I almost forgot about this... a few weeks ago I was reading Joi Ito's weblog and noticed his Japanese blog. Browsing through the Japanese version, it struck me how weird it was to be seeing all these words I couldn't even begin to decipher, yet with English words thrown in every once in a while. I left a message on this post:
Hi! Sorry, but this comment isn't about this post, because I have no real idea what it says. But I'm curious about writing in Japanese... It's fascinating to me to see it on a blog, but it's also strange to see the western characters mixed in. When do you decide to use English? Isn't there a Japanese translation for 'URL'? The URLs all seem to use Western characters.. are Japanese URLs catching on? Also, it seems like the titles on this blog and on Mitsuhiro Takemura's blog are in English... why? I'm currently living in Spain - here if they can use the Spanish equivalent, they do, even though some words are slipping into the vocabulary (web, email) so I wouldn't see English titles for a Spanish blog, for example.
And Joi responded with a nice comment explaining to me how it works a bit:
They do have a protocol to use Japanese in URL's but because of the variety of encoding systems, the support is a bit sketchy and I don't think it really adds much value.
As for the Japanese language... In modern Japanese, very few new words are actually being created. Most words are imported from other languages. We sometimes write stuff in "katakana" which transliterates it phonetically, but most words about computers for instance are imported...
Take a look at www.chanpon.org which is a bilingual/bicultural community site/blog.
So I took a look at the blog he linked to, it's pretty good. It's a group blog like MetaFilter dedicated to the mix of Japanese and other cultures. It's especially interesting if you're an expat like me. I really liked this post called Clompy McLeadFoot.
"So I called Jane over, because I couldn't follow what he was saying, and it turns out he's the downstairs neighbor, and he wants us to walk more quietly. She understands and assents. He continues, 'the last neighbors were also foreigners, and I asked them to be quiet.'"
A little later... a note why living in another country can sometimes be highly amusing. It's Sunday morning here and we're listening to the radio and right after the Rolling Stones comes on a song I haven't heard before - a Jazzy song with a decent beat and the refrain "duh-duh-daaah-dah-dah.. You Sexy Motherfuckaaaaaah."
(My wife: "what? what are you laughing at?" Me: Laughing louder...)