Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why I hate (or love?) the Japanese language

And the reason for this, can be summed up one, simple, first-year's student kanji:

Yes. Ki. As of yet, even though there are other terrible kanji such as 鬱 out there, no Japanese character has given me more trouble than the one printed just right up there. And I will explain.

Lets see, one dictionary defines Ki as "目には見えないが、場所を満たしている何ものか。空気・ガスや人知を超えた霊妙なものなど。

Or, in more English terms "something you can't see, but is present in a certain place. Air, gas, or a strange thing that is beyond human understanding"

So, kinda like energy, but not really. It's like that force in the air, whether existing or not, that binds us all and keeps up going as livings beings. I'll just keep referring to it as "ki".

This is one of the first kanji we learn as first year students, and for good reason. Ki seems to be a character which it seeming to be the basis of all Japanese thoughts and ideas. As learners of Japanese, ki becomes a central component of some very key beginners phrases. Such as:

気をつける to be careful, or to watch out.
Literally translated as "to attach a Ki".

Very useful phrase! As you might say this to a friend who is leaving to go back home, when someone is trying to do something new, any time, this is a very polite request to tell someone as ”気をつけてください”

So us first year students learn this phrase, and we're thinking 気 is a pretty cool little idea that the Japanese have come up with. Then, we get some more little "useful" phrases that involve 気.

気が付く to realize
or, literally, "A 気 has been attached"
Very similar to our previous phrase, only the difference between the transitive and intransitive verb. But it's still really useful, and used all the time, so we are happy to learn it. But, as learners of Japanese, we're not done with 気 just yet:

気になる To be concerned
Literally "to become 気".

This isn't bad, I'm still keeping up with this whole 気 thing. Then we get these two little bombshells:

気がする to have a feeling
気にする to become concerned
Both can be literally translated as "to do a 気”.
気にする and 気になる have very similar meanings, the difference being with the former, you are making an active choice to become concerned about something, where as with the latter, it's more out of your control.

So, now we have 6 phrases, involving 気、all of which are extremely popular in everyday usage. It's a little tough to keep them straight at first, but with practice, you get used to them, and become able to actively use them. And that's a good feeling. But, to think that you have mastered the Japanese notion of 気 would be a grave mistake. Lets take a look at some other 気 words:

気が合う to get along with someone

気がある To have in interest, or inclining in someone (something)

気が多い Constantly switching interests or concerns, fickle.

気が急ぐ Hasty, make a quick judgement

気が置けない easy to get along with, not needing reserve

気が重い depressed, bummed out, things didn't go how you planned and you're sad :(

気が勝つ strong willed or determined!!

気が利く to be sensible, or thoughtful

気が腐る things didn't go your way, and you're whiny and upset

気が差す to feel uneasy, worry about something (is this different from 気になる??)

気が沈む Something bad happens, and you become depressed

気が知れない Someone does something, and you can't understand why!

気が済む to be satisfied

気が進まない To be reluctant, or not inclined to

気が遠くなる To become overwhelmed, exhausted

気が咎める Feel guilty, suffer from a guilty conscience

気が抜ける To be let down, saddened

気が散る To get distracted, jump off track

気が早い To be hasty, impatient

気が張る To feel nervous

気が引ける You feel inferior and can't act straight

気がふれる They way an elderly person would say 気が狂う

気が狂う To become crazy

気が回る To be very attentive to small details

気が短い To be impatient, quickly to lose your temper

気が長い To be patient, keep your temper

気がもめる Wanted to quickly solve the issue, not being able to act calmly

気が若い Young at heart :)

気で気を痛む Worrying about everything out of anxiety

気で持つ Holding out, especially during rough or extreme times

気に入る To take a liking to something

気にかかる to be worried about

気に食わない Unable to stomach, to hate something

気に障る (さわる) In an uncontrollable uneasiness, and hiding it away

気に染まない Your ideas or actions don't match up well to the one you're interacting with

気に止める taking something and committing it to memory 

気に痛む to be really worried or anxious about something

気の良い人 A good person

気の毒 poor, pitiful

気のせい An act of your imagination

気は心 "it's the thought that counts"

気まぐれ fickle, moody, uneven tempered

気もそぞろ Something has been snatched away from your heart, and you can't concentrate on other things

気を入れる To be earnest, apply one's self

気を失う To lose consciousness

気を落とす to be discouraged or disheartened

気を変える To change one's mind

気を兼ねる To use reservation, and, say, not do something you want to do

気を静める To compose one's self, calm yourself

気を持たせる To encourage someone, or raise someone's hopes

気を確かに持つ To stand up to fear or uneasiness, and do your best!

気を強くする To support yourself on something, and strengthen your drive 

気を取られる to have one's attention caught, be preoccupied

気を使う To think ahead and act accordingly

気をのまれる To be overcome with someone's influence, and submit to it

気を晴らす To become cheered up

気を張る to be nervous about something you're doing

気を引く To attract someone's attention

気を紛らす Trying to escape something you are doing

気を回す read too much into things, let the imagination run wild

気をもむ To think about many kinda of bad situations, and become worried

気を許す To let one's guard down

気をよくする To think everything's going your way :)

気を楽にする To get rid of nervousness, and calm down

So, did you memorize all those? All phrases that are used, I'm not sure how commonly, but they all have various meanings. I think it's really interesting how such a big part of the language is influenced by the idea of manipulating this "Ki" that runs through each of our bodies, but any way you look at it, it makes the language a little tougher to keep straight.

And actually, I've been wanting to compile a list like this for a long time now, so I'm glad i finally got the chance. Oh, and if any of my little "translations" seem off, please let me know! It was tough getting concrete definitions for some of these phrases....And if anyone can think of more Ki words, I would love to add them to this list and try to make it as long as possible!

Until then,


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hi everyone!

So its been about 3 months since I have written anything that can be even thought upon as substantial in this blog, which I really regret, but really nothing completely amazing has been happening recently, so any blog updates that I would post here would probably consist of "today I decided to have turkey on my bagel sandwich. Tomorrow might be roast beef" which in it's own right might be interesting, but having a sandwich blog isn't exactly where I want to see this blog headed.

But that's not to say that things won't get more interesting in the coming weeks and months. Since September I've been working a great internship at the Japan America Society of Minnesota as the membership coordinator, which has been a great experience. I had no idea that Minnesota even had a Japanese Community, and I have come to learn that, yes, indeed, we really don't. Well I guess they're there, but the number is so very very small, so my responsibilities don't extend to much farther than 150 members, but it's still fun. I don't want to ramble on about exactly what the organization does, so I think I'd just like to talk about the activities we're doing little by little.

This Saturday we will be holding the 11th Annual Mondale Award and Scholarship Dinner. It's a big fancy dinner event at a big grand hotel ballroom to honor someone who has made great achievements in US-Japan relations. It's also named for former Vice-President under the Carter administration, former Minnesota Senator, unsuccessful Democratic nominee for president in 1984, and former US Ambassador to Japan: Walter Mondale, who will also be presiding. I'll discuss more about that event after it happens, with pictures! Look forward to that!

Starting in January, I will be starting the online animation school Animation Mentor, where you are paired up with a professional animator in the industry and basically learn how to be a better animator. So I also look forward to posting my progress on that too. It's not film school program like, say, the Vancouver Film School (in which by the way my good buddy Michael Eurek is currently enrolled, and is currently doing a great a great job, check him out, this guy's going places!) That program seems to give you a well rounded background on all the aspects of creating an animated film which finally culminates the the student creating just that, but Animation Mentor focuses just on animation.

So anyways, that's been Alex the past couple months. I've also been drawing a lot trying to get better at that, and also studying for a Japanese Proficiency Exam in December. Talk to you all later!! I leave you with battleship Yamato:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hi everyone

It's beautiful day today. I think I'll go for a bike ride.