Sunday, January 2, 2011

Aiming where exactly

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what exactly it is I aim to do. The more I study kanji, the more the gap between what I can recognize and what I can actually pull out of my brain and put to paper widens. In the scheme of things, though, writing by hand is not a very important skill. Really, it's sheer vanity. It's something to brag about. Of course, things like your address are probably good to know, things like your friends names, maybe, if you like to handwrite letters, but the truth is most of the time you want to write (not type!) something, you can just look up the characters on your favorite (no doubt electronic/web) dictionary and copy them. Which yes, at that point it would be good for you to know the procedure for writing them, but then I'm sure there are also people who are able to do away with the entire writing thing entirely and just focus on recognition. It would be typical to point out that even Japanese people have trouble remember exactly how to write some of the characters they certainly KNOW, but it would also be true. Even my pro Japanese tutors would look stuff up.

And then there's just the whole challenge of projecting your personality on a mindset that is so different. The image gets distorted as you manage to acclimate to different bits of etiquette more elegantly than others. Being polite is a full-time job; if you can only do it half-way then you still feel inconsiderate and rude half of the time, or at least concerned. And it's harder if there are certain things you just don't agree with, sort of like attending church as a non-believer. I'm attending Japan as an American. It's not like we can't get along; we do, of course. I have so many cool friends here; it's really not so bad. I'm just trying to explain the fringe anxieties off the top of my head. Do you study Japanese in an attempt to become Japanese or in an attempt to show them who you are?

I think working on faster, smoother, more accurate consumption will not be hard. Producing is the hard part. Sure you have to commit to both, since it's always easier to do anything in your native language. Doing anything a foreign language is like walking up a steep hill when the next block over is flat. What makes it worth while? I actually like walking uphill, for the exercise. I guess foreign language is the same.


The2011YearOld said...

i abseloutely larve this blog!!!

Persephone Q said...

Hi, I'm new to your blog. Just passing by googling search.

I think most of people can't remember the kanji pretty well, when you try to recall and write it. But when you see it, you just know how to read it or know the meaning.

Anamae said...

I really love that analogy of walking up the hill. I find that with being able to type kanji, my memory is limited to being able to recognize it but not replicate it myself on a blank piece of paper. When it comes to learning new kanji, being able to type it out does nothing for keeping the character in my head.

I wish I had advice for you. But I'm stuck on this as well. Especially since I am not writing japanese letters on a regular basis, I feel as if my own kanji knowledge is slowly dwindling down.

Sora said...

Hi! :)