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22 August 2006 @ 06:06 pm
more blah blah blah about japan  
the thing that gets the most frustrating for me here so far is the inability to read "simple" things like manuals and instructions. they teach you lots of things in school, but it's not really aimed toward reading preparation directions on the back of your groceries. it's more about reading essays and novels. slightly different. if i've never seen a certain kanji before (and with so many of them, there's always a kanji i don't know), there's no way to sound it out, and on occasion i can guess at it by the context or combinations i've seen it in before, but that's given that i've got enough of the kanji down to guess at the context itself. half the time it's like "well, this most be something about the electricity...hmmm". after that, it's ask a Japanese friend who can explain (of which right now i only have one, and she's busy all this week) or spend ass-loads of time with the kanji dictionary.

i'm pissy because i've spent god only knows how long trying to translate the section of the manual on how to set my phone's answering message, and even though i feel like i've translated the relevant sections correctly, doing the things i think it said don't seem to work. so frustrating. i asked my pred. how to do it, and his answer was get someone to help. ::sigh:: i guess i'll just have to wait until saturday to fix it.

academically, i love kanji. on a practical level, right now i hate them. frickin' rusuban no messeji...i'll get you yet.
Karakara: bluegirlbeautifulpyre on August 22nd, 2006 10:06 am (UTC)
That's pretty interesting! I sometimes think about these kinds of scenarios, but I've never learned any foreign languages at all, let alone traveled to another country to face those kinds of challenges.

Is it difficult to find the right kanji in the dictionary?
Mellen: gaijin faceabsentmammoth on August 22nd, 2006 02:04 pm (UTC)
thanks for reading, i figured everyone would think this was boring, but it was driving me crazy so i had to vent.

depending on the kanji, looking it up can take no time at all or it can be really labourious. a kanji is looked up usually by determining the stroke count and order. this is easy when you've got kanji that are easily defined, but with complicated characters, it's sometimes hard to determine the correct number of strokes (and tiny printing doesn't help). there's also the issue of finding the correct reading for a given combination of kanji. the kanji dictionary i use is one of the most helpful, as it lists common compounds a certain kanji is found in, even if it's not the first character in the word. when a combination you're looking for ISN'T in the dictionary, you kind of have to take a stab at the pronounciation, but you can usually derive the meaning. that's probably more info than you wanted to know! but yeah, kanji dictionary. it's fun.
just johnjustjohn on August 22nd, 2006 04:38 pm (UTC)
(After the sudden icon switch to all those pics of the cute blond girl I was assuming was you, THIS icon made me worry for a moment.)

Hey, are you anywhere near Roland, the makers of the HPD-15? It's an electronic percussion instrument / MIDI controller. It's a marvelous instrument, but some of the patches have very idiosyncratic design philosophies behind them, and nobody in Roland's US offices seems to want to talk about them. From the intricacy of the patch design, I'm sure there's somebody out there who would be more than willing to talk at length, albeit perhaps not entirely in English.
Mellenabsentmammoth on August 23rd, 2006 03:08 pm (UTC)
i'm not sure where Roland is, but I am in Hyogo, about an hour northwest of Kobe. Does that help you at all?
just johnjustjohn on August 23rd, 2006 03:13 pm (UTC)
I know very little of Japanese geography.

Their site says their HQ is: 2036-1 Nakagawa, Hosoe-cho, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka 431-1304 Japan

Mellenabsentmammoth on August 23rd, 2006 03:43 pm (UTC)
hmmm...i'm a ways away from Shizuoka, but maybe someone in the program lives near there. i'll try and see if i can hook up with anyone on the message boards.
just johnjustjohn on August 23rd, 2006 03:19 pm (UTC)
Of course, I generally go to Roland's US site, which includes:


It's a profile of a happy Roland user, and the profile includes:

The pop music history books will show Keith Hillebrandt as an ace programmer/remixer who helped sharpen the edge of Nine Inch Nails, U2, David Bowie, Magdalene’s Dream, and Puff Daddy. Music Industry insiders might recall Keith’s work with such companies as Otari, WaveFrame, and Opcode, or for his cutting-edge Arhythmia, Poke in the Ear, and Useful Noise-series sound libraries. Today, Keith would like you to know him as a solo recording artist. His debut CD, Blue, should be on store shelves by the time you read this.
madbibliomancermadbibliomancer on August 22nd, 2006 06:11 pm (UTC)
Much hugs from across the sea. Good thing you're a genius and bound to emerge victorious then, eh? I got you some souvenirs from Hawaii, there were all sorts of Japanese foods and ingredients in the grocery store, and I thought it would be funny to send you Japanese food from Hawaii, but I held off. I hope things go better for you and you draft some poor innocent Japanese person from off the street as your minion so you have some help. Answering machine instructions don't make sense in English either.
lady_mclady_mc on August 22nd, 2006 10:50 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's what I was going to say ... I've nearly got my masters and I can't figure out directions in English, including recipes (which I cannot spell even) and that's my first language so ... no worries!! :)

I also like the idea of a Japanese minion. Or maybe a robot?

I found the kanji dictionary explanation interesting because it reminds me how insane it makes me when ASL dictionaries are organized by the letter the sign starts with in English. It makes NO sense and my kids spend hours digging through trying to find the sign. We finally got one book that is organized by one hand or two, and then the primary handshape and the kids went nuts. SOOOOO wonderful, except a lot of signs are missing, but it's a big step! But there's only one in each class. I had a conversation with a teacher about needing more so kids could bring them home and he said they had the old fashioned kind, what was the big deal. I really struggled to get him to realize that that would be like asking him to go write an essay in Spanish and only give him a Spanish-English dictionary, but not English-Spanish.

Wow, I went on a rant ... anyway, I'm a dork, I enjoyed your venting and I'm learning so much from your travels already! :)
Mellen: fingerabsentmammoth on August 23rd, 2006 03:36 pm (UTC)
A robot sounds like the ideal answer. Not only will it be awesome because the Japanese make great robots, but it will also have an intuitive understanding of it's mechanical brethren.

your rant is VERY interesting. I love learning how our respective languages of study relate. All language is fascinating to me. It makes a lot of sense that a dictionary based on the visual character would be not only helpful but necessary. I wonder how the Japanese do it...I'd imagine they have a better sense of the necessity of pictographical categorization, since their regular written language requires it. You should tell them that research (by you and me) has found it to be the most effective tool for learning a visual language.

thanks for always ranting with me! it's good and educational for me too! talk to you again soon I'm sure!
Mellen: gaijin faceabsentmammoth on August 23rd, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC)
Hugs to you!! I have also picked you up a little gift, I'll be sending it your way once I understand the workings of overseas postage. Hope you had a great time in Hawaii, I plan to go there someday myself, hopefully for school. I may give the answering machine another go tomorrow, now that I don't feel like kicking it to bits anymore. Thanks for the reminder that it's not the language barrier all the time, sometimes the instructions just don't make sense.
tantric tantrum: princessradiosity on August 23rd, 2006 03:58 pm (UTC)
no messeji.


Thank you for your ranting... I don't think it's boring at all, in fact it's very reassuring. I spent a short, and poorly planned time on business in Japan some years back. I had no formal preparation except an outdated Fodors to read on the plane and a pathetic "learn to speak Japanese" book that I never consulted.

While I know that I entertained (and/or mortified) a good deal of people in that wonderful nation (imgine a red-haired girl desperately sliding a piece of paper back and forth under a telephone saying "fax-u machine-u" over and over to the disbelieving stares of the hotel concierge); I ended up in tears several times and assumed it was because I was too stupid to live. I actually went into culture shock when I got home and realized that people in stores and places could UNDERSTAND what was coming out of my MOUTH.

I'm relieved to know that others have had similar frustrations - even with a "proper education" and all that there.

Keep writing! =)
Mellen: gaijin faceabsentmammoth on August 23rd, 2006 04:49 pm (UTC)
yeah, the feeling of being looked at like you're:
a) an alien from another planet, or
b) a complete idiot
can be frustrating. option a) actually becomes preferable. half the time, even when i say something in proper japanese, they don't know what i'm saying until another japanese person repeats it to them.

on the bright side, i think it can only get better from here on in. let's hope that's true.

thanks for reading!
tantric tantrum: princessradiosity on August 23rd, 2006 05:21 pm (UTC)
stop me if you think that you've heard this one before ;)

A friend of mine's dad is a Prof who taught in Japan for a while. His story goes like this: Went up to local and started to ask directions, was told; "sorry but I don't speak English". To which he replied, "But if you listen carefully you will realize that I'm speaking in Japanese".

Mellen: m.e. in nipponabsentmammoth on August 23rd, 2006 07:31 pm (UTC)
hahahahaha! that's EXACTLY what it's like. they can't handle what's coming out of your mouth because you look so foreign. they are so set on the idea that we can only speak english that it doesn't seem to sink in that we're literally speaking their language (or at least trying!). that really did make me smile, thanks.