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20 January 1996

Japanese Shorthand

Umberto Magnest postulates that the entire Japanese language can be expressed in only forty ideograms. I found Magnest's slim volume New Japanese Shorthand for Beginners quite fascinating. After reading a scathing review in the Times, though, I was disappointed to discover that Magnest's ideograms are used only by a handful of Japanese expatriates living near Honolulu.

I find it curiously sad that such a succinct yet comprehensive system has so far failed to win a larger following. Like L. L. Zamenhof, Magnest is just too advanced for his age.

Forty Japanese Ideograms

These chopsticks look like your cousin made them.

I want to lick your knees.

A cabbage like this is certainly a bargain.

I work harder than my whiskey would suggest.

Your fine lips are forty ukuleles serenely strumming.

Are you sure it is clean?

Tomorrow is the same day after a night.

Stolen pity cannot be hidden.

Fish wait slowly.

My Nikon is larger and much more expensive than your Nikon.

No one can predict what happened when your parents were born.

I hear the smell of money in your pants.

That Godzilla is some hombre!

Your pupils are fragrant pools of soy sauce.

There is no more money in the heavens than is necessary.

Two squids are never alone.

Your nose has many interesting features.

May I eat this if someone else hasn't?

The finest fur makes the weakest teas.

A large nose is rarely empty.

The yen, the dollar, and the mark rarely find the same pocket.

A large empty chamber pot promises more than a full bottle of beer.

Snow is brighter than the mountain below.

It is too Chinese to be seriously considered.

Work is the machinery of a healthy nation.

Both bricks and pearls are at the bottom of the sea.

A sliced cucumber is still a cucumber, sliced.

I desire the room of urination.

May I smoke anything here?

Your spouse is someone to know.

Some holes have no keys.

Your cat is most immodest.

Good soup must have the proper number of ingredients, no more, no less.

All people are the same, yet no two alike.

The rain that cleans can also kill.

A platinum sausage provides no nourishment.

Your shadow contradicts you.

Gambling favors the rich.

All organs are important, but some are overrated.

It's like sticky rice.

Your translation does not agree with mine.

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©1996 David Glenn Rinehart