Friday 21 June 2002

Kamome no jonasan

One of my life’s ambitions has been realized. I’ve been mentioned on a Japanese website:

Paragraph of Japanese text from an online article about blogging and journalism

A loose translation would be:

An Australian weblogger has caused a furore by vaulting to the top of blogging’s A-list within a few months of starting his blog. In a telephone interview, Sydney-based Jonathon Delacour said he’s delighted though amazed that his site now dominates Daypop, Blogdex, and the Top 100.

“I started out like everyone else, writing about XML and my cat,” he told us, “but a post about the Dishmatique seems to have been the catalyst. I was promptly invited to join the faculty of the University of Blogaria and it just took off from there. Naturally I couldn’t have achieved any of this without the support of my U Blog colleagues and the wider weblog community.”

Not surprisingly, given his interest in Pure Land Buddhism, Delacour rejects the cliquish values of the A-list. Instead he is using his influence to support projects that democratize weblogging. For those who create blogs, he is publicizing Shelley Power’s ThreadNeedle (a technology for tracking cross-blog conversations that’s designed to expose previously ignored blogging voices). And to ensure that no-one is excluded from reading weblogs, Delacour has committed to implementing the tips from Mark Pilgrim’s 30 days to a more accessible weblog series.

Heheh. Just kidding. The Japanese story is actually a translation of Noah Shachtman’s Wired News story about blogging and j******ism. What grabbed my attention is how they transliterated my name. I always write it in katakana (the syllabary used for foreign words) as JONASON DERAKORU. In the Wired article they’ve rendered it as JONASAN DERAKUUA.

I resigned myself to the Jonathon/Jonathan confusion a long time ago—in the English-speaking world, in Blogaria, and in Japan. Particularly in Japan where, whenever I introduce myself as Jonathon, the automatic response is “Aah, kamome no Jonasan mitai ne!” (Aah, just like Jonathan Livingston Seagull!) And though others would normally refer to me as JONASON-SAN, that sounds awkward so it’s invariably shortened to JONA-SAN.

I chose DERAKORU because it was similar to how Nikkor (as in lens) is written in katakana. But perhaps DERAKUUA sounds better (in Japanese). I’ve been meaning to get a new set of bilingual business cards so I’ll run the two alternatives past a few of my Japanese friends. In the meantime, Mark’s and Shelley’s projects deserve all the support we can muster.

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Pretty OT, but... I remember the first time that I ever looked at a book printed completely in Chinese, and it struck me how strange it was to not even pick out letters, let alone words. If I stumble across a page in Italian or Spanish, I might have no idea what's being said (though I know enough little bits that I can sometimes pick out major ideas and subjects), but when you have text printed in a (nearly) ideographic language, if you don't know it, you just have no idea what's being said.

Since then, I've learned to read, write and speak Chinese to a level that I can pick up a Chinese newspaper and read the majority of the stories. But when I saw that block of Japanese text at the top of this entry, that same feeling flooded back, and I thought how strange it looked. It's funny how perceptions like that never really change.

Posted by John on 21 June 2002 (Comment Permalink)

We at U Blog are impressed that a practitioner of the way of emptiness has attained so full a cup of the attentions of Blogaria. Were we not among those who count themselves least of all and servants of all, we might be chuffed our own selves--but that way, of course, lies vanity. We'll just go back to the dishes, content to bring cleanliness and beauty where hitherto only foulness and decay reigned. With a Dishmatique, of course.

Posted by AKMA on 21 June 2002 (Comment Permalink)

I'm wondering, John, if it didn't seem partly strange because of the Japanese syllabic characters mixed in with the Chinese ideograms (from which, I assume, you could have gleaned the basic sense of the Japanese text). For me, even though I can read hundreds of Chinese characters, the unbroken flow of written Chinese looks daunting.

AKMA, although you haven't said as much, I "know you too well" not to assume you've twigged that this entire post represents my guarded entry into the conversation about names.

Posted by Jonathon Delacour on 21 June 2002 (Comment Permalink)

That's true. To me, Japanese syllabic characters look like someone took some Chinese ideograms and broke them into pieces and spread them about the place. To me, the flow of Chinese (particularly when written vertically) is wonderfully balanced and even, and I guess the combo of Japanese and Chinese characters just throws that all off for me.

Posted by John on 21 June 2002 (Comment Permalink)

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

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