Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Teami Daisuki

Teami Daisuki
Teh-ah-mee -> hand knitting
Dah-e-suk-e -> like very much
I like hand knitting very much!

I have been going to Japanese lessons with the boy for the past couple of months as we are planning a trip next year.

Obviously I am getting my priorities right and trying to locate the biggest and best craft and yarn shops in Japan. Our sensei doesn't seem to be touching knitting at all so far ... maybe next week.

In the meantime, the latest Interweave Knits magazine (Winter 2006) I ordered last week arrived containing a fantastic article by Amy Singer (knitty.com editor) It explained that Japanese knitting patterns basically follow a chart - which I am familiar with now. I'm working on a secret WIP using a chart.

The only problem is that Japanese patterns tend to use Kanji. There are 3 types of character sets in Japanese - I have got Hiragana, and Katakana is the same 'alphabet' but with different characters.

Hiragana and Katakana follow a kind of alphabet - there is a symbol for sounds such as a, i, u, e, o, ka, ki, ku, ke, ko, na, ni, nu, ne, no etc. - With a few exceptions this is pretty much it. So wherever we see Hiragana (and soon Katakana once we learn it) we will be able to 'say' the characters and then be able to look them up the Japanese-English dictionary that will be no doubt superglued to our persons for this trip!

Kanji however ... well that's a whole other ball game entirely. And there are thousands of these characters. Japanese words tend to be a of mix Kanji and the Kana (Hiragana and Katakana). Therefore, we could maybe transliterate 3/4 of a word and there will be a Kanji symbol somewhere that throws a spanner in the works. No looking that up in a dictionary.

And Japanese knitting patterns are no exception, until .... ta-da! The Basics of Japanese Knitting website! I'm so relieved! I might not be able to deal with a menu, but as long as I can deal with a yarn ball band I'm happy!

If you look at the site the characters for wool - there are two entries for wool. The first has Katakana characters and the second has Kanji characters. *gulp* English wool is written entirely in Kanji, whereas Shetland Wool is written in Katakana. Why? I'm not altogether sure at this stage - maybe Japanese Stage 2 I will understand better.

There was also a fab guide to shopping on Amazon Japan - woo!

Sayonara for now!

edit: I forgot to mention - during the break in the Japanese evening class a woman across the room got out her knitting! I was so excited and wished I'd brought mine. Too shy to go over and talk to her though!


Francesca said...

Ah, I feel your pain! I've been studying Japanese by myself for a while and I was struggling with knitting-related kanji just last night. To answer your question about why certain words are written with kanji while others are written with the katakana sillabary, the rule of thumb is that native Japanese words usually have corresponding kanji while words of western origin are written in katakana. For example, Japanese had native words for cotton, silk and wool well before westerners set foot in Japan, but Shetland is a word that entered the language only rather recently, so it's written in katakana. I'm not sure about this, but I'm guessing that for the phrase "Shetland wool", Japanese might choose to spell "wool" in katakana as well, effectively treating the two words as a unit.

If I find the time, I hope to post about this topic on my blog sometime soon, as I get a lot of questions about Japanese books.

In the meantime, gambatte kudasai!

Kathleen said...

Good luck, Elaine. Sounds like a bit of a challenge.

moosh said...

Remember your desu's!