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November 28, 2003

A Ladybird

A few days ago, I found a ladybug on the wall of a room. I usually free those insects outside unless they are such dreadful ones as spiders. But this time I left him where he was instead, since I was feeling tired and lazy, and thought the bug couldn't survive in the cold winter weather even if I let him go outside. After all, it's his destiny to be there. And I forgot about him soon afterward.

Today, I found him sitting on the carpet dead, as if he was resting there. It was just in front of where I often lie down alone relaxing, thinking about things. And that showed at least he had lived somewhere in the room for a couple of days after that.

I felt a bit guilty, wondering whether I should have freed him.

... So what? Well, perhaps I just want to be centimeter, no, sentimental every now and then. (sorry for the oyaji-gag)

November 26, 2003

Fun With Words

Language is fun. And so here goes Commonly Mispronounced Words. (thanks to Jennifer) Much to my amusement, "February," the recent star here in KEC Journal, is on the list. Oh yeah, I know you have some objections. ;)

Also, see Commonly Misspelled Words. One thing I find interesting is that Japanese learners of English wouldn't misspell "sensible" as "sensable." That doesn't mean, of course, Japanese in general have gleat tarent in English sperring. That's simply because most learners tend to learn English words by spelling and pronounce them as they are spelled, so the "i" is most likely to be pronounced dutifully.

November 24, 2003

Layout

TheRich, my long-time fellow blogger - don't ask me how long is long time in this blog sphere - , has just set up a new layout for RUHome. Check it out before he suddenly changes his mind and trashes it! Well, joking aside, I really like his new layout. And whenever I see an awesome one, I'll feel like changing mine too. I think I'll be working on a winter version for this site, but probably it'll be the same one as displayed here last time. I don't have the nerve to change the look drastically, and I like the snowman.

It's the last day of the three consecutive holidays. Yesterday was Labor Thanksgiving Day. Do you agree that when you have a lot of time, you won't do what you need to do? That's my case with blogging. I meant to blog away durign the days off, only to find no entries posted but today. (I like whining about my blogging. Excuse me.)

(^^ゞ

November 21, 2003

IDEA

Now I enjoy visiting a website Jessica suggested in my English As A.... entry - International Dialects of English Archive. The site provides a lot of recorded samples of English spoken by people from around the world.

You can listen to five samples by Japanese here.

My pronunciation? Well, it would be of much Japanese-ness with a little bit of American flavor, if any.

November 19, 2003

It's November!

You visit your own blog site and, alas, find no entries displayed on the main entry section. Scary? It can happen. Actually, David of Blogdom has just experienced that phenomenon.

It can happen, depending on your setting of the number of days displayed, and your frequency of updates. I had a similar occasion after the long absence this May. Scary. Scary.

Speaking of the frequency of updates, do you remember or know what I accomplished in November last year? I blogged a perfect month! Oh, that brings back memories. Good old days.... (By the way, the ATB Award thing turned out later to be a bogus one. Ha ha!)

It's November again. Though I don't think I have the drive I had those days now, I can say I still enjoy blogging. I'll keep blogging at my own pace, taking care not making the layout of this site look miserable again. I've just changed the displaying days from 30 to 15. Pressure? Yeah, I need some, if not much.

November 18, 2003

A-No-HE-to

I think I have to answer the Japanese question M posted in her comment on Feb-You-Ary?.

Her question was:

In Japanese, why does "ano hito" sound like "a no...shto"? I get the unvoiced vowel in "hi", but where did the s sound come from?

At first, I didn't quite get what she meant. Unlike English, Japanese is a language where you pronounce every letter in a word distinctly, even though there might be some exceptions. So, "あのひと (ano hito: that person)" should sound just like "a-no-hi-to," and that's all. What's that "sh" sound she was referring to? - I wondered.

Then, eri-san kindly responded to it saying:

Those who pronounce "shi" instead of "hi" are what is called Edokko, or people who are and whose ancesters were from Tokyo.

"Oh yeah, that's it!", I thought. Edokko may well say "ano shito." And interestingly, I remembered I knew some people even from Hokkaido who tend to say rather like "shi" instead of "hi."

Then again, however, I got to notice an interesting point, repeating "ano hito" myself. Compared to the other three sounds, the "hi" is pronounced pretty weakly like only a breath, which makes the sound a subtle one. I have no explicit knowledge of phonetics. Actually, my major was law. But don't ask me about law. ;) Well, so it may be that, because of that, the "hi" sounds like "sh" to non-native speakers of Japanese.

So, M, is it that you hear the "sh" sound from every native Japanese speaker pronouncing "ano hito"?

November 16, 2003

English As A....

Thanks all for taking the time to share your views on the pronunciation of "February," which have already formed a valuable reference material for me. That's cool. While I have to take it as sober truth that "feb-yoo-ary" has looong entered the mainstream, I'm also encouraged to keep pronouncing the first "r" of the word.

Well, between you and me, "February" is one of such words that I always feel reluctant to pronounce at all, simply because it's hard to say it smoothly with the "r" in mind. Hah hah hah.... But that won't make me pronounce it as "feb-yoo-ary," because I always have the "r" in mind. It can't be helped. R-chan is always there. How easy things would be if I had been born in, say, May or June. I was born in May...boy, that's much easier to say!

Aside from the fact that February is my birth month and so I make much of every letter of the word, the letter "r" means a lot to the Japanese as well. Why? Because we are supposed to speak EngRish!

Well, seriously, there are many different kinds of English used in the world. The way people speak English is different from country to country. Even within an English-speaking country, there are differences in different regions. Even within a region, there are differences among the people. And there are a whole lot of people in the world who use English as a second language or a foreign one. It's as if there is no such thing as Standard English.

What I always keep in mind is to let my students learn the basics firmly so that they will be able to cope with differences in the future. I wish the day will come when "Japanese English" doesn't sound like a joke any more. Hmm...is it possible?

The first Sunday post in a loooooong while. ;)

November 13, 2003

Feb-You-Ary?

One of the things that bother me while teaching new students is the pronunciation of "February". How do you pronounce the word? Most Americans would say like, "feb-yoo-ary", I suppose. In fact, in almost all CDs that come with the textbooks I use in class, the word is pronounced that way.

It's not that I always hate the fact that a vast number of English words are not pronounced the way they are spelled. I'm happy with pronouncing "often" without "t". I'm not in any way opposed to saying "bomber" as "bommer". I don't have the nerve to pronounce "thought" as "thor-GH-t". I'm not in a position to criticize the way native speakers use English. I, as a non-native speaker, simply follow the commonly used ways.

But, folks, I don't have the nerve to say "feb-yoo-ary". I just can't. I don't know how the heck the pronunciation gained ground among so many native speakers. How can you ignore the "r" that sits firmly in the middle of the word? Besides, Febuary, oops, February is the month when I was born. It's a very special month for me. So, I cannot help respecting every single letter in the word. I cannot give the lovely r-chan a hard time.

I would continue to pronounce "February" as "feb-roo-ary" even if the rest of the world found it funny. Maybe.

November 11, 2003

MT-Blacklist

I woke up to find my blog spammed badly. 62 pervy comment spams from the same IP address. What a mess.... Do I have to delete the dirty stuff one by one? That's nothing sweet to start a day. Thanks for giving me extra work to do in the morning, you f---ing bastard.

As I wrote here the other day, I was using a neat hack called Avoid Comment Spam, which had been working pretty well. Even with that, naturally though, I received a few spamming comments like every two days. That was OK with me, as long as the number was not so outrageous. I simply deleted the garbage manually, and added the URLs to the list.

No big deal. No. Really. Until this morning. At least. Wow.

Deleting 62 nasty comments at a time makes you go ballistic, you know, even for a person of mild manner and gentle humor like me. Oh, you didn't laugh, did you? ;) Yeah, I knew there's a better solution called MT-Blacklist. With this plugin, you can manage comment spams more easily, and don't have to take the time to delete spams manually. But since the plugin couldn't be used without the Storable.pm thing installed on the server, which happened to be just my case, all I could do was look enviously at the program.

To my joy, I had recently found that the newest version didn't necessarily require the module. I, however, didn't install it since it's still a beta version AND, as I said, thanks to the hack I'd used, I hadn't felt comment spam so nasty - until this morning. Deleting the comments one by one with still sleepy eyes, I decided to bring in the plugin. And it's been installed all right now. Boy, it's a really great program!

Oh, come to think of it, the morning's fuss has brought about today's entry. Sounds lucky, doesn't it? :) So, thank you, Underage and Preteen, you f....

November 10, 2003

Monday

The cold-like something seems to be gone now, and I feel much better than I did last week. But I have to stay on my toes. The first snow of the season came to my town at last. I should admit it's officially winter here. The air is obviously different, I mean, that of winter. Although the snow melted away soon, I'd better change tires before it's too late. Yeah, it's winter, and this is just about the time of year when I wish to be in Australia. Maybe I'll think about putting the idea into practice when I get much older, when my wife's joke of "You'd die" wouldn't sound like a joke any more. ;)

Mwhaha, it's the first Monday post in a long while. ;)

November 8, 2003

Feeling Sick

I haven't been feeling well for the past couple of days. I may have a cold. In fact, I'm a frequent cold catcher. If there were a how-easily-can-you-catch-a-cold contest or something, I'd be a likely winner. Ha-ha, not really.

The seasons are changing and the temperatures are getting colder. Winter is coming, steadily, onward, closer. Argh! There was a snowfall somewhere in Hokkaido yesterday, though not in my town. My wife likes to pull my leg saying, "Oh my, you'd die staying long in this cold!"

I think I'd better spend this weekend relaxing at home. Have a nice one, folks.

November 7, 2003

Hair-Raising?

If you want to have a good laugh now, go read this column. What a lucky guy I am to not have to worry about my hairline, and to be able to look in the mirror simply wondering, "Am I a handsome guy or what?" I have to thank my father and grandpas for giving me this durable hair. Oh, but seems like they also gave me the height genes that left much to be desired....

November 5, 2003

Onsen Ryokan

Staying at an onsen ryokan is undoubtedly one of the most popular pastimes in Japan.

There are big baths that are open 24 hours a day in those hotels. You may be surprised at certain things when you go there for the first time.

Here are a couple of things to note (for men):

You are supposed to drape your washcloth in front to cover your you-know-what while walking. It's not a must, but a matter of modesty. Actually, some guys walk around without hiding themselves as if they don't mind showing off their grand or tiny possessions to the eyes of others.

Some oba-chans (middle-aged or older women) may walk into the men's dressing room. You'd better pretend not to be freaked to see a woman there; they don't care, either. They are cleaning women. They simply do their jobs. But what if an oji-chan (the other sex of oba-chan) walked into the women's....

November 4, 2003

Akan

For the weekend, we went to Lake Akan to enjoy the beautiful scenery and stay at an onsen ryokan (a Japanese-style hotel with hot spring facilities). It was just terrific. We drove and walked a lot around in this National Park. Though I've lived in Hokkaido for more than 40 years, there are a lot of places that I've never visited. 北海道はでっかいどー (Hokkaido wa dekkai do: Hokkaido is huge. - an often heard expression about Hokkaido with a lame Japanese pun included).

Lake akan and mt. oakan-dake

Lake Akan and Mt. Oakan-dake. "Oakan" means "male Akan." Naturally, there is another mountain called "Meakan", female Akan.

a stone monument

Don't ask me what is written on the stone monument. I don't usually read this kind of Japanese writing in cursive letters.

Lake Onneto

Lake Onneto. It can be the most beautiful lake in Hokkaido. Marvelous.