Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Yellow sand

A week ago there was a horrible episode of kosa (yellow sand), blown over from China, and I saw the strangest and most hideous sunset I have ever seen. The sun was a grey-white disc low in the murky sky, and I could look directly at it without any problem. In fact thought I was looking at the moon at first. It was grim. (There are some videos here, but none of them show the sunset.)

The kosa has been getting worse in recent years. When I first came here, I don't remember ever seeing it like that. I was told about it, but never really noticed. But in the last few years it has been clearly visible. It leaves surfaces gritty, turns the sky a sickly colour, and for many people it causes allergy problems.

Kosa is getting worse because of desertification in China, and the sand picks up various unpleasant elements as it is carried over rapidly industrializing areas before descending on cities in China, Korea and Japan. It contains some nasty stuff.

But the real reason for this post is that I was talking about the sand the other day with my friend, and we discovered that neither of us know how to pronounce the word desertification. Both the options we tried sounded wrong. One sounded like China was losing a certificate, and the other sounded like we were talking about the phenomenon of land in China turning into ice cream.

Where do you put the stress?



(Addendum of interest for Japan and Korea residents: I just found this U.S. army site showing the yellow sand levels in various parts of Korea. Yongsan is in Seoul. If it is high there, I imagine we can expect something similar a day or two later here in Japan, and it is probably a good idea to stock up on face masks. I know I was totally unprepared last week.)

7 comments:

Radioactive Jam said...

I put the stress right back on my boss whenever I-- oh.

Sorry.

I'd go with desert (as in 'Gobi') as the first part.

Dez' - ert - i - fi - ca - tion.

You should find someone with a proper syllabic accent to make sure. I'd try Yugoslavia first.

I better stop now; I might start making sense.

fallensnow said...

I checked. It's de·sert·i·fi·ca·tion, not des·ert·i·fi·ca·tion.
http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_/desertification.html

tinyhands said...

Regardless of your preferred syllablification you choose, don't look directly at the sun. Even when atmospheric particulation reduces the apparent brightness, you can still get a high dose of UV right into your peepers.

Badaunt said...

RaJ: Very logical! (At least in parts.)

Fallensnow: That's what we thought (because it's desert, not dessert), but it SOUNDS FUNNY. I think, basically, there are just too many syllables for it to sound like a real word!

Tinyhands: I didn't even know it WAS the sun at first, it was so dim. But I saw it through a train window, so I hope that the windows cut out some UV. (That's also why I didn't take a photo.)

fallensnow said...

Hmm, not sure if you got it right, I mean, it's read like "dessertification".
Anyhow, I've learnt a new word, I never knew a place could be "desertified".
Hmm, I checked but there's no "dersertify". How come there's "desertification" but no "desertify"? Is there no verb for this word?

Lippy said...

Where have all the clear days gone? I woke up this morning to see a bright blue sky - until I looked to the horizon and saw only murk. I bet it's from the escalating desertification of Australia. See? It's global! Dang.

Pearl said...

Ew, that isn't a pretty sunset for sure. The mess of the land had to filter down to a message to everyone eventually. Hopefully this will kick in gear the shift to better use of economy and ecology.