Hopefully, it’s time to turn my recent struggles around
So today, maybe just because recent issues made me want to shake things up, I got in the mood to experiment. I’ve never been able to decide just how much I should value monolingual dictionaries or when to go for them, since more often than not they contain so many words I don’t know and balloon out my time spent looking up any given word. But today, on a whim, I re-enabled what I have on Yomichan, just to play around with trying to read them. It slowed me down considerably between setting it back up, spending more time trying to read them, and then having to fix Anki cards I make to just have what I want… but I did find that, occasionally, they worked for me.
More to the point, I had one instance in which they saved me. 青息吐息 (あおいきといき). This 4 kanji compound, on Jisho, is defined as “deep distress.” And perhaps if you know the kanji, you can guess further because there’s “breath” and the sort of “emit from the mouth” type one. But the definition is only deep distress, and that doesn’t really make any sense in the context I read it in! The Japanese dictionaries I was using define it more precisely as the sigh that you breathe in a time of such difficulty/distress. That one makes sense. So… I made my first monolingual Anki card too, on a whim. Made a few of them, when the definition seemed simple enough. Good idea for better definitions and a bit more nested reading practice? Bad waste of time to balloon out Anki time and require me to not have a memory slip on the Japanese in the definitions? Who knows! We’ll find out maybe eventually! Most of my cards were English today still, but not all.
The reading itself didn’t go too far, but I did do it for ~90 minutes, and the characters today were thankfully easier to talk to. What I want to share today is a kanji joke:
You need a bit of context, but they talked about that chessboard with the single pawn surrounded by enemies, describing the pawns as 歩兵 (ほへい, footsoldiers), and I apologize for not remembering the exact wording, but the knights have swords, 剣. They color coded those as the two characters (成歩堂 and 御剣) to make a joke about their relationship that isn’t actually written in the text at all, just implied through the coloring. Kinda neat! If my memory doesn’t fail me, in the English translation they had to just directly go “that’s kind of like you two, huh?” but it felt a little more out of place and random without the kanji connection.