blog indefinite hiatus

If you’ve been coming here a while (congratulations for being one of the very few?), you’ve observed the scarcity of recent posts – either I’ve run out of insights, or realized that what I thought were insights really weren’t, or whatever – but mostly every time I think about writing a proper blog post I think of the hour or two hours it’ll take and consider the relative value of spending that time reading Japanese or watching a Japanese movie or doing some Skritter or whatever and the actual doing always wins out over the talking about it. Readers have been extremely few anyway (often less than 10 even for new posts), so I’m sure whatever those of you who wander in here are looking for is taken care of elsewhere.

Perhaps once I’ve mastered this language learning lark I’ll explain here how I did it but it looks like that’ll take some considerable while.

The resources that are here including the blog archive will of course stay online; I won’t just let it fizzle until it really does stop getting traffic entirely.

I’ll still post the occasional new word or expression or brief thought over on my tumblr, so follow that if you’d like.

I do sincerely thank all of you for your kindness in reading for these nearly four years now. All the best with your own mysterious journey and may the cookie crumbs never lead you astray.

japanese classic audiobooks free download – and an app to play them

Khatz had an excellent post today on learning through the spoken word, which inspired me to start looking for some audiobooks, and also to find a way to play them properly on my iPhone.

I’ve been half-heartedly collecting podcasts* but seldom actually listen to them, because I have little idea whether they’ll actually be talking about anything I’m interested in for one thing, and there’s usually also no transcripts so if you want to follow along you can’t. Not a problem of course for natives or more advanced learners but for an intermediate whose reading is much stronger than listening it removes a significant potential advantage.

So then I thought, well yes let’s get audiobooks; they’re a known quantity, they have text, they’re pretty long, there’s no real downside here.

A problem I ran into right away though is that every audiobook player app wants to lock you into its own store or market or at least file source. It seems like most will not allow you to import your own mp3 or other audio files, or if they do the description at least says nothing about it. I did eventually find one that does, and looks like it should be easy to use and work well; namely Bookmobile. It does also handle podcasts to some extent with a built-in RSS capability, but I imagine dedicated apps like Downcast will be better for that.

Then the books themselves. The #ajatt IRC channel has had a link in the header for a long time to some that user Decoface converted to MP3 and shared – those are here. From there I also found a link back to the original list of files on the RTK wiki, which I’m not sure why I’d forgotten about; that’s here.

If you import them into iTunes and it doesn’t recognize them as being audiobooks, which is quite likely, select all the files, Get Info (⌘I will do it), go to Options tab and in the media type list pick Audiobook. Also make sure all the files for a book are in a single album.

Should be set for a good long while now.


* surely I’m not the only one who always types “podcats” first? and then conjures up a little mental image of podcats?

Japanese-to-English Translation Basics

Contemporary Japanese Literature

Old Books

Once upon a time, when I was an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to take a translation seminar with one of the finest translators of Japanese literature into English. The course texts she selected for the seminar presented all manner of interesting translation challenges, and she brought in a number of fantastic speakers from the Kyoto-based Society of Writers, Editors, and Translators to discuss these challenges with our class. Unfortunately, I was not able to take full advantage of this seminar; it was as if these professional translators were teaching us translation calculus, and I still didn’t grasp basic translation algebra.

I just finished a tertiary round of edits for two major translation projects, and I’ve noticed a number of patterns in the areas I’ve repeatedly needed to adjust. Once I became aware of the currents my editing was following, I started to imagine that I was getting at some…

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Fluent Czech: On Going From PolyNot to PolyGlot

I don’t pay much attention to how-to-learn-languages material generally, figuring that my time is better spent actually doing Japanese; and on top of that I don’t like videos because it takes a lot less time to read the same information and it also sticks better, for me at any rate.

This nearly hour-long video, I have now watched three times.

If like me you’d prefer just to read it, just for you, I took notes (they’re fairly raw though, fair warning). Click through to read.

Continue reading

Remembering the Kanji vol.1 with Japanese Keywords

Having looked for a while for a thorough list of Japanese keywords for Remembering the Kanji volume 1, I eventually gave up and made my own. The list put together by wrightak is well known, but its downfall (not a terribly serious one admittedly) is that he attempted to stick as close to the original English keyword as possible, and partly as a consequence the list is missing quite a few characters, as well as having some pretty strained keywords (not that the English list doesn’t have its share of those as well).

I made the list on Skritter and you can get at it from the shared list page, but if you don’t use Skritter (but really you should) here are plain files of it:

Tab-delimited text

Numbers spreadsheet

And the description from the list page:

RTK 1 with Japanese keywords. Mostly kun-yomi, with many exceptions where the kun-yomi is excessively rare, or non-existent. (That said, there are quite a few words included that are rarely written in kanji, just because I found them interesting.) Meanings may or may not coincide with Heisig keywords.

This list introduces many kanji out of order as they feature in compounds of kanji in the Heisig order. It is not recommended to learn this list instead of the normal RTK 1 with English keywords; rather, finish RTK 1 with English keywords first, give it some time for the mnemonics you used for that to fade, then go through this list.

There may be some duplication which I’ll try to weed out as I review through the list.

track your tadoku between rounds with IFTTT

If you’ve wished that there were a way to keep track of your extensive reading in between tadoku rounds as easily as with the tadokubot, there is a very simple way to do just that. All you need is a Google account and an IFTTT (If This Then That) account, both free. IFTTT is a very useful free web service that allows you to automate a wide variety of things. In this case, we send it a text message tagged with the reading medium you wish to track, and the service adds a row to a spreadsheet in your Google Drive. Then all that’s left is to put a couple of simple formulas in the spreadsheet to total things up.

A link to the IFTTT recipe is here.  Adapt as needed to add media. Use an additional space between three pipes (||| |||) to place the update in the correct column. The ||| is the cell divider, so ||| ||| places an empty cell. If you want the data for a certain hashtag in the fourth column, for example, your action would look like:

{{ReceivedAt}} ||| ||| ||| {{MessageNoHashtag}}

In my case, text messages to the US cost me extra, so if you’re in the same situation I recommend you use textPlus or a similar free texting service. You can even use that from an iPod Touch. It’s possible to use Google Talk chat messages as a trigger, but I’ve never seen the IFTTT bot actually online, so it’s best to stick with text messages.

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