Moving “Recycling Oriented Society” to the compost heap

If you translate out of Japanese, you've probably come across the term "循環型社会." According to wikipedia, it means "a society that efficiently uses and reuses finite resources in a sustainable cycle" (my translation). For some reason, the accepted translation for this term seems to have become "recycling oriented society" (it's the only one listed in […]

Game to test kanji trivia

Here's a cool Flash game called "Verbatim" that tests your ability to read obscure kanji compounds and English words (I did best at that). After the time is up, it creates a mecha-robot for you. The more you got right, the cooler your robo.

Japanese website

One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to create a Japanese-language website. I waited until November, but I managed to get one up by year's end. Here it is: BetterTechEnglish.com My goal for the site is to give pointers on technical-English writing to Japanese native speakers, while creating a presence that will help […]

Electronic dictionaries: dead gadgets walking

Back in the 1980s and 90s, stand-alone word processors were all the rage in Japan. It was before PCs found widespread adoption in Japan, and because of the large character set of the Japanese language, it took years of training to be able to "type" Japanese on a mechanical device. I fondly remember a word […]

Who in the heck uses half-width alphanumeric input?

If you write Japanese, you'll be familiar with using a front-end-processor (FEP) to input Japanese text. On Windows, this is typically the IME. IME lets you choose between various "input methods": direct input (normal keyboard typing), hiragana (which can be converted to kanji as needed), katakana, and so on. With the exception of direct input, […]

Funny errors in Japanese

I recently bought the book いいまちがい (Japanese Made Funny), a bilingual collection of funny errors made by foreigners speaking Japanese. One of my favorites was a guy who wanted a hamburger with no ketchup or other condiments. He calls up his Japanese friend, and asks him how to say "plain" in Japanese. The friend tells […]

Serendipitous misinterpretations of English loanwords in Japanese

This is probably going to give me away as a hopeless language geek (I'd been hiding it so well until now, too!), but I find it fascinating when language speakers borrow a word from another language, and due to insufficient understanding of the loaning language misinterpret it — but in a way that makes sense. […]