Still studying Japanese

I said at the beginning of this year that I would make it a resolution to study Japanese consistently, and that's what I've been doing, which is unbelievable because it's hard to remain disciplined, especially while trying to still do stuff in the volatile business of Radio. I touch base with Japanese almost every day, though sometimes I take a couple days off due to complex commitments or simple laziness :D But I will definitely be studying it tomorrow as long as I can, and my brain will probably be happy and pleasantly occupied because I sometimes feel like my mind hasn't wrapped itself around enough kanji to make it settle down.


Language predictions for the coming 50-100 years

Language and languages are constantly changing, and, in my opinion, considering language evolution over decades and centuries is quite fascinating. Often when we read literature from hundreds of years ago, it becomes obvious which words, structures, and other language "trends" have gone out of fashion and which trends have become embedded somewhat permanently in language. An example is the use of "to be" in the perfect tense in English with certain verbs such as "to come" (e.g. "he is come" instead of "he has come"). This would appear to have been influenced by French, where as distinction is made between verbs, such as "venir" (to come), which form the past tense (passé composé ) with "être" ("to be"), and the majority of verbs, which form this tense "avoir" ("to have"). Look at this interesting article on the archaic "to be" vs. "to have" in English verbs like "to come".

I've decided to make some unofficial predictions about language in the future based on today's trends. Some may come true, some later, and perhaps none will ever come true. Still, it can be fun to speculate:

1) The ban on ending questions with prepositions will become archaic. When I was a child, I was taught never to end a question with a preposition. It should never be "who are you speaking for?" but "for whom are you waiting?" While this tends to still be true in formal business and academic writing, in informal writing and conversational speech, prepositions seem to come at the end of questions more often than not unless the speaker is especially careful about "correct speech" and/or is a language prescriptionist. However, even in some recent English teaching worksheets for non-native speakers, I was surprised to see it listed as allowable to end questions with prepositions. In certain other Germanic languages (to which English belongs), it is (and has been perfectly acceptable) to end questions with prepositions; Norwegian is one such example, as far as I know. In other Germanic languages, such as German, as well as the Romance and Slavic languages, the ban tends to persist in formal and informal writing and speech.

Nevertheless, this "schoolmarmish" rule in English appears to be dying out as it seems unnecessarily stilted and rigid, and I predict that in 50-100 years, even formal academic and business writing will reflect what is patently obvious in conversational speech.

2) This brings us to the next prediction: the loss of the word "whom." This accusative/dative form of "who' is one of the last vestiges of the English case system, which was, in the past more complex, more along the lines of the modern German or Slavic case systems. However, the use of "whom" mirrors the "proper" placement of prepositions in questions, and these days "whom" seems to be limited to formal business and academic writing in English and the speech of very meticulous grammar enthusiasts, who are in the minority. Its days are numbered. But those who are nostalgic for the once vibrant case system of English shouldn't be too disappointed, as cases will likely continue to remain alive and well in personal pronouns (I/my/mine/me, you/yours/your, he/his/him, she/hers/her, it/its, we/our/ours/us, they/their/theirs/them) and in the possessive apostrophe-s or s-apostrophe added to singular and plural nouns.

3) The complete merger of the subjunctive mood in English with the simple past tense. Today the subjunctive (contrary-to-fact) mood in English, which is highly complex in some languages, such many of the Romance languages, is mostly identical to other tenses, such as the past tense ("I wish he had it"), but in some cases, there are differences, most notably with "to be" (the traditional prescriptionist form being "I wish I were" rather than "I wish I was"). However, again, the use of "were" (which is historically similar to the German subjunctiv) in such cases is becoming increasingly relegated to formal and academic contexts and the speech of those who consciously wish to adhere to the rules and speak "properly." I predict that it will become archaic and fall out of use.

4) Profanity will likely become less "profane." I predict that so-called "swear words" in English will lose much of their taboo status and become more permissible in a greater number of contexts and arenas. This will, in my opinion, be the result of an increasingly less formal society in general (along the lines of women no longer wearing white gloves to public functions and the observation that far fewer people '"dress up" for air travel).

5) The ever-growing influence of technology and popular culture on English due to increased media saturation. In fact, I would guess that, over the next few decades, most new words entering English will reflect both of these spheres, some words becoming permanent fixtures of the linguistic landscape and perhaps being extended metaphorically. For instance, maybe the "Facebook verb" "to friend" ("to add someone as a friend") will gradually replace the current "to befriend" as the verb of choice when referring to act of establishing a friendship. It's possible! SMS-style shorthand, such as "u" for "you" and "lol" for "laughing out loud" will likely be around for a long time, but I doubt that these forms will become mainstream in anything but informal settings, at least not anytime soon.

6) Increased standardization of English. When I took linguistic classes as an undergraduate, I was exposed to the theory that dialects of English will eventually develop into their own distinct languages, just as dialects of Latin have developed into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and so on. The theory hypothesized that eventually there will be separate British, Canadian, American, and Australian languages, among others. However, what the theory seemingly failed to consider was that the countries (and dialects) of the Anglosphere (collection of English-speaking nations) are far less isolated on a daily basis than the constituent territories of the Roman Empire. Due to the pervasive global media, English speakers all over the world can log on or turn on various devices and be exposed to (or flooded with) English from all over the world. I believe that this cross-exposure will lead to the various Englishes borrowing more from each other and becoming more alike, with each dialect retaining some of its "quirks."

7) The increased use of English around the world. It seems hard to imagine how this could be possible, as English is today's lingua franca, but I predict that English will continue its sweep across the globe, with increasingly fewer non-English speakers. I'll also forecast that a number of historically non-English-speaking countries with large numbers of speakers of English as a second language will legally adopt English as an official language, alongside the historical national language(s), as a nod at internationalization (perhaps the Netherlands and at least one of the Scandinavian countries) or as a "neutral" compromise between rival officially national languages (such as Switzerland).

Some of these predictions may seem extremely obvious, but it is still useful, in my view, to view them as part of the dynamics of language change in English, which is going on as we speak!

(Posted by language fan and friend Silas McCracken.)

Update August 2022: reader Aleksa shared this great resource for checking spelling and grammar for various languages: https://www.websiteplanet.com/webtools/spell-checker/


EXCLUSIVE interview with the creator of Chicagolandradioandmedia.com!

Even though various people have asked "Larz", the creator of Chicagolandradioandmedia.com, for an interview, he promised me he'd grant one after his new site was complete. Well, his revised site was unveiled at the beginning of this year, and here is the EXCLUSIVE interview! (btw, I have a radio-related podcast at podcast.radiogirl.us but Larz preferred a text interview.)

What got you interested in radio?

Music has always been a huge part of my life. Growing up before the Internet age, there was pretty much only a few ways to be exposed to new music: from a friend’s record collection, from an occasional musical guest TV spot (usually on a variety/talk show) or most of all, from the radio. I always had a radio near me as a youth: tied to my bike handle bars, next to my shower, inside my backyard tent, and in my bedroom. I was the kid that fell asleep at night with the transistor radio under my pillow and the little white plastic earpiece inside my ear, listening to WLS Musicradio when I was supposed to be sleeping. Holding my attention between the songs were some of the most exciting people on the planet – the DJs. Their jokes and banter were as much fun as the songs they played. The one who stands out most of all for me is John Records Landecker. I blame a lot of my love and obsession with radio personalities on him. His humor, sharp wit, anti-establishment/anti-authority attitude, and fast pacing won me over. For me, that was the epitome of radio coolness.

What do you think of talk radio?

As much as I love music and music radio, I would say that talk radio is probably the most important form of radio right now. It holds great power. When done right, it can interconnect a community, as well as inform and/or entertain the masses. Those in talk radio are given a great opportunity to really connect with their audience on a deep level. Listeners will often feel like the voice coming through their speakers is a good, trustful friend, even though they may never physically meet.

Have you ever worked in radio?

Not at all. Nor do I have a desire to. I enjoy being a fan, looking at it from the outside and from a fan’s perspective. For much of my life, I always had people telling me that I should go into radio, largely because of my vast (albeit worthless) knowledge of music trivia. I couldn’t tell you what I had for dinner last weekend, but I could tell you who played on what song, which album it appeared on, the track number, the record label, what year it peaked and then some additional background on the artist. However, despite the urging of others to go into radio, I never felt the urge to be behind a microphone. If I ever do get more involved with a radio or media outlet, it would not be behind a mic or in front of a camera. I’m more of a behind-the-scenes guy. Also, being a bit of an anti-authority type myself, I’m better suited for management and ownership than being the one being told what to do.

Would you want to buy a radio station?

That is something I have looked into already. I strongly was looking at putting together an investor group to purchase a Clear Channel station in another market, and was fairly well into the process of doing so. I was dealing with their broker, had signed all of the confidentiality papers and reviewed all of the documents and contracts. After weighing the upfront costs vs. the return on the investment, I decided to not to go through with the transaction. Unless the asking prices come way down, which a string of bankruptcies may eventually cause, it just isn’t worth it right now.

What do you think is the future of radio?

Radio as we have known it for the last few decades is evolving. Those who can adapt to the evolution will survive and thrive, while others will go the way of the Pony Express, telegram and 8-track tape. In just a few years, Internet radio will be standard in all cars and phones. Shortly after that, WiMax will be standard all across the country, not just in the major markets, much like radio transmission waves or cell phone territories are now. That means everybody will have complete high-speed Internet access no matter where they are. Radio waves will no longer be needed to transmit information or entertainment. From what I have seen, most of the big radio corporations are many years behind the curve in preparing for this new medium. They are still mistakenly holding firm that one day advertisers will flock back to radio waves. Unless they wake up quickly and play catch up, a whole new radio world will be taking over soon.

The pendulum is about to swing in the complete opposite direction that it is now. Soon, radio on the Internet will be like what FM radio was in the early 70’s -- free form, adventurous and able to deliver what the listeners truly want, while opening their eyes and ears to new artists and ideas. It may also be a bit too heavy on “niche” marketing and not local-focused enough, so I would expect the pendulum to quickly swing back toward the center when some more business-minded people finally get on to the Internet bandwagon and work side-by-side with the more creative minded people.

Even though it will not be delivered via radio waves or picked up on radios, I still expect the entertainment to be referred to as "radio."

Radio, in one form or another, will be always be around. It’s not dying like many of the more disillusioned people have been crying. It’s just going to go through a major change. All of media is. Media companies can accept it and live on or fight it and become extinct.

Why do you keep your identity anonymous?

The whole "mystery identity" thing was just a fluke. Once it became this whole "Who is Larz?" thing, I just found it hilarious and kept it going. It was never meant to become this huge mystery, though. Quite a lot of people in the local media industries know my real name. Rob Feder has printed it in his column a couple of times (in his old Sun-Times column) and Cara Jepsen has in her IE Media column, as well. "Larz" was an old college nickname. A good friend of mine in college started calling me that (college is/was all about giving people nicknames... and drinking, of course). He claimed he went to high school with a Swedish guy named Larz and that Larz was Swedish for my real name. (I doubt that it is really the Swedish translation, but I never have checked.) When CRM started, I needed a "handle." All message boards seemed to use aliases, especially the moderators, so I just picked that one. I gave it just about 30 seconds of consideration. Now, just like in college, I'm stuck with that nickname again. People call me both Larz and my real name (and sometimes things much worse, of course). It really doesn't matter to me. Anyway, once my name became this mystery, I just found it to be hilarious that anybody would even care and just kept it going. It still gives me a chuckle. That's the simple story there.

I am working on some projects that, if all goes well, will start happening over the next few months and beyond. I have a feeling my real name will get tossed around a lot more then. I’ve been getting a lot of flak for just having funny pictures up on Facebook, so I'll probably start putting real pictures of me up there soon. Assuming I don't get complaints from parents saying the pictures are giving their kids nightmares, I might even let them stay up for longer than a day.

When did you set up the site? Who went there at first?

ChicagolandRadioAndMedia.com started up on the 4th of July, 2005. It was an offshoot of another media-themed message board (which itself was an offshoot of yet another). It was just a simple message board then. I had no hit counter on it at that time, but I’m pretty sure it was a very low amount of traffic. In fact, when it started out, it was almost a parody of a media-message board, much like how David Letterman’s old Late Night show was a parody of talk shows, while still being a talk show. It was just myself and a handful of people I knew from a couple of other boards goofing off on there. That started to change after just a few weeks, though.

When you set it up, did you ever think it would become so popular?

Not at all! I also just assumed it would be a hobby thing for me for a few months. I’d have a few laughs and it would just fade away. That wasn’t to be the case, though. As I noticed more and more traffic coming to the message board and postings appearing, I started taking it much more seriously. At one point early on in CRM’s life, back when I was not taking it seriously, I made some smart-ass comment about a certain media figure in town. I did it just for laughs, not realizing anybody besides the few people on the board would have seen it… or so I thought. I later heard from that person, who was none to happy about that comment, and deservedly so. I instantly learned a few lessons about the board, including that it was reaching a LOT more people than I thought, including those within the Chicago media industries and that if I was to keep this going, I needed to take it much more seriously. As I would hear from more and more people within local media and beyond, I started to grasp just how big this was becoming. This all happened fairly fast, too. Just a matter of months.

Why do you think your site is popular?

I may be a little too inside of it all to give an absolute answer to that one. There are probably many reasons. Some of it has to do with the fact Chicagoans have always had a love and fascination with their local media. They take their radio stations, television shows and newspapers (and the people who work in them) VERY seriously -- much more so than most other markets. Since that is basically what my site is all about, it attracts many eyes. For the people who work within the industry, it is an appealing place to visit to see what is going on within local media and to see what the fan reaction is like.

Some of it probably has to do with the fact I try to keep it as upbeat as possible. Message boards in general tend to get into ugly areas fast. It’s easy to do when you are anonymous and have no chance of reprisals for an ugly remark. Words typed on a message board are quite different that words one might say to another’s face. I do what I can to minimize that ugliness, making it a more welcoming environment for the masses. The only ones who may be angry with me for making the board like that are the ones who enjoy being Internet jerks. I can live with that tiny minority of trolls being upset at me. I also try and focus on the positives of story, over the negatives. When industries are in a downward spiral like most of media is, it is too easy to be sucked into negativity. I try and find a more positive spin, while still being realistic.

Lastly, I would say because I work hard at it. I was the first Chicago message board to have a custom domain name. It’s a simple thing, but nobody had done that before. It was always the name of a hosting company followed by backslashes, numbers and letters. Too complicated. I made it easy and memorable. I marketed the site on MySpace and later Facebook. I gave the site a unique background that catches the eye (or hurts the eye, depending on who you ask). Most of all, I make sure there is always fresh content on there so it gives reasons for people to want to return often.

How long did it take you to revise the site?

The new and improved website launched this January 1st. I first starting thinking about making some changes over a year ago, but it never went beyond the thinking about it stage. When the 4th anniversary came around last July, I knew it was time for a big change and started the search for answers then. There were three different skeletons of sites made, before I decided to go with the current one. The actual designing of it began in the beginning of August 2009. Between having limited time to devote to it and being too much of a perfectionist sometimes, it was a very slow process. I would add new things and rework parts of it an hour here or there. I finally was talked into letting somebody with better web skills than myself help get it all set up, based on my directions. Once that was completed, and it looked more like how it looks now, I spent much more time on it, getting it finished. It took a long time to gather up the content (links, pictures, videos, etc.) and I’m still adding new content to it each day, but it’s been a fun labor of love. The site itself took almost six months, but probably could have been done much faster if I had used some different processes. Live and learn. It will go quicker next time.

How do you stay motivated if you don't make much or any money from the site? 

It’s a labor of love, pure and simple. It may open up some doors for me down the line, but regardless, I don’t do any of it because of money.

What's the craziest comment someone has left?

After four and a half years, there is no way to pick just one. There is no way to pick even a dozen. Crazy postings come in often – sometimes they are trying to be serious, but are just way out there; sometimes there are purposely hilarious. I love to laugh, so I enjoy them all.

What types of problems have you encountered?

The only real problem has come from spammers and trolls. The spammers are just a minor annoyance. It boggles my mind that there are people out there that think the CRM readers would be interested in their Russian knock-off generic Viagra or their get rich quick investment schemes. Those are removed before anybody sees them, but they come in daily. The bigger problem comes from just a couple of hurtful trolls that get perverse enjoyment out of ruining everybody else’s fun on CRM. Until a few months ago when I switched the message board over to “approval only” for all postings, these trolls would post up graphic porn, discriminatory hate messages, links to viruses, and so on. It got to the point when this would happen about three times a day everyday, so I had to make the board go to “approval only” instead just allowing posts to freely appear. Since these trolls use software that masks their true IP address, they can’t be banned. I am looking into new message boards that may possibly help prevent this from happening in the future, but still allow trusted posters the ability to see their messages up immediately. That should come together in the next month or so.

Where do you see the site going?

Hopefully, it will continue to grow and evolve, without ever losing the interactive quality that made it what it is today. The new site is only three weeks old and I already have numerous upgrades planned for it that should be appearing over the next couple of months. The site may somewhat tie into one of the other projects I have going on later this year, as well.

I also hope to use the site to help out Chicago media and those working in it, even more than I have in the past. Without giving out any specifics, I’ve been able to help many people and organizations out behind-the-scenes over the last few years and want to be able to continue doing that as much as possible.

In one respect, I am the driver of the ship, but in another, I am along for the ride just as everybody else is. It’s been a fun ride and I hope it continues for years to come!

Do you know all the famous radio/media people in town?

Not at all. It still surprises me when I find that one of them knows me. I still get a huge rush when I receive a note from somebody I have long admired. I’m still a fan and hope to always be that way.

Who have you met?

I’ve been very lucky in my life to have met hundreds of “celebrities” -- from local, to national to international. This dates back from long before I ever started CRM. It is not really something I have ever sought out to do, though. It just seems to happen though work or through just chance. There are only a few (maybe five) local media people that I have actually asked to meet with. Everything else just kind of happens naturally. Not being a picture or autograph hound, I don’t even have any physical mementos of these meetings. I have a few autographed 8”x10”s and a few autographed album covers in a closet, plus about half dozen autographed books. I have a really bad photograph of me with Cheap Trick and one where I am in group photo meeting Corey (“Sunglasses at Night”) Hart, but that it’s it. Meeting famous people has never been a priority to me. As for who I’ve met from local media, I’d rather keep that quiet. I tend to keep my meetings with people private, be they emails, phone calls or face-to-face get-togethers. It just works better that way.

You won't say who you've met locally, but have you been disillusioned by any celebrities/local media stars that you've admired from afar who turned out to be less than pleasant?

Not at all. Everybody I have met, spoken with or even just emailed with has always been great with me. I have nothing bad to say about anybody.

Who's the coolest media star you've met?

I'm going with the safe answer here and say… Margaret Larkin. :)

Umm...weird answer...I'm not a media star!

You mean to say... not YET.

Any advice for people who have sites/message boards/blogs?

More than anything else: Keep it real and keep it active. A stagnant site will die quickly. An active one will continue to grow. It has to be filled with honesty and freshness. Stealing from others without giving proper credit, instantly discredits the whole site. Most readers have built-in BS detectors, too so it has to be truthful. If possible, make it a resource. Offer more than just a blog. Give people numerous reasons to visit. Lastly, keep it positive. Negativity tends to flare up hot, but burn away quickly. A positive site that doesn’t dig in the dirt will have greater staying power.

Are you hiring? :D

Not right now, but as the site grows, who knows???


Learn French at the BBC

The BBC site is excellent for lots of info and educational resources. Recently someone asked me about a good site to learn French, and while there are a lot of good resources out there, I highly recommend the BBC French site because it contains video, text, and audio. I've been sick for the past few days, so I haven't been able to do much, but once I get better I'm going to digest as much as I can of this site! Check it out.


the Property Manager

Late last year, I met Jerome Davis, who's created an audio journal called "The Property Manager". It was featured on Chicago public radio, and since then, his nice and interesting tech producer, Matt Miller, had to move on to other projects, so Jerome asked me to help out. So here's what he wrote and voiced recently, which I produced. It's around four minutes long.


The little Italian I studied didn't help

It was a perfect opportunity to practice listening to Italian: the news from Rai TV was on TV without English subtitles just before midnight. But I could barely understand anything. I took a couple of Italian classes years ago, and they actually weren't very good because the teacher was cruel and unhelpful. But I shouldn't blame her. I just never went to Italy or hung out among Italian speakers (if there are any left in Chicago), so it just went away. I also ended up studying other languages, which seemed more enjoyable and manageable than Italian. So now I have daily opportunities to hear Italian on the TV, but not much knowledge. Maybe I should break out my Italian books and try to follow along :D


Those Annoying Apostrophes

Apostrophes tend to be a major source of irritation and confusion to those (even native English speakers) who write in English. Indeed, a journey across the internet will show just how often "it's" and "its" are mixed up, as are "theirs" and "their's." The writing site Howtowriteessay.co.uk states:
The apostrophe was not widely used until the 17th century, and the rules were not laid down until the 19th century, which perhaps explains its famous abuse from market traders who always seem to sell orange's.
Generally speaking, the apostrophe is used to stand in for missing letters, such as "it's" for "it is" or to show possession (such as "boy's," "mother's"...). Confusingly, possessive pronouns do not take apostrophes, which mean that "his," hers," and "its" are correct even if "Joes," "Sarahs," and "cats" are not when used in a possessive context.

Another source of confusion is how to use the apostrophe for possessives. Generally speaking, for singular nouns, " 's " is added to the noun, while plural nouns ending in "s" simply take an apostrophe after the "s" ("the one boy's" vs. "the two boys' "). What about singular nouns and names ending in "s," such as "Dickens"?

The site states the following:
This rule applies in most cases even with a name ending in s:
Thomas's job
the bus's arrival
James's fiancée
Steve Davis's victory
However, under "exceptions," the same site states this rule:
Second, a name ending in s takes only an apostrophe if the possessive form is not pronounced with an extra s. Hence:
Socrates' philosophy
Saint Saens' music
Ulysses' companions
Aristophanes' plays
So it depends upon pronunciation? What if someone were to pronounce the extra "s" in, say "Ulysses'(s)"?

Dates appear to be tricky. The site, which is British, claims that decades, such as "1970s" are written without the apostrophe in British English but with the apostrophe (e.g. "1970's") in US English. Yet the New York Times, which presumably uses US English, has dropped the apostrophe from such contexts, considering it to be archaic. I've also heard other American sources that swear that apostrophes should not be used in this context.

The British site, however, states that:
a year is occasionally written in an abbreviated form with an apostrophe: Pío Baroja was a distinctive member of the generation of '98. This is only normal in certain set expressions; in my example, the phrase generation of '98 is an accepted label for a certain group of Spanish writers, and it would not be normal to write *generation of 1898.
This sounds reasonable, but it should probably be extended to include school and university alumni groups, since, as far as I know, such spellings as "Class of '89" are perfectly correct. For that matter, "Class of 1989" wouldn't be incorrect, either.

The site advises that apostrophes should almost never be used for forming plurals. More than one dog would be "dogs" and never "dog's." What about for letters of the alphabet that need to be pluralized? Guess what! The plural is formed with-an apostrophe:
An apostrophe is indispensable, however, in the rare case in which you need to pluralize a letter of the alphabet or some other unusual form which would become unrecognizable with a plural ending stuck on it:
Mind your p's and q's.
How many s's are there in Mississippi?
It is very bad style to spatter e.g.'s and i.e.'s through your writing.
The mess doesn't end there? What about holidays such as "Veterans Day" (a US holiday) or "Valentine's Day." For Veterans Day, at least, the debate even became controversial, as reported by the newspaper The Columbia Missourian. "Veterans Day" appears to be the far-from-clear choice because the holiday is a day for all Americans to honor veterans; hence, "Veterans" is used descriptively rather than possessively. When plural nouns are used descriptively, they generally do not take adjectives. Yet the confusion has arisen because if the holiday were a day belonging to veterans, it should be "Veterans' Day," or to "the veteran," it should be "Veterans' Day."

Valentine's Day appears to be a bit less confusing, as it is "St. Valentine's Day," but it could theoretically be interpreted as a day for everyone to celebrate their valentines (Valentines Day) or a day belonging to valentines (Valentines' Day).

To sum up, Howtowriteessay.co.uk has concluded that:
The apostrophe (') is the most troublesome punctuation mark in English, and perhaps also the least useful. No other punctuation mark causes so much bewilderment, or is so often misused. On the one hand, shops offer *pizza's, *video's, *greeting's cards and *ladie's clothing; on the other, they offer *childrens shoes and *artists supplies. The confusion about apostrophes is so great, in comparison with the small amount of useful work they perform, that many distinguished writers and linguists have argued that the best way of eliminating the confusion would be to get rid of this troublesome squiggle altogether and never use it at all.
Perhaps they're right!

(Posted by language fan and friend Silas McCracken.)


Translation of what I ate

I got some instant soup (鍋うどんきつね) from a Japanese store and had to follow the directions in Japanese, since they only bothered to translate the company's information and ingredients. So since I went to the trouble to decipher the directions, I've decided to post the original text and translation here:

Add one and a half cups of hot water or water to the soup, then heat it in a pot.
If you know Japanese, then you'll notice that they've been pretty wordy to express the simple concept of "directions". And what's notable is that they say "hot water or water" which in English sounds strange. And why can't you add the water to the soup *in* the pot instead of before putting it all in? Maybe someone would have a different translation, but it rolls out that way to me. I did omit the word "dilute" (うすめて) because it's unnecessary, so the English you see is a simple, straightforward rendering of what was communicated in Japanese.


Bad American accent

I used to watch Without a Trace pretty regularly, and at one time it was one of my favorite shows, but I stopped watching it consistently for various reasons, which I'll probably go into in another post or at Gapers Block, where I write about TV (though they prefer Chicago-related topics).

Recently I happened to catch an episode, and it just reminded me how bad Poppy Montgomery's American accent is. She's from Australia, and it seems like she tries so hard to hide her Australian accent that she's developed a speech impediment. Plus, I can still hear traces of her Australian accent.

When I first saw her on TV, I wondered what was wrong with her speech, and if the producers forgave her in that area because she's a pretty blonde. But after I saw her bio, I realized that she probably talks weird["ly" to be grammatically correct] because she's trying really hard to sound American. But those efforts don't work. She also can't act. Well, she can act, but not very well. I've seen her in different roles, and she seems flat. Is it because of her struggle with American English? Who knows.


The problem with watching TV with subtitles

I was watching Maigret on the MHz network, and once I heard the rapid French, I realized that I'd have to keep my eyes glued to the television to follow the story. So if I wanted to look something up online, or even look at my husband while talking to him, I'd miss important dialogue because all I had to go on were the subtitles. At one point I got so tired, I closed my eyes, then realized I was missing some of the action because I couldn't totally catch what they were saying. So when Maigret suspected someone of murder, I couldn't figure out how he came to that conclusion.

Which brings me to my main point: watching TV with subtitles requires total concentration and you can't multitask. Though you can talk to someone because it's not like you're talking over dialogue that you understand :D

Update: the same "Maigret" episode is being broadcast again, so now I'm reading stuff online while *listening* to the French to see if my comprehension has gotten any better.



The reason why I titled my Happy New Year post in Japanese is because one of my New Year's resolutions is to translate more Japanese! I didn't do so much last year because I ended up doing more in radio, but now that it's receded I can now resume translating. Plus, my brain has become mushy and I really need to challenge it with more kanji pain. Today I read some Japanese and my brain thanked me for occupying it because it's been quite dormant for a few weeks.

みなさん, 新年明けましておめでとうございます. 今年もよろしくお願いいたします.