This week I made public a new service I called Japoneschan. It lets you convert Spanish words into Japanese characters (keeping the Spanish pronunciation), get translations through the Google Translate API, and many other things. I made this service in order to connect the Japanese and Spanish languages in both directions. For more information on how to use it, please read the Japanese or Spanish help pages.
The design and mascot character for Japoneschan are the work of Koga Takahiro
For the service to be comfortable and fast to use I’m using AJAX, but when you access a URL where you get the conversion results from the beginning (as the ones shared on Twitter, etc.) I’m reducing the number of AJAX queries, caching on the server side, etc. Many things I had never had the chance to build from zero.
I had a blast developing Japoneschan. Have I managed to get you curious enough to look up the Japanese characters for your favorite Spanish phrase? I hope I did!
Last week I spoke at Kokusai Hiroba, a space for international activity in Acros Fukuoka. My lecture was for a program they have for fourth-graders to understand the international world.
What I did here is explaining the multicultural world using three axis: the space axis, the language axis and the culture axis. For instance, if you take a look at the space axis you’ll figure that Spain and Latin America are far, but share a language and some common spots in their culture too.
A not very serious graph for you to picture the axis
To understand the world as a whole, I think one has to understand there are spaces which hold several languages or cultures. Japan, the Japanese language and the Japanese culture, however, are in a very unique position and don’t overlap in a significant way with any other regions on any axis. I think it’s important for Japanese children to understand this, as they have no examples in their own environment.
But this time it had to be explained for fourth graders (10 years old) so I couldn’t use the axis expression. I spoke about this without using the “a word”, and mixing in pictures and stories about Spain so that the kids had tangible references.
And when one explains things about far places, it’s better to do that through comparisons with things they all know. For example, if we tell the children Spain’s area in square kilometers they will ignore the information. But if we tell them Japan’s area is 3/4 of that of Spain they will get an idea. Actually, I like explaining things this way for adults too.