Adventures in Japanese #2: Compound Words

As you can see by browsing this blog, I love translating anime song lyrics. The other day, I was translating the opening theme of Pop Team Epic, which is called… “Pop Team Epic.” I bet that was on purpose, too — a subtle way to make fun of cheesy theme song names.

Anyway, one of the lines contains this word: omoiegaku (思い描く).

I didn’t know what it meant at first, so I looked it up like anyone else would. But a couple days later, I realized something. I know what the individual words in this word mean.

Omoi (思い) comes from the verb omou (思う), which means “to think.” And egaku (描く) means “to draw.”

So omoiegaku means “to think-draw” — to paint a picture in your mind — or in normal English, to imagine or envision something.

I need to start paying more attention to compound words. It might make learning Japanese a little easier.


WWWJDIC Gets an Upgrade

If you’re a nerd like me and frequent the Japanese dictionary site Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC, you’ll love the latest addition: audio clips! Now you can improve your vocab even more with sound files to help you speak like a native! As a bonus, some of these words are also now linked to lessons from! Nihongo students, rejoice!

Here’s another great Japanese dictionary: The layout is clean and simple. Just type any Japanese or English word into the search box. Other languages like French or German work, too. There are other search options, like Kanji and proper names. Some of the Kanji listings even have stroke order diagrams, courtesy of Kanji Cafe! Very helpful! One con of Tangorin is that it doesn’t detect verb conjugations like WWWJDIC does. For example, if you search for まって matte, the dictionary will look for it alone but will not recognize it as a form of 待つ matsu (to wait). Regardless, I still recommend the site.

You can read more about WWWJDIC’s new sound bites here. Happy learning!

Adventures in Japanese #1: How to Learn a Language

I call this “Adventures in Japanese” because, obviously, that’s the language I want to learn. I am looking for a free or inexpensive resource (under $50) that teaches you kana, kanji, pronunciation, grammar, etc.—everything you would need to communicate if you were dropped in Japan—the essentials for understanding a language.

But people have different ideas about what and how to teach.

This is not how to learn a language:

  • Learning “survival” expressions (“thanks,” “where’s the bathroom,” etc.) that will only help you in select situations.
  • Learning how to ask if someone speaks English. This is similar to the “survival” expression category, only the purpose is to escape knowing the language.
  • Learning random words. It’s great if you can count to 100, sing color songs, and point to a Big Mac and say baagaa (バーガー), but if you can’t form a sentence, you’re still stuck.

Right now, I’m using dictionaries and piecemeal sites (one about verbs, one about kanji, etc.) to teach myself Japanese. But I want to find something that incorporates everything. I bought My Japanese Coach a month or so ago and was very pleased with it—until I figured out that some of the information is wrong! (Actually, I knew it kept showing incorrect kanji and kana stroke orders because I had prior knowledge—but I ignored my discomfort.)

I tried the site Human Japanese, but judging by the audio files, I do not think the people who made this resource are native speakers, so I’m hesitant. seems cool, but they offer so little for free.

If anyone knows a good site, game, program, etc., I’d love to hear your suggestion. Thanks!