Monday, May 21, 2012

Keeping Up with the Takahashis

Google+ can help you keep up with your foreign tongues! Just follow a major newspaper in that language and then quickly scan the blurbs. News writing dictates that the most important details go in first, so those three sentences you read in that little box are pretty much what the article is all about.

For example, I follow the Asahi Shinbun, a national daily in the land of the falling birth rates:

The first news item is about a popular "mini-pig" that can follow commands like "shake hands" and "sit." The lesson to take away from reading this is that today seems to be a slow news day for Japan.

Next, we have the 30th anniversary of the country's famous bullet train, at least the eastern bits of it, if I'm reading correctly.

The truly fun part about this informal language reinforcement is the comments. In the mini-pig news item, Makiko (bunny icon) asks if pigs are smart. Yes, Makiko, they are, but consider this -- wouldn't a cat be smarter because it refuses to learn to do silly tricks for human amusement? Since my Japanese is not quite up to par with my English/Tagalog snark, I am unable to respond to Makiko. However, I could say, "はい" (hai = yes). But that makes me sound like a moron instead of the incredibly sophisticated mini-pig expert that I truly am.

Other fun sites to follow on the Google+: Lifehacker, The Onion, and Barack Obama, if only for the 500 comments in Chinese that pop up almost instantly after every post, and the two angry English speakers telling them to write to their own government, darnit.

Back to Japanese--"But Fragrant Elephant, you don't speak to Japanese people," you protest. Not true! Why, this weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting a dog named Kuma (bear), owned by a half-Japanese person. That counts. Also, Kuma responded to "Pikachu." See, I'm still using my Japanese language skills!

And with that, I bid you a Happy Monday! 元気でね~