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{ Category Archives } japanese


Also, I thought it was cool: for the first time since leaving Japan, my bumbling half-fluency in Japanese has been of practical use. Another pilot with a Japanese car had a malfunction in his electrical system, and I helped him by reading the hiragana labels on the circuit breakers yesterday. It makes me smile when [...]

How to parse Japanese grammar naturally

Start by learning Reverse Polish notation. Don’t just grasp the concept; use it to solve several real, complex problems. If you have any programming knowledge at all, implement a calculator which uses RPN input. This lays the foundation for understanding a stack-based, postfix system, which is what Japanese really is. Learn Scheme. Whether or not [...]

classing up

Right now, I’m in a bubble. This is just one of those inexplicable absurdities of flight school: as flight training is very expensive and very perishable, one would expect to be rushed through as quickly as possible. Instead, there is a mandatory, months-long wait between finishing primary and beginning training in your advanced aircraft. It’s [...]

did you know that in japan, you get to learn English all over again too?


I just registered for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, level 3. According to the official site, this represents the following: The examinee has mastered grammar to a limited level, knows around 300 kanji and 1,500 words, and has the ability to take part in everyday conversation and read and write simple sentences. This level is [...]

Whence the fascination?

I’m really not sure why I’m so interested in Japan, or the Japanese language. It’s easy enough to find the point of entry of my interest; it was when I started to match sounds to subtitles in the anime I watched in college. However, that was little more than a passing fancy; it doesn’t explain [...]


About a month ago I bought half of all the books Terry Pratchett ever wrote. I was hoping they’d last until Christmas at least, but it turns out that a vacation is a really good excuse to stay up reading for 20 hours in a row. In the course of the last book, I encountered [...]

Translation: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – Prologue

Well, I finally finished translating the prologue of the novel. A bunch of people have asked me what it’s about, and until now all I could say was “I haven’t finished nearly enough to even know.” Now I have at least an inkling, and you can too. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – Prologue I [...]

this is trivial but still true

The problem with Japanese (from a machine-translation perspective) is that many basic linguistic concepts (such as time) are handled differently, and you need to understand things at a fairly high semantic level to actually grok what’s going on. Consider the example “昨日、2時まで起きていました。” A nieve translation would be “Yesterday, I was in the process of waking [...]

language of the rats

So, in japanese class the other day we were reading from the book. At one point, a classmate of mine encountered the word ラチン語, which is read “rachin-go.” ‘Go’ is the suffix indicating a language, but he was really stumped as to which language this might be. Eventually, he worked out that this is the [...]