Oct 1, 2013

More Japanese teachers needed in ASEAN, Abe is told

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An expert panel to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has proposed bolstering support for Japanese-language education in ASEAN countries by increasing the number of teachers, as more people in the region are learning Japanese.The proposal, submitted to Abe on Monday, calls for boosting the dispatch ...

When does one's native language stop being native?

| Aug 25, 2013

When does one's native language stop being native?

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A 71-year-old man in Gifu Prefecture made headlines recently when he attempted to initiate a lawsuit against broadcaster NHK. Through its excessive use of foreign derived words, the man claimed, NHK had caused him 精神的苦痛 (seishinteki kutsū, psychological pain). He demanded ¥1.41 million in ...

Hyper, mega, ultra: talking in superlatives

| Jul 28, 2013

Hyper, mega, ultra: talking in superlatives

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One of the ultra-fascinating facets of Japanese is its super-large arsenal of intensifying prefixes that provide an otherwise neutral expression with some emphatic edge. The best-known (and least spectacular) of them is dai (大), which usually translates as “big.” When something went really well, ...

| Apr 22, 2013

Ways to 'spell' Japanese out loud

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I dial a number and ask to speak to my literary agent, Mr. Suzuki.“Moshi-moshi. Suzuki Masatoshi-sama oraremasuka?” “Sumimasen ga, okyakusama wa?”Literally “Excuse me, as for the guest?” That is the speaker’s polite way of asking “Who should I say is calling?”“Shuraibā to mōshimasu” I ...