Ah, Some Good News

The article that I am reading today on NHK News Web easy is called: 日本でいちばん長生きの117女性をおい.  Just for fun, let’s break it down, shall we?

日本 – Sometimes this is 日本 and sometimes it is にっぽん, but, either way, it means Japan

で – one of those lovely particles that can mean a bunch of different things which I don’t have time to go into here

いちばん – literally means number one but can be used to mean -est.  I’ll explain that in a moment.  Well, depending on how fast you read!

長 – length

き – living

So, while we’re here, let’s put いちばん長生き together.  We get -est, length, living which I am going to render as longest living. Isn’t Japanese fun?

の – the connection or belong to particle

117 – I think we can figure out the number part, and the Kanji means years old

の – Again?  We already covered this one

女性 – woman

を – the direct object particle

い – celebration

And, so, what do we get?  How about something like, A celebration for the longest living woman in Japan, who is 117 years old.  There are obviously other (and less clunky) ways of putting that, but, what the heck, it gets the idea across.

That sounds like a happy story, so I’ll read that one.  At the same time, I printed out the version of the story from the regular news website.  We’ll see how that goes!  I”ll read the easy one first and then move on to the more difficult one.

By the way, thanks to Lady Caladium for the encouragement to push on to the harder articles, and to Yanock for telling me about the TangoRisto app, which I have added to the applist.  It’s good to have people give you a little nudge in the right direction.

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Reading is Fundamental

Yes, I stole borrowed that title from a catchphrase that used to be popular in the United States.

Working my way through  stories on News Web Easy is continuing to pay dividends. I am encountering some very frustrating fascinating grammar structures, and I enjoy that lightbulb moment when a collection of words suddenly morphs into a coherent sentence. A thing which, incidentally, doesn’t always happen.  It seems like, if you know all the words, the sentence should make sense, but that hasn’t always been my experience.

Today’s article was unpleasantly topical.  It was about North Korea and missiles, and I did have to look up some words like 防衛省 (Ministry of Defense) but I don’t feel bad about that.  That one hasn’t been in any of my books!

When I read a story, I highlight in yellow any sentences that I can’t figure out so I can go over them with my tutor during my next lesson, but, very pleasantly, this article has nothing highlighted!  Admittedly, it has a few sentences that made me want to beat my head against the table have to work a little, but I eventually got some sense out of them.

One of the things that I would encourage everyone to do as soon as possible, is to find some level appropriate reading.  If you have to look up every word, it isn’t level appropriate.  And, on the other hand, if you breeze through it with no problem it isn’t level appropriate either (or you’re very good!).  Reading stuff that doesn’t require any effort can make you feel pretty good about your language skills, no doubt about that, but it doesn’t do anything to improve your language skills.

Your reading should stretch you a little.  That’s what we need if we are going to learn, right?  And, believe me, level appropriate reading is about there for you.  Everything from very simply children’s books to normal adult level Japanese and quite a bit in between.

One of the good things for me is that vocabulary from the N3 course I am doing on Memrise is popping up on New Web Easy.  It’s one thing to recognize a word when it pops up on your flashcards.  It’s another to recognize it when you sight it in the wild.  This is very good for me.

So, since the article on North Korea was so easy not as difficult as it might have been, I am going to celebrate by…reading another article.  Of course!  Maybe I’ll read the one about the Panda…ooh..about the dead panda.  Yeah…maybe one of the others…let’s see…Lady Gaga…nope…traffic accident…why is the news not more fun?…I think I’ll read the one about the Olympics.

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It Doesn’t Seem That Impressive To Me…

I had a meeting to go to today, and I was pretty sure that it would involve some waiting time before the meeting started, so I brought my clipboard with me.  On my clipboard was the news story that I am currently working my way through.  The two others I was meeting with saw it when I put it down on the table and asked me what it said, so I read this out loud:   火災警報器かさいけいほうきは、建物たてものなかけむりねつセンサーつけると and then I translated it for them, and they were impressed.

I’ll be honest with you, this is not that impressive to me. (Hence, the title of this post!) It sounds impressive, I think, because it includes words like “sensor” which seem like it would be a hard word to know in another language.  Of course, in Japanese, it’s just センサー so, not that difficult.

But, then, I had to sit down and think about it.  If I could go back in time and visit myself right as I was starting to learn Japanese (a waste of a good time machine, if you ask me, but still…) I would be impressed with myself for being able to read and translate that sentence, so I guess whether it is impressive or not depends on where you’re viewing it from.  It doesn’t impress me know, though, because, of course I can read that.  There are furigana over the first word, and all the other words are old friends.  But it could easily give the impression that I know more Japanese that I feel like I do.

Maybe I should go back and change the title of this post…

Nah.

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Dark Water

Now, that’s a title that might have somebody asking, “What the heck does that mean?”

What it means is that I watched a movie called 仄暗い水の底から which translates at from the gloomy water.  (My wife and I watched it subtitled.)

Dark-Water-2002-film-poster

It was a slow paced, gloriously creepy atmosphere. It was one of those movies where you catch scary glimpses here and there, with nary a jump scare in the entire thing.  I enjoyed it, though my wife thought it was a little slow.

So, this weekend, we watched the American remake Dark Water.

Darkwaterposter

Sadly, it was not gloriously creepy.  In fact, it was BORING.  This is not simply because it was a remake of a movie we recently watched, either. (I have watched 用心棒 and A Fistful of Dollars back to back and enjoyed both, and they are very similar.)  No, this is because the American version was just not creepy at all.

The American version was a lot “talkier”.  That is, there were a lot more lines in it, so it lost the effective use of silence, and they completely eliminated some very creepy moments which were in the Japanese version.

Oh, well.

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This Week

I did try reading a news story on the full NHK news site.

Um…the less said about that, the better!

So, I’m back on News Web Easy.  I just printed out my first two stories for the week and am getting out my highlighter, my pen, my marker…all the tools I use to mark the mess out of it as I go along.

The site has furigana, so, without even reading the story, the first thing I do is cross out all the furigana that I should know.  Because I do it with a black sharpie, they are gone, gone, gone…which, I admit, is, every once in a while, a problem.

Oh, and if a word that I don’t know appears more than once, I mark out the furigana on every appearance except the first.  After all, I should learn the word, right?

Then I use the pen to underline words that I don’t know and (sometimes) to cheat by writing in the definition of the word.

Then, if I simply can’t make heads or tails of a sentence, I highlight it to go over it with my teacher.  I will look up individual words in a dictionary (currently, I’m using the free takoboto app and website) but I refuse to run actual sentences through a translator.  That makes it too easy to cheat – that is, to use it before you absolutely have to.

So, it’s time to get my tools and implements out and tackle some news.

But, lunch first.

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More News

This week I went through five stories on NHK News Web Easy.

One was about a new City Hall that had been constructed after the old one was destroyed in an earthquake.

One was about the president of a bus company taking his grandfather’s old German two seater car and turning it into an electric car.

One was about the availability of special New Year’s food.

One was about a cyberattack from Malware hidden in various apps. This one was far and away the most difficult, and my Cafetalk tutor and I went over sentence by sentence.

One was about an engine fire on an airplane.  This one was the easiest of the bunch. Yes, I did have to look up a few words, but I understood all of the sentences, so today I am going to look at that story on the regular NHK news site, which I like to think of as News Web Difficult, even though that’s not what they call it.

The regular news site has no tools for learners. It’s a just a website for Japanese readers to get the news, so I’m expecting it to be pretty difficult, but already knowing the basic content and being able to recognize words like 運輸うんゆ安全あんぜん委員会いいんかいは (which won’t have furigana on the main site, of course, and which means something along the lines of transportation safety agency).

But, in a few minutes, I am going to meet a friend on line for a language exchange – half an hour speaking in English and half and hour speaking in Japanese, so I need to wind this up and open Skype.

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Okay, Now I’m Nervous!

Well, here it is:

jlpt

I have officially registered for the JLPT, and, somehow, the fact that I’ve done that makes me nervous.

I’m still reading articles on News Web Easy, and either the articles are getting easier or I’m getting better. When I find an article that really interests me, I’m going to try it on the regular NHK news site. That ought to dent my self confidence a little! Just what you need when you’re preparing for a big test, right?

If you haven’t done the registration process, it only takes a few minutes, but there are quite a few questions you have to answer. Aside form the usual stuff, like address and phone number, you have to check various boxes indicating why you want to take the test, where you are studying Japanese, how you communicate with your teacher, how you communicate with friends, family, colleagues, etc, whether you have taken the test before and, if so, whether you passed or not.

Still, it’s done now.

Okay, I’m to celebrate a bit here. My novel is now starting to get some nice reviews on Amazon. Yay! If you’ve bought the book, thank you! Please leave a review! (Well, preferably a good one!)

Well, I have some news articles to read and some vocabulary to review. The JLPT just got very real, and I know I’m not ready, but I will do my best.

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