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 Post subject: Re: Apathy or Contentment
Post #41 Posted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 4:08 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
Quite a few PhD theses have been written on Japanese transliterations of western words and it's easy to overlook how long they have been a major part of the modern language (though not all Japanese understand the words, by any means).


Jeez, what do I know? I haven't studied Japanese for like 10 years, so I guess I shouldn't be giving any tips. My thoughts about transliteration were based on personal feeling, and not a hard-and-fast rule - certainly not a PhD thesis.

According to Wikipedia:
Quote:
As far as possible, sounds in the source language are matched to the nearest sounds in the Japanese language, and the result is transcribed using standard katakana characters, each of which represents one syllable (strictly mora).


That being said, maybe the reason I felt so strongly about the pronunciation is that I have a hard time believing a serious attempt was made to match literal pronunciation for many words. Then again, maybe it's my American perspective - I can't speak for how things sound to a native British English speaker. It appeared much more feasible that there was some automatic rule based on spelling. Maybe in the early days they just figured out how to translate the "Japanese sound" for a particular foreign word and went with it (maybe from latin or british english, or some other variant of English that sounds unnatural to me).

Regardless, in my opinion, native pronunciation is a better way to go, and I'm happy when words are made that way. English itself is a mess, with various pronunciations around the globe.

I maintain, however, that the translation of McDonald's sounds nothing like the original "American version" of the word - it's a mouthful (maybe British people think differently). Virus, is even worse - to me the japanese pronunciation sounds like "we-roo-su" - can you seriously get "virus" from that if you never heard the word in Japanese before?!? Most "English" words written in Katakana are very hard to understand, at least for an American, if you haven't studied Japanese.

Maybe my interpretation is too American, I'll admit. But I experienced the same end of frustration that Bill did when I was living in Sendai, even with easier words. When I first came to Japan, knowing nothing of the language, I had a hard time understanding what someone was saying even for the simple word, "volunteer" - I thought he was saying "brunch" or something, and he was getting frustrated since it was in English. Admittedly, in Japan, it's my problem to be able to understand the Japanese way to pronounce English words. But that pronunciation is, nonetheless, quite different from what I'm used to. I don't blame anyone for it - it's just a different way of pronouncing things.

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 Post subject: Re: Apathy or Contentment
Post #42 Posted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 5:01 pm 
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BlindGroup wrote:
FWIW, three hopefully encouraging thoughts:


Thank you, BlindGroup, for your encouraging words.

BlindGroup wrote:
1. Given all you and your family have been through recently, just having gotten to a point where you are sufficiently satisfied with life that you are concerned about being complacent seems like quite an achievement.


I agree. The fact that I can complain on L19 about something this trivial must mean that I've been given a lot of blessings, lately.


BlindGroup wrote:
2. You seem to be using the words "satisfied", "content", and "complacent" synonymously. I'd argue that the first two are a bit different than the third. The third connotes a will-full unawareness to a threat or opportunity. I think one can be satisfied without blinding oneself to either. Complacency is not just satisfaction, but satisfaction as an indulgence. That hardly seems to describe your state of mind.


That's a good point. This feeling might have arisen since I feel somehow that I should pursue some sort of goal. I don't have a real goal right now, so I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels. I have some routines (I do study somewhat consistently, and I've been exercising), but I don't have a particular direction I'm aiming for.

Given how wrong I've been about katakana, maybe I should make it a goal to brush up on Japanese, again :-p

BlindGroup wrote:
3. A friend who is a therapist once told me that he laughs (inwardly of course) when clients come in concerned that they may be narcissists. As he put it, a true narcissist would never worry about being narcissistic. I think similarly, someone worried about being complacent is not likely to be complacent. Complacent people would never do that. ;-)


I mostly agree with your friend. I have to wonder if there are varying degrees to narcissism, though, even in that case, having concern about your level of narcissism is in itself not very narcissistic :-)

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 Post subject: Re: Apathy or Contentment
Post #43 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:16 am 
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Virus, is even worse - to me the japanese pronunciation sounds like "we-roo-su" - can you seriously get "virus" from that if you never heard the word in Japanese before?!?


You are still in the America-is-the-world mindset. The Japanese word came from Latin (dictionaries like Kojien tell you this), where weeroos is how it's pronounced (cf. wenny weedie, wicky).

Bring back Latin to schools, I say! I had an impression that Latin was making a big comeback in the USA. That impression comes from the number of very large (and good) Latin primers by American scholars on sale in bookshops here. But maybe they are being used here and not in the USA?

English speakers murder Japanese words, too, don't forget. How about hari-kari, karioki (which is half English to start with), ickybahna, Kigh-oto Protocol, wasAHbi, etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Apathy or Contentment
Post #44 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 2:09 am 
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The japanese pronunciation of Mc Donald's sounds "closer" to the UK pronunciation than to the US one.

https://www.angmohdan.com/how-do-you-say-mcdonalds/

When Tamu first met Kyasurin, he thought she was a bakkushaan but after they had a koohii zeri at the makudonarudo he changed his mind and she became his hasto rabu.


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 Post subject: Re: Apathy or Contentment
Post #45 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 4:12 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
Quote:
Virus, is even worse - to me the japanese pronunciation sounds like "we-roo-su" - can you seriously get "virus" from that if you never heard the word in Japanese before?!?


You are still in the America-is-the-world mindset. The Japanese word came from Latin (dictionaries like Kojien tell you this), where weeroos is how it's pronounced (cf. wenny weedie, wicky).

Bring back Latin to schools, I say! I had an impression that Latin was making a big comeback in the USA. That impression comes from the number of very large (and good) Latin primers by American scholars on sale in bookshops here. But maybe they are being used here and not in the USA?

English speakers murder Japanese words, too, don't forget. How about hari-kari, karioki (which is half English to start with), ickybahna, Kigh-oto Protocol, wasAHbi, etc.


Hmm, saying "virus" in English doesn't sound anything like the Japanese equivalent isn't necessarily American mindset, IMO. I'm not complaining about ズボン, for example. Nobody is expressing frustration with me in Japan that I don't know ズボン, because there's no expectation that it comes from English.

My point is that in the supposed English words, I've had people expect that I understand the word since it's clearly an "English word".

Latin != English

As I alluded to earlier, it's a Japanese word, and they can get it from wherever they want - there's no reason that any word should attempt to resemble English. But ウイルス doesn't sound like an English word, even if it came from Latin.

To be perfectly clear, I have no expectation that any Japanese word *should* sound like an English word or a Latin word or anything else.

But it should, then, be known that many of these words do not sound like English, American or otherwise, lest you have folks that get frustrated with Bill and me when we don't understand what coffee jelly is.

To be sure, it's the foreigner's task to learn the words of the language where they are living. But the so-called "English" Japanese words aren't necessarily any easier (and in fact are often harder) to learn than, say, some kanji-based word native to Japanese.

I'll put it simply: I've met people in Japan that assume I'll understand a word because it's "English", when in fact, the word sounds nothing like what I'm familiar with. It's not a problem with the word - it's a problem with assumptions.

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 Post subject: Re: Apathy or Contentment
Post #46 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:57 am 
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Kirby wrote:
That being said, maybe the reason I felt so strongly about the pronunciation is that I have a hard time believing a serious attempt was made to match literal pronunciation for many words. Then again, maybe it's my American perspective - I can't speak for how things sound to a native British English speaker. It appeared much more feasible that there was some automatic rule based on spelling. Maybe in the early days they just figured out how to translate the "Japanese sound" for a particular foreign word and went with it (maybe from latin or british english, or some other variant of English that sounds unnatural to me).

In my (also parochial) experience, English (and some other Western European languages) tends to import foreign words by keeping their spelling but often changing their pronunciation to match English norms, while non-Western languages tend to import foreign words by roughly keeping their sound, then changing the spelling to match it. When I was in Indonesia I was regularly surprised at the spellings (still in the Latin alphabet!) of imported English words, until I realized that this was what was going on.

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 Post subject: Re: Apathy or Contentment
Post #47 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:13 am 
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dfan wrote:
non-Western languages tend to import foreign words by roughly keeping their sound


Sure, I learned that about Japanese in this thread.

But I guess one point is that "keeping their sound" is very ambiguous since language pronunciation changes across geography and time. Apparently the Latin for "virus", in this case, has some remote semblance to the Japanese version of the word, but it'll be totally different for the various variants of English. That's somewhat expected given the many different versions of pronunciations of words, but:

1.) I don't believe it's consistent for katakana - it'll depend on when the word was adopted into Japanese.

2.) There shouldn't be any assumption that an English speaker will pronounce or understand a random "English" word based on pronunciation in katakana. It'd be like me getting frustrated with someone from Mexico when they can't understand my pronunciation of tortilla. Nothing wrong with the word, but I may pronounce it differently than a native speaker of Spanish.

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 Post subject: Re: Apathy or Contentment
Post #48 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:15 pm 
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jlt wrote:
The japanese pronunciation of Mc Donald's sounds "closer" to the UK pronunciation than to the US one.

https://www.angmohdan.com/how-do-you-say-mcdonalds/

When Tamu first met Kyasurin, he thought she was a bakkushaan but after they had a koohii zeri at the makudonarudo he changed his mind and she became his hasto rabu.

;)

Vidi, vici, veni.

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Post #49 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:25 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
English speakers murder Japanese words, too, don't forget. How about hari-kari, karioki (which is half English to start with),


Kara is OK?

Quote:
ickybahna, Kigh-oto Protocol, wasAHbi, etc.


Don't forget Sue-baroo.

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Post #50 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:38 pm 
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Kirby wrote:
It'd be like me getting frustrated with someone from Mexico when they can't understand my pronunciation of tortilla. Nothing wrong with the word, but I may pronounce it differently than a native speaker of Spanish.

(Emphasis mine.)

Once I overheard a woman telling about her frustration trying to buy some vanilla beans in Mexico. (It had long been difficult to buy the beans in the US.) She couldn't make herself understood to the shopkeeper. She even tried frijoles de vanilla pronouncing vanilla as in English. I didn't have the heart to tell her the he probably would have understood if she had written it down. It's vainilla in Spanish.

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 Post subject: Re: Apathy or Contentment
Post #51 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 2:05 pm 
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I was lost in Mexico a few years ago, and I know hardly any Spanish. I tried asking where the airport was, and got that it must be air puerto or something. Needless to say, I wasn't communicating. I ended up using my arms to pretend I had wings, and said "woosh"!

Somehow they understood that.

Anyway, this thread has been educational to me. I had mistakenly assumed up until now that katakana for foreign words was based on spelling since the sound doesn't seem familiar to me for any type of English word.

It's cool to know that some attempt is made to match pronunciation of some type - maybe Latin in some cases.

But I guess it's futile in some cases, since some pronunciations just don't sound alike. I guess people should expect these differences, even when they think they know a word in a different language.

If nothing else works, you can always resort to flapping your arms about to make a point, like I did in Mexico. At the very least, you get some good exercise.

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Post #52 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 4:50 pm 
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Hi Kirby,
Quote:
I had mistakenly assumed up until now that katakana for foreign words was based on spelling since the sound doesn't seem familiar to me for any type of English word.
I assume (I could be wrong) you're more proficient in Korean than in Japanese. I also assume (could be wrong) that the Korean language also tends to borrow foreign terms based on the original pronunciation, is it true, in general ?

I'd say I have a sort of opposite experience: that I find many borrowed terms in Japanese that sound very much like the foreign terms (which native language purists would complain about).

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Post #53 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 5:15 pm 
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EdLee wrote:
Hi Kirby,
Quote:
I had mistakenly assumed up until now that katakana for foreign words was based on spelling since the sound doesn't seem familiar to me for any type of English word.
I assume (I could be wrong) you're more proficient in Korean than in Japanese. I also assume (could be wrong) that the Korean language also tends to borrow foreign terms based on the original pronunciation, is it true, in general ?

I'd say I have a sort of opposite experience: that I find many borrowed terms in Japanese that sound very much like the foreign terms (which native language purists would complain about).


Hi Ed,
I'd say that, in total number of hours, I've studied Korean more than Japanese. My kids speak Korean with my wife sometimes, so I get indirect study there, too.

But I studied Japanese first, with much more intensity- I tried a lot harder to learn Japanese than I tried to learn Korean. I also lived in Japan for a year while I was studying like that, which makes things much easier. Max I've been in Korea was about 3 months at a time (but we visit about once a year).

Since I studied Japanese starting from basic level, I have more foundational feeling - I have some more gaps in basics with Korean. But I'm better at conversation in Korean, and know more words.

For both languages, I speak much better when I'm slightly drunk (I care less about making mistakes then).

All that said, I don't really study foreign language at all these days. I have hard enough time being consistent with go. I haven't been serious about Japanese since 2005, and probably not with Korean since before my son was sick in 2016.

Language is still interesting to me, but I have no strong purpose to study right now. I see inlaws once a year, and get to speak Japanese maybe at the US Go Congress. In those cases, it's kind of a novelty, but not that practically useful.

If I do study again, I'd probably want some sort of goal:
1.) JLPT N1 or something? In 2005, there were 4 levels and not 5, but I only made it to 2k. Besides, my wife is 1k and we are a little competitive with one another ;-)

2.) A Korean proficiency test, perhaps?

3.) I'm slightly interested in learning Mandarin Chinese, just because it's fun to learn from square one - you're learning a lot of cool stuff when you first start a language... I started looking into this a bit, but I still don't even have pronunciation of pinyin down, yet.

The good thing about #3 is that there are more native Chinese speakers I know that I interact with on a daily basis (2 people on my team where I work now).

But all of this is just talk, really. I e made no effort with language lately, so I'd have to feel inspired to work toward one of these goals.

In the meantime, I'm trying to have some consistency at least with exercise and go... which reminds me, I have to play a game now.

I'll be back in the study journal thread after I play a game, to give a review.

I hope I win.

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Post #54 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 5:29 pm 
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For both languages, I speak much better when I'm slightly drunk (I care less about making mistakes then).
:)
Also when you're on live with the BBC, make sure you know the whereabouts of the little ones. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Apathy or Contentment
Post #55 Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:23 am 
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Hehe, yeah, I saw that video.

Funny stuff!

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