April has been a month of self improvement spurred on by anime.
I’ve run three 5k races (and about 25 miles of training for them) at some of my fastest times ever.
I wrote my first fanfic, followed closely by my second. It’s not high art, but it’s the closest I’ve gotten to creative writing in forever.
Now, I’ve signed up for classes to right my biggest regret and finally learn Japanese.
I’ve wanted to learn Japanese ever since I got into anime in sixth grade. My friend Kailer and I would reverently copy down words in kana like they were incantations. (Kailer took Japanese in college and though she’s modest, she is excellent at it now. My college didn’t offer it, so I took Italian.)
I’ll be taking classes at the Japanese Language School, part of the Japan America Society of Washington DC. I’m lucky to live in the city where it’s only four Metro stops away—so the real question is why I haven’t started sooner.
I am plunging immediately into Japanese 101 instead of 101 Prep, which covers just the alphabet, so I am determined to memorize the hiragana and katakana alphabets entirely before class starts at the end of April. I’ve been spending a lot of time using My Japanese Coach for DSi and these incredibly helpful alphabet matching games.
The downside to all this is that now I’m that kind of weeaboo. The kind The Onion was talking about in Report: 58% Of World’s Japanese Speakers White 23-Year-Old American Males. I’m sure the Tumblr social justice community would roll their eyes at me if they knew. If there’s a “right” reason to want to learn another language, it shouldn’t be, “so I can read more manga.” I think this is actually one of the main reasons I’ve shied away from learning Japanese—because I felt guilty for wanting it for the wrong reasons.
On the other hand, it’s hard to learn a language without a goal you honestly want to reach. It would have been noble to learn Italian to “better understand my family’s heritage.” But the real reason I learned it was so I would have a good time when I lived there one summer.
This is not going to be easy, and I still can’t tell “chi” and “sa” apart no matter how many exercises I do, but I’ve never felt more motivated. The ability to watch all my favorite anime without subtitles awaits me at the finish line.
Screenshot of Nadeko from Bakemonogatari. No idea what she’s studying for!
She’s studying for love, silly.
Enrolling at an actual language school is a bigger step than most people take who want to learn Japanese :)
If you have trouble with ‘chi’ and ‘sa’, wait ’till you get to katakana ‘chi’ and ‘tsu’!
But good luck to you. It’s a long road and a hard language. And be ready for the surprises. “You know those formal verbs you learned, with their easy endings? Nobody uses them. Here’s a totally different set of informal verb endings. Yes they are hard to tell from the adjectives, aren’t they? Have a nice day.”
Oops. Meant katakana ‘shi’ and ‘tsu’
@Eadwacer, just took a look. So they’re both vaguely smiley faces? But one is happier than the other? X_X
On ‘shi’ シ the eyes tend to the left, while on ‘tsu’ ツ they tend to the top. The way I finally learned to differentiate was to think about drawing a line (eyebrows?) across the eyes to the nearest end of the ‘smile’. When you do that, they look vaguely like their hiragana equivalents, し and つ.
BTW, the way that the reason for both hiragana and katakan finally made sense to me was that you can think of katakana as if it were italics.
@Eadwacer, omg you have no idea how much this comment has helped me.
I self-studied for a while — on and off for years, really — but I suspect I plateaued for lack of an actual teacher. It helps to have someone there spurring you on and forcing you to play over your head.
That said, if you haven’t picked up the “Basic Japanese Through Comics” books (there are two), do it. They’re out of print and not likely to be reissued due to the cost of rights for all the material used within, but used copies can be had cheap on Amazon. Some of the most valuable real-world Japanese lessons I’ve ever had are in those books.
When I started learning Japanese, it was partly out of anime, and partly thanks to martial arts. However, if it weren’t for those initial reasons, I wouldn’t be where I am now. So, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. がんばってね。
Are you learning to write them at the same time? I find that helps a lot. Try to remember that despite computer font, sa is 3 strokes but chi is two
I’m confused. How is the desire to read stories in their original language, not a right reason to learn a language? In my experience works of art always lose something when they are translated.
I spent two years learning Japanese in college. Half my class were Asian students who wanted another Asian language to go with Chinese or Korean. The other half were otaku who wanted to watch raw anime. And we didn’t care, because we had a great professor and we learned a whole lot about Japanese culture from her while she was grilling the language into us.
Srsly, if “social justice” judges you for wanting to learn another language, that’s their problem. Learn whatever you want. Knowledge is power.
This is not a wrong reason to study Japanese. A “weeaboo” does not seek education or cultural competency. You might have heard my stance on this before, but here is an article by Fukunaga. Read it!
Memorization, memorization, memorization, and etc. Nothing ever beats that. I started learning Japanese almost a year ago too, and I covered Hiragana and Katakana in about a month. Those were pretty easy for me since I also had a friend to study with, but now I’m totally stumped with Kanji :(
I’m sure everybody’s been giving you pointers to resources, but on the off chance that nobody’s pointed you to these things yet, here’s what I use for studying:
For dictionaries, I use:
and for studying offline
and the online version
Hmmm. My links don’t seem to be showing. Perhaps when the moderatrix is done with them they will.
So, rather than risk another link blank, let me just say I use NihongoDict and Denshi Jisho for dictionaries, and AnkiSRS and the associated AnkiWeb for studying. You can google for the links. :)
They should be working now!
No joy. Tried two different browsers in Linux and one in Windows. The funny thing is, it’s there if you do a ‘show source’. I prolly just messed up the href stuff. I wouldn’t worry about it.
Look just one more time. I fixed your code.
Yay! If you have time, what did I do wrong?
There was no content inside the links. It was like html>