Friday, October 15, 2010

Shodo, Paraguay, Spanish

My most popular blog is “Kana Shodo,” and the second is “Hiragana in Ballpoint Pen.” I’m glad and surprised about that. This week, I returned to my shodo class, and showed Iida sensei and classmates those blogs. I told them some people around the world have been looking at their graceful brushstrokes. They stared at the screen. Then, Iida sensei said that her husband has also been blogging. She wrote in red brushstrokes, “Letters from Paraguay.” I told her I was interested in Spanish and would take a look at it.

Next day, I happened to see a new and wonderful book displayed in the library: “Spanish Language in South and North America.” It is written by Miyoshi Junnosuke. I am fascinated to read the history of the Spanish Language and its development. I’ve been always curious about it.

I didn’t know one hundred or so native languages existed not too long ago in America, probably before 1400 or so, and sixty or so are still spoken today. I’m excited to find out that the word “chocolate” originated from Nahuatl Language of Mexica tribe. Thank you! And I stared at the page about Paraguay. Guarani language not only survived, but has prospered along with Spanish. I’m surprised to know that 90% of the people in Paraguay speak Guarani. Only 10% in the cities speak Spanish, and 5%, outside the cities. I wonder if Guarani has some similarity to Japanese.

And I found the word “Jaguar” originated from Guarani. I’m interested in the sounds of ja and gu of jaguar, and Gu of Guarani. Right now, I’m writing a story relating to b, d, and g sounds in Japanese. In the ancient Chinese, there was a distinction between pure and murky sound elements in the language. In the past, I blogged on the pure and impure (murky) sounds. We call them, seion and dakuon. I don’t know when it changed, but today, Chinese language contains only seion. So, even we see b, d, and g in pin yin, they are pronounced softly, unlike Japanese.

Throughout the book, “Spanish Language in South and North America,” the author mentions that there is a tendency in the sounds of b, d, and g weakening such as cansado becoming cansao. D dropped. It sounds like the ancient Chinese, I thought. I don’t know what it is, but there must be some psychological reasons behind that tendency. Some people might say it laziness, but others, aesthetic reason.

Lately, my interest in Spanish has gone up. Daniel Dragomirescu of CHMagazine sent me the following Spanish site.
And Hipatia Argüero Mendoza (Mexico) has edited my short stories and translated into Spanish. She explained to me about the usage of usted and tu. I read her messages with much interest because of their social and psychological and perhaps political elements.

As an ending paragraph of this post, I’ll paste the blog site I mentioned above. It used to be “Letters from Paraguay,” but now, it is “日々是好日,” everyday is a good day.
The author of the blog is Iida Kazuhiko. I think he is a retired civil engineer who had lived in Paraguay for two years to teach about concrete processing and building. I think you’ll enjoy his beautiful photos mainly of Japan, and I think, the photos are self-explanatory. Please click each item on the left column. The top of the center column contains advertisements. I think he has travelled to Bolivia, Uruguay, Argentine, and Chile as well as other countries which I found out at the bottom of the right column.


Dorraine said...

Every day is a good day with Keiko Amano in the house!

Hey, congratulations on the translation of your short stories. How exciting!

Thanks, too, for the blog referral. I'll check out Lida's blog. :-)

keiko amano said...


Thank you! And every ice cream is good, too. I like the look of your new blog site. It looks sexy and expensive. By the way, the name is IIDA not Lida. We pronounce like "yee-yee-dat."
I recommend his following site.
It's Mt. Fuji.

Luciana said...

Dorraine, you´re absolutely right! There´s not a boring day with Keiko! :-)

Keiko, Guarani is actually a big cultural branch of South American indigenous people. In Brazil it is stronger in the South. Right close to where I live you can see ruins of Missions run by the Jesuit Priests where they´d keep the Guarani Indians. There are many Guarani words and expressions in Brazilian Portuguese, especially in Southern variants, which makes it different from Portuguese from Portugal.For example, the expression "tche" that we use here in the South.
But there are many other Indigenous languages in South America. Close to Guarani, but from a different family is the Kaingang language. That´s what the Indians here in Passo Fundo speak.
I have a friend from Paraguay who speaks Guarani. I´ll try to put you two in contact.

Luciana said...

Oh and here are some links to one of the greatest operas by Brazilian composer Carlos Gomes, called "The Guarani", and to a movie based on a book by José de Alencar

keiko amano said...


Thank you for the links. That's fascinating. It is good to know that not all the Indian languages are disappearing. There must be many great human dramas behind Guarani's survival. Supporters must be not only Indians but also some Spanish or Portuguese people. I wonder why it happened only in Paraguay, not in other North and South American countries. And paraguay is not surrounded by seas. It's very interesting.

Rebb said...

Keiko, It is fascinating how with certain sounds, like the example you gave of cansado, the D is dropped. I’ve often wondered why this is. I guess the example in my head is how Italian and Spanish can look and sound similar, but certain ending letters may be different. Even when I see a little bit of Portuguese, I can understand a little from the small amount of Spanish I know.

When I was relearning the process of learning Phonics recently, the trainer mentioned about saying the sound in a pure way, which is lighter, so now I think I know a little more what you mean by pure/impure, but in English maybe it’s different? Anyway, I found it fascinating and also how the shape of our mouths when we say certain words really does effect how it comes out. I think once you talked about this and how Japanese keep their mouths a little more closed. Am I remembering right?

I’m glad to hear your interest in Spanish has gone up!

Thank you for sharing the blog site, “everyday is a good day.” The photos are great and I like that I can recognize some of the Spanish words. I even see a Mariposa (butterfly) on the of the flores (flowers) in the Flor (flower) blog.

Keiko, I would love to read one of your poems in Spanish if you have one available. It would also be wonderful to see the same poem in Japanese. Both would be a delight!

Language never ceases to amaze.

Luciana said...

Dear Keiko, I´m confused, what happened only in Paraguay? The Guarani or the survival of languages?
Here´s a nice article at the NYT about the Jesuitic Missions and the fate of the Guarani :

As for Paraguay, 2/3 of its population was decimated in the Paraguayan war, in the 19th century. Mostly by the Brazilian Imperial army. Maybe the explanation for what Paraguay is today still lies in that war. Guarani is probably an element of pride or belonging.

Sorry if I keep posting links, but you´ve touched one of the most complex issues in South American history and if one truly wants to understand it, they need to hear many voices and see it from different perspectives. :-)

keiko amano said...


Right, there is similarity and difference. That makes it interesting.

My poem "The Process" was translated into Rumanian, not in Spanish. My other two stories were translated by Hipatia, but she translated them for CHMagazine.

keiko amano said...


Thank you for more link. Yes, it is a complex issue. I'm overwhelmed. It's so much to learn about the history and cultures and languages. I think it's almost impossible to learn about the Guarani language living in Japan!

I found a book on the Guarani written by Piere Clastres. He wrote that the birth of a child in Guarani is "given a seat to a voice." Isn't that kind and respectful? And the attitude of phrasing is so democratic. I love it. And he also said "Mborayu" was translated by jesuits as love, but he suspects it is something different. This is curious because the same thing happened to the ancient Chinese word, therefore the Japanese word regarding 愛.