Friday, January 28, 2011

in praise of breakfast sausage

This has been the week of Lang-8. Lang-8 (which I've mentioned before, but bear with me) is a language-learning site, as well as sort of a social networking site. . . and, once you've decided to sit down and do it, madly addictive. I would say that it's inherently more awkward than Facebook, just because criticism and cultural collision are sort of an integral part of how it's set up. I already had an awkward encounter which involved me editing out an insufficiently considered comment on current events. (Though in my defense, I had read/corrected an exasperated entry from a Japanese person earlier that day asking why on earth everyday Americans have access to guns, so I guess I misread the overall climate of discussion. Whoops.) (Okay, and I also threw a potentially upsetting/controversial comment out there with no context or explanation, so, seriously whoops, dumb.) (But it's gone into the deletion ether now, so.)

But, overall, it's a positive site, and I've been really surprised that all the entries I've put up so far have gotten at least one correction. I think there are higher proportions of native Japanese and English speakers on the site, just because entries in those languages seem to get corrected the most and the fastest, but I've also gotten good corrections in Spanish and French. It takes some searching, but there are also some really good (even incisive) articles about cultural differences, idioms, and just everyday experiences that are not so typical for everybody. Recent favorites: An entry complaining about how American public restrooms are inferior to Japanese public restrooms (no washlets!), and someone who asked what the phrase "jizz in my pants" means. . . he heard it on Youtube. O_o

So. . .I'll try to keep correcting and posting there regularly, and I shall learn what I can learn. :P

Things I have learned/re-learned this week (or, evidence that this blog is all about me, and not about what anyone else might actually want to read, because this is just a public post-it to myself. I lose notebooks.)

  • Lots of characters which I hadn't looked at in a while. . . ugh. Add kanji practice to my ever-growing list of stuff to do, and to do regularly.
  • 自習 is "jishuu," self-study. (I could remember the first character but not the second.)
  • 屋上 is "okujou," roof. (The meaning of which I could have guessed from the characters, but sadly not the pronunciation.)
  • 煙突 is "entou," chimney. (This came up as I was trying to describe a photo from the roof of la Pedrera.)
  • 罠 is "wana", a trap.
  • 煉瓦造り is "rengajukuri", brick. (The cool thing about this word is the character
  • 煉 is "to knead" or "kneaded.")
  • 図形, "zukei," is figure (as in figure drawing, which I was trying to describe. I sorta kinda knew both characters from "chizu," 地図, map, and "ningyou," 人形, doll.)
  • 祖国, "sokoku," is homeland.
  • 馬鹿げてる, "baka geteru" is apparently a more modern way to say "stupid" than 魯鈍, "rodon."

  • "Fashionable" is not "de moda!" It's "a la moda!" (Yes: like pie with ice cream! Yes: I felt dumb for screwing it up.)
  • When I am tempted to use "desde" (from) for a date or otherwise, I should check and see if "de" is what I mean.
  • "Tanto" can be "so much" by itself (I tend to translate "so much" as "tanto much".)
  • "I was very happy" is better phrased as "It made me very happy," "Me hizo muy feliz."
  • English uses "this" and "that" for the subject of a sentence more frequently, but "este" doesn't seem to be as common a way to start sentences in Spanish.
  • "For that" is "por ello." I still gleefully misuse por and para, so. . .
  • I've read that Spanish speakers to favor adverbial phrases to adverbs ("with fluency" rather than "fluently.") So far this seems to be true.
  • "Again" or "anew" is "de nuevo," not "una otra vez."

  • I can sometimes get words in the right third of the sentence, but not much beyond that.
  • Wow, vocabulary! I don't have any. Also, conjugations! Time to learn new ones! AAAAAAAAA. Etre, avoir, and faire are
  • Adverbs! they do not go at the end of the sentence!
  • "Internship" (which is sadly not in my paper French dictionary) is "stage."
  • One is a student in (en) a subject, not a student of(de) a subject.
  • I am deeply confused by the prepositions "au" and "a" and "dans."
  • Check city spellings! They're usually not the same!
  • One speaks "le français" -- "the French."
  • Check the plurals! Sometimes they are not what one expects!

    Something I've realized: Having really good breakfast sausage as a child has spoiled me for all other sausage for life. Why? First of all, breakfast sausage uses straight-up ground pork. Sure, it's high fat (mmmmm fat), but it's not the remains of anything else. It's high-quality pork. This translates into juicy and delicious like a hamburger, instead of dry, salty, and hard, like pepperoni. Secondly, a quick review of online recipes confirms: Breakfast sausage has only mild and delicious seasonings, such as sage, marjoram, pepper, a little more pepper, cloves, brown sugar, and salt. (This might be a bit off from the family recipe, but I don't feel like digging through my mom's recipe box right now.) (Note: I didn't realize until yesterday that what I consider normal sausage is known to the rest of the world as "breakfast sausage.")

    Good things: The discovered photography of Vivian Maier. Awesome Chicago-area street photographer from 1950s to the 1990s. How wonderful are these pictures? Pretty damn wonderful, that's how.

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