died in the wool ______

To have no set purpose in one's life is the harlotry of the will -Stephen Mackenna-

Monday, January 17, 2005

phun phonetics

I was hanging out with someone who lives in Taiwan this weekend. He speaks, German, Mandarin, French, and English. No Japanese, but he of course understands all the kanji. It was so funny (and how similar to my own) to see his reaction to some of the place names in Japanese. As we were traveling around, he just about fell down laughing as we boarded a train bound for Abiko. Now, Abiko literally means 'My grandchild'. But Japanese people never think about the real meaning of the word itself. As I have to work today and didn't have time to show him around, I was trying to tell him places to go in Tokyo that would be fun. I said go to Yokohama. Most people know yokohama, but when I tried to tell him to use the Tokkaido sen, that would obviously be hard. We ended up communicating place names like that through the meanings of the kanji in English, like take the east ocean road line to Yokohama. Then come back and take the mountain hand line to Akihabara. Reminds me of my own experience in Korea. Looking at station names was just a blur of hangul, vowels, and consanants. If I had the Kanji, I had something to go from.


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