Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Japanese

The problem with Japanese is that it is Japanese. I love the language but honestly, it's as alien to a native English speaker as Klingon is. And vice versa, really, because English is a monster of a language composed of thousands of words from dozens of other languages, which (if there were some master language editor) could be greatly simplified to eliminate hundreds of words that mean the same damned thing. But I digress...

What I like about Japanese is that once you get the hang of the basic syntax, you're about halfway done learning the language. All you need then is to learn words to fill in the blanks, and master th pronunciation of most of those. Again, that's not to say it's easy, but it's easier than learning the sometimes contradictory rules of my native tongue.

The hardest thing about fully learning Japanese is Kanji: the Chinese writing system adapted by the Japanese hundreds of years ago. Rather than each symbol representing a sound or word, they represent ideas that must be interpreted and associated with syllables, words, or phrases. Given that there are thousands of Kanji it's no wonder that even they need a Kanji dictionary!

Any how, I have a oral interview in Japanese for my class in about an hour and a half. Wish me luck!

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