Bunpro update

I went ahead and bought a lifetime membership to bunpro while it is on sale.

I am, obviously, impressed with the site, and they keep rolling out updates.  Currently they are adding native speaker audio to the grammar points, and they are increasing the number of example sentences for each grammar point from 3 to 12.  They have now rolled out an app (at least for android, I don’t know about iOS) and I am one of the alpha testers (along with a whole bunch of other people).  Since it’s still in alpha, it has a few issues, but, on the whole, it’s quite good.

It’s a very useful site, and they are in the process of making it better.  I’m pretty stingy with which apps or websites I’m willing to pay for (and there are a lot out there that I’m not willing to spend money on) but I really like bunpro, and I like the way they are continuing to improve it.




The Story of the Game

Once upon a time, there was a guy who made a mistake.  It was quite a simple mistake. He downloaded a game.  It looked like it would be a fun game, and it was free, so he downloaded it, and it was a very fun game, indeed.  He played the game and got a great deal of enjoyment out of it.  It was challenging and good.

Doesn’t sound like a mistake, does it?

But it was.

You see, when the guy picked up his tablet, the first app he tended to open was this game.  Did he have new lives yet?  He did!  And then he would play the game until all of the new lives were gone, and time would slip by.

When the guy picked up his tablet, he didn’t want to open memrise or bunpro  and study Japanese, he wanted to play the fun game.  When he ran out of lives, while he waited for new lives to appear, he did check memrise or bunpro, only to find that he had a lot of vocabulary and grammar points built up to study, and it was a chore to get through them, both because there were so many and because he wanted to play the fun game…

So, a couple of days ago, the guy deleted the fun game.

After that, when he picked up his tablet, it was to study Japanese, and, once again the studying was not a chore.  Instead, it was fun.  The guy opened up memrise and bunpro regularly and didn’t find mountains of vocabulary and grammar points waiting for him but manageable amounts.

And this is not the end of the story, because you have to keep studying to get where you want to go.


What Do I Do?!!!

What do you do when life gets in the way of studying?  It will, you know.

So, you have made the obviously completely ridiculous decision to learn Japanese which (according to all of my friends) is completely impossible.  (Spoiler:  it isn’t.)

You can’t devote every waking moment of your life to this herculean task since you have family, a job, friends, other hobbies, a favorite TV show you want to keep up with, a garden to tend and that detailed life-sized model of an X-Wing fighter to build out of popsicle sticks.  Also, sometimes you get sick, you want to take a vacation, people will insist on coming to visit you, and your wife wants you to keep up with chores around the house.

So, what do you do when something unexpected (or expected) gets in the way of study time?

Step one:


I am a big believer in setting daily and weekly goals to keep up with your studies, but you have to be flexible.  Sometimes you just don’t have time to study.  That’s okay.  Stuff happens.

Be ready to switch to a minimum schedule.  Like this:

“If I can just review vocabulary today, that’ll be enough.”

Squeeze in your anki cards or memrise items in need of review little by little when you can and then let it go.  That will be enough to keep your hand in and your brain working, and it has the added benefit that you can do it in pieces throughout the day as you have time.

You were unable to get your homework done?  You didn’t learn those 10 new vocabulary words today because stuff came up?

Take a deep breath.  It’s okay.

I have often written that you want to study every single day, and that’s true.  That’s your best route.  But sometimes you just can’t.  Sometimes you need a mental health day.  Sometimes the world falls down around you and all time just disappears and you simply can’t study.

That’s okay.  In fact, you could set yourself a new goal just for today:  My goal for today is to rest my brain and not study at all.

Hey, you met your goal!  Congratulations!  Give yourself a pat on the back.

Tomorrow will be a new day.  You can squeeze in some studying then.

You know what I’m going to say next:


And…We’re Back

Personal issues, no matter what, have made studying Japanese very difficult for the last week and a half and blogging impossible.  The time simply hasn’t been there.  I have squeezed in vocabulary reviews whenever I could and managed to rush through this week’s homework (with all kinds of small mistakes as a consequence) in bits and pieces here and there.

But I am taking the time to blog today to post yet another crazy sentence.  This one is the second sentence of the となりのトトロ novel, and, without further ado, here it is:


The シャッポをあみだにかぶって part was a bit difficult.  A native speaker didn’t recognize シャッポ, but I figured out it was from the French chapeau for hat, and he explained あみだ to me by putting on a hat pulled down low across his forehead, but neither one of us could make sense out of 五月に五月と五月をのせて.

He said, “Probably the first 五月 is go-gatsu (May) and the second 五月 is Satsuki (a name) and the third 五月…I don’t know.”

Now, I would just like to point out that, if the book is indeed set in May, this is cruel to the poor English speaker who is trying to learn Japanese.


Because one of the main characters is indeed named Satuski (which is 五月) and it takes place in May (which is also 五月) and another main character is named メイ which in English turns out to be May.  And, I am reading this book in May.


Okay, so it isn’t actually the author’s fault that I am reading the book in May, but, still.

Okay.  We love Japanese.  We love Japanese.  We love Japanese.  Just keep repeating that over and over when these crazy things happen!


More About Cats

In reference to the last post about the crazy cat sentence, rold2007 asked “Could you give the sentence before and after this one, as it seems to have to meaning out of context…”

I’ll do even more.  Here’s the whole thing:  (The crazy sentence in question starts with the last word of line 6.)




Speaking of Cats

This week I started a new textbook (which, by the way, apparently doesn’t have a single word of English in it – no translations of new vocabulary, no grammar explanations in English, nothing.  Cool.):



and, on page two, I was reading an essay about the use of the word 猫 in different Japanese sayings.  Apparently 猫の額 (a cat’s forehead) is a common point of reference for small things.  Okay, fine.  I’m following along all right until I hit the very next sentence:


I’ll be honest: this one really lost me.  So, I’m going to break it down to see if I can make any sense out of it.

猫にも- so here we have the word for cat followed by にもwhich might mean also or just might add emphasis to the word

額の広い猫 – so…hm…yeah…wide forehead cat…or…cat with wide forehead…I think…

額 – forehead

 shows possession or connection

広い – wide

猫 – cat

so, forehead of wide cat…a wide cat’s forehead…I’m really not liking this any better…

と – and

狭い猫 – narrow cat…?  Really?  Where are we going here?  But that surely has to be narrow cat.

がいると思う – subject particle followed by exists for living things, followed by I think…

ので – indicates a cause or a reason for something…because

So, the first part ends up being something like…I think because there are foreheads of wide cats and narrow cats…or…wide cat foreheads and narrow cat foreheads…

You know, I don’t think we’re off to a promising start here.

*sigh*  Well, let’s keep going.

日本語の分かる猫に – well, I swear this looks like cat that understands Japanese

聞かれたら- this is a conditional verb that either means something like if it hears or if asked

「失礼じゃないですか」- ah, a quote…isn’t that rude?

と怒られてしまいそうです – it will get angry followed by an ending that means it seems or even it is likely

Which leaves me with If this is heard by a cat that understands Japanese “that’s rude, isn’t it?” it is likely that it will get angry.

Which, rather unbelievably, leaves me with something like this:

I think, because there are cats with wide foreheads and cats with narrow foreheads, a cat which understands Japanese, if it hears this, will say “Isn’t that rude?” and is likely to get angry.

Now, when I first read this sentence, (and even when I started typing this post) I could not makes heads or tails of it (and that is not another 猫 reference) and I really didn’t know what I was going to come out with after I broke it down, so whoever is reading this just watched me go actually go through the process of trying to make sense out of a Japanese sentence.

And, since what I ended up with, makes at least grammatical sense in English, I’m going with it.  Granted, that may not make it a sensible sentence.  Still, there are more sentences waiting.

By the way, if anyone out there can make more sense of this crazy sentence, have at it!



Well, I finally finished 中級へ学ぼう.  I shouldn’t really say finally because I do firmly believe that speed is really unimportant.   But I did finish it, which means that it’s time to move on to my next book, which is 中級から学ぶ.  A pretty similar title, isn’t it?

This book is a step up in difficulty, though.  For one thing, I don’t think there is a single word of English in the entire book.  Here’s the introduction:


Well, alright then.

I haven’t actually read that yet.  That’s next on the list after things calm a down a little bit at work.  I have busy weekend ahead (along with a houseful of family) so study time may be at a premium for the next few days.  But, since the page does say 初めに, I suppose I’ll start there!

By the way, if you are just starting out and that pages looks daunting, don’t worry about it.  It looks daunting to me, and I’m not just starting out!  But the real point is that I have reached the level where I have some expectation of being able to read all that, and, two years a go, that would have seemed absurd to me.  The mountain is tall, grasshopper, so don’t try to see the summit.  Just keep your eyes on the path right ahead of you and keep walking.  You’ll get to the top eventually.

And, yes, I know the whole grasshopper thing comes from a TV show about a guy who was supposed to be half-Chinese, not Japanese.  Just go with it.)