Sunday Soundcheck Revenge


AKA, Sunday Soundcheck 68. I started the Sunday Soundcheck series in November 2007 with the intent of it being a weekly series. For the most part, I had kept on schedule but life got complicated a couple years ago and blog posts in general spent a long period in exile. My most recent update was number 67 in February last year. Today we will pick up with the third character in the R column, ‘ru’, which we write as ‘る’ or ‘ル’ in hiragana or katakana respectively.

Presenting one sound of the Japanese syllabary each week, I aimed to present a small number of words which met two criteria: should be generally useful, should be not commonly presented in text books. The two criteria are sometimes conflicting and a few characters are hard to find at the beginning of good words, much like X in English.

Let’s see how it goes:

Rui (るい・類) is a convenient word meaning kind, sort, type, race or genus. Often it is used with something else: jinrui (人類) means ‘humankind’, like “extinction of humankind” in Battlestar Galactica; kamirui (紙類) means ‘paper’, used when sorting garbage by plastic, glass, metal, paper, and so on; and ruigo (類語) or ruigigo (類義語) means ‘synonym’, so a ruigojiten (類語辞典) is a thesaurus.

Rubi (ルビ), also rubii (ルビー) are used on the computer to refer to small hiragana or katakana characters written above or beside kanji characters to show their reading. This is pronounced about the same as the English word ‘ruby’ which allegedly is a term for 5.5 point printing. Oddly, this appears in computer software menus, but in most speech we call it furigana (振り仮名).

Ruporaitaa (ルポライター) means ‘reporter’, but you may wonder why it is so vastly different. One might expect with normal differences between English and Japanese sounds that the two r’s would merely be replaced with elongated vowels like ripootaa (リポーター). One would be correct to think that, since this word is also used, as is repootaa (レポーター); however, the first word is a combination of French ‘reportage’ and English ‘writer’. Each of these three enjoy some popularity with different people as well as many proper Japanese terms as well, so be ready for any of them… I was not, the first time I heard this one.

So, I hope to have another post up for you next Sunday as well. The irony of all this is that we lost our internet connection with the move and wont have our new connection until the 6th. How can I post more regularly with no connection than I coud with the fastest cable modem available? Maybe I’ll explain the magic next week.


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