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ARRRGH CICADAS published on

There’s a big treefull of them just outside. They wake me up in the morning, and I’d rather they refrained. I have an alarm clock.

These are like twice as big as the Ohio ones, too. One of them zoomed right by my arm when I was coming up the stairs yesterday. I thought it was a bird.

I’ve been messing with the Maya PLE on and off the past month or so, and I’m most of the way through the tutorials that come with it. It actually doesn’t strike me as difficult, exactly – it’s just that it requires memorization. There are so many options, it’s hard to remember how to get to the one you want. Some things are named really opaquely, but after you’ve figured out what they do and how they relate to all the other similarly-sounding things, it’s hard to think of anything else they could be named. This is not something it would be easy to go back to after a long break.

According to Fretful-sensei, the name “Kinoshita Sakura” (“under the cherry tree” when written in Western order) does not sound overly cutesy to a Japanese person, nor do “Akino Matsuri” (“fall festival”) or “Hino Matsuri” (sounds similar to “Hina Matsuri,” aka, the Doll Festival; on its own sounds like “fire festival” or “sun festival,” which may or may not exist someplace). I’m not sure whether to believe her, as she sometimes seems a little less in touch with Japanese culture than some of the other teachers – maybe it’s just she’s older and has kids, so she doesn’t have much free time?

Last week I was trying to figure out why the kanji 「漢」, which means “China/Chinese,” and is usually pronounced “kan,” was being furigana-ed in a manga as “otoko” (「オトコ」) which means “man.” I’d googled this and found a lot of Japanese websites doing the same thing, but couldn’t find an explanation of the practice. Fretful-sensei stared at this in bewilderment and could offer no explanation. Later I asked another teacher, who explained immediately that writing “otoko” with the “kan” kanji meant basically “macho man” (with about the same level of associated irony), and most people knew it.

Fretful-sensei also gets surprised by the existence of some Japanese food items – this week she was astonished by nattou candy, which several mentally unbalanced people in my class have apparently voluntarily eaten. I wasn’t particularly surprised by this, as I’ve accidentally purchased sweetened nattou-flavored soymilk, deceptively sold right alongside the chocolate and banana-flavored soymilk.

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