N asks:

I don’t get why the Pokémaniac Npc’s are called that way in the game. They seem to be as obsessed with Pokémon as anyone else in the games. What do you think is the reason they get this moniker? Pokemaniacs rise up!

This is kind of an interesting one, because in Japanese they’re not called Pokémaniacs.  They’re actually called かいじゅう(kaijū, or “monster”)マニア(mania, a transliteration of the English “maniac”).  Kaijū is also the name of the Monster egg group – the group that includes most ground-dwelling reptilian Pokémon that are not Dragons, a definition presumably influenced by the Japanese kaijū movie genre and its most famous star, Godzilla.  So they’re actually not obsessed with Pokémon per se; they’re obsessed with a particular group of Pokémon, almost always use Pokémon from that group and, starting in generation III, regularly cosplay as Pokémon from that group (they also tend to hang out in very out-of-the-way places, often in caves).  Of course, when the first Pokémon games were translated into English back in 1998, we didn’t have egg groups yet because the breeding mechanics were only introduced in generation II (released in Japan in 1999).  So some poor translator, who’d been told that “Pokémon” derives from the English “Pocket Monster,” probably read kaijū mania literally as “monster maniac,” thought “oh, this means someone obsessed with Pocket Monsters” and decided that “Pokémaniac” sounded better in English.  It wouldn’t have helped that the first two generations’ Pokémaniac sprites (see my avatar at the top of the page) look more like mad scientists than cosplayers.  Of course, I’ve only been learning Japanese for about six weeks, and I’ve been writing under the name “Pokémaniac Chris” on a blog called “Pokémaniacal” with a generation II Pokémaniac as my avatar for eight years, so there’s an argument I might have missed the window to back out on that one.  And anyway, to me, my Pokémaniac avatar represents the heart and soul of what this blog ought to be: pointing boldly forward into the unknown, with a wild-eyed grin, Pokéball at the ready, and a billowing cape just to add that subtle touch of “escaped cultist.”

Anonymous asks:

What languages can you speak/sign?

I basically just know tiny bits of a bunch of different languages, but not quite enough of any of them to actually be useful – French, Italian, German, modern Greek, Maori… and I can read and write Latin and ancient Greek pretty well.  As a classics grad student, you’re basically expected to be able to read anything that’s put in front of you, whether or not you’ve studied the language before (you tend to get told things like “this book is in Dutch, but it’s really useful, so good luck”), so you get pretty good at just muddling through with a dictionary and general knowledge of how translation works without ever reaching actual fluency in any one language.