January 6, 2011 | Japanese
I Can Write Japanese Words, Sort Of!
I move from writing individual symbols to (a few) actual whole words.
Tokyo is New York’s sister city in Japan. I learned that yesterday from a neighbor of mine. I want to go there.
Rosetta Stone, Danger! See That Girl’s Really Big Piece of Cake on Right? That Made Me Eat a Whole Pint of Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream.
In recent days I have been doing a ton of Rosetta Stone, in combination with writing drills in my Easy Kana Workbook. (I get a kick out of these hopelessly optimistic book titles.)
Rosetta Stone is growing on me. I am a little perplexed by how much. Honestly, I didn’t love it before. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. But I am really enjoying it a lot at the moment.
One reason is that it is very helpful for learning to write in unfamiliar alphabets—and read, too. I find it less helpful for speaking, but even that is going better than speaking did with, say, Rosetta Stone Hindi.
Part of it is that I am getting used to the Rosetta Stone system. It was not always intuitive to me. I understand it better now and am less often frustrated.
Look-Alike Japanese Symbols Representing Totally Unalike Sounds
Back to writing: it is interesting, when you don’t know a foreign alphabet or writing system, how hard it is to tell the difference between similar-looking symbols. The symbols for so and n, respectively, may be conspicuously different to Japanese readers, but they sure aren’t conspicuously different to me. I find it very hard to tell them apart. Although I can see that there are subtle differences, they both basically look like cheerful Cyclopes to me.
While loitering at a café this afternoon with one of my books, I had a breakthrough: I wrote some words in Japanese!
It was super-exciting to me, but I wouldn’t want to overstate the accomplishment. Here’s what it entailed:
- I looked at some Japanese words in romaji (i.e., words rendered in the Roman alphabet).
- I did not actually know what the romaji words meant. The book I was using said don’t worry about that for now. So I didn’t.
- I rendered at least some of the words into kana (sample below) without having to look anything up and without peeking at the answers.
One of the First Words I Wrote in Japanese
I found this to be unbelievable fun. In all seriousness, this is one of the most exciting types of experiences in this entire project. It is like unveiling a secret. Cracking code. Solving a mystery.
I could cut some of the time I spend on writing practice with these languages and spend more time on my oral skills. Oral skills are the ones, after all, that actually impress people—no one tests your writing skills during casual conversations—but I really, really care about the writing piece, too, and would be very unhappy not to learn something of that.