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~とは限らない

This is a handy bit of grammar that means something like “it’s not always the case that ~.”

It seems like you use it when you want to point out to someone that a certain expectation is not certain. For example:

あなたは結婚するつもりでも、相手がその気になっているとは限らないじゃありませんか

You might be planning to get married, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your partner will feel the same, right?


On a side note, I used the Japanese dictionary goo to try and get a better idea of the specific usage. My Japanese is on the cusp of good enough to use straight Japanese-Japanese dictionaries. In the meantime, I learn quite a bit by trying to use them, :).

Film Review: 時をかける少女

I’ve been trying to watch more Japanese films lately. It’s a good way to relax and “study” all at once.

時をかける少女 (rendered in English as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) was shown at the Cape Town Japanese film festival a few months ago but I missed it. I heard it was good though and so luckily I was able to watch it at home.

It is indeed good!

累 vs 細 - the Movie Method

After Anki, the best thing to happen to my Japanese is the Movie Method. Once kanji stopped being intimidating and began to feel like a tool, Japanese really started to “click.” But as much as I love the Movie Method, it does have its occasional quirks.

Book Review: A Hundred Years of Japanese Film [Donald Richie]

"I prefer the old edition's g"

This book straddles the line between a history and reference book. The early sections tend towards the historical–they describe how Japan accepted cinema and made the transition from traditional entertainments (kabuki and the like) to film. The later sections lose the overarching narrative and begin to read like a laundry list of recent noteworthy Japanese films and directors. There are short sections devoted to Anime and Japanese documentary, but they lack the insight and entertainment value of the first few chapters. Maybe that’s just the material that Richie was dealing with: a film industry in decline, becoming ever more diffuse and hard to define.

~てからでないと

This bit of grammar seems quite useful. I picked it up from japanesepod101.com’s upper intermediate 3rd season. It’s a way of stating a prerequisite to avoid some negative outcome. どんな時どう使う日本語 provides the following illustrative example sentence:

野菜を生で食べるなら、よく洗ってからでないと、農薬が心配だ。

When eating raw vegetables, if you don’t wash them properly first then pesticides are a concern.

Breaking it down a little:

~てから means “after ~ [verb in て form].

でないと means “if not,” so all together it’s something like: “if not after ~” followed by some negative verb or unwanted result.

With that, I can make my own example:

この文法ポイントを勉強してからでないと、二級を合格できない!

Book Review: Coders at Work - Peter Seibel

I started this on a plane on a whim, never expecting to finish it (it’s long). Yet I did finish it, and for the last month, it’s been consistently the thing I want to read most when I crawl into bed. You could read 1 or 2 of the interviews in isolation and not lose that much. In fact, there’s a lot of repitition: the same questions, similar answers, similar opinions. And yet, I’d say read it all, there is so much to be gleaned from the small differences of opinion, and there is an unquestionable common strand that ties the book together: a vision of what it is to be a programmer; a prediction for the future; a praise song for what’s come before and a fondness for the discipline that sometimes was so infectious that I had to put the book down and go tap in some code of my own.

Book Review: Test Driven Development - Kent Beck

I don’t find much to recommend about this book. The second half is better, but the examples of the first half are simply not compelling. TDD has a place, and it’s a tool I want to use, but this is not the book that will either convince or teach you about TDD.

Book Review: The Fantastic Mr. Fox - Roald Dahl

I’m not sure how I missed this growing up, but it’s odd and wonderful. But it’s also troubling: the crass socialism, the poor farmers, the silliness of always digging down, but Mr. Fox is fantastic, and the fact that he knows he’s fantastic and works hard at it makes it all so much funnier.

Book Review: Life & Times of Michael K - J.M. Coetzee

I think it starts quite beautifully. Small and convincing, a poor man and his mother trying to leave Cape Town and escape to a nostalgic countryside. The details of the war are woven in so subtly, I was immersed.

Part 2 I don’t know what to make of: Michael leaves behind his mother, escapes into the wilderness, is captured, escapes again, grows pumpkins, slowly withers away until he is stripped of humanity and disappears in abstract ideas which I couldn’t quite grasp or follow - I was empty at the end.

Book Review: SuperFreakonomics - S. Levitt & Dubner

f you skip chapter 5 (the global warming chapter) then you have one of the most entertaining books I’ve read in a long time. If you include chapter 5 then you have, well, a controversial book about global warming.

Without Chapter 5: This book is crammed with juicy statistics and outrageous facts. The writing is snappier and cheekier than Freakonomics. The book is a bit like a rough pencil sketch: Dubner and Levitt seem to realize that it works better if not every detail is rendered perfectly. It signals to readers: fill in the details for yourself, not everything here is perfect, not everything here is true, see it for yourself.

With Chapter 5: Well, I liked chapter 5. It’s point of view is consistent with the rest of the book: people respond to incentives and don’t like to change their behaviour. If you accept that as your premise, geo-engineering starts to seem inevitable. Unseemly lifeboat that it is, I’ll take their argument that we should think more about what the lifeboat would look like, and build the best damn lifeboat we can…you know…in case Al Gore fails.