Saturday, January 10, 2009

Only Shallow

I've said it before, and I'll say it a hundred more times over the lifetime of this blog but... what a difference a day (or three) makes.

Sticking to the guidelines I laid out the other day, I'm firmly back on track and having a great time again. I just plowed through my small backlog of sentence reps without a hitch, enjoying the ride all the while, taking my mistakes in stride (while remaining strict on grading) and witnessing my progress in action since really beginning sentences late December.

iKnow, an actual fun way to build one's vocabulary
I'm honestly pretty surprised by how excellent iKnow's application is. I don't know how their devs did it, but it's so intuitively designed, especially for a (pardon me for the PR buzzword) "Web 2.0" tool. It's far from perfect, but my vocabulary has probably doubled thanks to it, and words really seem to stick after going through them only once each - it's really just the thing I need to build up my vocabulary, and it takes very little time to do so. A typical lesson of 10 words takes me between 6-10 minutes, so I can easily study 50 words in one sitting without breaking a sweat.
And that's another thing - when I'm in an iKnow lesson, I'm seriously glued to the damn thing. Before I know it, an hour has passed, and I've soaked up so much vocab. Again, how the developers have done it, I really can't say - maybe it's the flashy interface and sounds, or the pretty pictures or the way it eases you into each word. All I know is that, up to this point at least, it's really been a joy to use and has benefitted me significantly.

I'm beginning to sound like a really bad testimonial.

1997, revisited
Just for laughs, I started up a new game of Final Fantasy VII... EN JAPONES! I love Chrono Trigger like an only child, but I have trouble reading (and especially looking up) its squished, simplied, compacted kanji, so I figured I'd give a game with a higher pixel resolution a shot. 
I give the game a lot of crap (thanks in no small part to its rabid, highly irritating fanboys/girls), but there's a heck of a lot of nostalgia attached to it, and even almost 12 years (!) later, despite having not aged as well as, say, Final Fantasy 6 or Chrono Trigger, it still holds up as an incredible experience which Square hasn't quite been able to replicate ever since.

At any rate, I recalled how the English language version wasn't exactly the most well written thing in the world, and wondered how much the Japanese one differed in comparison, so here I am playing through it again for the billionth time... this time in Japanese, and being able to understand a surprising amount. I found it especially fascinating how Shinra and makou are native Japanese words, which is kind of obvious now that I think about it, but never really considered it previously. Now that I know the meaning of their respective kanji, it makes a heck of a lot more sense and adds a great deal of meaning to both words.

I'm not able to understand most of the game's dialogue, but picking out tidbits like that and tendencies in character's manners of speaking (Barret in particular!) sure is fun. I'll be sure to get back to it soon.

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