I have an idiosyncratic habit of remembering the words by when and how or where or from whom I learned the word. eg I learned the word “sex” when I was 11 yrs old from my biology text. It became a hot discussion among my friends and there are plenty of interesting things associated with it that we learned or learned that we did not know. Don’t get me started. But if you think sex is the word which makes me sound bawdy that is not so. Most people would think or say that word. But I am little more exact given to my scientific ways. I would call that by “intercourse” which will make you water on spot but none of my problem because I am well prepared for that kind of problem in advance. Now I see more interesting things are coming up. eg refer {BiBTex BBT unspecified episodes, “coitus”}. I learned the spelling of the words examination and definition from my father when I was about 9 or 10 years old. may be a little older. He always made it a point to see these two words by contrast. there is a “a” in exam and there is a “i” in defn. Later on I learned the importance of contrast. A good teacher is one who brings in a contrast. It’s like Black and White. We remember these much  better than other colors because there is a contarst. The human mind learns by ways of comparison and contrast. That is why we do not develop a good perception of teh words which do not belong to our scale of existence. We know a mindfully collosal amount of Physics today. But we do not develop a good sense of it all because a lot of diagrams that depict these knowledge isn’t fed to us like those other concepts we are constantly fed with. Not that any other branch of human action is doing better than science. But they do not forsee their imminent failures either. Science does. That is why for a scientific education we foresee invention of various methods that simplifies our instruction material. That in itself is a great task at hand and we do not always make a great stride even in the execution of scientific ideals. You see a mindless amount of crippy material available in the internet or a mindful but ineffective amount of beautiful text and contents in our libraries. (the latter I call midnful) Eitherway they do not serve the purpose of science effectively. What we need is an overhaul of our system completely and it will take decades before we see light. WE just produce colorful and contentful materials and they sell profusely sometimes and it is good in one way that we can then parse it properly to make a better case for science. 1st of all this is good in only 1 way not in all the possible implications. This in itself necessitates the requirement of good scientist and a culture and ethos of good science which we frequently lose to an attack of pseudo variants of science.

SO to bring the prinicple of good teaching by way of contrast and comparison and howso the human mind is capable of learning even for the pure needs of learning let alone how a kid grows learning is a “bruning problem” of science today because science buffers greatly on education and acdemics. (I had an article I don’t remember howlong ago, may be 2 years altogether, I will try to link later, it is pretty whacky trying to get back and link everything relevant on the fly. In that article I had espoused the idea of how science is a buffer of education and science has a need to continue even when eduction is faltered and in case that need isn’t satisfied sceince can die from premature ejaculation, it is our resposnibility to make good containers and sperm banks for science)

So talking about my idiosyncrasies of remembering words by their history I want to switch my decade long passion of Japanese words. The first time I learned the word “Ohayo Gozaimasu” is already 9 years.

Once in a Kasumi store I asked for egg-plants (brinjal in Indianic english). It’s called nasu in Japanese. In KEK from my favorite Japanese ladies I had learned egg-plants is called nasu. (2004ish, 7 yrs ago) But when one of these ladies taught me this she said nasu which I heard like nasi. I went to the Kasumi and asked nasii (sumima sen, nasi wa dokou des?) and the lady at the store directed me where I can find them. In summary the u sound and i sound even with a lot of stress did not make any difference. If you say nasu and nasi quickly it would be very difficult to differentiate if one of you is a beginner from either side. (the relativism of language) I observed a lot of Japanese words for their intended sound and the practical sound people made.
The ladies in KEK taught me a lot of things. I was their favorite RuRu san
(Lulu is my family name which in English usage we say nick name, what a phony, a family title is called family name, I urge your family by it’s given name to bring me very well cooked food, Family Gandhi please spare our country, family Dickenson what good are you? family Yamada do you really live on a mountain?)
The ladies would literally clap when I arrived in the dorm from anywhere (ruru san ru ru san , and they would yell to each other I have arrived). Tapas Sarangi always teased me ruru san, one day a lady came and told me “wakamori no Kapos san wa doko de ikita” I said “Tapas san!!.. shigoto” From that day Tapas stopped teasing me on ruru because I would immediately start Kapos.
{there is a little conversation here with my old-student Satyajit Gahana reg. the etymology of egg-plant which he thinks is called aubergine in English “..is that german for egg-plants ? No sir it is English.” So I link him to the following analysis in Wikipedi,
wikipedia: “The name aubergine is from the French, a diminutive of auberge, variant of alberge ‘a kind of peach’ or from the Spanish alberchigo, alverchiga, ‘an apricocke’ (Minsheu 1623).[4] It may be also be derived from Catalan albergínia, from Arabic al-baðinjān from Persian bâdenjân, from Sanskrit vātiga-gama).”
The odia “baigana” may have thus come from Persian: bâdenjân. In village (sambalpuri?) usage in Odisha we also say “patal ghanta”  so is hindi baingan from Persian/Arabic}

So my favorite people in KEK, these ladies were all working in teh KEK dorm, they would everyday come and park their cars (kuruma in native Japanese) in the dorm and set into their duties. Some would clean the garden in front of the dorm and some would keep the living places clean. And Japan is a very very clean country especially in their community living it would be a very dismal thing to have uncleanly or untidy things. If I worked late in the lab I would sleep in my room which is a very small place in Indian and American standard but very well kempt. I would hang the “Do not disturb” sign in front of the “dorr” so nobody would come inside. But once the ladies got to know me very well and they would often start conversations in Japanese to me, they exempted me from such self imposed privacy, ofcourse with mt permission. They would not extend this kind of freindliness to most other people living in the dorms. They had gotten really fond of me. I was like their son. They would knock my dorr to make sure I have the clean linens and so on. They never wanted to see me living a dastard life just because I am a scientist. They were getting paid for their work but they could certainly extend their affection for a little inconvenience that they incur on themselves. They would knock and ask me with their putter putter if they could clean the place. I would either just stand by or take hike to the rest-rooms so they could immediately clean. Even if I would not want this at times they would make sure they do this they just never wanted to see a lovely person of my countenace lieva  life of misery.

SO they would not understand my difficulties of not understanding fluent Japanese but  I was meticulous in learning the nuisnaces and itty bitties of the small but practical vocabulary of Japanese I needed. This was 2003/4ish and by 2005/6 I was implementing my small but fluent Japanese sentences in restaurants, gas stations, bus stations, car rentals and where not.

The first time around ever these ladies had asked me anything, they had asked me where I am from. They would go “Okuni wa doko desu ka” which means which country is my native and “kazoku wa doko de asunde masu” I did not know the word “asunde masu” explicitly but knew they are asking me where my family lives, because kazoku is the native Japanese for family. I would go with my typical “watashi wa america no daigaku no gakuse”. They would go “sugoi, sugoi ne..” and “kanojo wa imasu ” or something like that. SO I would know they are asking me if I have a lady friend and so on. Then they would go onto where my family lieves and so on.

Later on in 2004 I had bought my car at a lower price as was available in the used car places. They would be very happy to see me coming out of my car and greet me in various ways exchanging words like “samui ne” (its a bit chilled, ain’t it) SO I would gradually learn all the related words “samui, astsui, sumetai, atatakai and so on” It was a small exercise but occuring somewhat frequently in different forms and from different people and places before it set so well in couple years I was using these fluently irrespective of the situation. Even kids playing around would come to me and start conversation and with my very little abilities in Japanese I would continue.

These are the same ladies that told me egg-plant is nasu and pumpkin is kabucha (I noted it from sound not from their spelling) They would see me cooking and tell me what is what. If I were not traveling frequently later on by this time I would have learned much more Japanese than I know.

Since they saw me frequently, going by taxis to KEK bus station and flying off they queried for how long I am gonna be gone and when I am coming back and so on; that was the point when I learned by the prinicple of practical needs the timing vocabulary of Japanese. I am gonna be gone for 2 weeks “nitsukan”, “ishuukan” and so on. How old am I ? I learned that earlier from a group of Japanese freinds “nan sai desu yo?” Watashi wa niju roku desu, I am 26. SO you can bet that is exactly when I learned these words, I was 26 years old, it must have been well before 2005.

The ladies would often talk and goggle among themselves. when I would query they would go “kakoi, Ruru san wa kakoi”. I had already known that word by then, kakoi is Japanese for handsome and many beautiful young ladies had already told that to me during fun times. I had a way with them and I learned gradually to be happy with such compliments than to be embarassed with what one should make of such.

It was from these ladies that I had learned these timing words in Japanese, eg I would go to the bus stop and query “ima naniji des ka” and so on. (what time it is now?) “Basu ga.. nani jikan” (what time ? bus?) koko de? (here?) and so on. I would ask because internally I had known how to calculate the time back to English. “san gofun” (sounds like sangohun, 3.05) and so on.

When I would repair my car I would learn “oyasumi jikan” for a break-time/close time and so on. Later on I learned the days and dating style etc but forgot many of them until early this year when I revived my quest to learn Japanese, more than 4 years after I had left Japan. Gradually I am learning to get it better. The Japanese sound constantly plays inside my head and I enjoy my eccentricity.


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