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Etymology

Yashiko has blogged (September 17th entry - Yashiko, your archive feature doesn't work!) about kanji (Chinese characters). Nice read. I usually don't think much about the meaning of each kanji in "compound" kanji words, but sometimes getting to know the etymology, I have "aha!" moments. That's kind of fun. It must be a lot helpful for Japanese learners to have time to study the original meaning and composition of each kanji.

In the same way, learning about prefixes, roots, and suffixes can be very helpful in learning English words. I was very excited when I first knew about this in high school -- not from English teachers, unfortunately, but from an English reference book for college entrance exams. But, as might be expected, I grew tired of them when I started reading another thick book full of those explanations. Modesty could be the name of the game.

And shortly after I started my English school, I came across this great vocabulary builder -- Word Power Made Easy. If you know a good up-to-date book similar to this, please let me know. I think I'll order it along with Bill Bryson's "The Mother Tongue" that Kurt recommended. ;)

By the way, I think I have talked about it on one of my entries, but I feel my kanji writing ability has been weakening ever since I started using computers. Aargh! Oh, but let me say, in high school, I was (fairly/rather/pretty/very -- choose whichever you like) good at kanji. If I say "quite" good, where, in your opinion, does it fall on among the words in the brackets?

Comments

I'd put "quite" near "very". To me, "rather" and "quite" seem kind of arrogant. Not really arrogant, but kind of like someone's bragging. Maybe it's different in other English-speaking countries, but in the US, I think that's the general feel for those words. I'd say that "fairly" would be at the bottom of those words.

This is a digression, Kiyo, for which I apologize, but I'm curious where you first encountered the phrase "an 'aha' moment". (And anyone else who may be familiar with it.)

MNW

I agree with CC in that 'rather' good sounds a little arrogant and perhaps slightly old fashioned (we still say it sometimes though). But to me, 'quite' is nowhere near to 'very' - more like 'fairly'... Quite and fairly are very similar, at least in my usage ;)

It's interesting to know that "rather" sounds (rather?) arrogant. And also the difference of "quite" between American and British English.

MNW, I think I first encountered the phrase while reading an explanation of English haiku on the Net or somewhere. It's something like "You will have an 'aha' moment when reading a haiku." I thought "Aha!"

Word Power Made Easy! Very "natsukashi~" (How can I say it in English? I don't miss it 'cause I still keep the copy I bought 20 years ago...)

Someone recommended it me, but soon after I started to read it, I gave it up ... I was not good enough to read English books.

When I first introduce myself in English, I sometimes say like this: "The meaning of my name is 'great intelligence,' which I don't have. ;)

Oops, I made a grammatical mistake... Someone recommended it to me, I meant.

Waaaah.... Kiyo-san, you DO read my journal.
Anyhow... I should try to fix my archive. I think that it may be because I made a template from scratch.... I should try to redo it.

Well, thanks for reading ^^

The reason I ask about your "aha!" moment is that I try to keep track of such references when I come across them. There are some interesting informational feedback loops regarding haiku when one compares Japanese- and English-language developments.

MNW

Although, not a reference book, I recommend "The Story of English," the companion book to the PBS series to anyone interested in word origins, usage, and difference between English as spoken in Britain, America, and Australia.

Amazon">Amazon">Amazon">http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0140154051/qid=1032443541/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/104-3410549-4090338">Amazon

Here's an antidote from the book that I got from an amazon.com review:

One of my favorite antidotes was the one about how the Advisory Committee on Spoken English (ACSE) discussed the word "canine":

"Shaw brought up the word 'canine', and he wanted the recommendation to be 'cay-nine'... And somebody said 'Mr. Shaw, Mr. Chairman, I don't know why you bring this up, of course it's 'ca-nine'. Shaw said, 'I always pronounce things the way they are pronounced by people who use the word professionally every day.' And he said, 'My dentist always says (cay-nine)'. And somebody said, 'Well, in that case, Mr. Chairman, you must have an American dentist.' And he said, 'Of course, why do you think at 76 I have all my teeth!'"

Hahaha! Thanks M! The book sounds really interesting and instructive. I'll order it from amazon. :)

some random comments:
Kiyo, I'm flattered you're considering Bryson's book on the basis of my recommendation.

Serena....natsukashii...i think dictionaries translate it to "nostalgic", but maybe better in speech to say "wow, that brings back memories".

I've always regarded "quite" and "rather" as British English, but perhaps from spending quite some time in that country, I'm rather inclined to pepper my speech with these two words, and when I do, I always imagine some posh upper crust Thatcherite speaking and not me, strange...

Kurt,

Thanks for letting me know the expression "that brings back memories." It's exactly what I meant. Japanese "natsukashi" has some meanings, you know.
I once asked an American Friend who spoke Japanese about this, and she said, "Oh, we just say 'Oh, my god!!!'" :)