Day 24: Japanese


It’s an odd language of choice, I understand that and I mean who wants to speak a language that only one hundred and twenty eight million people can speak, in one of the worlds most isolationist populations, I might add, when inversely and only two hundred miles away, there’s a country where mastering mandarin can net you the ability to talk with eight hundred and fifty eight million people.

It’s a personal choice and fortunately for me linguists have drawn parallels that show that if you can speak one language, as a general rule, languages nearby, geographically, become easier to learn. That makes sense I suppose.

Though it doesn’t mean i’ll have the progression of.

Japanese –> Mandarin –> Russian?

 That just doesn’t make sense. The first two in that chain perhaps, since they share some of the same and many similar characters as well as requiring the same learning techniques for picking them up, however Russian doesn’t fit in there.

You see, Japanese and Chinese are both what I would stereotype as ‘Asian’ languages and their grammar, punctuation and words all behave in roughly the same manner, however, Russian and most countries in the eastern bloc are what I would call ‘Slavic’ languages and, despite their geographical vicinity, behave very differently.

But it’s a start.

It should help me get on track with my goal of, one day, being able to speak all four of the worlds ‘power’ languages: English, Chinese, Russian and Arabic. If you can speak all of these languages with a degree of conversational ease, you can address over half of the worlds people.

Plus It’d be nice to speak Japanese, it’s a very niche language.

So I spent a large portion of last night looking up books and texts to supplement and help build up the understanding of the language. As such it seemed to boil down to a combination of apps and textbooks that would help, along with finding a tutor that is.

As for the books, the popular text books Genki 1 and Genki 2 seemed to be the rational choice, they cover both Hirigana and Katakana as well as some Kanji and, when properly studied, take you up to about JLPT 4 N4 level, which is around a thousand words. Finally, the most difficult part about learning that language. Kanji.

With regards to learning this hellhole of a writing system, Japanese children learn it over the space of ten years by a process called, writing it out again and again and again! But there is a book called remembering the Kanji which was published in 1976 I believe and is now in its fifth edition my James W Heisig and is coined as the holy grail for Kanji learners.

But that’s pretty much all i did today and, yes, it’s not much, but it’s something and I’m really rather interested to see what being able to speak another language will do for me in the future, but for now.

We’ll see what tomorrow holds.

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