idom

She is born sixty-seven feet underground, twelve inches of steel-reinforced concrete separating her from a world on fire and simmering in radiation. There is no higher than the hatch that will lead them out onto the ground, and though she is little, her mother and father take her to the meeting of above and below, and press her hand to the cool metal. Sister is out there, they tell her, because they must believe in these things to carry on day after day in the below when they have no plan on how to open a door crushed by rubble and ruin. 

She is five when she feels the sun’s warmth on her face for the first time, feels the wind and the breeze, tastes the sweetness of spring air. Now below is the grass between her feet, and above the endless sky, the Go-Sci ring twinkling down at them in the night and the Eligius ship hovering in atmosphere. 

She is seven, when the Sky People return to Arkadia and the rest of the Ark comes crashing to Earth. The warped ruins of Alpha are a husk to be rewired, refitted. The Earth, scorched and toxic, saves them but one valley, life preserved by her namesake. 

She is twelve when she climbs the ring. There are eight other students in her year, a paltry number in comparison to those born once they returned to the ground. There are nine of them, some born down sixty-seven feet underground and some born miles above. Climb higher. They have the edge, have peered down at them from space. But she will climb higher. She does not look down until she has mounted the summit, and sees her grey-haired father swaying on his feet. There is a trick to coming down, the trick of not falling, and her fingers are sore when her feet land on loamy soil. Her mother drags her into the medical bay to count bandages for the rest of the week. But still, she is a child of sky, and her fingers combed through the cloud-like mists. 

She fifteen, when she hears of the hundred. There are not many left. Sister. Octavia. Monty. Harper, Murphy. Bellamy, and Raven. Her parents’ mouths gape from a lack of explanation. You sent them down to die? Their faces turn into strangers and she runs, considers letting her feet carry her out and away into the woods, but instead she finds familiar footholds and climbs. Too fast, arms trembling and the soles of her feet slipping over wet metal. She almost falls, catching herself against the hulking shell, and squeezes her eyes shut. 

How old were they? Sister was seventeen. Some younger, some older. Children of the sky, plummeting to the Earth. She stands atop of her world, and looks up. Further to fall, in a world where she does not know what it means, to fall from any great height. The air is cold, hurts her throat. 

How old will she be, when the fall first beckons her?

They live in the Garden of Eden, some five square miles to be shared by thousands.

They live in the Garden of Eden, and she is Eden Kane, set to inherit all of humanity’s inborn grace and inherent sin.

Studying Japanese

Was writing up this post for something on reddit, but I figured some people might find it useful here. This is basically my “Japanese Studying” history condensed into survey form. I often get asked how I got started and how I learned and this is basically of summary of how I go about it along with some advice I would give people looking back at my own experience.

1. Out of 10, roughly how skilled are you in the following areas (1 is absolute beginner and 10 is native level fluency):   

Speaking: 7    Listening: 8    Reading: 9    Writing: 7    Grammar: 9

2. How long have you been studying Japanese? 4.5 Years. 2 in college, got good grades but only studied with an aim of doing well on the tests. The rest has been as primarily an Elementary/Kindergarten ALT in somewhat rural Japan, a fairly immersive setting where I don’t really have any coworkers who can speak anything beyond rudimentary English.

3. What’s your Japanese vocabulary?

15k+ I’d say.

4. Why are you learning Japanese? I want to achieve near fluency and be able to use Japanese alongside my business/economics degree (and hopefully a future MBA) in the business world.

5. What resources do you use to study? I use Anki for an hour+ every day while writing everything down with a pencil and paper except for the most basic kanji and the hiragana/katakana-only words.

I used the first two text books in the Yokoso! Series in college. Pretty good.

The only textbook I have used in Japan is the Minna no Nihongo Intermediate II Textbook at a local volunteer 日本語教室. It was also good. Nowadays I mostly read newspaper articles there.

I am a big fan of the Kanken (漢字検定) exams because they expose you to lots of useful kanji, sentences, idioms, and opposite pairs that you might not otherwise see in textbooks made for foreigners. I just study the practice exam books, putting everything I don’t know how to write or read into a Anki deck. In 2 years I have been able to work my way up from level 8 to level 3 and am currently studying for the pre-2 and level 2 exams.

I am fortunate (for my career and language goals) to work in a place where basically the only English I speak is with my elementary students in class every week. All my work/meetings at school are conducted in Japanese, I make my lesson plans in Japanese, and while I do my best to expose my students to English and international culture, all my time spent playing at recess, eating lunch, or volunteering afterschool is pretty much free Japanese practice time with eager conversational partners.

I am a fan of Japanese Vocaloid music and for the past few years my hobby has been translating and subbing Vocaloid songs and videos for foreign fans to enjoy. You can find some of my work by looking up “descentsubs” on YT but unless you are into anime-type stuff you might not find it interesting at all.

I am also in an English Novel Translation group. We slowly translate novels (currently Animal Farm) into Japanese.  I am the “English Advisor”, helping with English metaphors, idoms, colloquial sayings, and archaic grammar, and the Japanese members correct my translations which is really helpful because while I have improved enough to not actually make many actual mistakes anymore, my Japanese writing is not at all “natural” so I get tons of advice on how actual Japanese people would reword the translations I create.

6. How many hours per week do you actively spend studying?

Anki and Kanken studying usually adds up to about 14 hours a week. I spend a good 4-5 hours on my translating hobby, a few hours reading, and another 3-4 hours at my Japanese class or Translation circle each week. As long as you have a smartphone/dictionary near you, anytime can be study time though.

7. Do you tend to focus more on reading & writing, or speaking and listening?

I have to do all 4 of them currently for my job, but listening and reading are the most important. People can still largely understand you if you write or speak poorly (and I make plenty of minor mistakes every time I open my mouth) but there are no “easy documents” or “easy meetings/lectures/conversations” in the workplace, you either got to know it or you don’t when the moment comes. My solution to dealing with this is to focus on increasing my vocabulary over everything else with grammar given secondary priority.

8. What country do you live in?

Fukushima, Japan

10. Any final words for beginners and fellow /r/learnjapanese folk?
-Lots of people talk about how things like Kanken or JLPT aren’t real indicators of Japanese fluency and they are not, but what they are is excellent goals to help keep yourself motivated and honest as you move forward.

-Anki is an amazing program. It really works and if you stick with it every day you see real results. I only started using it 1.5 years ago and I regret that greatly. Back them I was between N2-N3 in level from accumulated experience, but once I started digesting some essential lists (JLPT N3, N2, N1 Kanji/Vocab lists, the Japan Elementary School kanji list, Core 6000) my life changed in a huge way. I was able to functionally (if slowly and painstakingly at times) read basically everything in my daily life and work environment. I finally started understanding enough Japanese to better know what I DIDN’T know. I could listen to a conversation or read something and understand it to the point that I could easily begin to realize things like “oh, I didn’t catch that one word” or “what is the nuance of that grammar he just used?”. That is when you really start getting on the path towards functional fluency.

-To go along with the last point, BUILD YOUR VOCABULARY (語彙力)! Until at least the N3 level I do think it is important to go along with a textbook like Genki or Minna no Nihongo to help understand the fundamentals of Japanese grammar and build a good base that will allow you to move forward into advanced levels. But once you are able to process the majority of basic grammar forms, pure vocab and kanji rapidly outpaces the usefulness of the grammar points you will encounter in high level textbooks and study materials, even for N2 and N1. While I may hear (or poorly try to use) something like ~ざるを得ない or 揚げ句 once a week, I am constantly bombarded with vocab from even my youngest elementary students (including bug, flower, food, and objects names) that really strains my memory because I don’t have the same life experiences as them. The only way to make up for that lack of experience is to STUDY YOUR ASS OFF! This doesn’t mean you don’t study grammar, but rather from the intermediate level on you should mostly look up grammar when you don’t understand something, don’t waste time studying chapters full of expressions that you may almost never use. Let your real experiences start to dictate what grammar you look up, learn, remember, and use. I never studied grammar by rote for either N2 or N1 and passed just fine using this approach.

-Finally, the only thing that will make these last 2 points worth your time is to find a way to apply your Japanese on a daily basis. Read books, read manga, watch anime, find conversation partners, translate songs, move to Japan, whatever. Anki and drilling are effective but what they really do is get things floating around in your head that are now ready to make a real life connection and be truly remembered. Pretty much every difficult word or phrase I have been able to learn and make my own to use in daily conversation over the past few years has started with memorizing in Anki and THEN encountering it once or twice in conversation or reading, having that A-HA! moment, and finally grasping what it really means. Whether you are in Japan or not, this “application”-phase of Japanese study can take all kinds of forms, just find something that suits your interests. I’m not a big anime fan but I disagree with some people who say “anime doesn’t teach you real Japanese”. If you approach anime or manga with a “I want to understand everything approach” and not just remember words like “senpai”, “dokidoki”, and “kawaii” you will learn and progress. It really doesn’t matter, just find SOME way to live and experience Japanese constantly.

-(For advanced learners) Once I got far along enough in Japanese to make heads and tails of my daily life over here, I couldn’t shake the ever present desire to want to understand EVERYTHING and not be perplexed by things Japanese people do without second thought. I am constantly looking up stuff I encounter. See a sign you can’t read completely? Look it up. Listening to your drunk boss ramble on at the enkai about stuff you don’t care about? Look it up while doing あいずち. Stuck at a meeting or event that doesn’t really apply to you? Silently aim for 100% comprehension trying to jot down every word that you didn’t understand. You won’t be able to do this all the time, but when life or work allows it, turn parts of everyday life into listening or reading exercises. This “looking up” habit is similar to using Anki; it primes your brain and breeds familiarity, just waiting for your next encounter with a newly learned word or phrase to cement it into your memory. Chances are that if it is worth remembering and you continue to watch the same kinds of shows or work in the same workplace it WILL come up again.

-Language is a never-ending process. Learning it is also progresses extremely unevenly when approaching the language as an outsider who didn’t grow up immersed in the culture. After these few years of hard work, I can show my elementary school students how to write any kanji or phrase in their homework, I can out-do the middle schoolers in town for the most part as well, I can dazzle adults with my knowledge of 四字熟語 but in the end, I am not native and never will be. I’m still not anywhere remotely close. All I need to do to prove it is open my mouth for a few seconds and speak Japanese. But it doesn’t matter. Learning this language has provided me with all kinds of amazing human connections, wonderful memories, and a new outlook on my future life and goals after years of fighting depression through college. Good luck and keep grinding!

Nyelvbotlas

Falevelek estek le kozenk, kozenk a padra, csak ez zavart meg neha minket, egy arva lelek nem volt a kozelben. Szeles ido volt, nemreg meg esett, de egyaltalan nem faztam. Hevesen vert a szivem, ahogy egyre jobban elmelyultem tekintetedben. Olyan volt, mintha egy sajat elzart vilagban lennenk, ahol nincs senki mas csak mi, a kulvilag megszunt letezni. Ultunk csendben egymas szemeiben elveszve, csak a madarak csicsergese zavarta meg a siri csendet. Kozelebb hajoltal, mintha keszulnel valamire. Kezedet az enyemre tetted. Megszolalni sem volt idom, de azthiszem nem is akartam. Lassan kozeledtel felem mig vegre elerted celodat es szaddal betapasztottad az enyemet. Nem volt sem vad, sem heves, nyugodt, de oszinte csok volt. Tudtad, hogy az volt az elso? Nem? Mostmar tudod. Nem tartott sokaig, majd amikor ajkaink elvaltak egymastol elmosolyodtal es ismetelten melyen a szemembe neztel. En pedig rakvoros fejjel voltam par centire toled teljesen lefagyva. Nem ertettem az egeszet, tenyleg, semmi ertelme nem volt. Mi csak baratok voltunk, legalabbis en ugy tudtam. De akkor megis mi volt ez? Es en miert nem ellenkeztem? Pedig neked ott volt a lany, az akivel mar majdnem jartal. Most akkor mi lesz? Kavarogtak a gondolatok a fejemben.

Beyond the time
Beyond the time

全身全霊 かけて挑め
zenshin zenrei kakete idome
Challenge others with all your heart and soul

恋い焦がれた 一瞬を手に入れろ
koi kogareta isshun wo te ni irero
Obtain the moment that is desperately yearned for

風を切り裂き 栄光を掴め
kaze wo kiri saki eikou wo tsukame
Pierce through the wind and grab the glory

それがあの日の 答えなんだ
sore ga ano hi no kotae nanda
That is my answer to that day

さあ ゆこう もう一度 お前と
saa yukou mou ichido omae to
Now, I shall go once more, with you

未熟な心 消せない記憶
mijuku na kokoro kesenai kioku
With an immature heart and unerasable memories

突きつけられた”弱さ”抱いて
tsuki tsukerareta “yowasa” daite
I carried the “weakness” that was thrusted in my face

向きあう覚悟 決めた日から
muki au kakugo kimeta hi kara
Ever since the day I decided to face them head on

未来のお前に勝つため
mirai no omae ni katsu tame
It’s so I can beat the future you

ここに来た
koko ni kita
That I am here

全身全霊 かけて走れ
zenshin zenrei kakete hashire
Ride with all your heart and soul

限界を越え 一瞬を掴みとれ
genkai wo koe isshun wo tsukami tore
Surpass your limits and grab the moment

戦うことでしか 何一つ語れない
tatakau koto de shika nani hitotsu katarenai
I cannot express myself in any other way except battle

受け取れ 傷だらけの
uketore kizu darake no
Take it, these bruised up feelings of

果てない 贖罪(おもい)を
hatenai omoi wo
Atonement for what can never be absolved

本当の自分から 逃げられやしない
hontou no jibun kara nigerare ya shinai
I can never escape from my true self

だったら自分自身 変えてやる
dattara jibun jishin kaete yaru
In that case, I’ll change myself

さあ”怖れ”の中に 飛び込め
saa “osore” no naka ni tobikome
Now, jump right into the “fear”

信じ抜く心 支え合う絆
shinji nuku kokoro sasae au kizuna
With a heart that believed thoroughly and bonds of mutual support

知らなかった感情 強く抱いて
shiranakatta kanjou tsuyoku daite
I carried strongly within me feelings that I never knew

幾つもの季節を越えて
ikutsu mono kisetsu wo koete
As many seasons passed

過去のあの日に克(か)つため
kako no ano hi ni katsu tame
It’s so I can overcome that day in the past

ここに来た
koko ni kita
That I am here

全身全霊 かけて挑め
zenshin zenrei kakete idome
Challenge others with all your heart and soul

恋い焦がれた 一瞬を手に入れろ
koi kogareta isshun wo te ni irero
Obtain the moment that is desperately yearned for

時間(とき)が戻らないなら
toki ga modoranai nara
If the clock can’t be turned back

未来を変えにゆくさ
mirai wo kae ni yuku sa
Then I’ll go change the future

受け取れ 全てを詰めた
uketore subete wo tsumeta
Take it, this single wind of atonement that is

唯一の贖罪(かぜ)を
yuitsu no kaze wo
Loaded with all that I am

絶望の中でしか 視えない
zetsubou no naka de shika mienai
The true intent that can only be seen from within despair

本音は明日という名の光
honne wa asu toiu na no hikari
Is a light that is known as tomorrow

全身全霊 かけて走れ
zenshin zenrei kakete hashire
Ride with all your heart and soul

限界を越え 一瞬を掴みとれ
genkai wo koe isshun wo tsukami tore
Surpass your limits and grab the moment

戦うことでしか 何一つ語れない
tatakau koto de shika nani hitotsu katarenai
I cannot express myself in any other way except battle

受け取れ 傷だらけの
uketore kizu darake no
Take it, these bruised up feelings of

果てない 贖罪(おもい)を
hatenai omoi wo
Atonement for what can never be absolved

youtube

Nathan Fillion talks about his hidden talent of creating excellent superhero toenail art, how his Spanish girlfriend sometimes gets English idioms wrong and not being recognized in public on Conan.

WHEN HELL FREEZES OVER

Origin: Late 19th Century, American English - This expression belongs to a small category of “hell” idioms, all referring to Hell as a place which will remain hot throughout eternity. It is an absolute and works well with ironic remarks such as, “a snow ball’s chance in Hell” or “it’ll be a cold day in Hell.”  All of these simply mean NEVER.

Usage:  Informal, spoken general American and Canadian English. Used for ironic negative emphasis (stressing the opposite of what you mean).

Idiomatic Meaning:  Emphatically stating that something will never, ever happen.

Literal Meaning: Hell is supposed to be the hottest place in the universe so the chances that it will freeze over are nil. However the expression does literally mean when the temperature of Hell drops below the freezing point, which would either be 0 ºC or 32 ºF.

Why is this funny?  IF Hell ever did freeze over, and by definition, it couldn’t (assuming you believe in Hell in the first place), then it might look like the frozen landscape portrayed in the photo. But since Hell can’t freeze over, then we could actually say that Hell will freeze over, “When Hell freezes over.”

Sample sentence: My audition for the Broadway show did not go too well. They told me I’d get the part “when hell freezes over.”