pagoda in gray scale shot

The Path of Pitch Accent

So what is pitch accent? Let’s go to the self-proclaimed 上手 of it all. Or at least in the English-speaking world. Kevin O’Donnell (who goes by Dogen [see below]) is certainly メッチャペラペラ. No argument from me as to how hard the man worked to get where he is today. He teaches you pitch accent. For the government-approved dialect of Japanese. I get a bit irked by his choice of pseudonym.  Dōgen, also called Jōyō Daishi, or Kigen Dōgen, (born Jan. 19, 1200, Kyōto, Japan—died Sept. 22, 1253, Kyōto), leading Japanese Buddhist during the Kamakura period (1192–1333), who introduced Zen to Japan in the form of the Sōtō school (Chinese: Ts’ao-tung). A creative personality, he combined meditative practice and philosophical speculation.… Read More

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At the Japanese-English Language Meetup

I enter the Japanese-English meetup and am assigned to a group. For the first part of the meetup, we speak in English. Then, forty to forty-five minutes later, the host tells us to switch languages. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we just keep speaking English. No one objects. For some, Japanese is a scary language, and for others, they appreciate getting more English practice. Sometimes we do. Then the fluency stream takes over. Either you are swimming in the stream, or swimming as hard as you can so you don’t drown. The native speakers and the people who are almost fluent dominate. Sometimes I get a word in. Sometimes I just… Read More

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Speaking Japanese

Your typical Japanese class is about 80% listening, and 20% building dialogues off the lesson of the day. At least, in the classes I’ve attended, which have been classes where English was the language used by the teacher. There is one immersion school in Toronto, but I’m not convinced the only difference in the structure is that everyone has to use Japanese. (Of course, this means you speak more Japanese from day 1, which might be a better approach.) Photo via Good Free Photos But there’s a problem, because next week, you start in on a brand new lesson, and some brand new dialogues. Maybe grammar from some of the… Read More

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