to follow a Hepburn-style convention of always transliterating い with the same letter, but in current practical use it is customary to distinguish between the syllabic и and the semivowel й - a distinction that I assumed (based on what I was told about the mora-timed nature of Japanese in a class on Japanese pronunciation I took while in Osaka) was founded on etymology and/or ease of non-native pronunciation and in no way reflected actual modern Japanese pronunciation. While the Hepburn system sidesteps the issue by always transliterating it as "i", the question of correct syllable counting does come up - I remember having a discussion about the English dub of the anime 亜人, where the name 海 (Kai) was pronounced as one syllable with a diphthong but the surname 永井 was pronounced as three syllables ("na-ga-ee").

While materials about Japanese phonology in general and pitch accent in particular tend to downplay the concept of the syllable in favour of the mora, there's clearly at least some syllabic component to the placement of the pitch accent in Tokyo-style dialects - notice how in "heavy" syllables the accent always falls on the first element, thus never falling on ん, っ or the second mora of a long vowel (maybe excluding cases where the "long vowel" is formed between two etymologically separate morphemes). This becomes extra relevant in regular accent shifts, like the one you can see in the place name table where the pitch accent shifts to the syllable immediately preceding the suffixes -県 and -市. I say "syllable" instead of "mora" because you can see cases where the last mora before the suffix is non-syllabic and thus doesn't get a pitch accent: きたきゅうしゅうし, せんだいし. The latter example is important as it treats the い as part of a diphthong rather than a separate syllable - a situation contrasted with other examples on the same page, like ふくいし (where the い has its own kanji 井) and さかいし (historically さかし). So apparently diphthongs do have some phonological relevance in modern standard Japanese (even if they don't affect the perception of mora-timing) and the distinction we make in modified Polivanov isn't entirely arbitrary after all.
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Re: 日本語一筋 [JP]

Postby Sizen » Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:20 am

Good start to the term and good start to this anime season. I feel like I’ll end up watching more shows this season than last. I find I often start the season off with a billion shows and then whittle it down to a reasonable number because I’m not into most or because some shows are “too much effort” for me (I never watch with subtitles – English, Japanese or otherwise – and so shows that have too much jargon can be time consuming to watch and just a slog when I have to look everything up). But there’s a good number of shows I think I’ll very much like and not many so far have had me crying at the number of unknown words. Also, most will call me a monster, but I’m going to watch both the new けものフレンズ and ケムリクサ because I just can’t pick sides.

Now be warned. From here on out, things get old and nerdy.

Studying Classical Japanese is turning out to have been a great decision. I’ve only had 4 classes so far, but I’m constantly realising things about modern Japanese. Just now I was watching some TV and heard the word 蹴散らす again. I had always found this word, along with 蹴落とす, weird, because in my mind it should be 蹴り散らす, but now that I know that 蹴る used to be a shimo-ichidan verb (well, the only shimo-ichidan), it all makes sense. Just like the continuative form of a modern shimo-ichidan like 押さえる would be 押さえ, the continuative form of 蹴る was 蹴(け), and therefore any compound verbs made using 蹴る wouldn’t have had a り, just like 押さえ付ける isn’t 押さえ付ける. Neat!

I also finally know why there are no single character verbs in Japanese! The answer is: they just don’t exist anymore. In the shift from shimo-nidan to shimo-ichidan and the adoption of the attributive form as the final form of the sa-hen and ka-hen verbs, all of the one-character verbs have disappeared. I don’t know the exact process for the shimo-nidan verbs, but I assume the continuative (or imperfective or both) forms of verbs like 得(う) and 経(ふ), in this case得(え) and 経(へ) respectively, were “mistakenly” back conjugated as shimo-ichidan verbs rather than shimo-nidan verbs and so we ended up with 得る(える) and 経る(へる) as the final forms, which ended up becoming their modern counterparts. Either that or there was a weird vowel-shift that arbitrarily only affected shimo-nidan verbs? Nah.

I’m also glad I finally know why there are weird expressions like 恐るるに足らず and 歳月流るる如し. The double る’s aren’t just for fun. Two things. 1. The る’s are there because these are examples of the attributive form, which merged with the final form in modern Japanese, of the verbs 恐る and 流る. 2. They’re 恐る and 流る, and not 恐れる and 流れる because this was before the shimo-nidan became the shimo-ichidan.

It’s also been helpful since I’ve always been lazy about learning the Japanese terms for Japanese grammatical concepts. In class, we’re being tested on the Japanese terms, though, so I’ve finally had to suck it up and just learn them. It’s nice to be able to open a dictionary and understand what all the junk under each entry means, like: ( 動ナ下一 ) [文] ナ下二 は・ぬ. I’d been meaning to do this for ages, but it just never seemed necessary. Now that I know it, though, I’m very happy.

Anyway, I still have a number of things I want to watch/read tonight, so I need to wrap things up here.
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Re: 日本語一筋 [JP]

Postby Sizen » Fri Jan 18, 2019 7:26 pm

vonPeterhof wrote:
Sizen wrote:I’ve also found some small resources for names and place names on the internet.

Thanks a lot, those should be really useful! The one with place names actually gave me some food for thought regarding a question I've been pondering for a while now, namely whether or not Japanese phonology/syllabic structure allows for true diphthongs, as opposed to adjacent vowels with each belonging to a separate syllable. This has some relevance to my work, as I have to use the Polivanov system for transliterating Japanese names into Russian. Polivanov himself preferred to follow a Hepburn-style convention of always transliterating い with the same letter, but in current practical use it is customary to distinguish between the syllabic и and the semivowel й - a distinction that I assumed (based on what I was told about the mora-timed nature of Japanese in a class on Japanese pronunciation I took while in Osaka) was founded on etymology and/or ease of non-native pronunciation and in no way reflected actual modern Japanese pronunciation. While the Hepburn system sidesteps the issue by always transliterating it as "i", the question of correct syllable counting does come up - I remember having a discussion about the English dub of the anime 亜人, where the name 海 (Kai) was pronounced as one syllable with a diphthong but the surname 永井 was pronounced as three syllables ("na-ga-ee").

While materials about Japanese phonology in general and pitch accent in particular tend to downplay the concept of the syllable in favour of the mora, there's clearly at least some syllabic component to the placement of the pitch accent in Tokyo-style dialects - notice how in "heavy" syllables the accent always falls on the first element, thus never falling on ん, っ or the second mora of a long vowel (maybe excluding cases where the "long vowel" is formed between two etymologically separate morphemes). This becomes extra relevant in regular accent shifts, like the one you can see in the place name table where the pitch accent shifts to the syllable immediately preceding the suffixes -県 and -市. I say "syllable" instead of "mora" because you can see cases where the last mora before the suffix is non-syllabic and thus doesn't get a pitch accent: きたきゅうしゅうし, せんだいし. The latter example is important as it treats the い as part of a diphthong rather than a separate syllable - a situation contrasted with other examples on the same page, like ふくいし (where the い has its own kanji 井) and さかいし (historically さかし). So apparently diphthongs do have some phonological relevance in modern standard Japanese (even if they don't affect the perception of mora-timing) and the distinction we make in modified Polivanov isn't entirely arbitrary after all.

I've been thinking about this a lot recently. I had noticed the phenomena of ん, っ and long vowels never being accented, but I never really formalized the phenomenon in my mind as anything more than, "these are never accented." But now that you're bringing up syllables, I'm realizing that I can finally make sense of something that had been bothering me for quite some time. I'd found it weird that some accented 3-character words had the accent on the second last mora before the final character, while others had it on the last mora before the last character. The distribution seemed completely arbitrary to me, since the abundance of words like 大統領[3], 三年間[3] and 不安感[2] led me to believe that the accent always fell on the first mora of the second character, so to speak. But then, I come across a word like 選択肢[4], and that "rule" falls apart. If the second character's first mora should take the accent, shouldn't it be 3型? But now, thanks to you, I'm realizing this is just the wrong way of looking at it. In reality, the accent falls on the second last syllable, hence 関節炎[4], but 腎臓炎[3].

A weight is lifted off my chest.

Edit: It should be: in accented 3-character words, the syllable before the last character is accented. And if this is true, it's easy to find tons of examples of words that treat diphthongs as syllables. I was just rooting around in my dictionary and found 再開発, 例大祭, 具体策, 世界観, 世界一, 立体感, 社会悪 all of which have the accent on the syllable before the final character.
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Re: 日本語一筋 [JP]

Postby devilyoudont » Sat Jan 19, 2019 12:18 am

You make it really tempting to buy a classical Japanese grammar one day :lol:
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Re: 日本語一筋 [JP]

Postby vonPeterhof » Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:01 am

Sizen wrote:I've been thinking about this a lot recently. I had noticed the phenomena of ん, っ and long vowels never being accented, but I never really formalized the phenomenon in my mind as anything more than, "these are never accented." But now that you're bringing up syllables, I'm realizing that I can finally make sense of something that had been bothering me for quite some time. I'd found it weird that some accented 3-character words had the accent on the second last mora before the final character, while others had it on the last mora before the last character. The distribution seemed completely arbitrary to me, since the abundance of words like 大統領[3], 三年間[3] and 不安感[2] led me to believe that the accent always fell on the first mora of the second character, so to speak. But then, I come across a word like 選択肢[4], and that "rule" falls apart. If the second character's first mora should take the accent, shouldn't it be 3型? But now, thanks to you, I'm realizing this is just the wrong way of looking at it. In reality, the accent falls on the second last syllable, hence 関節炎[4], but 腎臓炎[3].

A weight is lifted off my chest.

Edit: It should be: in accented 3-character words, the syllable before the last character is accented. And if this is true, it's easy to find tons of examples of words that treat diphthongs as syllables. I was just rooting around in my dictionary and found 再開発, 例大祭, 具体策, 世界観, 世界一, 立体感, 社会悪 all of which have the accent on the syllable before the final character.

Yeah, this also looks like a syllabic phenomenon, although in the case of 選択肢 the situation is further complicated by vowel devoicing in standard Japanese, which usually results in a de facto shift of the accent one mora back (less commonly one mora forward). I just checked my NHK日本語発音アクセント辞典 app (sadly, no longer supported), and it marks both [3] and [4] as correct while marking く as devoiced in both cases (there are audio recordings for both cases, but no matter how much I listen to them I can't hear any difference, it just sounds like [3] to me).
2019-01-19 10.53.08.png
2019-01-19 10.53.08.png (49.21 KiB) Viewed 175 times

I remember before I took that pronunciation course I thought that the [1] accent in 来た or 来て was a Kansai dialect phenomenon, but apparently the verb 来る is a regular 頭高型 verb in standard Japanese too, the only difference being that the stronger vowel reduction in Tokyo Japanese causes the de facto accent to shift forward in the forms where the accented vowel is between voiceless consonants.

Not sure if I'm imagining it, but it kinda sounds like the male speaker in the recordings here actually does try to pronounce the "underlying" [1] accent in 来て and 来た, especially in the latter.
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Re: 日本語一筋 [JP]

Postby Sizen » Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:34 pm

vonPeterhof wrote:Yeah, this also looks like a syllabic phenomenon, although in the case of 選択肢 the situation is further complicated by vowel devoicing in standard Japanese, which usually results in a de facto shift of the accent one mora back (less commonly one mora forward). I just checked my NHK日本語発音アクセント辞典 app (sadly, no longer supported), and it marks both [3] and [4] as correct while marking く as devoiced in both cases (there are audio recordings for both cases, but no matter how much I listen to them I can't hear any difference, it just sounds like [3] to me).

I remember before I took that pronunciation course I thought that the [1] accent in 来た or 来て was a Kansai dialect phenomenon, but apparently the verb 来る is a regular 頭高型 verb in standard Japanese too, the only difference being that the stronger vowel reduction in Tokyo Japanese causes the de facto accent to shift forward in the forms where the accented vowel is between voiceless consonants.

Not sure if I'm imagining it, but it kinda sounds like the male speaker in the recordings here actually does try to pronounce the "underlying" [1] accent in 来て and 来た, especially in the latter.


Interesting. I just checked 新明解 on my phone, and it also contains 選択肢[4] and 選択肢[3], with recordings for both. On my end, the former is clearly [4], made even more evident by the very clear voicing of the "u" in く, and the latter is clearly [3] with a devoiced "u". Every recording on Forvo is [3] as well. I also checked other similar words and found the same phenomenon of voiced vowel=[4], devoiced=[3] in 転轍機, 電熱器, 連結器, 消息子, 吸血鬼. Then there are a number of others, like 接続詞, 生殖器, which are noted as [3] and [4], but both recordings are clearly [3] with a devoiced vowel. I also found 中核市 written down as [4] only, but clearly pronounced as [3] with a devoiced vowel.

First of all, I had never noticed this. Second of all, my trust in dictionaries has completely eroded. I think my 関節炎 and 腎臓炎 example is perhaps a better example for this "rule", which is starting to seem less like a rule, and just a helpful guide. Or perhaps all of this still fits the rule because with the vowel devoiced, the middle character is treated as a single syllable.

As, for 来る, I didn't realise there was a constant shift here. I have heard 来た[0] and 来て[0], but I had always imagined this was due to emotion, especially when the "a" is drawn out (i.e. キターーー), like よかった[1] vs よかった[0]. (Unless this is also my mind playing tricks on me or a dialectal difference?) If it helps, I hear the recording from your link as 頭高, but I hear both variations in the recordings on Forvo.
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Re: 日本語一筋 [JP]

Postby vonPeterhof » Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:45 pm

Sizen wrote:As, for 来る, I didn't realise there was a constant shift here. I have heard 来た[0] and 来て[0], but I had always imagined this was due to emotion, especially when the "a" is drawn out (i.e. キターーー), like よかった[1] vs よかった[0]. (Unless this is also my mind playing tricks on me or a dialectal difference?) If it helps, I hear the recording from your link as 頭高, but I hear both variations in the recordings on Forvo.

The handout I still have from the course showing the pitch accents in conjugated forms for different kinds of verbs shows 来た and 来て as both [2] and [1], with a note saying that the [2] is only due to devoicing (the same process may apparently also cause the accent to shift two morae forward in forms like 降って and 切って). As for emotion, the only explanation I remember getting is that アクセント isn't the same thing as イントネーション, with emotion affecting pitch being the latter phenomenon.
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Re: 日本語一筋 [JP]

Postby Sizen » Sat Feb 16, 2019 10:12 pm

It's been a bit. I've been pretty busy with classes and not sleeping well lately, so I haven't been incredibly productive. I've even gotten a bit behind on all my shows! It's reading week now, though, so I should have plenty of time to catch up on sleep and all that good stuff.

Something that I’ve recently been into again is YouTube. Maybe not for the reason you might think, though. I’ve signed up for a free month of YouTube premium because I realized the other day where all the podcasts I want to listen to have been hiding: on YouTube. Since podcasts aren’t very big in Japan (partially due to the lack of sponsors for monetization, I assume), I always found it hard to find podcasts that I really enjoy listening to. However, it would seem that YouTubers have realized that recording audio only content and posting it on YouTube where they can have ads is a legitimate source of extra income. Some Youtubers, especially “virtual YouTubers”, often do live streams where the video itself is completely optional to understanding what’s going on, too. Not only that, lots of *ahem* very legal reposts of radio programs and audio dramas are often posted to YouTube as well.

I normally have no patience for these when I’m sitting at my desk, so I never really listened to any of this stuff before, but I recently realized I was missing out on a lot of free, compelling content. I started looking into all sorts of means of saving audio form YouTube so I could listen to it later when I was walking or didn’t have an internet connection. The problem is, I did this in the past with internet radio, and I found I got sick and tired of downloading, converting and syncing the audio on my phone and just gave up. That’s when I realized that YouTube Premium is available in Canada now, so although I try not to be too dependent on Google services, I signed up for YouTube Premium. The amount of time I spend listening to Japanese audio has maybe doubled since, so I think I’m going to have to suck it up and dole out the $12 a month for YouTube Premium.

I normally talk about pitch accent a lot, but I honestly don’t have much to say on the subject right now. I’m just really happy that I decided to finally learn it. When I went to the Japanese conversation club at my university the other day, the group that I was with somehow got on the topic of different Japanese dialects, and we started to discuss accent as a part of that. If I had never studied pitch accent I probably would have just sat there thinking what in the world is going, but it was actually an interesting conversation and I realized that I had been pronouncing 授業 as [0] and not [1] because one of the Japanese students said that she found it weird that everyone in Tokyo said 授業[1] and not 授業[0] like her family and friends did in her home prefecture, Fukushima.

A similar thing happened while I was listening to some YouTubers talk the other day, when they got caught up on the pronunciation of たけのこの里. It was another one of those moments where normally I would have been completely lost and felt incredibly out of the loop, but because I can actually hear the difference now, I knew what they were talking about. Pitch accent may not be the most important thing in learning Japanese, but to me, it’s starting to feel like a bit of common knowledge like 聖徳太子 or 源氏物語 that everyone doesn’t necessarily know everything about but are familiar enough with that it does come up in everyday conversation. And so, if you know nothing about those things, it’s not that your Japanese is bad, it’s just that you don’t have the same cultural background and might feel left out.

Switching topics.

I'm very much enjoying Classical Japanese. The structure of our class basically consists of front-loading grammar to then tackle real texts, so as of yet, we haven't read much at all in Classical Japanese. We were however given an exercise in preparation for our midterm on part of the ninth section of The Tale of Ise.

"昔、男ありけり。その男、身をえうなきものに思ひなして、京にはあらじ、あづまの方に住むべき国求めにとてゆきけり。もとより友とする人、ひとりふたりしていきけり。道知れる人もなくて、まどひいきけり。三河の国、八橋といふ所に至りぬ。そこを八橋といひけるは、水ゆく河の蜘蛛手なれば、橋を八つ渡せるによりてなむ八橋といひける。その沢のほとりの木の陰におりゐて、乾飯食ひけり。その沢にかきつばたいとおもしろく咲きたり。それを見て、ある人のいはく、「かきつばたといふ五文字を句の上にすゑて、旅の心をよめ」と言ひければ、よめる。唐衣きつつなれにしつましあればはるばるきぬる旅をしぞ思ふとよめりければ、みな人、乾飯の上に涙落として、ほとびにけり"

This text doesn't really have anything incredibly difficult to it, except perhaps the poem at the end, but for a Heian period text, it's surprisingly accessible. Obviously, a certain knowledge of vocabulary, orthography, and auxiliary verbs particular to classical Japanese is necessary to work through the texts, but it's possible to guess the meaning of certain bits if you're a perceptive learner with lots of exposure to modern Japanese. For example, the first auxiliary verb to appear in the text, けり, is rather opaque without context. Knowing that the text speaks of past events, it's easy enough to guess that it's some sort of marker of the past tense, but if we ignore that and think only about our knowledge of modern Japanese, we might come up with the expression けりをつける, which means to settle something or to put an end to something. This けり is actually a reference to the past tense auxiliary verb けり that we can find in the above text and is basically taking a hypothetical sentence (that would express the difficulties the speaker is describing) and saying, "Let's take the verb in that sentence, and make it past tense (just like my problem)". It's actually a cute little expression, now that I think of it.

There's a couple examples of the perfective ぬ (至り, きぬる, ほとびけり), as well, which doesn't appear much if at all in modern Japanese, except maybe in titles like 風立ちぬ (The Wind Rises). Though I was interested to figure out if 風立ちぬ was intended to have a perfective meaning, or the meaning of certainty, and given the original line from "Le Cimetière Marin" by Paul Valéry, "Le vent se lève", I can't really say I know any better. The perfective meaning seems wrong given that there is no implied end to the rising of the wind (it’s not “the wind had/has/will have risen”). It might just be my lack of familiarity with classical Japanese, but certainty also feels somewhat wrong to me, since the wind is already rising and one’s opinion on the matter doesn’t matter. It’s likely that the ぬ is perfective and that I’m just overthinking things, but to me, the beauty of “Le vent se lève !… Il faut tenter de vivre !” is that both actions feel concurrent. It’s not because the wind is already going strong that you need to go with it; it’s because it’s currently picking up and so the time is ripe to pick yourself up along with it. I feel like 風立ちたり or 風立てり would be a more literal translation. I have absolutely no productive skills in classical Japanese, though, so maybe I’m just overthinking things.

Anyway, moving along, there’s another part in the text that I find fascinating: “橋を八つ渡せるによりてなむ八橋といひける”. I think it’s so interesting that verb conjugation can be affected by the particles used earlier in a clause. Classical Japanese verbs almost feel like nouns in an inflexional language to me. The comparison breaks down pretty easily, but the idea that Japanese verbs have 6 forms that change depending on how they’ll be used and that the presence of certain words can force a specific form with absolutely no regard for the meaning of that verb form kind of reminds me of Indo-European cases. In the example above, the emphatic bound particle なむ causes いひけり, which would normally be in the final form, to become いひける in the attributive form. It’s not uncommon to find the attributive form at the end of a sentence, however contradictory that may seem, because classical Japanese had a tendency to drop implied nominals (a phenomenon that can still occasionally be seen in modern Japanese with phases like 行くが良い or 残るは~~), but there are more striking particles like こそ which puts the final verb into the perfective form.

Another tricky bit for people with no knowledge of classical Japanese is the four uses of the auxiliary verb り (知れ, 渡せ よめ, よめければ). The first and second are a case of its resultative function and the third and fourth of its perfective function, and in neither case is it the potential form that we would interpret it as in modern Japanese. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed this in modern Japanese, though I’m sure there are examples out there.

Well, that’s enough from me.
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Re: 日本語一筋 [JP]

Postby vonPeterhof » Sun Feb 17, 2019 12:08 am

Sizen wrote:Knowing that the text speaks of past events, it's easy enough to guess that it's some sort of marker of the past tense, but if we ignore that and think only about our knowledge of modern Japanese, we might come up with the expression けりをつける, which means to settle something or to put an end to something. This けり is actually a reference to the past tense auxiliary verb けり that we can find in the above text and is basically taking a hypothetical sentence (that would express the difficulties the speaker is describing) and saying, "Let's take the verb in that sentence, and make it past tense (just like my problem)". It's actually a cute little expression, now that I think of it.

Whoa, somehow I knew both the expression and the Classical auxiliary verb and yet it never occurred to me that they were connected. I'm guessing this might have to do with me mostly being familiar with the expression through anime, where I've normally seen it used in situations like arch-rivals "settling things once and for all" with a physical altercation, which led me to assume that けり was simply derived from the verb 蹴る :D This actually makes for an interesting parallel with a Russian expression with a similar meaning, расставить точки над и (more properly spelled "расставить точки над «і»"). It literally translates to "to dot the i's" (being a calque of the French "mettre les points sur les i»), even though Russian orthography got rid of the dotted i after the October Revolution. Before seeing it written down I also couldn't figure out what it was referring to, which wasn't helped by the fact that the и/і is pronounced more like ы ([ɨ]) in this case. To me it sounded like the expression ended with something like "нады", which I assumed was an archaic form of на дыбы, regardless of how little sense making dots stand on their hind legs actually made :lol:
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Sizen
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Languages: English (N), French
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Re: 日本語一筋 [JP]

Postby Sizen » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:19 am

Alright, update time.

I've been busy and tired. Not surprising. I just finished my third last exam yesterday, and will be finishing up the term with two more exams on the 23rd and the 25th. In all honesty, I already feel like the term is already over, and that I can finally breathe a bit more freely. While I will be doing some reviews for my last two exams, I'm not nearly as worried about them as I was some of my other exams and a week feels like plenty of time to review.

It's been another good term. I felt a bit more stressed than last time round, but it's been a good overall experience. I think the most surprising thing to me has been that two of my professors, my Japanese linguistics professor and my classical Japanese professor, have been encouraging me to consider doing a master’s degree in East Asian Studies in classical Japanese, Japanese linguistics or Japanese translation. They even said that if I keep getting the marks I’m pulling off, I’d be pretty much guaranteed scholarship money. I’m not going to lie, this has given me a serious case of imposter’s syndrome, but I figure since they should, in theory, know what they’re talking about, I should take their recommendation seriously. I still have another two years before I finish my undergrad and wasn’t initially considering doing grad school, but maybe it might be a good idea? I still don’t really know what I want to do, so maybe I’ll need another two years to work things out. And if it doesn’t cost me much, I might as well. So there’s that. I’m thinking I might switch my minor from French language and literature to linguistics next year just in case I do decide to do Japanese linguistics in grad school.

As for Japanese progress, I had to do a mock job interview for one of my exams, following “traditional” Japanese interview protocol and using honorifics, which I’m not used to. It was a good experience, and while I thought I did a terrible job, apparently, I didn’t do all that bad. I still few like I’d need to take an intensive course on business Japanese before trying to do a real job interview, however.

I actually ended up watching quite a bit of TV, too. I usually start off with tons of shows at the beginning of the season and slowly whittle my way down to a handful of shows, partially due to a lack of interest, but this past season I ended up watching 13 shows, which is I believe the first time I’ve done double digits all the way to the end of the season. This season is also looking like it might be similar, despite my first impression of, “Man, everything sucks this season.” I also will have much more time this spring and summer, so I might also fit in some older shows that I’ve been meaning to watch, too.

Speaking of the spring and summer, I’ve got lots of plans.

1. Study for the Kanji Kentei.

Studying Kanji used to be my favourite thing. When I was studying in a language school in Tokyo, our Kanji study was self directed, but we’d assigned chapters from out textbook and be tested on the characters from those chapters. I think most chapters were about 150 characters? In either case, I ended up doing 2 chapters (300 characters) once and asking for both test sheets, only to be told, “Why did you do that? You won’t have time to do both. Just pick whichever you prefer.” I picked both anyways and managed to finish them right as our time ran out. Ended up getting 100%, too. I think if I remember correctly, this brought me to somewhere in the region of 1600 characters at the time.

A few months after this incident, I stopped formally studying characters and just started learning to read new characters as I came across them. I have no idea how many I know at this point, but my guess is somewhere between 2000-2500 as I can recognize more than 90% of Jouyou Kanji, maybe about half of the Jinmeiyou Kanji, and maybe a few hundred others.

I recently looked at some of the example words for the first level of the Kanji Kentei (which tests about 6000 characters) and was surprised to recognize a fair number of them, like 軋轢, 傀儡, 乖離, 啖呵 and 顰蹙. Some of them even seemed surprisingly common to me, like 彷彿, 咄嗟, 痙攣, 石鹸 and 揶揄. This was encouraging, because I remember years ago going over a practice exam with a Japanese friend and recognizing only two words: 鼈 and 夥しい. If you’re wondering about the first one, I used to really like learning strange, uncommon characters for words that most Japanese people know but can’t write, like 麒麟, 葡萄 and 薔薇.

Anyway, I’ve barely written any characters in years, so while I can definitely read a lot, I wouldn’t be able to pass any of the higher Kanji Kentei levels. I also don’t know how well I’d do in the other sections, like 四字熟語. So, my goal is to study for the second level of the Kanji Kentei, so that I can remember how to write most of these darn things, and then, though this is beyond the scope of the spring and summer, consider studying for the 準一級.

2. Serious work on pronunciation.

My recognition of pitch accent has come along quite well, and while I think my pronunciation has improved a bit as a result, the many years of mispronouncing words has made it very hard to make lasting changes in my speech. I have a Glossika subscription, and I’m ready to shadow.

3. Classical Japanese.

I really enjoyed my class this term, but despite the “I” being attached to the class’s name, there is no “II” offered at my university. Guess I’m just going to have to work on it on my own now. I don’t know exactly what I’ll do, but I’m thinking I’ll just choose one of the excerpts we read in class, and just read the whole story. Maybe 方丈記? I don’t really know what the best starting place would be, so I’m going to have to do some research. All I know is that it’s probably not 源氏物語.

4. Read a lot.

Self explanatory. I have some books. I have free time. Time to read.


All right. I’m exhausted. I’ve had two colds in the past two weeks, right as exams were looming and during the first wave of finals, and now I’m just ready to take it easy for a bit. See you all around.
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