Cross-Post from “Odd Stuff”

The Japanese government is trying to stop people from giving children weird, indecipherable names, suggesting new guidelines that would require kanji to be read in normal ways.

In recent years, Japan has had a problem with what are called キラキラネーム (kirakira ne-mu or “sparkling names”).

For example, parents might name their child Mirakuru (a transliteration of the English word “miracle”) and use the kanji 奇跡 to write it. 奇跡 means “miracle,” but it is typically read as “kiseki,” meaning that nobody is going to know how to read that kid’s name upon seeing it on a business card, etc.

Another example is parents naming their child Marin, but using the kanji 海 (umi, meaning “sea/ocean”). It’s a play on the English word “marine.”

Mind you, the problem isn’t that the names are weird and sure to result in a lifetime of teasing for the children. The problem is that the names are impossible for anyone to read because the parents are inventing new ways of reading kanji just for their children.


Ugh, just failed a couple of my duolingo lessons on german adjectives. (well not failed, but making the same stupid mistakes over and over again in a cycle where you forget the answer to the first question while you’re making the same error in question four. That sort of thing)

so, time to write out the adjectives in case order. Really not fun when half the sources put accusative at the end, and half put it before dative and genitive. Not fun, when you start to realize that your chicken scratch excuse for handwriting isn’t good enough to distinguish “-r” from “-n”. These are the days that make one cry.


I guess if we’re counting school than I was learning English, French and Latin at the same time. But I feel childhood doesn’t count, since everybody does a version of this.


When I first studied Old Norse I did so in Germany, where the order is always N G D A. When I then continued studying it in Iceland, the study material was always in the order N A D G.

I quickly learned to simply start reading at the top of the table, switch to the bottom and read the rest in reverse order. The N G D A order is so ingrained in my brain that it was easier to switch up the reading direction than to try to memorise new patterns.


I read somewhere that Malta’s educational system offers L5 instruction-- beyond Maltese, English Italian, etc.


Karen is the fifth-most common home language among Minnesota’s public K–12 students, after English, Spanish, Somali, and Hmong. Karen language classes are currently offered at a handful of charter schools. Statewide, about 4,700 students in public school districts and charter schools come from households that primarily speak Karen, according to Minnesota Department of Education data. More than half of those students—about 2,500—attend St. Paul Public Schools.

Minnesota is home to the country’s largest Karen community, with about 20,000 residents, according to the Karen Organization of Minnesota.

The idea for the Karen language classes came from the community,

In the end, the school staff created two courses for high school students: an introductory course for students who do not speak the language, and a course for students who may speak the language at home with their families but do not know how to read or write Karen.


The thought of people hearing references to Karen language and trying not to be offensive by confusing it with the language of “a Karen.”

Lolly Adefope Smile GIF by HULU

Fortunately, the two probably sound very different!


I suspect the “kosugiru” thing has more to do with the way that the Japanese government classifies kanji into grades than an inherent flaw with Duolingo; I had much the same issue using Minna No Nihongo (which, in its defense, seems to be a lot more clear in its explanations than Duolingo) and I’ve had similar conversations with people who have used other learning resources.

濃, the correct kanji for the sentence, is relatively uncommon in print, which means it’s JLPT N3 grade, while the kanji that you have already learned, 強 is used extremely often in print, which means that it’s JLPT N5, and one of the first kanji that beginners learn as a result.

It makes sense to teach beginners the most common kanji first but it seems that there is a gap (at least at the early stages of learning the language) between a kanji’s prevalence in print and its frequency of usage in everyday speech, which causes these sorts of awkward sentences in Japanese learning materials that have vocab that goes beyond the kanji level that the materials are intended for.

I want to joke that the writers must get bored of writing example sentences with the same ten nouns and that’s why it happens but I think it’s actually to do with getting people conversational as a priority and worrying about literacy later.


For learning purposes, they reallly should translate 濃い as "rich” or “intense.” The idea that coffee can be “strong” is idiomatic, and language learners need to get used to the idea that words are not universally used in the same ways, even if they have the same meanings.

Incidentally, Japanese children learn 強い in 2nd Grade (elementary school) and 濃い in 7th Grade (junior high school).


Duolingo is really really bad about idiomatic expressions for translations and I find it immensely frustrating. I know went on a long rant about its translation of 「お腹ですきました」to “I am hungry” before and how idiomatic that is a couple months back. (And yet another place where kanji 空き would have been helpful because I assumed it was the completely different but identically voiced 好き which was obviously very confusing.)

So yeah, I’d much prefer clunkier but more literal translations so I can actually understand what’s being said rather than build incorrect understandings of words and meanings because those things are hidden to look prettier.


One of the hardest parts of translation is when I have to translate a document that contains technical terms with which I am not at all familiar. I really do not know anything about electrical engineering, but my company has a lot of rules for safe wiring at overseas factories, so I need to find a way to render it in English even if I do not fully understand it.

The other day, I encountered the term “配線引き出し部,” which literally means “wire withdrawal section.” The sentence was something like, “The wire withdrawal section of distribution panels and junction boxes, etc. shall feature protective material to prevent damage to wires due to abrasion as a result of equipment vibration, etc.” I could not find a definition on Japanese Google, so I did a photo search and was able to deduce from pictures that it was referring to the holes in panels/boxes through which wiring runs.

I then had to go to Google English and search for “wire withdrawal section” (which brought up a lot of sites about how to withdraw money that has been wired to me) and then “what do you call holes in distribution panels?” It took quite a while for me to arrive at what I believe is the correct English word for that: “knockout.” So, I started out with a word that makes no sense to me in Japanese and ended up with a word that makes no sense to me in English. Such is the way of these things sometimes.


Funny — I read this and I kind of get what it’s saying but I also have some familiarity with the parts. Translation is definitely as much of an art as a science and I have a lot of respect for the people who do it professionally. It takes a lot of skill to balance the original meaning to something thats understandable but familiar to the intended audience. I’ve read a lot of stories from people who do video game and anime translation and those who are really good at it clearly have to put a lot of thought into it. Especially highly narrative games like visual novels or puzzle games were wordplay and puns and such may not really map from one language to another.

ETA here’s a particularly clever example:



One of the reasons why I enjoy the work is that it forces me to learn (admittedly just a smattering) about things that I would otherwise never know anything about at all. Any given week can take me on a journey from corporate accounting practices to EU environmental regulations to terms and conditions for international freight shipping to chemical analysis of raw materials.


When I meet people from Africa, one of my first questions is “what are your favourite languages?” Then I make a cup of coffee and get comfortable. It’s always an interesting tale, and it can take ages to tell if you frame it right.


Believe it or not, “gland hole” might also work (difficult to tell without pictures). That’s the actual technical term for the hole where one bolts a gland, before running the cable through.

Which goes to show how weird technical terms are. There’s absolutely no way to infer that the correct term might be “gland hole” from everyday vocabulary.

And for those who are curious:

What is a “gland”, in this context? It’s a screw-down rubber seal that tightens against the cable, making the entry point resistant to water and dust, and protecting the cable from vibration, and locking it in place so it doesn’t abrade. In the pic below, the cable is run through the middle, then the outside metal shell is screwed down. This causes the orange stuff to smoosh against the cable.


Thanks for the info!

Which is the more general term? The surrounding sentences led me to conclude that it was referring to any aperture through which wiring runs into or out of the panels/boxes. It’s basically saying that the orange stuff is necessary, but I think that a ring of plastic or rubber on the metal edge would also suffice.


“Knockout” is probably more generally correct. In my field, you’d never have a knockout without putting a gland into it, so “gland hole” is more commonly heard. But in other fields, you might use something other than glands.

Either way, it’s a great illustration of how weird technical language is.


@jesse13927 A knockout is used on an electrical panel and conduit boxes. These are partially cut holes that can be knocked-out using a blunt object as required. So it looks like you got the correct word.

For other holes that are machined to pass through any old panel or object the term “thru hole” or “through hole” is used, or more plainly, a hole.


See, this is why I need to find ways to translate "thingy, “gizmo”, and “whatchamacallit” in multiple languages - along with plenty of adjectives and inoffensive gestures. :wink:

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What an interesting online dictionary that would be! Word equivalents, rather than translations, for those kinds of silly words.