Thursday, March 26, 2015

My first (book) translation credit

Forest Sprite David the Gnome

I'll admit, I tend to be a bit critical of TV programming these days. Sure, there are some great shows, but there's also a lot of crap. Thanks, reality TV. I also don't think very highly of kids' shows, and that's an opinion I've heard echoed by my peers. "They just don't make shows like they used to."

People my age reminisce about cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, GI Joe, He-Man, Doug, and Rugrats, to name a few. Just between us, I've done back and rewatched parts of some of those shows...and a big part of our feeling have to do with nostalgia. And when we were younger, we watched those shows through our children-eyes. If I were a kid growing up today, maybe I'd love SpongeBob.

Anyway, regardless of objective quality, one of the shows I remember most fondly from my early childhood is David the Gnome. From what I recall, it was a cartoon about this gnome who lived in the forest and would ride around on his pet fox, helping out gnomes, animals, and other creatures. There were trolls, talking beasts, and magic; pretty cool for a show aimed at little kids. A quick YouTube search shows that all of the episodes are actually available to watch there. If that's still the case when I have a family, my brood will without a doubt be getting a taste of my childhood.

Apparently the show was adapted from a book, and was originally created in Spain. The English version starred Tom Bosley, who some of you might remember as the dad from Happy Days.

According to Wikipedia, there was also a Japanese dub that ran on NHK briefly in 1991 and then on Sun Television in 2003. Unfortunately I can't find any clips of the Japanese version online, but that's still pretty cool.

FYI, the Japanese title is 「森の妖精ノーム」, which means something like "The Gnome-Sprite of the Forest."

Image Source

Thursday, March 19, 2015


This is a discussion we've had before, though long ago. Portlandia nailed a similar issue.

Please. Watch:

Don't call yourself an otaku.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

All this Candy

As you may well know, I like me a good mobile game. That said, I never got into Candy Crush Saga. Maybe I'm too much of a game snob? Perhaps that's it. Candy Crush is for casual gamers. "Cassies." Or maybe I just have very specific tastes when it comes to match-3's. If there are no swords or goblins, I'm probably out.

So it should come as no surprise that I haven't played the latest chapter, Candy Crush Soda. Well, that's not entirely true. I played it on Mint's phone for about two minutes on some nefarious mode with ever-expanding, evil chocolate. Needless to say the chocolate was no match for my wiles.

Anyway, I was watching some recent Japanese commercials on YouTube and discovered that Candy Crush seems to be a hit over in J-Land, too. At least enough so to warrant ads on TV, which I've never seen in the US.

Here are two from the series. I'm not sure if they've all been aired around the same time or have been staggered.

In the first one, the sitting dude asks the fairy dude what the difference is between Candy Crush and Candy Soda. He is met with silence.

In the second one, the sitting dude is like "You're the Candy Soda fairy, right?" The fairy dude confirms that to be the case. Dude 1 then follows up, "So then how come you can't tell me how to clear stage 40?" The fairy dude then apologizes.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ogre up your heart!

One interesting byproduct of being multilingual (or perhaps of just being at a certain point in your language studies) is that sometimes you'll just hear or read something and matter of factly wonder how that translates into your other language(s). Not because it's of any consequence, and it may just be a passing ponderance. If you're anything like me, though, it's a fairly common thing.

I was in church the other day and the responsorial was "If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts."

Harden not your hearts, eh? Pretty cool phrase. I wondered what it was in Japanese, but was in no position to look it up. So I forgot pretty quickly. But I have remembered! Providence?

First off, a little research reveals that the passage of interest is from Psalms 95:

Today, if only you would hear his voice,
8 “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
    as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,

Righto. Let's look up the Japanese!

8 あなたがたは、メリバにいた時のように、また荒野のマッサにいた日のように、心をかたくなにしてはならない。

The Japanese uses a literal parallel - 「心をかたくなにする」。 But this appears not to be the only way to translate the expression. ALC, I summon thee!

One of these in particular is pretty interesting! 「心を鬼にする」

「鬼」is a somewhat versatile word that can mean anything from "goblin" to "ogre" to "demon." Here we have it in verb form, which I've never seen before. So this expression is literally something like "Make your heart ogrish." Ogre up that heart!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Thank you, 10 Ants



10 Ants

十 = 「じゅう」; 「とお」

Thank you

Got it?

Image Source

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The 5 People You'll Meet in Japan

Look at that - working on my click-bait titles! Maybe I've been seeing too many Tofugu headlines in my social media feeds (I kid).

Recently I've been reflecting a little on my JET time, and it occurred to me that there are certain types of people who you tend to run into a lot. I suppose these archetypes can be more broadly applied to anyone you meet in Japan, actually.

I know it can be unfair to generalize and place people into categories, but hey, let's do it anyway:

The Japan Nerd - This person was way into Japan before they arrived, whether their gateway drug was anime, manga, martial arts, or Japanese classes in school. Maybe they're not what some would call an "otaku," but there's a good chance their friends think of them as "the Japan guy/girl." It should be noted that the evolution of the Japan Nerd isn't so clear cut. Sometimes they travel to Japan and cocoon themselves in the culture they love so dearly; they may never want to leave. Other times they'll become jaded with less likable aspects of life in Japan. Often, I think, they achieve some healthy balance.

The World Citizen - This is the one who's been to at least a dozen other countries. During vacations they most likely won't travel around Japan. No, they'll be off to Thailand, Hong Kong, Cambodia, China, or some other Asian country that they haven't checked off yet. I've found that the World Citizen tends to be either really interesting and fun or else super arrogant and borish. They won't be in Japan for more than two or three years, most likely.

The Casual Visitor - Japan, huh? That sounds like an interesting place. The Casual Visitor is the person who doesn't have a particularly strong connection to Japan, and perhaps didn't travel very much outside of their home country before arriving. Maybe they'll learn some Japanese; maybe they won't. They'll definitely visit every temple they can, though. The Casual Visitor is often just taking a year away from their real job to come teach English and expand their horizons.

The Lover - Their significant other is in Japan, so they are, too. Sometimes the object of their affection is a Japanese person who they met abroad, and they followed them home. On occasion, the Lover is a mutation of another form - perhaps a Casual Visitor who was planning to return home after a year but then met the love of their life and decided to stick around. And this person can also often be the spouse of someone who decided to embark on JET or who was sent to J-Land as an expat by their company/government.

The Plague Bearer - The yellow fever, it has taken hold! This guy (it's almost always a guy) is just in Japan because he loves the women, and his chances are so much higher of getting an Asian girlfriend in Asia. Maybe he doesn't even like Japan. But he likes Japanese women. Often this guy is a total creeper and a toolbox. Perhaps sometimes he is just the victim of forces beyond his control. Either way we pity him.

Many of the people you meet over in J-town will probably be amalgams of the above models, though some do seem to fall pretty neatly into one category. It probably works better if you don't look deep down at the real underneath.

Image Sources:Black Nerd;Gadling;Nikkei; Japan Times; Quickmeme

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Dance of the flurries

I just learned a cool J-go turn of phrase from one of my colleagues, who came in from his smoking break to inform me that it was flurrying out:


Normally in Japanese, we say 「雪が降る」 (ゆきがふる) to express that white stuff is falling from the heavens. 「小雪」(こゆき), literally "small snow," apparently means "flurries."

And 舞う (まう), which means "to dance," can be somewhat poetically applied here. You can picture it, can't you? A beautiful little snowflake, dancing its way down from the sky. I was told that 「舞う」can also be used to describe falling flower blossoms. Elegant, huh?

This GIF doesn't particularly apply, but I like the Peanuts, so.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Drink your milk

In the US, we've had some memorable marketing campaigns for certain generic foods or beverages."Got milk"" and "Behold, the power of cheese" come to mind. A comparable line of commercials in Japan uses the jingle 「牛乳に相談だ」, which is a little difficult to translate directly, but is probably something like "Milk can help."

They tend to advertise that milk can work to enhance attributes like your strength, beauty, or powers of concentration:

This one I saw recently uses its tagline a little more literally. The jingle can also be translated as "Consult with milk." So that is what this girl is doing:

She says that she's been dieting but isn't healthy. And she is told that the milk advises she...drink milk. Word.