Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

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steepholm steepholm
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Japanese diary 5
I'm 190 kanji in now, and seem to be getting a second wind, as I build up my basic store of elements and a feeling for how they're likely to be combined. The last fifty have certainly been much easier than the fifty before that, at any rate.

The bottle-necks are currently in the area of reading hiragana, building up vocabulary, and grammar - the latter mostly for lack of time, not because anything I've come across so far is particularly difficult.

For the first two what's needed is practice, which is unhurriable. Reading hiragana isn't hard in theory, but it will take a long time before I'm doing it at a reasonable speed. I'm putting off learning katakana until hiragana is bedded in, anyway. I admit that when I realized that the language had not one, not two, but three unfamiliar scripts my initial reaction was "What the fuck, Japanese?" But on closer inspection katakana looks no more different from hiragana than upper case Roman letters are from lower case. I'll get there in a bit.

With vocabulary, of course, some of the helps that are available in learning European languages with familiar roots are absent. I've found that I'm using mnemonics more than I have in the past. I've a memory that a jejune puritanism stopped me using "silly" mnemonics to learn languages on previous occasions - which may help explain why I failed so utterly to progress in them. This time, I've no such scruples. So, knowing that haru (spring) begins with ha, which means tooth, I'm picturing tooth-like leaves of rue piercing the gums of vernal earth. Fuyu (winter) reminds me of furui (old). As for fukurou (owl), I imagine that it's onomatopoeic and that Japanese owls sit in their branches hooting "Fuck you, fuck you!". As, for all I know, they do.

It's not wafuu, but so far at least it's not snafu either.

A possibly better analogy for hiragana and katakana is cursive and print forms (which is a close analogy to how they came about).

I just learned fukurou this weekend -- not as a generic owl, though, but a specific Eurasian species. I also learned mimizuku, the long-eared owl, which is easy to memorize because mimi is ear. And you can add furu, to fall, to that fuyu/furui constellation.

---L.

A possibly better analogy for hiragana and katakana is cursive and print forms (which is a close analogy to how they came about).

Good point.

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