World-renowned Japanese writer Murakami Haruki has a new book out, his first collection of short stories in nine years. The title is「女のいない男たち」or The Men Without Women, and it includes six new stories, all of which were first published in the last six months.
While Murakami’s novels are always published in English within a year or so of their initial publication (the next one, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, will come out this year), his short story collections are not usually published in English. That is, the publishers usually make their own collections, such as in the case of The Elephant Vanishes (17 stories spanning the 1980s, and published 12 years later in Japanese as「象の消滅」). The Chinese publishers seem to do the same thing. The difference is that the Chinese publishers will take a well-known story, make it the title of a collection, and publish it with a bunch of lesser-known stories. The English-language publishers seem to publish fewer, larger collections and simply don’t bother to translate and print the lesser-known stories. Thus, I surmise that this book may never come out in English as The Men Without Women. Fans who don’t read Japanese will have to wait for the next short story collection.
As for the title, I translate it as The Men Without Women rather than Men Without Women (or Men Whose Women Are Gone, etc.) because otoko tachi (rather than simply otoko) seems to refer to specific men. Indeed, in each of these six stories, the protagonist is a man without a woman. However, it is probably not a coincidence that Ernest Hemingway published a collection of ten short stories about men in 1927, called Men Without Women, and the name of that book in Japanese translation is—you guessed it—Onna no inai otoko tachi. It was translated by Ayukawa Nobuo in 1982, just when Murakami was beginning his writing career.
The Japanese Wikipedia page includes some trivia about the new book. Apparently, it is usual that it does not include a preface. The two stories “Drive My Car” and “Yesterday” were supposedly altered somehow before publication in the book, and “Drive My Car” has already been translated and published in Korean by Yang Eog-gwan (梁億寬).
Below are the front and back covers of the book, with English translations of the story titles, descriptions, and dates/places of publication. All translations are mine, and thus later publications may make different choices.
The Men Without Women
First issue April 20th, 2014
[His] short story world for the first time in nine years.
That story is
And exceeds expectations.
Bungei Shunju publication / Fixed price (JPY 1574 + tax)
Six stories that intertwine and echo.
“Drive My Car”
Bungei Shunju Dec. 2013
Stage actor Kafuku hires Misaki, a female driver. Why did his deceased wife have to have a relationship with that man? Little by little, he began to tell Misaki.
Bungei Shunju Jan. 2014
What is the strange “cultural exchange” proposed by his classmate Kitaru, from Den-en-chōfu but who can speak perfect Kansai dialect? And then, 16 years passed.
Bungei Shunju Mar. 2014
What did his friend, the confirmed bachelor Dr. Tokai, obtain for the first time by sacrificing his life?
MONKEY Vol. 2 Spring 2014
Shut up in the “house” that is a lonely island on land, Habara is toyed with by the story that even the world finds captivating, told by the “contact person” woman after the affair.
Bungei Shunju Feb. 2014
Betrayed by his wife, Kino quit his job and opened a bar. Then at certain times, a strange presence would envelop the place.
“The Men Without Women”
First published here
One night after midnight, a phone call from his former lover’s husband came to deliver sad news.
Esto es un video para la #Add1Challenge. Voy a introducir el lugar donde yo vivo.
This is a video for the #Add1Challenge. I introduce the place where I live.
* With English subtitles.
Caminar en la nieve
¿Te gusta la nieve?
Crecí en Atlanta, en el sur de los Estados Unidos, donde casi nunca nieva.
Sin embargo, recientemente hubo una tormenta de nieve allí.
En ese momento, yo estaba en Nueva York, donde a menudo nieva.
Me gusta la nieve.
Me gusta ver la nieve caer.
Me gusta caminar en la nieve, y patearla.
Cuando nieva, Central Park en Nueva York es muy hermoso.
Fuera de mi ventana, puedo ver la nieve cayendo en ese momento.
¿Tiene que nieve donde usted vive?
It was after that I felt a boredom I had never before experienced. At first I didn’t know why; later I thought it’s always such that when a person’s convictions receive praise it spurs their progress; receive opposition and it spurs their struggle. Only when screaming among strangers, when those strangers do not react—at once no praise, and no opposition—as if finding oneself placed on and endless wasteland, with no recourse at all: what sadness is this! Thus I assumed what I was felt was loneliness.
– Lu Xun, Preface to Nahan [Outcry/A Call to Arms] (1922)
I always come back to reading Lu Xun. He was too influential to overlook and too good to want to. His writing is clear and straightforward and sometimes I get the illusion he is writing in the present day, like I do reading Natsume Soseki. Lu Xun reminds me of Soseki in his mix of earnestness and satire; there I times I laugh out loud reading The True Story of Ah-Q or I Am a Cat. Another interesting connection I’ve noted is the number of Japanese words in Lu Xun’s writing, such as 便當 ‘convenient’ and 卒業 ‘to graduate.’ I don’t know whether these words were common in some register of Chinese and later fell out of use, or if Lu Xun borrowed them from Japanese, or both.
In any case, Lu Xun presents himself in the self-written preface to Nahan as a lonely idealist hoping to change minds but feeling lost. He tries to lose himself in copying ancient engravings until a friend persuades him to write a little something for a magazine called The New Youth. What he wrote became A Madman’s Diary and the rest is history.
NB: The translation above is mine.
Text-to-Speech software is a game-changer for language learning. I’m using TTS to learn several languages at once. The Holy Grail of language resources—sentences with audio—is now something I can mass-produce on my computer. Not every language is included in the TTS functionality of the Mac (no Tibetan or Mongolian, for instance), but Turkish, Indonesian, Cantonese, and many other languages are included and work quite well. The last update added varieties of Spanish, so I vary my Spanish audio with some Argentinian speech.
TTS is so powerful because you can turn text sources into audio sources quickly and automatically. I use the Lonely Planet phrasebooks for most of the languages I study. I can type the text myself, copy it if I have a PDF, or even use the dictation function of TTS to input the text using my own voice. Using dictation is interesting, because it requires that the computer recognize my pronunciation. (For longer phrases, the computer recognizes what I am saying for the most part. For shorter phrases and single words, especially in Korean, it often fails to render.)
I put the phrases as text into an Excel spreadsheet, because Excel spreadsheets are easy to organize and can be converted into tab-delimited plain text files that can be imported into Anki. I started with Spanish and English, copying the Spanish via dictation and the English by typing. Then, it occurred to me I could add Korean in a third column. Then I thought, Why not put them all in one spreadsheet?
All the languages in one place
In one of his videos, Michael Campbell of Glossika in Taiwan explains how he learned eighteen aboriginal Taiwanese languages at once. He has a spreadsheet with glossary items and phrases in each language; to review, he goes down the spreadsheet and reads the phrases aloud. He records himself reading and listens to the recordings repeatedly. Now, I think listening to my own (non-native) pronunciation to memorize phrases is less than ideal, but Mr. Campbell is a pro and is working with languages that are nearly extinct. And, as a memory aide within a greater regimen, this may be a handy technique. I once memorized a Japanese speech that I wrote in this way, by reading it aloud, sentence by sentence, over and over again, and listening to a recording of myself reading it on repeat. I recited it with perfect delivery after only two days. Listening to my pronunciation of Japanese wasn’t ideal, but I had heard so much Japanese that a little foreign accent didn’t throw me off. Similarly, TTS pronunciations are approximations of native/natural speech and thus should not be relied upon solely, but they are far better than silence, and an excellent supplement to memorization. Ideally, we would have native speakers on call to read whatever we need and produce high-quality audio, but this is not feasible. (Mr. Campbell also reminds us that “memorization” is a misnomer, because we don’t need to actually recall the sentences exactly, only build connections in the brain.)
Two practical examples of using Text-to-Speech
- Spanish phrases from Lonely Planet
The first way I’m using TTS is for entering Spanish phrases from my Lonely Planet phrasebook into Anki. I type or dictate dissonances into excels in Microsoft excel, and then I add the English in another column. Then, I export the file as a UTF-16 plain text file, then convert it to a UTF-8 plain text file, then imported it into Anki. Then, I use the “Awesome TTS” plugin in Anki to mass generate MP3 files for the sentences using the Mac’s built-in TTS software. (The plugin also works with Google’s software, available for free via Internet.)
- Input Spanish phrases into Excel
- Input English translations
- “Save As” UTF-16 plain text file
- Open in TextEdit and “save as” UTF-8 plain text file
- Install & configure the Awesome TTS plugin
- Make sure Spanish TTS voice is installed (Mac)
- Make sure your Spanish card type has an Audio field
- Import UTF-8 file in Anki using the CTRL+I import function
- Select all new cards & use Awesome TTS mass generate MP3 function, using the Spanish field as the source and the audio field as destination
10. Make sure you put the audio field on the card, and you should have audio for every phrase
NB: In a later post I’ll show screenshots of how I organize my many note types.
2. Korean phrases from TTMIK intermediate dialogues
I think everyone and their mother studying Korean is using the Talk to Me in Korean series, with good reason. If you are, absolutely download the Anki public decks for the sentences from the grammar lessons, and the sentences for the “Iyagi” intermediate dialogues. These premade decks have saved me thousands of hours of work, and I wish I could tip the people who made them. As I go through the sentences in these two decks, I add the phrases that I don’t understand or need to memorize to new Anki cards, and then use TTS to generate audio for them.
A workflow for Korean:
- Download the public decks and convert the card types to match your Korean cards
- Add unknown phrases or phrases you’d like to memorize from the public deck cards onto new cards
- Use Awesome TTS to generate audio for the new cards
- Make sure your new cards are in your main deck and not in the public deck to ensure that you get those reviews as new cards first before getting new cards from the public deck you imported, otherwise you have to wait until you get to the very end of the public deck to see them, at which point they won’t be relevant to you anymore
NB: The TTMIK recordings and Korean transcripts are freely available online. Crowdsourced translations are being made at the Korean Wiki Project, but the official translations produced by TTMIK are for sale on their website. It’s hard to copy and past from their PDFs, though, as I don’t think they were designed with Anki in mind.
So what’s the big deal about Text-to-Speech?
This method of adding cards with audio from text sources is now my default, go-to method for learning languages. If you hear the phrase or the word, you are 1000 times more likely to remember. I just made up that number, but it’s probably pretty close.
Hear it. Speak it. Memorize it. – Carlos Douh
Being able to create audio from the text, rather than the other way around, gives you more control over what materials you study. I think this method combined with talking to native speakers after a few months of study is the most effective and sustainable method I’ve yet devised. It’s also scalable, so that you can simply add more cards when you want more material.
For example, if the phrases are arranged in a column with the translation under each phrase, how do you separate the target language phrases into a separate column? It’s a little trickier than I anticipated, but this can be done with Excel.
I will show you how to select only even rows or select only odd rows in Microsoft Excel, which I will use to take the phrases from the Wikitravel Cantonese phrasebook (I’ve also done this with Korean slang) and separate the translations into a separate column, so you can import the whole thing into Anki as a tab-delimited UTF-8 txt file produced by Excel.
1. Copy and paste the data into Excel
2. Use the “=ISEVEN() or =ISODD() function, combined with a ROW() function that references any cell in that row.” (click here for a tutorial).
3. As per step 2, type =ISEVEN(ROW(A1)) into the cell B1. It will turn to FALSE.
4. Copy the function in cell B1 into all the cells in the column.
5. Turn on the filter by selecting any cell in the column, then clicking the Filter button under Sort & Filter in the Data tab. (Source: techrepublic.com)
6. Next, “Click the new column’s filter dropdown and choose False or True.” (The “dropdown” is the little down-facing arrow in a blue box that should appear in the column.) (Source: techrepublic.com)
10. Open the .txt file in TextEdit, copy it, and save it again as a UTF-8 .txt file (the only kind Anki can read). Ready to import!
What do you think? Please let me know if these directions aren’t clear enough!
I am an advocate of using the SRS program Anki for learning things.
Today I want to learn the Arabic script, the writing system used to write Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, and other languages. However, in the Anki public decks I couldn’t find one for the Arabic script alone. I copied the chart from the Wikipedia page about the “Arabic alphabet” (it’s actually an abjad, because most vowels are not represented) and used it to create an Excel spreadsheet, which I then saved as UTF-16, because Excel doesn’t seem to allow me to save using UTF-8, which is what I need for Anki. I used TextEdit to convert the file to UTF-8 encoding, then created a new deck and note type imported the chart into Anki.
The chart includes the isolated, final, medial, and initial forms of each Arabic graph, along with the name of the graph in Arabic, the transliteration in the Roman alphabet, and the IPA value (aka, the pronunciation). Please feel free to download and use the chart and Anki deck as you like.
Click here to download the chart as a UTF-8 txt file. (Use right click + Save Link As.)
Click here to download the chart as an Excel spreadsheet.
Click here to download the Learn Arabic Script Anki deck.
Good luck learning Arabic!
Can I learn Korean in 3 months with the #Add1Challenge?
The +1 Challenge was started by Brian Kwong, who has challenged us to learn a new language for 90 days.
The +1 Challenger’s Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLIyYMvGTq-ZwL3RuBk72O4Yv5y3cNRpnC
Language Tsar (Conor Clyne) pledges to learn Romanian: http://www.languagetsar.com/1-challenge-with-some-of-the-worlds-top-polyglots/
This is Kieran and I’m joining the “Add One Challenge.” The +1 Challenge was started by Brian Kwong, who has challenged us to learn a new language for 90 days. My goal is to learn Korean to fluency in three months.
I made a lot of South Korean friends at the University of Georgia, in Fukuoka, and in Shanghai. At Fudan University in Shanghai I lived with three roommates from South Korea and even made a friend from North Korea. I want to learn Korean to 1) to connect with friends, 2) to make new friends, and 3) to experience the beautiful Korean culture, particularly its rich literary tradition.
I’ve been learning Korean every day for a month. I begin my challenge today, September 30th, so my challenge will end on December 30th. At the end of the year, I will film myself having a spontaneous conversation in Korean with a native speaker. My plan is to learn at least an hour of Korean every day with Anki, Talk to Me in Korean, and some other resources introduced on the Mezzofanti Guild. I recommend everyone check out “Talk to Me in Korean;” it’s a fantastic course for learning Korean. I want to say thank you to Hyunwoo, Kyeong-eun, and the rest of the team for their hard work.
My daily goal is to review 100 new cards in my Korean deck. I’m using three public Anki decks. The first one is a deck of the 1000 most common Korean words with audio. The second is a deck of sentences, most of which are from Talk to Me in Korean. The third is a deck of Korean hanja. Since I speak Chinese and Japanese, I think the hanja will help me learn Korean words.
If I win this competition with myself, I’m going to win some delicious bulgogi. And for every day I miss our hairy cat is going to sit on my face. Gross.
I will update every week with a new video, so please subscribe to my YouTube channel! Check out the links at the bottom of the video, especially the playlist for the challenge where you watch other participant’s videos. Thanks for watching!