Friday, November 4, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 4: More Bread and Japanese

Day 4. No longer a "mikka bouzu". Phew.

In my continuing quest to use up bread flour, I tried making this rosemary focaccia. The mixing and kneading went well, but the rising didn't, not so much. Since I usually bake at night and it's been getting cold, I've been setting the oven to the lower temperature and letting the dough proof in there, but I recently read another recipe that said to put a vat of hot water in the lower rack in the oven, then let the dough rest in the rack above it. So I'll try that next time. This one was a little dense for my taste, but some people at work really liked it. Til next time.

On Language
I speak Japanese conversationally. I can help guide Japanese tourists around Santa Monica, but can't discuss economic policies or Buddhist philosophy with them. Having grown up bilingual and bicultural, I think in both languages. (I so related to Paulina Sahagun's "Two Channels" when I saw her perform as part of "A Slice of Rice, Frijoles and Greens" in college.)

Anyway, the other day for some reason, I was thinking about units for counting. It might have been because I was in the Dr. Seuss section of the bookstore and saw "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish".

In Japanese, there are unique ways of referring to units of measure, depending on what is being counted. So counting fish would be ippiki, nihiki, sanbiki, yonhiki, the unit being "hiki" (which changes to "piki" or "biki" depending on what number precedes it). This unit can be used for some animals like dogs and cats, too, but sometimes it's more appropriate to use "tou" (meaning head) for big animals like bulls (ittou, nitou, santou, yontou). Birds are counted in "wa" (meaning "feather") - ichiwa, niwa, sanwa, yonwa.

Even inanimate objects have specific units. If you're counting chairs, the unit is "kyaku" (ikkyaku, nikyaku, sankyaku, yonkyaku), although most people in Japan will accept the use of "ko" (generic term for unit - ikko, niko, sanko, yonko). But why not impress them by using "kyaku"? :)

Plates are counted in "mai" - ichimai, nimai, sanmai, yonmai - which is the same unit used for sheets of paper. Books are counted in "satsu" (issatsu, nisatsu, sansatsu, yonsatsu). I think my favorite is squid - yes, squid has its own unit of measure and it is "hai" - ippai, nihai, sanpai, yonhai. Which, interestingly, is the same unit for glasses filled with beverages ("beeru wo ippai kudasai" - I'd like a glass of beer). Empty glasses, however, are counted in "ko". I can go on and on, there are so many of these different units. Each time one came to my mind, I was struck by the creativity and precision of the language. Amazing.

I guess the English language has something similar, in describing groups - flock of sheep, gaggle of geese, band of brothers. It's so interesting how different languages operate. I might have liked to be a linguistics researcher, if that paid the bills! :)

Today's Reading
Very briefly, but I read this today and couldn't help but be outraged at the initial piece, then amazed and uplifted by the response.

Apparently a conservative nut wrote about how Feminism has hurt women and society. When I read this, I was so flabbergasted. How can anyone think like this? How can he twist the facts and not see the fallacies of his arguments?

Then I read fully the very smart, reasonable response and was relieved. And I laughed, especially at the "Manly Men (TM)". I really don't have much to add or say anything better, but I am just so ever-impressed by talented, intelligent writers who can dissect arguments and provide well-justified and clear rebuttals. I aspire to write like that someday.

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