The

In English grammer, the matter of article, definite(the) and indefinite(a) is especially difficult, for there are no such concept in Japanese. Japanese doesn’t always distinguish singular and plural noun, either.
We learn “the” is used for something you already know (the girl you told me yesterday), or a specific part of something (theeye of the storm) or only one thing in the world (the sun), etc.

The other day, when I was writing a joke about the play Romeo and Juliet, suddenly a phrase came to my brain:

Romeo and the Juliet

“Sounds like a pop chorus group,” I thought.

Then another idea came to me. “If the name of the soul music group Cool and the Gang were Cool and Gang, it would sound not so cool.”

And another “If the song title Set the world on fire were Set World on fire, it would sound like a Disney’s show event.”

Shortly, the usage of the article “the” might be such. Or?

Hello Again

Pfui! I had been absent from my blog as much as four days.
It was last Thursday, that I got a mail from my editor, asking another article to publish.
The story was somewhat complicated. We had a plan to publish a book for programming. Then I had prepared the article to publish and, also a supplementary HTML document to put in the bonus CD. Supplementary, but a lot. Then he proposed the whole digital content to publish in another book, too.

I answered “Okay, I could convert the HTML to Word docs in a week, if I work very hard, but I’d be happy if you give me as much as two weeks”
He said “Sorry, it will be too late. Will you do it until Wednesday morning?”

And this. I am very happy to finish my work and come back here. And it’s all for today. I feel like to faint. Good night.

Romeo’n’Juliet

(A fiction based on a truth.)

She: Yesterday I went to see the musical “Romeo and Juliet.”
Me: Ho? How was that?
She: Song and dance were magnificent! But the story had a defect.
Me: You disagree to Shakespeare?
She: Oh, I forgot to tell you, it was re-writed into an affair of today.
Me: I see. Nowadays people have more freedom in marriage.
She: Not that point. And I don’t think so, either. Nowadays many young couples need their parents’ financial aids. The fact that their love underwent the prohibition by their parents should be applied now, too.
Me: So what was wrong?
She: The misunderstanding of Romeo, when Juliet had taken a fake poison. The priest, who arranged the trick for the lovers, he could have told the boy the truth by Keitai-mail, if it really had occurred in the modern life.
Me: Aaaa, that’s write. The story should be written that the priest were a stubborn grandpa and he didn’t like such digital devices…
She: The coordinator is responsible to all possible troubles. He should not tell what he likes or not. In fact, the story went that the priest’s Keitai had been broken. That was worse! A cheap excuse. At least all the three involved must have made a communication test together.
Me: So the failure in sending message should not be attributed to the device, but the service.
She: Docomo!
Me: Yeah, Docomo’s Android. Have you heard the recent trouble that the some mails went to the wrong receivers? So the priest did confirmed his message was successfully sent, but to a wrong person.
She: And unfortunately soon after that some other’s mail was send to him, with an ambiguous message like “All right”.
Me: A twist of fate carried on the wave…
She: But how they play that explanation by song and dance?

The Heavy Season has Begun

Today is the day that a big earthquake occurred in Christchurch, NZ, a year ago.
At that time the news sounded much heavy to me. I knew NZ is as volcanic land as ours and located on the neighbor plate underground. I felt sorry for victims there and at the same time thought “If the similar one occurred under our feet…”

It was not a special forecast. Japanese had lived long with the recognition that “A big earthquake would occur and destroy us anytime.” Many people had suspected a school of fish/ whales/dolphins out of water, specially-shaped clouds, unusual behavior of their pets, and even a headache of themselves, as an omen of the mega-quake.

After NZ’s incident, many uprisings in Arab were reported, a monetary scandal of the Prime minister of Japan was scooped, And in March 11. that occurred indeed.

I feel heavy again, that its “anniversary” is coming soon. I feel heavy to feel many people in Japan would feel heavy. It’s a very complicated heaviness.

But I would like to spend the very day, that day of this year, as normally as I can.

I respect the attitude of New Yorker against the assault by terrorists in September 11. They declared they would live as normally as they could, without showing fear for another attack, which they called their strive against the terrorism.

Though terrorism and natural disaster are different, it is the same we have to put steps forward to the future, over the sorrow, against the fear.

On the coming day of March 11, I would not write so much about the quake last year. I don’t need to remember that matter especially on that day, for there is not a single day that I don’t remember about it. Despite that I will smile and love and enjoy.

My Name

Everything that occurs in the world has a reason. My account bibuji is no Japanese. I have created this arrangement of letters by typing “noniko” with shifting the home position on the keyboard by one key leftward.

Namely, noniko was what I had often used for my account. But recently noniko has come to be very famous that it had often been registered by someone on creating my new account in various sites. On the other hand, I have never failed to create a new account by bibuji. So now I don’t try the account noniko any more but bibuji, or prefixbibujisuffix
.

Noniko is my nickname. It was confirmed when I was a university student. Before that I had not been called by any nicknames. One of the reason was my name Miki was too handy. My family called me just Miki-chan. And I had always very few friends at school. I seem to have been thought by my classmates “a strange person.” I had not been bullied by anyone, but everyone, whether a boy or a girl, called me by last name by “Nozawa-san.” I did not feel that so seriously, because there were indeed many kind classmates to have fun or overcome difficulties together, who only did not call me by first name nor nickname.

It was at last in the university that I was asked by my classmates “Say, how can I call you?”
I got worried, as I had not been accustomed to be called other than “Nozawa-san.” So I created by myself an additional name “Roniko”, after the name of Ronnie James Dio, whom I liked very much (He went to heaven in 2010). “Ko” was a famous suffix or Japanese woman at that time, like Hanako, Yoshiko, Junko, though it seems unfavored by recent young parents.

“OK, just let us call you Noniko!” they said.
It is often said Japanese have difficulties in telling difference between r and l, but it is indeed more serious problem that we often confuse within our mother tongue between n and r.
I didn’t mind being called Noniko, though. I was much satisfied to have got a nickname.

By the way, I assume that the recent increasing demand for the name noniko might be from eastern Asian region, because once a Japanese singer named Noriko had basked in a great popularity, and then got involved a big scandal. I would like to refer not to that singer’s affair, but to another effect of aural similarity between n and r in our mother language.

Out of the Blue

Recently I have succeeded to take a close picture of a bird, many of which live in my neighborhood.

As I was going to upload this image here, I found that I had forgotten how to call this species in English.
I only remembered that I had once got the name months ago. At that time I did not mind to look at japanese-english dictionary, and got it without pain. In other words, as it was so easy to get the translation, it was not inscribed in my mind.
Now I have a policy – find a new English word using all that I already have.

Thus I made a search in Google site, for images, using the keywords: bird blue tail black head

But I found no such image that I expected within the list of the result.
There were some for black-headed or blue-tailed or long-tailed birds. there were even creatures other than birds with such properties.

“Is the species so unpopular?” I asked myself.

This species is generally criticized among the Japanese bird watchers that “The figure is beautiful, the voices are dirty.” It often raises a voice like an uncanny alarm casted in the spaceship. This species is often thought as one of the worst two noise makers, the other being bulbuls as seen below.


(quoted from a my own page in a japanese photo-sharing site)

When the two species gathered around your house and started screaming together, you would like to call the police ( There was a person who did that, but their answer was “Please call the zoo” – a funny fiction, maybe).

“Is it because of their notorious voices, that their photos are prevailed by those of long-tailed guppies or blue-tailed lizards?”

Then I had an idea. I knew it was in the same group with crows. So I opened the page in Wikipedia which explained crows, and followed the link for crow-like species, where I found the name Magpie. That was it! I knew the name!
I went further to the page for magpie-like species. To my surprise, there was no name referring blue-tailed magpie. instead I found Azure-Winged Magpie.

What an elegant name (which I had forgotten though)!

I searched images once more with the name I had got again. Then lots of images of them appeared.

“Hey, you are lucky to have such a nice name, so why don’t you try to sing a bit better?” I talked to those pictures.

TIME the magazine

As the first draft of my book is now on the hands of my editor, I spent much time of today for reading issues of the famous weekly magazine TIME, which I buy by subscription.

When I am occupied with my writing, I cannot have enough time to read them. Although I dare find a chance to read one even in such time, it would be as short as 5-10 min a day, then I can’t read through one page. So an issue with lot to read left is accumulated every week.

“If you really want to master English,” my husband says, “You ought to be able to read a whole issue within 30 min, as you can do it with a japanese magazine.” He is right, I think.

Recently I started to think it quite an unusual process to put a foreign language on oneself. Can you think of something without making a single word in your brain? I think not. Thought is controlled by language and vice versa. “If you really want to master foreign language, you have to use it every time, you should think everything with it, and even speak it in sleep” , it would be true.

I have heard about two cases of Japanese who has mastered English completely. One was a young man who had shutterd himself out of society, because of his nervous problem towards others, and read English papers and magazines all day long. The other was a woman, who had learned English so vigorously, in order to see a Hollywood actor she had admired, been to US and stayed there for two years wandering without a place to live. Possibly such drastically alteration of one’s whole life will be needed, in order to introduce and habituate a different system of words into his mind.

“I don’t think it so far,” says my husband, though.

I had a friend who came from a country in asia. He could speak Japanese very well, and he essentially spoke English, but his mother tongue was his countrie’s.
He once told me, he talked to his sons only in English, because they could learn Japanese at school, with their friends. The word used in one’s circumstance has a strong effect. if they used japanese at home, too, they would have difficuty in English, he said so.
“But to my wife, I use our mother tongue, or she would not answer to me,” he said smiling. Or it just might have been his joke.
“Then what language do you use when you think of something?”
I asked him. So he said,
“Ah…various.”
And he would not explain it further. There must have been some secret, or imminent necessity which I should not ask to tell. So I stopped the discussion.

Anyway (today I’m writing so rough and long because I have a lot of time), I will continue to read the issues, so I would be able to get accustomed to English documents and spare more time to read them.

I sometimes write a feedback to the editors by an e-mail. To my happy surprise, the first message I sent was adopted on the Inbox page! Though it was quite snipped short and corrected to a better expression (thank you, editors!)! In other words, it would have meant that feedback from Japan was so few, that even my humble remark was worth picking up…
So I keep sending them messages time to time, where it would be adopted or not, to tell them I am here in Japan, watching the world.