Monday, April 30, 2007

Eating Words, part 1

モグモグ: mogu-mogu: The sound of chewing (general)
バリバリ: bari-bari: The sound of chewing crisp/crunchy things (lettuce, crackers...)
ゴクゴク: goku-goku: The sound of gulping liquid

This is just the tip of the 氷山.

I find these onomatopoetic Japanese words so intriguing. Whenever I learn new ones, it's like middle school all over again, when the teacher showed us that dogs go ouah ouah in French (JP: ワンワン) and bees go summ summ in German (JP: ブンブン).

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

So Ka

One of my favorite students in Japan was fairly good at English. He'd spent some time in America, hiking and climbing around California. I interviewed him and got him into a group class, which turned out to be just me and him most of the time. Much of our class time was spent like this:

Him: "I was being in Tokyo for 4 years..."
Me: "You should say just 'was,' here. 'Was --I-N-G' is usually for actions, like 'I was working.'"
Him: "Ahhh, so ka, so ka."

So ka roughly means "I see" or "of course," or even "is that so?" It's said at that flash of insight when you understand the rationale behind something that has puzzled you, or when it just clicks into place. I want to be able to say this phrase every day, but I'm still quite puzzled over many things. Hopefully, with the aid of this blog, either you or I will start saying "so ka" a little more.