It’s been… a while, hasn’t it?

Hello, こんにちは, שלום, 你们好, Bles op!

I had been planning to post for quite some time, but the past semester has been a hectic one, with all manner of things happening in my mind and out.

To start things off, I started learning Mandarin! The Confucius Institute on campus holds classes. It was fun! Hard, but fun. The various intonations makes it hard to catch the exact pronunciations, being a pictographic language, you have to memorise the pronunciations of various meaning-based characters without the sound-based characters of Japanese and letters of English, Patwa, and Hebrew.

But in some ways, it’s easier for me as a student of Japanese. Some of the Mandarin words look exactly like their Japanese (kanji) equivalents. For example: 学生 (student), 第 (the word for ordinal numbers; -st, -nd, -th…), 人, and the numbers 一, 二, 三, 四…

And then there are Mandarin words whose meanings familiar to me just because they were part of Japanese words: 高 (gao; tall), 在 (zai; in/at/to be located), 再 (zai; again), 来 (lai; come, future), 不 (bu; not), 的 (de; adjectival marker [in Mandarin, it means ‘of’ as well; it’s pronounced teki in Japanese, where it’s the ending of some adjectives]). The fact that many of these have the same/similar pronunciation in some Japanese words helps a lot. Japanese not only borrowed the characters from Chinese, but some of their pronunciations as well, though these became Japanized: 高, gao to kou. (And there are a few Chinese words that have at least slightly different meanings from the Japanese words I knew: 好 [hao] means ‘good’, while 好き [suki] means ‘fond of’.)

Looking at Chinese characters, you might wonder how anyone sits down to write all of them. I think that may have been why Chinese characters sort of evolved to more Simplified forms over time. Japanese kanji, on the other hand, has kept using Traditional Chiese characters. It’s very cool because Japanese words that I just never could write in kanji I can write in Mandarin with little problem: Like 马 (ma; horse), which the Japanese still write as 馬 (uma), and 饭 (fan; food, cooked rice), which corresponds to Japanese ご飯 (gohan)/飯 (meshi).

What was also kind of fun was my teacher mentioning Avatar: The Last Airbender, and its reference to Chinese ideology, in the class. She hadn’t even noticed that Princess Yue‘s name had borrowed from the Chinese word 月 (yue), which means ‘moon’. (I assume because of the American accents of the voice actors?)

Anyway… I had a busy semester with preparing classes and going to this Chinese class and doing my other bits of odd jobs. But I have not forgotten you, my dear readers! Never!

I don’t think I told you I’m a tutor of Japanese at the university, am I? Well, I am, and it’s my favourite job in all of… ever. This past semester has been a learning experience and I intend to to a better job next semester. よし!

And, if all goes well, I’ll be doing some JSL interpreting training as well. More info on that later. So… fingers crossed and all that jazz.

My dear friend Y in Israel sent me a lovely little piece of Middle-Easter culture, with the iconic Hebrew word חי (chai), meaning ‘life’ on it, a hamsa (חמסה):


Well… that’s all I shall report for now. Perhaps I will share a bit more in another post. See ya!

This entry was posted in JSL, 日本語, 汉语, עברית and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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