Encouraging My Spawn to Learn Too

I’ve been doing some overtime at work the past couple of weeks (the video game industry loves to keep it’s employees from having a life)… so it’s been more difficult to get in any time to work on programming, or studying Japanese… or you know, really doing much of anything. But on the plus side, my schedule allows me to see my kid for a couple of hours every morning before I go to work, and I’m doing my best to avoid working on weekends.

Laz plays with his Japanese wooden blocksWe got him some wooden blocks back in April that have Hiragana on them. I wish there were enough blocks to be able to have the entire set of kana visible at once… but I still feel kind of happy that he’s being introduced to another language from a super young age, and getting to think of it as normal. Kiddo is getting to an age where he can pick out all the things we ask him to in picture books, and so I figure I need to throw him a curve ball and start introducing more Japanese to him than just some characters on some blocks.

I barely know any of it myself, so I figure if I start reading some children’s books with him, it will a: encourage multilingualism in him, b: reinforce and teach me new things, c: I can keep at it at an appropriate age level for him so that we both progress with the language as he gets older. It’s also something I can do both with my limited time in the mornings to push myself with a new skill while simultaneously spending time with my family. We went to the library today, and I gotta say… the Vancouver Public Library is hella better than what I had in Amherst as a kid. Heck, that library ain’t even open on a Sunday, and it sure doesn’t have isolated sound booths with green screens in it for public use. While there, I even got out some random cds to listen to. But back on topic: we went to the library. And got books.

The first one that I’m going to read with him is called みずたまりちゃん ((Puddle-Chan)) which is a short little baby board book about a puddle. I’m looking forward to getting through some of these books, and am glad that there’s a selection of stuff in the Japanese section of the library so that I don’t have to spend any money on the process 🙂 So…. honestly? I’m not fluent. So I’m going to likely do the same as I’ve been doing in all my other studies, and post up some notes here on my corner of the internet to help me learn. And today, I’m going to take some notes on みずたまりちゃん so I can be better prepared when I read to the wee one before work tomorrow.


    みず - water
    みずたまり - puddle
    ちゃん - Chan is a diminutive suffix; it expresses that the speaker finds a person endearing. It comes from a “cute” pronouncing of -san (in Japanese, replacing s sounds with ch sounds is seen as cute). In general, chan is used for babies, young children, grandparents and teenagers.
    新井あらい 洋行ひるゆき - The name of the book’s author
    いっちにっの - We’re basically saying “one, two” in a slangy, excited way for kids. Like, “a-one, and a-two!” So… I’ve sen the small つ before, and typically it’s used to add a sound. So いって for to go for example… itte is the pronounciation. And it’s not normally used before any of the n sounds due to the ability to use a ん instead, as in こんにちは. But it has other uses, which we see in this book. It’s also used as a glottal stop. It signifies that the last mora is cut off abruptly. This can imply irritation (なんだよっ “What!”) or excitement (大変だっ “It’s terrible!”). In print, it’s a little like adding an exclamation point to the end of the sentence. It’s somewhat similar to how in English you might say “OMG what is tha…?!” の can also be used to add emphasis…. so from what I can tell, the っの used here is like… trying to build excitement…
    とぷん! - FFS… I was not expecting a book for babies to be giving me so much difficulty! Figuring out the above, and then this…. this is onomatopoeia! And it’s not something that comes up easily in dictionaries, or even google searches. But searching specifically for Japanese onomatopoeia reveals that this is is the sound of water sloshing gently. Makes sense since it goes with a cartoon of a frog jumping into the pond.
    ((カエル)) - Frog. I’ve put this in brackets because it’s not actually used in the book. But I want to be able to describe some of the things in the book…
    ((みどり)) - Green!
    ((カエルは緑です。)) - The frog is green.
    ぷかっ! - More onomatopoeia -> ぷか is the sound of bobbing to the surface, and floating lightly, with the っ for emphasis. It goes with an image of ducks rising from underwater
    ((アヒル)) - Duck. There’s different types of ducks, of course! カモ is a wild duck, but the google image search results for アヒル much more closely resemble the drawings in the book 🙂
    じゃっぼーん! - じゃぶん is a strong bubbling sound…. while ぼーん is like an explosive fire… so… my best guess is that it’s the equivalent of something like “ker-splash”. I’ve seen it in both hiragana and katakana online, but none of the dictionaries I’ve found translate it. It goes with an image of a girl jumping in a puddle.
    ごく - ”gulp!” So, the name of that Dragon Ball dude who has a big appetite? It’s Gulp! And his son, ごはん? His name is Meal! Go figure!
    どざあー! - We know that using あ stretches out the ざ. and the ー stretches it out even further…. According to this deviant art onomatopoeia guide: (original link, my hosted link) どさ is the sound of something thudding on the floor… considering this is a picture of rain… all I can guess is this is supposed to be the sound of rain hitting on the ground… ど is the sound of impact, while ざー is the sound of pouring rain… so it could be thunder followed by rain?
    にこっ! - The tofugu guide to onomatopoeia suggests that のこのこ is “showing up without any knowledge or understanding of what is going on”. Which… I guess the puddle being blissful under a rainbow makes sense with this word? [EDIT – One of my more bilingual friends pointed out that にこにこ is the sound of a smile.]
    ((あめ)) – rain
    ((にじ)) – rainbow

FYI: Figuring out onomatopoeia is a bitch of a chore! I suddenly appreciate the Canadian government keeping an archive of this 1997 website that lists a ton of English comic book sounds.

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