Archive for category language + rhetoric

Yahoo! Japanese dictionary gets the boot


I’m not a translator, but being an English-speaker in Japan, I often need to translate words and documents as part of my teaching job. I used to have a collection of large dictionaries, but now of course everything is online and there’s a zillion apps as well.

My first stop for translating is always ALC because you can look up not just words but also phrases, and it will quickly search its database of news articles and find it or a close equivalent. This is particularly necessary when translating between very dissimilar languages (like English and Japanese) because you can’t be sure that the other language uses words in the same way. In fact, you can be fairly sure it won’t.

For example, I recently looked up “realm“, but what I really needed to translate was the phrase “in the realm of”. I know “in” and “of”, but does Japanese actually use those prepositions with the noun “realm”? If not, and I just stick “no naka ni” and “no” onto “realm”, I’m just going to look silly as well as perhaps not get my meaning across.

So, type in “in the realm of” into the ALC search engine and see what you get. First it gives you the titles of 2 controversial movies by (recently deceased) Japanese film-maker Oshima, and if you’re looking for an excuse to digress, follow those links. But below those come the meat of our search results, and you can see that, in fact, Japanese has many different ways of expressing the idea of “in the realm of”, depending on context. Very useful.

Now, in order to check which Japanese word for “realm” comes closest to the one you want, the only thing to do is pick one at a time and translate them back into English. You can do that right on the ALC website because it handles translation both ways. You can just copy and paste the Japanese kanji into the search box.

Copying and pasting is very convenient, not only because it is quick but also because you don’t need to know exactly how to say those kanji. If you want to look them up in an old-fashioned book-dictioanry (for whatever strange reason), you will need to know how to say the kanji (OK, I know there are other ways, such as by looking up the radical in a radical-based dictionary, but that takes a long time, especially if you’re like me and not entirely up to scratch on your radicals and stroke numbers).

But what if you don’t know how to say the kanji (of course  do know really, but you’ve just temporarily forgotten)? ALC doesn’t help you there.

In such cases I used to use Yahoo! Japan’s dictionary. You copy and paste the kanji you’re looking for into Yahoo’s search box and the results will give you not only the meaning but also how’s it “read” or pronounced. (It won’t give you the pronunciation in the Roman alphabet, though; you do need to read hiragana, the Japanese syllabary, which is no problem because, if you can’t, you probably wouldn’t be using ALC in the first place.)

But not any more. For some reason, Yahoo! Japan has changed the dictionary they use, or changed the format or something, but now you only get the English meaning and Japanese definitions, but not how to say it.

Goo’s dictionary does, however, so Goo goes into my bookmarks and Yahoo dictionary gets the boot. It’s a harsh world, isn’t it? (If you don’t need English translation, Sanseido‘s Japanese dictionary looks useful, as well.)

What’s Japanese for “get the boot”? ALC (via Goo) will tell you: it’s kaiko sareru or kubi ni naru


Life imitates art – the Marketplace Fairness Act

Which is fact and which is fiction here? Can you tell them apart?

A bipartisan group of 53 Democrat and Republican lawmakers have re-introduced a bill – the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 – in both the United States Senate and House of Representatives, which would require online retailers to collect sales tax for state and local governments, even though they lack a physical presence in the state.

It is said the legislation would allow local “Main Street” retailers to compete more effectively against out-of-state internet sellers. Local “bricks-and-mortar” retailers are looked on, by some, as having a competitive disadvantage because they must collect sales taxes at the point of sale, while out-of-state retailers give their customers an effective discount of up to 10% by collecting no state or local sales taxes.

via US Congressmen Reintroduce Online Sales Tax Bill.

Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule

The Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule is passed by the National Alliance of Railroads in section 145, allegedly to prevent “destructive competition” between railroads. The rule gives the Alliance the authority to forbid competition between railroads in certain parts of the country. It was crafted by Orren Boyle as a favor for James Taggart, with the purpose of driving the Phoenix-Durango out of Colorado.

Every new act of government futility and stupidity carries with it a benevolent-sounding title. These include the “Anti-Greed Act” to redistribute income (sounds like Charlie Rangel’s promises soak-the-rich tax bill) and the “Equalization of Opportunity Act” to prevent people from starting more than one business (to give other people a chance). My personal favorite, the “Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act,” aims to restrict cut-throat competition between firms and thus slow the wave of business bankruptcies. Why didn’t Hank Paulson think of that?

These acts and edicts sound farcical, yes, but no more so than the actual events in Washington, circa 2008. We already have been served up the $700 billion “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act” and the “Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act.” Now that Barack Obama is in town, he will soon sign into law with great urgency the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.” This latest Hail Mary pass will increase the federal budget (which has already expanded by $1.5 trillion in eight years under George Bush) by an additional $1 trillion — in roughly his first 100 days in office.

The current economic strategy is right out of “Atlas Shrugged”…

via Atlas Shrugged: From Fiction to Fact in 52 years

In 1969, the US Supreme Court upheld the Fairness Doctrine (later abolished as unconstitutional by Executive Order of Ronald Reagan) with the following statement:

“A license permits broadcasting, but the licensee has no constitutional right to be the one who holds the license or to monopolize a radio frequency to the exclusion of his fellow citizens. There is nothing in the First Amendment which prevents the Government from requiring a licensee to share his frequency with others … It is the right of the viewers and listeners, not the right of the broadcasters, which is paramount.”

In the pages of Atlas Shrugged, the Equal Opportunity Act declared it unfair for one person or corporation to own more than one business; in order to give the little guy a chance. In both laws, the principle is the same: the good of society is paramount over the rights of the individual. This is especially attractive if you get to decide what’s good for society.

“But I believe I made it clear that I am in favor of it, because I am in favor of a free economy. A free economy cannot exist without competition. Therefore, men must be forced to compete. Therefore, we must control men in order to force them to be free.”

“The Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule was described as a measure of ‘voluntary self-regulation’ intended ‘the better to enforce’ the laws long since passed by the country’s Legislature. The Rule provided that the members of the National Alliance of Railroads were forbidden to engage in practices defined as ‘constructive competition’; that in regions declared to be restricted, no more than one railroad would be permitted to operate; that in such regions, seniority belonged to the oldest railroad now operating there, and that the newcomers, who had encroached unfairly upon its territory, would suspend operations within nine months after being so ordered; that the Executive Board of the National Alliance of Railroads was empowered to decided, at its sole discretion, which regions were to be restricted.”

If we simply replace “National Alliance of Railroads” with “Media”, “railroad” with “broadcaster”, and “Executive Board of the National Alliance of Railroads” with “Sinclair Broadcast Group”, we’re good to go.

Ed Schutlz, a host on MSNBC, at an April event organized by Al Sharpton, said that 90% of the media is controlled by conservatives. Bill Davis, a professor of Media Communications (I’m not making this up) at Webster University, says conservatives control programming in 9 out of 10 radio stations. The Washington Times agrees with the 90% figure. Some believe that Jews own 96% of the media.

Applying the Anti-dog-eat-Dog Rule, by liberal consensus, without anti-Semitism, liberals shall, henceforth, be forbidden to control more than 10% of the media.

Fair is Fair.

via Pass the Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule. Fair is Fair

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Japan, the earthquake and the media | openDemocracy

Asahi Shimbun journalist justifies his (and Japan’s) paper’s coverage of the 3-11 disasters.

When traces of radioactive caesium were detected at Tokyo’s water-treatment plants, all the expert opinion told us that it was still at levels that would not pose any danger to the public.

Now, if we had wanted to sell as many copies of our newspaper as possible, all we needed to do was publish a headline: “Tokyo’s water found to be radioactive!” You can guess what would happen if we did that – total panic. Instead, we chose to report the story, but with a less sensational headline.

Were we right to do so?

One of the difficulties we faced as a newspaper was answering the accusation that we were hiding vital information. The internet was filled with rumours, gossip, misinformation and unfortunately at times downright lies. People would read this and then ask why we, Asahi Shimbun, were not publishing it. That easily translated into the charge that we were working on behalf of the authorities and holding back the truth.

I suppose this demonstrates how important it is to encourage all consumers of news to discern carefully their information sources.

via Japan, the earthquake and the media | openDemocracy.


How (not) to make a video

A video I won’t be imitating any time soon, unless I ever want to put people off.

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  1. Altho the speaker is facing the camera, he has his eyes closed or looking off-screen much of the time. I don’t get the feeling he is really interested in talking to me. It looks like a self-indulgent rant.
  2. What’s with the weird animation? Is this a real person? A cartoon figure? Why am I wasting time asking myself these questions?
  3. Why should I or anyone care what Andrew thinks? He doesn’t provide a convincing answer within the first 10 seconds.
  4. He doesn’t provide any compelling reason within the first 15 seconds  why I should continue to listen to the remaining 7 minutes and 40 seconds. I didn’t.
  5. Is he the beast of “Beast TV”?
  6. He looks miserable. Maybe I’m weird, but I prefer to watch people who are either nice to look at, or who look like they’re enjoying themselves and believe in what they are talking about, or preferably all three. See below for some examples.
  7. Did I miss anything?

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Another short, well-made video

Here is another interesting short video. It is professionally made, and I don’t aspire to make anything this slick – it is not worth my time to learn how to do so. I like the background graphics. Watch for the ones that pop up when Ferguson says “Lehman Brothers”. I prefer a speaker on video to be facing me/the camera, tho I suppose switching to a side-view or some other view helps provide variety. But does a short video really need it?

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German video with English subtitles – reporter gets thrown out of EU building for asking questions!

In a former life, I studied German, but it’s now a little rusty, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this recent, interesting video in German with helpful English subtitles.

It seems to be some boring story about a TV reporter getting thrown out of the EU parliament building for being rude and impertinent to EU Parliamentarians, but never mind, the important thing is to hear that glorious guttural yet flowing German language while reading the English subtitles. (The comments reveal that this video has been blocked in German for some unfathomable reason. )

(If the video below doesn’t work, you can also view the video on Mish’s Economic Analysis site)

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Public hoarding old rice over fallout fears | The Japan Times Online

“The buying spree indicates deep public distrust in the government’s handling of the food safety issues…”

I disagree. It’s simply common sense. The public realises that the government is physically incapable of guaranteeing the edibility of rice all over the country. To do so will mean checking for radioactivity in every rice stalk in Japan. The public realises that the government cannot be expected to do this. At best the government will check a few rice stalks randomly sampled from a few randomly selected rice farms in a few randomly selected prefectures.

That doesn’t tell me about the safety of the rice I buy at the local supermarket. Common sense tells me rice packaged and shipped prior to March 11 will be safer than post-March-11 rice.

The public is simply realising that this disaster is simply too big for any single group of people to manage. There is no alternative in this case but for individuals, consumers and farmers, to use their own initiative.

Consumers are starting to hoard last year’s rice over concerns the next crops may be contaminated with radioactive materials released from the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, retailers said Friday.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry is working to establish a system for ensuring the safety of rice ahead of the autumn harvest, with plans to inspect the crop in two stages.

The buying spree indicates deep public distrust in the government’s handling of food safety issues amid the nuclear crisis following a scare over contaminated beef.

via Public hoarding old rice over fallout fears | The Japan Times Online.

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#Fukushima Teacher Pressured to Resign Over His Effort to Protect Children from “Invisible Snake” (Radiation) | EX-SKF

We humans are so susceptible to words. First read this headline (and the article, if you want). Sounds like a clear-cut case, doesn’t it? Teacher tries to warn his students about radiation risks. School authorities don’t like it because it “creates fear/panic” (the big no-no). Teacher “quits”, or was he pushed?

Fukushima Teacher Muzzled on Radiation Risks for School Children

via #Fukushima Teacher Pressured to Resign Over His Effort to Protect Children from “Invisible Snake” (Radiation) | EX-SKF.

Here’s another take: Prof. Lenz at Aoyama Gakuin University points out:

As far as I can tell from the article, all he had to face was the fact that pupils and their parents asked him to spend less time on the subject in class. Since he was hired to teach Japanese literature, I think that is a reasonable request. He can alert anybody all the time he wants when classes are finished, but it is somewhat strange to think he is entitled to use his pulpit as a Japanese literature teacher to spread his (misguided) views.

You may need to read the article again to find where and how Prof. Lenz got this interpretation.

Now read the headline again: Fukushima Teacher Muzzled on Radiation Risks for School Children.

Of course, they could have run with “Fukushima Teacher refuses to teach Japanese literature: insists on talking about radiation”. I wonder why they didn’t?

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Entertainer gets 3½ years for drugs | The Japan Times Online

If possessing and using stimulants is “heinous”, what is murder? Judge Miyamoto needs a reality check.

Entertainer Masashi Tashiro was sentenced to 3½ years in prison Friday for using illegal stimulants and possessing cocaine, marking his third incarceration for illegal drug use.Presiding Judge Takafumi Miyamoto of the Yokohama District Court said the 54-year-old entertainer’s use of drugs was “addictive” and described his offense as “heinous,”

via Entertainer gets 3½ years for drugs | The Japan Times Online.


English Secession: Last Post – Against Secession

This blogger, “English Secession”, is apparently throwing in the towel, but in doing so, he makes some cogent points about why it is so difficult to convince anyone of anything that relies on facts and reasoning as opposed to emotional appeal.

Beliefs are emotional, and any emotional appeal beats reasoned debate with the masses. …

The fantasy of the state is pretty much invincible in the masses, as it takes 5 seconds to shout a statist slogan, but 50 minutes to explain why the economics of it will cause a disaster.

via English Secession: Last Post – Against Secession.