Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Can you speak Japanese yet?

I was thinking, what should a foreigner living in Japan hope to achieve in two years? Obviously Japanese speaking ability is something one should come away with. How about reading?

Did you know there are 3 Alphabets in Japanese? More accurately the Japanese language is written with a combination of three different types of glyphs: Chinese characters (called kanji), and two syllabic scripts, hiragana and katakana. The Latin alphabet (called rĊmaji) is also often used in modern Japanese, especially for things such as company names and advertising. Just think of Sony, it's called that here as well you know.

The Chinese kanji characters, pictured right saying "Japanese Language" are particularly difficult for me to learn. 1,945 is the number of kanji generally considered sufficient for everyday life, like reading a newspaper or a sign and so on. My students, who are 15-18 and have been learning kanji since their first year at elementary school, only know about 1000. So how am I supposed to do it! This is seriously disheartening, but I guess the way to look at it is even 200 kanji is better than none.

What else do you think I should be able to do? Bonsai tree grower? Karate kid? Sumo Champ? Some of these things come to mind when you think of Japan, but course they take years to master, and I'm no closer to being any of them than I was at home.

Travel around some of Asia? Learn snowboarding, scuba diving and surfing? Eat raw fish, octopus and all manor of sea creatures? Now that seems to be the way things are going..


Anonymous Nick said...

Suggestions for things that you could do:

Learn to catch flys in chopsticks
Take part in the Japanese tree chasing/cutting festival that I saw on extreme TV
Start an import/export business - export Ipods and PSPs and import... er... dunno

5:37 pm  
Blogger Winesoaked Buddha said...

Lay Japanese girls down by the fire. Check.

4:38 am  

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