2.28.2006

Koreans in China



A while ago, I met a guy from China who told me that he was ethnic Korean. He spoke Mandarin and what I assume is Yanbianese, since Wikipedia says: "the Korean language Yanbianese use is purely in Hangul [Korean script], without any Hanja [Chinese characters]. Like peninsular Korean language, Yanbianese Korean has Western punctuation, and not Chinese." He also spoke English and Japanese, because he was studying in the U.S. while taking a break from his university in Japan. In other words, he spoke four languages, two fluently and two others very well! An enviable situation!

He said he was from Northeast China, and I forgot where he said, but I'm assuming it's Jilin province, where there's the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture:

In the 19th century, many Korean immigrants migrated en masse from the Korea Peninsula to China. After the foundation of the Republic of China, a second wave arrived. The population increase was caused by a Japanese invasion in that region. The Japanese were trying to use Korean immigration to diffuse the staying power of Chinese in that region. After the end of World War II, many Koreans in China did not go back to Korea, even though their country has been granted independence. Instead, they joined the Chinese Civil War and were mobilized by communist leader Mao Zedong to fight against the Chinese Nationalist army. As a reward for their involvement, the Communist Party gave Koreans their own autonomous prefecture inside China and divided the land of Han Chinese among the cooperating Koreans.

Interesting. :)

2.26.2006

Try again?

I've mentioned the Japanese test I was preparing for and took in December, and it looked like I did as badly as I thought: I didn't pass. But it wasn't like it was a surprise--the test was HARD! Surprisingly, a weak area was the listening section, which is usually people's strongest area, and should have been mine. But I guess I wasn't in test-mode when I was listening to the tape during the test; I was just listening to understand the dialogue instead of focusing in on the task. Also, I haven't lived or been to Japan since the early 90's, which explains why people online say that the listening is easy for them--they're usually living there, or have just returned from there. And I'm amazed I survived that three-hour-plus test, and wouldn't doubt it if most of the people in the room didn't pass either.

So I'm wondering if I should study hard for it again, and risk failing again. At least it gives me a goal in my studies; if I didn't have a test to take at the end of the year, I would be a Japanese-studying blob. Even if I fail this year, which I shouldn't, I can remain focused for next year. As I've also said before, I hadn't taken a test in over six years when I took the Japanese test, so I wasn't used to zipping through everything to beat the clock. There were several questions and reading passages that only a highly-trained robot could ace in such a short amount of time.

I still am receiving my Yookoso mailing lists that contain kanji (Japanese characters) and grammar, and I've been ignoring them for a couple of months, so they've been piling up in my email inbox. Now I have to start the memorization game to be able to survive this year's test, which I most likely will attempt again.

2.24.2006

Online Danish dictionary

Mahndisa had a post about finding out what her last name "Rigmaiden" means, which "is closely related to the Danish term Rigmanden, which means 'The rich man'. (In Danish -en is added to a term to indicate the article 'the')" and provided a link to an online Danish dictionary.

In the post she also calls me a scholar, and I'm definitely not one (!). I would say some other people on my blog list are. I'm just interested in different stuff, and can hardly discuss or understand some of the scholarly discussions going on out there.

2.23.2006

Lee the philosopher

While I'm waiting for my laundry to be done, I've been watching a show about Bruce Lee. I'm not into martial arts, so I didn't understand what the big deal is about him. Now I see that he was a philosopher. I'm sure millions of people realized this a long time before I did, since he has so many fans, even though he's been dead for more than 30 years. What a tragedy that he was murdered, and at such a young age! I don't agree that self-actualization is the end-all-be-all, but I can see the importance of it within the context of the martial arts.

The only movie I've seen of his is Enter the Dragon, which I've seen a few times. I think the first time I saw it was in China, back in the early 90's. Or was it Hong Kong? I don't remember. But by that time, I had already spent a few years in Japan and was beginning several months of traveling through other Asian countries, thus I could see the balance that he achieved between East and West. If I had first seen that movie in the U.S. before I went to Asia, I wouldn't have appreciated it as much. If I had seen it after I got back to the U.S., it would have just been a reminder of my distant experiences. But I saw it in the midst of my Asian life, so I felt like I really saw the Asian style, and I haven't forgotten that initial impact since then.

My impression of it had nothing to do with martial arts or his philosophy or his career or anything. I didn't know anything about him. It was all about the way he was able to bring both his Asian and Western sensibilities to the big screen. I can't think of another movie that blends those so well. Awesome!

2.20.2006

Survived

Well, I survived the radio gig. It was exciting but also terrifying because I had to do the technical stuff as well as the announcing, and there was no one around to help me if anything went wrong because it was an official holiday (Presidents' Day). If I had any questions, I could call someone, but it wasn't like they could come to the studio to bail me out of any disasters.

I think this was one of the most challenging things I've ever done. Considering that I have no formal training and have worked in the biz for under two months, in a totally non-technical, off-air capacity (promotions), I think I did pretty well. Now the next challenge is to put together a decent presentation for an upcoming English as a Second/Foreign Language conference.

When I started this blog, not a lot of exciting stuff was happening, if at all, but now life is full of adventure and measurable accomplishments. Maybe I'll even end up writing for publication, under my own name (instead of ghostwriting/editing for other people). If I can maneuver radio gigs, then surely I can get something in the Publishing Industrial Complex (PIC). :)

2.19.2006

Where I'll be

I've been so busy I forgot to post where I'll be on the air tomorrow (Monday): here from 6 am to 10 am. Just click on "Listen Live" and you'll be able to hear me towards the top and bottom of each hour. I'll be announcing the programs and doing the weather and a few other things. But overall, I'll be announcing. I'm hoping someday to be on a show, where I'll be able to be more freeform, but announcing is a good start, and better than never getting an on-air gig. I actually did some announcing on Friday, but as part of the regular guy's gig (I'm subbing for him tomorrow). Tomorrow is the Real Thing, all by myself. :(

2.16.2006

Hard to easy

Sometimes I have to translate stuff with words I don't know or content I'm not familiar with. At those times, I wonder what I'm doing and if I'm going to survive. But I get the project done and feel good about it, though tired out. I recently completed such a project that wasn't rocket science, but it was a challenge. Then I got another assignment and thought, "piece of cake!" because it was content that I was familiar with and contained words I'd learned already. Because the previous assignment was more difficult, it made me appreciate the easier one, and I could do the work with more confidence.

That's the great thing about translating: it can be painfully difficult, but once that challenge is overcome, it feels great and you can see the growth, as if you're training for a race and are building endurance. Which is why translating Spanish, Portuguese, and French seems relatively easy when compared to Japanese; a lot more brain power is required to translate Japanese's complicated concepts. I'm not saying that translating anything is easy, but translating certain languages can be hard on the brain because syntax, culture, grammar, vocab, etc. have to all be translated to communicate effectively. Translating between the "Western" languages doesn't require a huge leap, but traversing the language world from West to East can require a lot of baggage and tools.

2.14.2006

3:45

That's what time I had to wake up today and will wake up tomorrow: 3:45 AM (or 3:30 if I want to enjoy breakfast). I need to leave my place by 4:30 AM to get to the station in time for training. Unbelievably, I'm not very tired right now. But I wonder what tomorrow morning will be like. Most likely cold and dark and full of sleepiness. It's dark now and it will be dark when I wake up because 3:30 is still in the middle of the night. People get home from partying at 3:30!

2.12.2006

Fine now


I've been working long hours all weekend, in addition to other stuff that's popped up, so I'm totally tired and am not expecting a day off until next Sunday. So imagine my delight when I turned on the telly and saw the inspector. What a pleasant end to a busy weekend.

Unfortunately, I found out too late that he's in Bleak House, which I haven't been watching. I missed the first episode and thought I could start watching the series from the second one, but there are so many characters to follow in the complex plot that I couldn't keep up, so I gave up.

Oh the humanity! Why did they have to create a too-stylish series based on a complicated story? To shut us simpletons out? To punish us for not watching the premiere? Now I'll have to wait until PBS runs it again, which might not be for months. How will I survive until then? We need that fine British import--he's too hot to store across the ocean!

2.11.2006

Word work effects

Right now, the work I'm doing isn't word-oriented, ie, I'm not spending hours in front of the computer editing, writing, or translating. But when I have a big project that has to be completed ASAP, I notice I end up trying to edit other aspects of life.

For instance, let's say I've spent four hours doing intense word stuff on the computer, and I decide to take a break and walk around outside. Since I live in a relatively populated area (compared to sleepy suburbs, not Manhattan), I find that I try to correct the people around me, as if they're also words that need to be fixed.

For instance, let's say some goofball is walking down the street and is yelling bizarre stuff to passersby. Usually I would consider him as part of the urban wallpaper, and move along. But after hours of word work, I am tempted to walk up to him and set him straight, as if he's some kind of typo or weakly translated word that needs correction.

More examples and thoughts later. I have a very long non-word workday ahead of me.

2.09.2006

Ferengi and farangi

I was telling someone that I think that Quark is my favorite character on DS9 because the actor conveys the character's complexity and depth. Then we were talking about Ferengi, and my friend said that "farangi" (spelled a little differently but with the same sound) is the word for "foreigner" in Farsi (she studied it and had been to Iran). Then I realized that the Thai word for foreigner, farang, sounds similar. So what's the deal?

"One explanation for the origin of this word is that it is borrowed from the Persian word farang which means Frankish. Another explanation is that it derives from farangset, which is the Thai pronunciation of fran├žais, the French word for 'French' or 'Frenchman'...In Farsi, the word farangi refers to foreigners."

I guess it's all the traveling that the folks of yore did. Now similar things are happening, except we can travel virtually anywhere via the Internet, so it will be interesting to see how language continues to evolve that way.

By the way, someone who's way into DS9 compiled the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. Good to know that people have lots of time on their hands.

2.07.2006

Get the lead out

In the ESL class we were reading sentences that contained words that look the same but sound different (homographs), and saw this sentence: "He could lead if he would get the lead out."

I thought it was just a silly sentence until an American asked the class if they knew what that phrase meant. It was actually a phrase? I thought it was nonsensical. I had never heard it before. (It means "hurry up.") When I asked another American if they knew it, they said it was common. Really? Why hadn't I heard it before? I am a native speaker, after all, and thought I had encountered a lot of varieties of English.

Does anyone else think the phrase "get the lead out" is common?

2.06.2006

Typo in stone

Sometimes I hang out at Rick Kogan's show and was there yesterday to witness the last time that he will start his show at 6:30 am (now it's going to start at 7:00 am).

The studio is in the Tribune Tower, and it has a fancy lobby with expensive stone that has some profound quotes chiseled into it. Well, they made a mistake in that stone, and it looks funny, not fancy.

If you ever go there, walk inside and turn around to face the doors, and read the sentence above. The corrected "typo" is in this sentence: "And the danger of its protection by unfaithful OFFICIALS and of the impairment of the fundamental security of life and property by criminal alliances and official neglect."

It's in the word that I capitalized: officials. Originally, they forgot the "s" at the end of that word, and they added it later. You can tell because the spacing is off and it looks all unbalanced. It messes up the whole aesthetic of that Important Place. It's hilarious! It's no longer a fancy foyer but a sloppy one! Ha ha!

2.05.2006

Presidents' Day

Presidents' Day isn't happening until February 20, but it's going to be an important (or at least significant) day for me because I'll most likely be on the air in the morning. I'm just mentioning it now to prepare, and to wonder "out loud" if I should change my name on this blog because, just in case, people might be doing a search for my name and could arrive at this "incredible" site. Seriously, though, if things are going to progress via my offline name, then maybe I should mark the Web with it. I don't know what to do. Maybe I have to confer with someone who's already grappled with this issue.

2.03.2006

Very busy

Usually I have time to set aside to blog, write, or at least read a bunch of blogs, but lately I've been really busy, and when I've had down time, I've been too tired to use my brain. I still have some translations to finish, but I also have to work all day tomorrow from the early morning, and since I got only a few hours of sleep last night, I have to go to bed soon. Plus I've been doing "exciting" temping in addition to learning stuff at the radio station and going to Japanese classes and teaching and taking care of cleaning (sort of) and laundry (barely) and grocery shopping and exercising and whatever else is squeezed in between.

The solution is that since I'm transitioning into a new life, I have to prioritize. This is getting to be too much. I haven't been in this type of situation in a while, and since things were so predictably boring for a long time, I thought I could eventually handle whatever came my way, since it seemed that anything could be more exciting than what I was doing. But at this point, I feel like I have to try to keep the globe from spinning.

2.01.2006

I don't buy it

I've been watching Startrek: Deep Space Nine and must say that Dax ain't convincing. She's supposed to be this wise soul that has lived several lifetimes, but the actress doesn't pull it off--she's too shallow.

I found out that she's another model turned actress who is pretty but doesn't have the depth that her character is supposed to have. I guess looking pretty was enough for the Startrek folks. They think that all she has to do is stare, and the camera will take care of the rest. Well, sorry, I'm not looking at a magazine, I'm watching real people act, and that character isn't what she/he/it is supposed to be.

They should have hired actors that have played Tok'ra, since they're also symbiotic (other ancient beings that require human hosts). I don't remember seeing a shallow Tok'ra, so somebody must've been casting them right.

Like I've said before, it's a good thing I'm not an aspiring actor, or else I'd think that Life Isn't Fair (LIF) because it seems that sometimes decent looks are worth more than talent.