Thursday, June 16, 2005

This Week's Entertainment


The Japanese language version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The kanji there is read ho-no-o, with the last O being an O and not a U.

It's like 1000+ pages altogether in this Japanese edition. Moreover, because the copy I have is a school library copy, like the one above it's split into two halves. I guess that way more people can be reading it all at once. Or it weighs less in your bag. Given that a lot of Japanese language books are printed very small, maybe there is just a national preference against physically large novels. Anyhow, I am currently about 150 pages into it, and it feels like easy reading. The fact that there are loads of furigana and I have an electronic dictionary certainly doesn't hurt. It feels like reading shonen manga. I figure I average about 10 pages an hour, but I must speed up when there's a lot of dialogue, because I don't think I've spent 15 hours reading it since monday. Then again, it's certainly been no less than ten.

It's just as entertaining in the Japanese, and there are places where they can do jokes in the Japanese that aren't doable in english, such as with セールス魔ン (salesman with the first kanji for magic 魔法 "mahou" replacing the 'ma'). They keep some of the words the same, like Omunokuraaz (omnoculars) but the kanji they put beside those gives the meaning. I could try to claim that this is helping my Japanese ability, but really it's just entertainment. It'll help me to build up confidence for reading a whole real book in Japanese. And by 'real' I mean one with very few furigana.

If this goes well, I'll attempt book 5 in Japanese as well, which i have not read in English yet. What got me in the mood to do this was watching the first two harry potter movies (which I had never seen before). I rented the first one out of a desire for some light watching, and it was awflul, I hope to never see it again. But it got me in the mood and I watched the second one two. Likewise terrible. Cris Columbus is a hack director, and should be banned from movie making. He knows nothing about how to pace a movie, and nothing about how to maximise his shots. Very very very cliche methods, poor movie-making. Anyway, watching that crap made me want to read the oh-so-well written stories again, but at the same time not really. On monday one of the students was reading the first half of The Order of the Phoenix at lunch and the other half was at the back of the class. I picked it up and tried the first few pages to see how it was. It looked doable.

After classes were out, and after the cleaning time, I prowled up to scope out the school library and see what they had. The only one in there was Goblet of Fire, which is coincidentally the only harry potter book which I have read only once. Nice. As I was paging through it and a BlackJack manga, two students happened past, and stopped to see what i was doing. They were curious, because having been here two years, I have almost never been in the library. (Which is strange for me if you know me).

We chatted for a while, and when at the end i asked how to take the book out, it turned out that one of the two boys there was the volunteer librarian, and he filled it out for me. I wrote my name on the card in kanji 瀬戸良真秀 which was fun. One of the two isn't really the book reading type, nor the type to be all that interested in imaginary stuff, but it was fun talking. They were both second year students, and they don't know enough to talk in English about the stuff we were talking about, so it was nice for me to try out my Japanese abilities.

I think they have ceased to be impressed with my Japanese. Only last year's grads and the grads from the year before that (JH grads, that is) really remember how minimal my Japanese was when I first came.

It will be good for this years ninensei (second years) when I have to change a year from August. They are an unusually clever class when it comes to English, and when I change out they will have just learned their past participle (have been, have done, etc) and will be ready to make a big jump with the arrival of a new ALT who speaks (I hope) only minimal Japanese.

Speaking of which, I wonder what it will take for me to make my next jump in Japanese ability? More effort than magic, I suppose.


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