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August 30, 2003

Vocab 2

It must be the same old lament among seniors that young people have a very small vocabulary. Language is always changing, and many words are being left behind with the times. I'm not that old enough (really??) to complain about the poor vocabulary of kids these days, but I have to admit that my students don't know the certain words that they should already know. "しばしば" (shiba-shiba: often) in my last entry is one of such expressions. Every time we come across the word "often" as a new word in a textbook (mostly for 7th graders) and make sure its one possible Japanese counterpart is "shiba-shiba," I ask my students if they know the meaning of it. As you can guess, there are very few, if any, who really get the concept of the expression. They can't tell the difference between "shiba-shiba" and "時々" (toki-doki: sometimes). That's really surprising to me. Actually, it's a bit formal word, and so kids will never use it in their daily conversation. Even so, unlike other dying words, it is very often used in formal talks, newspapers and books, and the like.

Funny thing is, students don't hesitate to translate "often" as "shiba-shiba," even though the Japanese word is not in their working vocabulary.

The other day, I asked a 10th grade girl if she knew the meaning, half for fun.

"You know the meaning of 'shiba-shiba,' don't you?"

"Well...yes, I feel like I know it...."

"OK, then make a Japanese sentence using the word. Any sentence will do."

"私はしばしば母の手伝いをします (watashi wa shiba-shiba haha no tetsudai o shimasu: I often help my mother (with the housework))."

"Oh, you really do? How often?"

"Well, once or twice a month."

By the way, a spoken word for "shiba-shiba" is "よく (yoku)." It is universally used, but since it has another meaning of "well," this time again, students may mix up ....

August 28, 2003


To learners of Japanese:

Do you know what 「しばしば」 (shiba-shiba) means?

August 18, 2003


The summer vacation is over. We went to Sapporo last Tuesday to see a pro baseball game. The Yokohama BayStars took on the Hanshin Tigers. We root for BayStars, but they've had a tough season so far, as expected from the beginning though, with the winning percentage all-time low, under .300. OK. A true fan of a certain team would never walk out on them just because they can't win a lot. Well, that's what my wife says. It would be kind of an interesting game, because the Tigers have been running along in incredibly high gear in the Central League this year, leaving the other five teams far behind. So, we could've had a chance to see a very rare scene that the collapsing BayStars would beat the mighty Tigers.

Go, BayStars!

It was really a close game. The BayStars lost to the Tigers 2-3. Well, a true fan would....

August 11, 2003


I'm taking a one-week summer vacation. O summer, how sweet the season should be. Summer brings me a lot of joyful memories. But, wait. Is it really summer? No, it doesn't feel like summer at all. The depressing weather never lifts my spirits. "Samui desu ne" (It's cold, isn't it?) has become the greeting here in place of "Atsui desu ne" (It's hot, isn't it?). I wish I were in Texas, yes, in Texas.

I haven't heard the sound of cicadas since the last entry. One of the dictionaries I have at hand says that Westerners don't like the sound. Hmmm... I wonder how the dictionary people can generalize the "Westerners" and state so assertively. Anyway, is it really the case with you? Yeah, at least I know Leann loves the sound. :)

August 4, 2003

Where has the summer...

neglected updates

July this year was a cold month. This was a phenomenon for the entire country. You know, I want a HOT SUMMER!

Surprisingly, I heard the sound of locusts this morning. It's one of the sounds of summer in Japan. Do you have any particular sounds that you associate with summer?