I’ve got a good start on the first book of Game of Thrones (氷と炎の歌１). It has been a lot of fun because I really like that particular story. I think there are a lot of people that will probably find it way too difficult to struggle through. For me though, it is interesting to see how it got translated because it seems like the author has done a decent job in converting the book to Japanese.
It is definitely not a book to learn with, at least for the faint of heart. It is pretty much purposely written to be difficult to read. The author uses a lot of rare kanji and uncommon words for obvious reasons. He wanted to convey the feeling of a fantasy novel and some of the descriptions are quite difficult to fully understand even in my native language.
Something that I have never seen before this book was the author’s way of translating certain key terms that are important to the series. He created a new word out of kanji that symbolizes what he wants to convey but then has katakana furigana of the original term.
For example, for the Night’s Watch, which is a name of a group of guardians in the book, the author writes 冥夜の守人 (lit. guard people of the dark night), but to the side it has the furigana ナイツ・ウォッチ. This makes for an interesting blend that keeps the fantasy tone but clarifies what is actually being talked about.
Another thing I noticed was the use of brackets to emphasize certain key words. For example, the Night’s Watch lives near a place simply called ‘the wall’ in English. In Japanese the author uses 壁 (kabe), which means wall, but then he puts <> brackets around it for emphasis so that you know it’s not just some wall but the wall.
I haven’t had a lot of experience with this kind of formatting. Has anybody else read something like that before?
So I have the English kindle version of Game of Thrones that I read awhile ago. Since it is in kindle format I can easily pack it with me. So I have been making use of it lately to help me better understand the Japanese translation of the book.
Also, I have an uncommon interest in seeing how things are expressed in different languages so I like to see what is kept, what gets removed, what gets added so to speak. No language can perfectly relay a scene to someone, and that is actually one advantage of writing, because you have to use your imagination to fill in the gaps, making reading a more personal experience than say movie watching.
But, having the same text in two different languages also has the benefit of being great for language learning of course. And basically what I have been doing is reading 3 or 4 pages in English than reading 3 or 4 pages in Japanese. The two books match up fairly well so far so I can get the meaning of what is going on without having to look up a lot of words.
This helps me out a lot because I have a hard time guessing about the overall scene of a piece of writing and so getting an overview of it before I read really helps everything slip into place. And it makes reading go a lot faster with just the right amount of struggle to come up with certain words.
I do still take the time here and there to save words that I want to practice later. These are mostly uncommon but interesting words to know like decapitation, which is probably not going to appear on the test but just interesting to know.
I’m thinking about taking a similar approach to Harry Potter, because I have the English kindle book, I just need the Japanese one. I’d like to combine it with the audiobook as well for some extra practice.
Squeezing in grammar and vocabulary
I’m starting to spot check more and more grammar recently. I want to avoid going into it very deep and boring myself with it, but I want to do some regular review so that I have it over-learned by the time I reach the July test.
As I’ve said a few times before though, The N1 grammar section is not as cut and dry as that of other levels of the test. You really need to know small nuances, and really pay attention to detail. I’ve been trying my best to notice and take note of interesting usage that I see, but other than that I don’t see how you can really be 100% prepared for that section other than just using Japanese and being corrected a lot.
I’ve also tried my best to bulk up on difficult vocabulary before the coming test. Last test, there were some words that I recognized but couldn’t use very well. I’d like to take some extra time with vocab and try to binge on as much as I can before the test, so that I can again over-learn what I need to pass.
I will need to improve my reading comprehension and actually concentration. I have a lot of trouble keeping focused through the more boring pieces of the test. What seemed to work for N2 for me was reading a lot of old pre-N tests. Although the questions and style are a little different, they are still great practice.
I’ll be cracking open a few of those over the next couple of weeks to see where I stand. Another issue is taking a practice test. Although I’ve found the N1 practice tests to be all over the map in terms of being the correct level. For instance, I’ll ace one then turn around and fail another.
How about you?
We are heading into the final 2 months before the July test. Are you ready? How are you preparing? Let me know in the comments.