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 […]

Do interpreters have better language skills than translators?

In a thread about the road to becoming a Japanese-English translator/interpreter on the Translators Cafe forums (hat tip: Japanese Me), the user Sarah L had this to say about a fellow MIIS student who didn't have the linguistic chops for simultaneous interpretation: I know you shouldn't compare people but here goes. I said in a […]

Dying languages

The world's languages are becoming extinct at an unprecedented pace. Language diversity is important socially, culturally, and scientifically, and the loss of so many languages — the vast majority of which have never been written down, let alone studied — is a tragedy for humankind. But I think that those calling for dying languages to […]

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. […]