May 23rd, 2013


Ichi and Hachi

Well, it's odd how I seem to have become a little obsessed with things Japanese over the last couple of months. We're starting from a very low base, mind - just a few anime, Studio Ghibli, a manga or two. Then, like many before me, I began to wonder about the relationship between the (clearly dodgy) subtitles I was seeing and the sounds coming out of people's mouths. In odd moments I learned a few phrases and taught myself to count from Youtube videos. Then - what do you know, I appear to have bought a Teach Yourself Japanese book, and to be learning hiragana. A little later - why, I appear to have subscribed to! And then - bless me if I haven't made enquiries about lessons in the local area!

My history with learning languages is not good. I ground through seven years of German and three of French at school, but although I jumped successfully through the examinatorial hoops in place at the time, I was never able to hold much of a conversation in either language. After that, I seemed to gravitate to languages where my chances of conversation would be slimmer still: Latin, Esperanto, Old English, Welsh. With Welsh of course there are your actual speakers, but trying to learn it in York in the 1980s was not easy, with no Welsh tapes or speakers on tap, and the Web no more than a ball of fluff in the spinneret of Tim Berners-Lee's brain. None of these attempts lasted long, and I decided that my mind just wasn't the kind that languages - apart from a few programming languages - lodged in. (I still watch Welsh TV sometimes, but in a wistful hiraeth-y way.)

So, I've every reason to be suspicious of my new-found enthusiasm for Japanese. Nevertheless, as it's here right now and I'm studying it most minutes that I'm not marking essays, I may as well make occasional notes on the experience. I've even created a new tag for the purpose (there's commitment!).

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