Plenty of weirdly translated signs

Read this doc on Scribd: Japanese and Chinese signs

The Multilingual Teen sent me this slideshow of funny English in Asia, which seems to contain images that mostly come from the Engrish site. I hope they don't make me take this down :(


This is soap?

I had to translate the katakana word シャボン (shabon) from Japanese into English, but I couldn't figure out what it meant. Usually I can figure katakana words out because they usually come from English, but this was baffling, so I went to my beloved Popjisyo (though the online katakana dictionary has it too). It means "soap" and is derived from the Portuguese word "sabão."

Ok, I have some questions: why did they decide to use the Portuguese word for soap instead of the English word, which is ソープ (soupu) in katakana? And why don't they just use the Japanese word for soap 石鹸 (sekken)? And by the way, how does シャボン (shabon) sound like sabão? They sound quite different from each other.

Maybe they wanted to be fancy: by choosing the Portuguese word, they were being a little more "exotic" and "special" since English is often used. As for the katakana representation of "sabao", maybe they were trying to capture the "oa" sound at the end of Portuguese words that sound like "n" to some of us lame Portuguese speakers.


I knew it!

After I saw "La Vie En Rose," I said that "I would be very surprised if that film and/or actress did not win an Academy Award."

Well, the movie won some awards, and Marion Cotillard won best actress! Even though the media is saying that it's a "surprise", it isn't to me--she was incredible in that movie!

Time to read

Now that my schedule is normal again, I actually have time to read books. During the past few months I read a lot of stuff online because I was spending a lot of time working online, but I couldn't get a big enough chunk of time to seek out books and read them.

So now I'm reading two books about the media: Bernard Goldberg's Arrogance and Fighting for Air by Eric Klinenberg.

I read Goldberg's first book Bias in one night--it was that good and well-written. I'd love to meet that guy one day and hear what he has to say.

I actually got to meet Klinenberg briefly, and all I kept thinking was, "dang, this guy is blessed." He's an associate professor at NYU, but I didn't know that--all I heard him say was how the school was paying for part of his housing, which is why he's able to live in Manhattan with a wife and kid (difficult to do, especially because it's an extremely expensive city).

Then I asked him a seemingly stupid question: was he lecturer, adjunct, or what, and when he told me "professor" I was shocked because I rarely meet actual professors (especially young ones) or people who even have a chance at becoming one, even though they've managed to get a PhD. Sure, there are professors at universities, but in many cases when professors have retired, they've replaced them with adjuncts because they're cheaper.

Klinenberg has also published books that both the media and public like, ie, he doesn't just write scholarly, narrow books. Another way he's blessed. And he's been published in various magazines.

So far, his book is good, and I am probably going to finish it pretty quickly because I have the time and the interest to get through it. But I doubt I'll get the chance to meet him again, so I guess I'll just have to email him my thoughts :D


I feel high

I translated some Japanese today, did errands, walked around downtown with a friend, and ate Chicago deep-dish pizza, but I still have to create a quiz for tomorrow's ESL class. So I decided to relax to some good music, and though I usually go to Inceptdate to do that, they were offering jazz, which to me isn't relaxing. So I've been listening to Groovera, which is so chill, it's almost hard to get the energy to focus on the quiz.


Lithuanian flag

A friend of mine is moving to Korea, so I invited some people over for a small party, where I included some Korean snacks (ie, pineapple cookies, shrimp chips, green tea biscuit-type of small cookies, pear and mandarin juices). There were mostly Americans at the party, but a couple of the people who came were from Lithuania, and they gave me Lithuanian chocolates with a small Lithuanian flag. I never knew what their flag looked like, which is why I'm posting it here. What's great about the U.S. is you can mix different countries' stuff under one roof, and it can still make sense.


Mother lode

When I saw the phrase mother lode, I realized that I hadn't seen it before. For some reason, I thought "lode" would be "load", that it was one word rather than two, and that the meaning implied "huge". Instead, it means "the principal vein or lode of a region" and "a principal source or supply."

Actually, "lode" is an odd word. It's cute, but it's also has a clumsiness about it. Like "lobe".


Wherever you go, there you are

I was thinking about how the phrase "Wherever you go, there you are" is true. But it was hard to find the source of that quote. Actually, if I were to do the research in a library, I would probably find the answer, but I don't have such time. But I found an article that cites The Imitation of Christ as the source, written by Thomas a Kempis.

It would require further research to see if this really is the source of the quote. It's just so common now, it's hard to tell where it came from.


Writing again

I used to do "whoa is me" posts here about how difficult fiction writing was, and then I wrote a couple of novels (unpublished of course, which made me feel even worse). After I finished the second one last February, which I still feel is a great feat, I stopped writing fiction because I was focusing on whatever radio stuff I could string together.

Well I'm finishing up a very intense radio-producing (assistant) gig for the number one show at the number one station in Chicago, and I'm ready to write again. I guess my mind for the past several months has been wrapped around translating, teaching, and surviving in the dwindling radio biz (which is borderline dead-end because of syndication and consolidation), and now my mind is asking me, "Where have you been? You've got a good story to write!" So I've been re-reading a book I read a while ago about plot, and I do, indeed, have a good idea, which is a revision of what I finished last year.

So the bottom line is I'm back, and once I can resume normal waking hours (right now I wake up around 2 AM), I'm going to write even more.


Good documentary

I usually don't watch VH1, but I ended up watching Air Guitar Nation because a couple of months ago I had to edit an interview with an air guitar champ, and I wanted to find out what that scene was like. I highly recommend this documentary--it's interesting and entertaining and is stylish in terms of the graphics and how they shot and edited it. By the end, I cared about how well these people were going to do. It doesn't mock them but just follows what they're doing and shows the drama of their pursuits.


Is this English?

This is what would happen if Star Trek was in Scotland. Presumably, they speak English there, and I speak English too, but I can't understand much of what they're saying. I guess what they're speaking would be called Scottish.



I was reading some stuff at a message board, and someone posted the acronym MMORPG. I found out that it means massive[ly] multiplayer online role playing game.

Wikipedia says it's "massively," but a popular MMORPG site and other sites say it's "massive". I don't know what was used first: "massive" or "massively", and I don't know what's "correct." But it's the closest we've come to a holodeck.


What a weirdly negative comment

I came upon this quote:

Emilio Azcarraga, the billionaire head of Mexico's Televisa: "Mexico is a country of a modest, very f----d class, which will never stop being f----d. Television has the obligation to bring diversion to these people and remove them from their sad reality and difficult future."

I wanted to see the Spanish source of that quote, and found both the exact quote and the larger context. According to what I read (and assuming my lame Spanish is good enough to understand), he said it at a press conference in 1993.

Here's the Spanish version (from an academic speech that referred to what he said):

México es un país de una clase modesta jodida, que no va a salir de jodida. Para la televisión es una dura obligación llevar la diversión a esa gente y sacarla de su triste realidad y de su futuro difícil...

And here's the larger context (with help from an essay that refers to the quote):

Estamos en el negocio del entretenimiento, de la información, y podemos educar, pero fundamentalmente entretener… México es un país de una clase modesta jodida, que no va a salir de jodida. Para la televisión es una dura obligación llevar la diversión a esa gente y sacarla de su triste realidad y de su futuro difícil...los ricos pueden hacer muchas cosas que los diviertan, pero la clase modesta, que es una clase fabulosa y digna, no tiene ninguna otra manera de acceder a una distracción más que a la televisión

There's a lot to say about such thoughts, but basically, it seems more than cynical: it seems hopeless and mercenary in a way, because he knows that he's creating television shows to get people out of their misery while wanting to make a ton of money from them. But then later, he acts like he respects those people by saying they're "fabulosa y digna". It's like he's backtracking because he just put them down by saying they're trapped in misery, but he probably didn't want them to be angry with him, so he ended up complimenting them.

Fake and messed up, for sure.


Repetition works

A while ago when I was teaching ESL, a coworker said that he likes to do round-robin reading, which is having each student read a part of a text, and then when all of it has been read, the students go around and read it again. He said that he noticed the students' reading became better, but I never did that activity in class because I thought the students wouldn't enjoy it. But I was wrong.

Recently in Japanese class, we've been doing round-robin reading. At first I wondered what the purpose was, and if the teacher knew what she was doing. But last night the penny dropped: we were on our third reading of a short essay, and I really felt a lot more comfortable with the text. And that's important, because seeing a bunch of kanji and vocabulary that I don't understand can be intimidating, and during the first read, I focus more on getting through the individual words rather than trying to understand the entire text. But by the end, I feel like I have a better grasp of what is going on.

So I'm going to use that activity in my ESL class, for sure.