From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Katakana Culture (1)—Slopes and Sunlight

Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Katakana Culture."

Part of an occasional “Round and Square” series, "Katakana Culture" entries explore various ways that the katakana syllabary is used in Japanese life. 

For those new to thinking about Japanese language, katakana is the medium through which "foreign" words are rendered into Japanese (the system has other uses, too, some of which work like italics in English).  Here round meets square and east meets west in a distinctive language setting. Everything from "pie" to "Wittgenstein" can be made to "fit" the needs of the Japanese writing system. It is potentially the most accessible part of the Japanese language for non-native speakers, and even a small bit of study will pay large interpretive benefits.  If you want to try to learn the forty-six symbols and sounds, just type "katakana practice" in any search engine.  For now, I have included very rough approximations of the sound for those who haven't studied Japanese. If you do study Japanese, please don't flinch; think of the poor reader who wants to try but needs help (have some compassion, people).  I will replace those soon with audio files, which will be nicer for everyone.

[a] "Slope"  
[b-1] See below   

[b-2] see above

[a] Photo by LaFleur (Nara)
[b-1] Photo by LaFleur (Kyoto)
[b-2] Photo by LaFleur (Kyoto--same ビル)

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