Prairie View

Monday, November 05, 2018

Not a Big Plobrem

Hiromi is the best--for me!  I can't imagine a more willing shopper for the household.  As long as an item makes it to the list, he'll  bring it home or have a really good reason for not doing so.

Both of us add items to the list as we think of them, and I don't always see the final version that goes to work at Walmart with him.  This morning, however, I added the last item (at the top of the list), and smiled to  myself at some of what I saw there.  These items tell a story about who Hiromi is--an excellent planner and organizer, in possession of stellar maintenance instincts, an eager provider, an efficient list maker (which is why we always start at the bottom of the paper--so we can tear off only as much of the notepad sheet as needed--without wasting the whole sheet), and a Japanese immigrant for whom English is a second language.

I wrote only the top item on the list below according to his dictation, and I dictated the second for him.  He needed it repeated several times and had trouble getting what I meant when I explained that I needed a "marker."  I knew he got it when he said, "Oh.  Permanent Marker,"  as though I should have said what I really meant a long time ago.  So much for trying not to make it too complicated.

Hiromi plans to stop for a haircut before he leaves town.  

The last three lines are my Hiro's notes on which replacement belt to buy for the vacuum sweeper.

Here's the list:

Omega 3 (Fish Pills)
Extra sharp fine  Sharpy
hair cut

Bissel Powerforce
Model 6596
07089 00097

Not being able to hear the difference between "r" and "l" is in evidence here--a problem for many Japanese and Chinese people.  Another thing that is a predictable problem for a Japanese speaker of English is problems with plurals, as in "Blueberry" and "Eyedrop."  I assure you that he is not planning to bring home one blueberry or one Eyedrop, but he wrote it that way because the Japanese language does not distinguish between singular and plural forms of words.  He got it right when he wrote "mushrooms."  A novel spelling (like parcely) is sensible phonetically, but gives me a bit of a jolt nonetheless.

Hiromi knows more than most of us will ever learn about languages.  Right now his big project is producing a "concordance" for the Hammurabi Code, which is written in Akkadian (Abraham's language).  My eyes glaze over in a hurry when I try to wade through the English text and do the editing for it, but he has patiently plodded along for several years to create this tool for others who study Akkadian.

He goes after the occasional help he needs from the world's finest experts in the field, people who themselves have written some of the materials Hiromi consults.  One of them lives in Norway and the other in Israel (Dr. Tov).  He met the latter at a conference he attended in Philadelphia a number of years ago, and the reference librarians at the Hutchinson Public Library have offered a great deal of assistance as well.

Last week Hiromi asked me to edit an email to Dr. Tov, and I did my best to help him create a document fitting for a person of his academic stature.  Hiromi laughed as he finished up making the needed changes and said, "I don't think Dr. Tov is that good with English, so he probably wouldn't notice if I make a lot of mistakes." After he got the reply, Hiromi showed me Dr. Tov's letter.  "No capital letters anywhere," he observed.  He was right.

"I guess when a person has accomplished all that Dr. Tov has, he can do anything he wants in his writing," I said.  I feel the same way about Hiromi--at least when he's writing the grocery list.