Made it to level 32!
It took over 14 days, which is a little on the longer end, but my life got a bit busier over the past week (hence why this update was a little late), so I didn’t mind it. My daily WK workload is about the same every day, but I was definitely slacking on my reading and grammar study because there were several days where I just didn’t have the time. I got the minimum done that I wanted to accomplish, though!
I also followed a whim and randomly decided that I wanted to learn how to embroider, after wanting to learn how to do it for years! This was my first embroidery project (yes, this is relevant to my study log):
(Not that I really need the reminder )
I wrote a little more about it in the thread with the embroidery pattern .
Also, I noticed that I have now burned over a quarter of the items on WK! I still have a long way to go, but it’s cool to see how far I’ve managed to come.
My burned item count as of the beginning of this level: 2357 (and 1651 on KW!)
Fun encounters with Japanese outside of WaniKani:
DDT’s 25th Anniversary show on March 20 was fun! It started with a powerpoint presentation that was making a very unconventional argument about phoenixes to try to tie them into DDT’s (very silly) lore, and it ended up teaching me the word 不死鳥.
Here’s a screenshot I took to give more context to my flash card:
I’m starting to be able to read more and more of Super Sasadango Machine’s powerpoint slides, though I can’t really read much of it fast enough to keep up, and usually I just catch a few scattered words and kanji and have to fill in the context from the live translation thread.
The most exciting news to come out of the anniversary show is that DDT and AEW now have a formal partnership. Of course, if you follow DDT even a little bit, this wasn’t exactly shocking news, haha, because Takagi has been talking about their relationship for years, and it’s clear the two companies are on good terms and were already sharing talent. Recently, he talked about heavily encouraging the wrestlers to work on their English, with the hopes of it helping them succeed internationally. I have my own opinions on what DDT (and TJPW) could be doing to increase their following among international fans, but it’s neat that they’ll be able to do more stuff with AEW. DDT has a bit of a weird reputation among western fans, so a lot of the really wild stuff probably won’t get to make it onto primetime live American TV, haha, but their wrestlers are very skilled at just regular wrestling, too. Konosuke Takeshita, who just lost the KO-D Openweight title, is going on a long excursion to America, and hopefully they’ll give him a nice spotlight.
I feel like both AEW and DDT/TJPW are in a position where they could use a lot more Japanese and English support respectively to make their storylines truly accessible to the audience on the other side of the ocean, but hopefully things are moving in a positive direction there. In any case, I’m working very hard to overcome my own reliance on translators!
Speaking of that, DDT just did another Hiragana Muscle show! I was wondering what I was going to do about it, because I wanted to watch it, but was unsure how much I’d be able to get out of it without good listening comprehension and possibly no live twitter translation, but the decision ended up getting taken out of my hands anyway because they didn’t stream it live this time, and the shows are only available on VOD. The person who runs the new DDT English account expressed a desire to want to do some sort of translation for it (it’s one of his favorite wrestling things as well), but it’s unclear what format that might take, or if there’s even enough interest to make that worth his while.
Something that’s kind of funny is that Yuki Ueno, who plays one of the main characters, had to miss several of the shows because he was sick (not with covid), and instead of changing the show, they ended up just running it as planned, except without anyone physically playing his character haha (including the match he had, which his opponent wrestled as if he were fighting an invisible man. If you don’t watch wrestling, invisible man matches are a staple of indie wrestling). He was able to make it to the very last performance, though.
I saw this fanart of Yuki Ueno, and I was pleased that I could read and understand most of the text on the image, except for what I believe is his character’s name. I also realized that I can now read 必殺技男子, thanks to the time I’ve been spending on Anki. Ueno’s character is a member of the Finisher Boys, who are reincarnated gods of wrestling. The 必殺技男子 are going on indefinite hiatus, unfortunately, due to Takeshita’s excursion to America.
There was a bit of discussion on wrestling twitter concerning Asuka/Veny’s pronouns (when talking about her in English). When Veny appeared in AEW, the English commentary used they/them pronouns for her, and other English commentators at other shows produced by different people, such as the Hana Kimura Memorial show, also used they/them pronouns for her. This was because English speakers saw Asuka referring to herself as “genderless” when the word she was actually using was ジェンダーレス. Apparently, the term is used more as a catch-all for gender nonconformity rather than “nonbinary” as “genderless” suggests. Asuka is transgender but not nonbinary, and one promotor spoke to her about her pronouns, and she clarified that she would prefer she/her pronouns to be used over they/them. Good to know!
In other wrestling news, we got another Golden Lovers twitter interaction! This one was very short, but still managed to have unknown grammar (to me), so I ended up relying on a friend’s translation anyway, haha! It occurred to me with this that we’ve now seen three twitter interactions over the past year or so, and in every single one of them, Ibushi was the one who initiated the conversation, and Kenny still has yet to directly reply to him (the only time he did, he replied through Michael Nakazawa’s translation instead of directly to the original tweet). It’ll still be a while yet before anything can directly happen with the story, but it’s nice to see.
I did have one small major victory in listening comprehension. I was watching the latest TJPW show, and there was a spot where Itoh and Raku both got up on the turnbuckles and said something, and I could tell that Itoh was saying her usual line: “who’s the cutest in the world?”, to which Raku answered “Itoh-chan!”, and then Raku said something, which I heard as “who’s the sleepiest in the world?” to which Itoh answered “Raku!” I was pretty sure that I heard ねむい, haha, and it made sense with her character, and sure enough, Mr. Haku happened to confirm this on twitter. I was right!!
I call it a small major victory because it was a very small thing, but I find it most satisfying when I can understand the jokes. Out of everything, that’s when I truly feel like I’m actually making progress toward fluency.
みんなの日本語 Lesson 27 – Lesson 28
Lesson 27 of MNN ended with an exercise asking me to introduce the hero of a book or comic that I read as a kid and talk about the things that they can do (practicing the potential form). I struggled a bit with this at first because all of the things I wanted to talk about required fantasy/science fiction vocab that I just didn’t have. Eventually I settled on talking about Tokyo Mew Mew, haha, because thanks to 大海原と大海原 and a few other things, I felt more equipped to string together actually relevant sentences (I knew the word 魔法少女, for instance).
I didn’t really have the vocab for talking about, like, magical transformation, but I figured out a way to say one thing without using specialized vocabulary: “いちごは魔法でイリオモテヤマネコになれます”. I tried to talk about Ichigo being able to fight, but almost all of the fighting-related vocab that I had was specifically wrestling vocab, so I had to go with something else unless I wanted it to sound like Tokyo Mew Mew was a wrestling show, haha.
For exercises like that, I tend to avoid dipping into WK vocab unless it’s vocab that I’ve seen elsewhere enough to have at least a slight idea of how to actually use it. I frequently get thrown off by some words taking a different particle than I expected with some verbs, so I think it’s a good idea to stick to words I’ve actually seen used in context a lot. One of my friends suggested that I pick an easy character to write about instead of trying to pick something that I actually read as a child, but personally I like trying to figure out a way to talk about things that are interesting to me, even if I have to resort to talking about it in a bit of a roundabout way. Feels like good practice for actual conversation, haha.
I also learned the lesson 28 vocab and started working through the lesson! It’s going well so far, though I haven’t gotten very far along, due to being busy.
I updated the MNN kanji by WK level spreadsheet with the lesson 28 kanji!
Reading in Spanish (Wonder: La Lección de August)
I think I was wrong about Wonder being written mainly in present tense, because although the very beginning of the book was, the rest of it seems to be mostly past tense. It’s not really a problem for me, at this point, but it might make it slightly less absolute beginner friendly than I thought.
The book is going very well for me so far! It feels almost like when I first started reading chapter books in elementary school, haha, and read a lot of stuff that was above my level and somehow managed to figure them out. Most of the time, I can guess what words and phrases mean from the context, so I’ve been tempted not to even look many of them up, but I want to make sure I’m actually internalizing as much as possible so that my next book is easier.
I switched to using Reverso Context for my main dictionary instead of a monolingual one. The monolingual one was just taking too much time, and with as fast as I’m able to read this book, since I’m largely mostly just confirming what I already thought a word/phrase meant, I’ve really been benefiting from reading the example sentences and their translations. It helps confirm the tone. I think I’ll save the monolingual dictionary for when I’m at a more advanced level.
Unfortunately, I fell even further behind on 大海原と大海原 . However, I signed up for the spring read every day challenge, so hopefully I’ll be making progress on the book again soon!
I also committed to attempting to read something both in Japanese and in Spanish every single day. Some other people decided to also challenge themselves to read every day in multiple languages, so it should be fun!
With the TJPW translations, it took me over a week to finish translating the Ryogoku show . I could’ve finished it a little faster if I’d been less busy. Unfortunately, I’m now a show behind, though I think I’ll be able to catch up because the more recent shows aren’t as long as Grand Princess was (7600+ characters ), so there’s a lot less translation work for me to do.
Here’s a longer post I wrote about the process of translating the post-match comments for the show:
2022.03.19 TJPW Grand Princess — (65 words added)
For all of that, only adding 65 words isn’t bad! My wrestling deck now has 496 total words in it, and it’s work that is definitely paying off. I wonder how long it’ll be before the count of new words starts significantly tapering off haha. It’s really exciting when I read a paragraph that’s full of words I’ve already SRS’d and realize that I can pretty much read the whole thing. This is still a little uncommon, but it’s happening more and more.
I noticed something cool in one of the flash cards that I added recently. It was for the word 花道. I installed a monolingual dictionary with images, though for the most part, the only images I was seeing were stroke order charts for kanji . But for some reason, 花道 had a nifty little illustration!
Look at this! I wish more of my cards came with illustrations. I realize I can add them myself, but it’s easier if Yomichan does the work for me.
Someone launched a new project called Yakuaru, which is a supplemental J-E glossary for media translators/localizers. It’s intended to help people build their own glossaries and find inspiration/context from ideas from other people in the localization community. I haven’t poked around much yet (and they’re still building it), but it looks really handy so far, even if you aren’t doing translation/localization work.
It’s strange to think of myself as someone doing translation work, but I guess I am, even though my work doesn’t have a large audience (and I wouldn’t want it to right now ) and frequently has errors. I’ve already improved a lot since I started doing this a few months ago, though, and I’ll continue to get better and better the more I practice. At the very least, I’ve earned the right to have opinions on localization discourse, haha.
On a different subject, I dug up a link to Hiroko Townsend’s thesis, which was what the Keisei semantic-phonetic composition script was originally based on. I found the link for someone else on the forum, but ended up skimming the thesis myself because it’s a subject I’m interested in. I think I’m far enough along in kanji study that I could actually understand most of it, which surprised me. Townsend has a section on pedagogical implications at the end, where she talks about how phonetic components can be incorporated into teaching kanji.
I wonder what she’d think of the Keisei script. She seems to be of the opinion (based on existing research) that introducing oral/aural skills prior to reading/writing skills is more beneficial, but WK takes the complete opposite approach. Personally, I think the way the Keisei script is set up, paired with WK’s SRS, is actually a fantastic way to learn (though I think it could be improved by changing the order the kanji are taught in). I never actually studied the principles outlined in this thesis, yet I feel like I have an intuitive understanding of them, and have already been able to make use of them when learning new kanji outside of WK. There have been multiple occasions where I could successfully guess the reading of an unknown kanji just from the phonetic component.
Something that’s interesting to me is that it appears that the Keisei script has actually encouraged a lot of WK users to further study this. I looked up The Kanji Code again on Amazon, and multiple reviews for the book specifically mention finding it because of WK! It’s an aspect of kanji study that doesn’t really seem to get discussed much outside of here, I guess maybe because it doesn’t seem to be taught a lot in schools, and many self-taught Japanese language learners online hate WK’s method and think that kanji should be learned entirely through vocab encountered in the wild, which sort of runs contrary to this approach.
I also found a second article on identifying phonetic components of kanji for learners of Japanese. This one was published in a journal a few years later, by different authors. I’ve only barely looked at it, but thought the link was worth holding onto.
I did read a bit, though, and one learner (on page 237) said that because there isn’t a reliable way of guessing the pronunciation of kanji through its phonetic-semantic composition, “they are useful for remembering a reading a reading one has already learned, and not a lot more.” I guess I do view them primarily as a mnemonic aid, but to me, that is more than half of the battle, as far as learning goes, haha. If I learn a new kanji in WK and its on’yomi reading comes from one of its components, I’m way more likely to remember it in the long term (compared to trying to use one of WK’s mnemonics or creating my own), and the combination of a phonetic and semantic component really does a lot to cement kanji into my brain.
To me, it’s a bit similar to rendaku. There are some rules to how rendaku generally works, but also plenty of exceptions, so memorizing the rules only has a chance of actually helping you with any given word, and can’t really be relied on. But I feel like I’ve benefited heavily from the rendaku info script just because of the sheer quantity of vocab in WK, and the many, many opportunities I’ve had to practice the rules and get a feel for some of the kinds of words they tend to work for, and some of the kinds of words that tend to be exceptions.
I think with both cases, studying the rules alone probably wouldn’t do much for me, but being aware of the rules while individually considering thousands of separate items does actually give a tangible boost to my ability to memorize readings and also figure out how to approach unfamiliar words/kanji.
That’s a lot of paragraphs about a rather dry subject, sorry! I’m honestly considering trying to contact Hiroko Townsend after I finish WK, just to let her know the impact of her work on thousands of learners here (if she’s not already aware of it). I’m really curious to know what she thinks of WK, and if she approves of the implementation of the Keisei script for teaching this concept. It would be interesting to see someone do a study comparing WK users who use the Keisei script and WK users who don’t! I wonder how much of a difference it actually makes.
WK Extra study mover — This script allows you to move the extra study UI (or hide it completely). At first, I wasn’t really bothered by the position of the new feature, but after having it for a couple weeks and ignoring it completely in favor of the self-study userscript, I started to feel like it was taking up valuable real estate, so I used this script to move it to the sidebar instead.
Hopefully these next couple weeks should be a little less busy for me. My main goal is to keep progressing through WK and my textbook, and to read something every day in both Spanish and Japanese to keep up with the challenge! I hope to catch up on the TJPW translations and also finally start making up ground on 大海原と大海原. I’ll also be adjusting to a new work schedule, but I don’t think it’ll be too hard to fit my studies around it.
Onward to level 33! 行くぞ！