Foreign Language Links
This picture seems like it has nothing to do with languages ... but in actuality it is from the top of my language reference bookshelf. I will add a picture of the actual books in it soon. It's a modest collection, but I hope to build it up over time.
Japanese and Chinese
Back when I used to have more time to play video games, there was this game I wanted to play called Ogre Battle 64 that was only going to be released in Japan. I wanted to play this game so badly that I decided to try an experiment and teach myself Japanese. I bought several books from Amazon and studied about 2-3 hours a day for a few months during the summer. I also bought the game and a converter so I could play it on my American N64 system. I then started to take classes at Princeton during my undergrad. As a junior, I won a Japanese speech competition and received a free trip to Japan to study abroad.
Five years of classes and one study abroad trip later, I have cultivated a deep appreciation of Japanese language and culture, and if I ever get time I would like to become as close to a native speaker as possible. Japanese also appears to have some connections with my mother tongue, Tamil. This was surprising to me at first, but there are several other languages (Basque, Turkish, etc) from seemingly far-away locales that also have some connection to Japanese. I wonder what is going on.
I started to study Chinese because I had many Chinese friends in college and it seemed like a natural extension from Japanese, given the related writing systems and such. I was not able to progress nearly as far, but I am keeping it on my list of things to do. I owe a great debt of gratitude to my Japanese and Chinese teachers at Princeton, especially Prof. Seiichi Makino and Prof. Perry Link.
As for Ogre Battle 64? I have about 40-50 pages of translated dialogues from the game, but I'd barely scratched the surface ... the game has about 40 hours of play time for a native speaker. Didn't matter much anyway ... the game ended up seeing a US release after all.
Here are some useful links for the intermediate/advanced/interested student.
- Jim Breen's WWWJDIC. This is a great resource for Japanese, and serves as a decent Chinese character reference as well. The dictionary is huge, so when you cannot find something in your other dictionaries, check here. It's especially useful for Japanese proper nouns.
- Rikai.com The first foreign language "reading assistance" site I used. Supports Japanese<->English, Chinese->English, and English->Spanish. You put in an article and it has definitions "pop-up" over words / character compounds.
- Popjisyo.com Supports more languages than Rikai.com. The dictionary however is not as good (it will have problems with proper nouns).
- Reading Tutor Supports Japanese->Japanese, which is great practice for any student.