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Amparo Bertram

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04:32 pm: The word of the year
I saw on TV the other day that they officially declared the word of the year (or, rather, kanji of the year) at Kiyomizu Temple. This is apparently something they do every year to sum up the year's events, but I never happened to hear about it before. I just keep learning new things all the time. For those interested, the kanji of the year for 2004 is


(Read wazawai, it translates to "disaster.")

One of my team teachers decided it would be a good idea for a lesson to have the students decide on their own "word of the year" and explain their reasoning for the word they chose. In doing so, he challenged me to write the kanji for wazawai and say what it means in English...I guess as a kind of test? In case the Level 1 Japanese Language Proficiency Test I just took, like, a week ago wasn't good enough?

But I got the last laugh! HA! Little did he know, that happens to be one of the kanji in the TITLE of the Japanese novel I wrote this spring. Like I wouldn't get THAT right.

I arrived at work this morning to find that the superintendent had left me yet another gift of fresh vegetables. This time it was a large plastic bag containing some enormous heads of Chinese lettuce. I honestly don't know how I can possibly eat it all.

The gingerbread cookies went over better than I expected. Perhaps this is because they weren't too sweet or spicy. (Japanese people tend not to like things that are too sweet.) Many people said they were delicious (though that doesn't mean much, since saying food is "delicious" when you take a bite is pretty much a behavioral stimulus-response reaction here, regardless of the actual flavor), but I tend to believe it more when a student looks at me piteously and asks "Only one?"

There were a lot of surprised reactions when the students found out the cookies had ginger in them. Now, ginger is a commonly used condiment served with things like tofu and noodles and sushi, but they looked at me like I was insane when I said there was ginger in the cookies. One teacher even flat out asked why we would make cookies with ginger in them. (Um...because it tastes good?) I said it was because the spice helped the cookies last longer, and that seemed to be a satisfactory answer.

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[User Picture]
From:sara_tanaquil
Date:December 16th, 2004 03:35 pm (UTC)
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Hey, I kinda sorta know that kanji! It was one of the ones in the early chapters of Remembering the Kanji (flood + fire = disaster). But I wouldn't have known how to pronounce it, or be able to write it at the drop.

We teachers are sadists and like to give pop quizzes for no good reason. Glad you upheld the honor of the gaijin everywhere!

Disaster -- is that the theme for the year on account of all the typhoons, earthquakes, etc? Seems kinda like tempting fate to announce that before the year's over.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:December 16th, 2004 08:41 pm (UTC)
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Glad you upheld the honor of the gaijin everywhere!

Well, I will admit that I paused for a few seconds to try to remember stroke order. Darn stroke order...it's *so* not logical. They try to pretend it makes sense, but it doesn't.

Disaster -- is that the theme for the year on account of all the typhoons, earthquakes, etc? Seems kinda like tempting fate to announce that before the year's over.

That's exactly the reason. Apparently the kanji is chosen from mail-in suggestions, so I think they just picked the one that had the most votes.

It does seem a little early to announce a word of the year...unless people still have something left to *do* with the word this year (like add it to their postcards?) and therefore needed to know it before the year is really over. I honestly don't know.
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