Segue

There were several years between the time I first learned the word segue, and the first time I saw it spelled. I did, however, know at the time what a Segway was. So, for years until I encountered it in writing, my adolescent little ESL brain assumed they were the same word. I used to imagine a tiny guy driving a Segway from one topic to the next, and I honestly believed this was what the word meant. Segwaying into the next topic.

初めて versus 始めて

初めて and 始めて, both read “hajimete”. These were my first encounter with Kanji that are homonyms, and nearly but not quite synonyms. I believe they were taught to us as the former meaning “start”, and the latter meaning “begin” (or maybe it was the other way around). Perhaps the difference is immidiately obvious to native English speakers and it’s just my ESL-ness showing, but at the time I thought start and begin were synonyms anyway, and had the most frustrating time figuring out the difference.

After drilling any Japanese person I came across for long-winded explanations, I finally found a simple way to distinguish them that I could easily remember.

初 is for discrete time, and 始 for continuous time. So for example, 最初 (saisho) means first time (versus the second time, third, last). 始め is the beginning, like the beginning of class. 初 for situations that span first to last, 始 for beginning to end.

Did that adequately explain it at all or just make it more confusing?

This is just my understanding of the difference, it’s very possible that I’m completely wrong. They are also close enough in meaning that nobody will be confused if you use the wrong one, I think.

Is it necessary to be this in-depth in kanji studies, and analyse near synonym pairs for minute differences in nuance? Of course not. I just have a wildly inefficient studying style, where I procrastinate by insisting on really mastering one single word instead of spending my time on useful knowledge. Similarly, Japanese is great if you’re into etymology, because you also get to consider kanji radicals.

I have a bunch more homonym kanji pairs, I might write about some more eventually – if I write about them, that means my time studying them won’t have been a complete waste, right?

Incidentally, I did have to look up discreet vs discrete for that third paragraph. Discrete is the one I know from math class as the opposite of continuous, and discreet is the one about subtle behaviour.

Moebius Double Knit Scarf

My experiment to determine if moebius and double knitting could be combined is complete!

Here’s the result – please excuse my messy sofa background.

Let’s all pretend the misalignment of the 2 rows of snowflakes is on purpose and not because I cast on one stitch too many and realised too late, please and thank you

It turned out much better than I was expecting. I tried to take some pictures to show the length.

I don’t own any full length mirrors and my phone’s front facing camera loves to disort images. I took this using the back facing camera and a mirror to make sure I was aiming it somewhat correctly, please excuse my arms all over the place.
Looped around twice, same awkward photo technique.

I’m the least pleased with the cast-on method I used. This involved a crochet hook and basically making a crochet chain around the needles, and left this weird border that was protruding on one side and caving in on the other.

The cast-off worked out much better. I just googled double knit cast-off and followed this video. It would look even better if my tension weren’t all over the place.

Overall I’m quite pleased with how it turned out, and hopefully the weather will stay cold enough for me to get some use out of it!

…In other news, I just discovered that if I start a new blog post on my phone, upload all the images I want, save it as a draft, finish writing it and publish from my computer, and then open the app where my draft post is still open, my post seems to get un-published and revert back to its draft form. This has been a valuable learning experience.

Sakura Chocolate Milk with Strawberry Jelly

Valentine’s day has passed, which means it’s time for stores to replace the chocolate with more spring-themed sweets. I found this drink at the Family Mart by work.

That’s sakura and chocolate flavoured milk with strawberry jelly. I do find the packaging quite attractive.

As for the flavour, it tasted about as appetizing as it sounds, honestly – it was like sweetened milk with chunks in it. I couldn’t really taste the sakura (not that I’m quite sure what that should taste like anyway), and definitely didn’t taste the chocolate. The jelly added a texture that made my boyfriend compare it to curdled milk.

It was an enlightening experience and I’m gonna stick to my ice coffees for now.

The Most Useful Japanese Word

On my quest for conversational fluency in Japanese, there’s a single word that’s taken me from bumbling hesitancy to native-like speeds. It cut out my foreigner-esque mid-sentence thinking breaks and has my back whenever my vocab is lacking. Also, it’s wildly anticlimatic; it’s basically “stuff”. やつ (yatsu) – I’m honestly not quite sure how it differs from 物 (mono) and 事 (koto), the words we usually learn for “thing”. I think maybe it’s more conversational, or perhaps 物 and 事 are usually parts of other words while やつ can be used alone.

Whenever I don’t know the proper name for something, instead of taking a mid-sentence dictionary break or trying to formulate a long-winded explanation, I can just point to “that thing” and move on. As a bonus, my conversational partner is rather likely to tell me the name of the thing, and I get a free new vocab word with none of the dictionary using effort. Combine it with adjectives for an even more impressive display of feigned fluency (あの大きいやつ、この赤いやつ, that big thing, this red thing).

I think that when speaking a foreign language, the most important thing is to be comfortable to listen to. Nobody wants to wait around as I take long breaks of visible struggle, trying to formulate the perfect sentence with all the correct words and perfect grammar. It’s much more pleasant to listen to someone who speaks at a regular pace, even if there is an excessive use of “thing”. Also, everybody knows that I’m not a native speaker, and in general people are quite understanding of that.

My last “nihongo jozu” was earned at starbucks, when I wanted a protective cardboard sleeve for my hot cup and asked for “あの紙のやつ” (that paper thingy). And honestly, does anybody even know the proper word for those in English?

Ways the Office Roomba Resembles my Ex-Manager

  • Gets hopelessly lost in the stockroom.
  • Once, we found the Roomba back home in its charging stand every day for a week. We thought it had finally learned to do its job. Turns out, it wasn’t charging propery and actually hadn’t done anything all week.
  • Seems to be mindlessly whirring about in a state of perpetual confusion.
  • Eats things it really shouldn’t.
  • Is obnoxiously loud and distracting, randomly comes over to my area when it is in no way necessary.
  • Keeps trying to consume literal garbage.
  • Seriously how do you not know where things are yet, your target is RIGHT THERE.
  • We’re bending over backwards to accomodate its shortcomings. Despite numerous cardboard boxes to block off the shelves that are juust far enough off the ground to get stuck under, getting all the power cords off the floor, and making really idiot proof post-it notes to mark where everything is I swear to fuck dude how do you still not know where that shelf is you’ve been here 3 months and it’s sharpied on there on the most eyecatchingly bright note, they still find a way to fuck it up.
  • Meant to make the workday better, but through utter incompetence really only adds to everybody else’s workload.

Officially, the reason we named the Roomba after our old manager (he got fired) is because he did the vacuuming before we got it, and was the one to suggest we buy it. In reality though, it’s because they both totally suck.

Bonus section!

Ways the office Roomba Differs from my Ex-Manager

  • I like the Roomba

Buses in Tokyo

I’ve ridden the same bus at the same time 5 mornings per week for close to half a year now. The fare is the same however far you go. My dream is that one day, the bus driver will trust that I managed to board the correct bus and stop asking what stop I’m going to. I’m the only foreigner around, I know you remember me drivers. I’m not articulate enough to properly enunciate the name of my 8 syllable stop at 8 am, you’re making it awkward for everyone. Please just let me bleep my card in silence like the other people, y’all too おもてなし

Valentine’s Day in Japan

In japan, it is tradition for ladies to give chocolate to the men in their lives. This is not just limited to romantic interests – one is also expected to buy 義理チョコ (“giri choco”, which I believe translates to something like “social obligation chocolate), to male coworkers. This is my first valentine’s I’ve had a job, so I bought some chocolate to give to my coworkers tomorrow.

Okay so only 2 of these are actually for work – the 2 unwrapped ones. The rest are for my boyfriend, because I’m horribly indecisive and also he’ll end up sharing most of it with me anyway, so really I just indirectly bought myself a bunch of prettily wrapped chocolate.

They all had the option of being purchased pre-wrapped or not (I just chose to get the ones for work sans wrapping so I could remember which they were). They cost around 400 yen each (just below 4 dollars I believe). The most expensive one is the one in the upper right corner; it’s a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, and foreign products tend to be outrageously priced here. This one was around 700 yen. Google tells me that’s about 5 pounds, a far cry from the £1 ones I once witnessed on a vacation to Edinburgh, and still long for.

If I ever move again, it will be to Britain for the sensibly priced chocolate oranges.

Complement versus Compliment

Complement and Compliment are two different words. Armed with this knowledge, you are now better at English than, in my approximation, roughly 100% of stores, hotels, airlines, et cetera.

Let’s dive deeper.

Complement. The word Complement concerns things that fit together. For example, if your choice of wine really brings out the meatiness of your meaty foods, the wine complements the meal (assuming you are the kind of person who enjoys the flavour of wine, and you’re not like me and consider it the taste of the bitter agony of grapes’ rotting corpses). If you received said wine on the house, it was complementary. This is where everybody goes wrong – I dare you to find an example of a free bonus being called complementary like literally anywhere ever.

Compliment. I’m sure you know this one already, since this is the word whose existence people in general are aware of. It’s saying nice things, so for example “Wow, author of this post, you sure do understand English better than most actual native English speakers” would be a compliment (also aw shucks stop it you).

For one last example, imagine I hand you a free bag. On this bag is printed the phrase “You are a fabulous human being”. This bag is both complementary and complimentary.

Now go forth, enjoy your newfound smug superiority, and I’m sorry about how you can never look at a store’s homepage again without getting annoyed that they got it wrong.