日本: Language Obliviousness

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mmm, studyin's.

It's weird, taking the train to work, walking through the supermarket, buying groceries, performing daily life while completely unaware of the meaning of all surrounding language. When the cashier says something to me, I smile and nod. Not speaking or reading Japanese while in Japan is forced, explicit ignorance. Not only do I know what I don't know, I can't do anything to make myself know any sooner.

Language acquisition is a slow process.

I've been taking Japanese lessons one-on-one for two to three times a week. My spidey sense can tell when someone is saying hello, or listing a bunch of numbers, but that's about it. Progress! Other foreigners have been recommending what syllabery system to learn first (katakana, hiragana, kanji). With ten weeks left, I'm not sure it's worth the investment.

When it doubt, they're probably asking you if you need a plastic bag.

Shopping Arcade

3 comments:

Corin said...

When I lived in Germany, one of my favorite things to do was walk around grocery stores or markets because it was a good way to learn new words without having to actually, you know, talk to people. Three years later I've forgotten a good portion of my German vocabulary with the exception of food and household goods.

iris said...

Corin - Right, and that sort of thing works great when the culture uses the Latin alphabet. It worked when I was in Turkey, but walking around a Japanese grocery store...you can't learn anything because the characters are nearly impossible to distinguish, from the untrained eye.

Carolyn Watson-Dubisch said...

I carried a sketchbook when I lived in Argentina. Drawing a little picture was sometimes helpful. I image Japanese is really hard though, since the written language is so very far from English. Hang in there!

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