Monthly Archives: March 2008

The Beatles Class

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     There’re many men who are into the Beatles all over the world, and I know one of them…I joined in a class on the Beatles of his last week. It was an English class of spring intensive courses at a university.

     The class was already held twice and the one I joined was the third. This time the participants studied inside stories of their songs in chronological order from Love Me Do to I Want to Hold Your Hand.

 

Simple Time Line (1957-1964)
1957: Paul and John meet each other (July 6)

1958: George joins

1960: “The Quarrymen” to “The Beatles”
         
The first tour in Hamburg, Germany after an audition in Liverpool

1961: Music scene changes (it becomes more seriously from just BGM)

1962: EMI Record contract
        
Please Please Me (album) (Sep.)
        
Love me do (single) (Oct.)
        
Brian Epstein becomes their manager (Nov,)

1963: She Loves You (single) (Aug. 23)
        
Beatlemania
        
London Palladium Show (Oct. 13)
        
BBC news and news paper headline
        
Sweden Tour (Oct.)
        
I Want to Hold Your Hand (Nov.)
         J.F.K is killed. (Nov.)
        
With the Beatles (album) (Nov.)

1964: I Want to Hold Your Hand hits in the US (Jan.)
        
American Tour (Feb.) – Washington Coliseum Concert
        
Ed Sullivan Show (Feb.)
        
It’s Hard Day’s Night Movie
        
Shea Stadium Concert in the US

       Through the class, I saw many videos and listened to many songs of the Beatles and the other musicians.

     As for songs of the Beatles I listened in the classroom are not only released ones but also outtakes.

     I saw many valuable videos too, for example, the one in which Ringo appeared before the audience at Cavern club first time, or the one where Ringo is singing while playing the drums.

     And the class was not just passive for students. We played their songs on the musical instruments like a rock band!

     I played “It’s Hard Day’s Night”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “All My Loving” on the bass. My technique was not so good because I hadn’t played the bass for a long time. But that was really fun!

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A Song Class?

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     The second and the third weeks of March, I joined in a spring intensive course of tai chi, in some parties and in some meetings, went to an exhibition at Matsuzakaya Museum in Sakae, went to a clinic in Handa for my spine problem, and visited a friend of mine at the hospital in Ogaki twice. I was almost groggy by the hay fever and the fever of a common cold during the weeks…

     And then in the third week an English spring intensive course started and I attended it for four days with the thick head. It was held at house of a friend of mine. Actually I organized two courses including the one and 13 students took the classes.

     The teacher is a little bit serious English man. He always wears well-laundered shirts with nice links and a tie. I think they are kind of gimmicks for teaching…Anyway, I took his class and studied English with some interesting topics such as gardening as the best medicine, McDonald’s food, Supernanny, and girls’ career choice. I would have liked to write about each topic here, but I’ll do next time because I’m too busy now!

     This time, the class has a special service for students. It’s singing songs time! After each class, students sang some English songs to a piano accompaniment by the teacher! It’s no doubt that singing in English is very good for practicing English. And it was a lot of fun!

Translating Japanese Culture

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     Spring has come! Cherry trees are in full bloom now! Their blossoms are so beautiful outside! But I’m writing now inside…Time flies! This is the final day in March today, but this is my first article this month!

     I’ve been so busy…well…I’ll start with participating in a lecture in the beginning of this month. The title of the lecture was “Translating Japanese Culture into English” and it was held on the 2nd under the auspices of AGGN (Aichi Goodwill Guides Network) in Nisshin, which is a town next to Nagoya. And the lecturer was Mr. Michael Kruse, the teacher at Chukyo University.

     Mr. Kruse gave a lecture to the audiences on some tips on how to explain Japanese things and culture in English by these three steps: 1. General attitude, 2. Usefulness of translation, 3. Problems of translation

1. General Attitude
     The lecture was for English guides essentially, though I’m not a guide. According to Mr. Kruse, you should start with some similarities each other for making the guiding smooth because people tend to open their minds easier when they find something in common than when they find differences.
For example, Christmas in the UK and shogatsu, New Year’s Day in Japan, is different as you know, but there’re many similarities between them. 

     In both events, people celebrate them in winter, decollate something with evergreens such as Christmas trees and Japanese kadomatsu, New Year’s decorative pine branches, and have a feast which can keep for a long time such as mince pies and dried fruits for Christmas and osechi for shogatsu.

     He also explained similarities with ancient tombs as well.

2. Usefulness of Translation
     He used an example as follows:
“What Is Happening Here?
First, bring in the utensils and arrange them carefully on the floor. You should already have soaked, wrung and folded the linen-cloth and placed it in the bowl along with the whisk. Be careful to place the water-jar on the side near the guest if it is summer and on the other side if it is winter…


    
That’s explanation for Japanese tea ceremony. As you see, translation is often very useful. Most people can understand easily what is happening there when they read it.

3. Problems of Translation
     According to Mr. Kruse, translation is sometimes positively off-putting. For example, shako is “mantis shrimp” (Mantis! Yuck!), konyaku is “devil’s tongue” (What! D..devil’s toungue?!), and hamachi is “yellow-tail” (Yellow tail…what is that?). All of them above are foods. Shako is a kind of shrimp, konyaku is a kind of vegetable, and hamachi is a kind of fish. As general principle, you should translate only when it us useful.
     And you should use some Japanese words as they are when you give directions. For example, you should say “Higashi-ku”, not Higashi-ward. And it sometimes may useful to mix Japanese and English words when you explain buildings or Japanese things such as Horyuji is Horyuji Temple, Kiyomizudera is Kiyomizudera Temple although “ji” and “tera (dera)” mean temple in Japanese because names of temples and the words “ji” or “tera (dera)” are bound strongly in Japanese language. And you do the same way for other words like shitake mushrooms and koi carp and so on. (“Take” means mushroom and “koi” means carp in Japanese.)

     Mr. Kruse also gave the audience some common Japanese words in English as follows.
*Uncountable: (a piece of ) tofu, (a plate of / two pieces of) sushi, (a piece of) tempura, (a bowl of ) soba, ramen and udon.
*Countable: tsunami, kimono, shinkansen, futon
*Countable but plural form is the same as singular one: manga, anime, samurai, netsuke
*Uncountable in the UK, but countable in the US: geisha, haiku

     It’s not easy to explain Japanese things and culture in other language because language itself is a part of culture of the country, I think. So, the lecture was very fruitful.

*photos from wikipedia