January 17, 2011 | Japanese
Write Write Write!
Help, I can't stop practicing kana!
One of my earliest childhood memories is of writing the alphabet. The English one, I mean.
I can see myself sitting on the floor at the edge of a sunny living room, I think with wall-to-wall carpeting and glass doors, and I am writing letters not in order in neat rows, but in random positions all over a piece of white paper. An A in one corner, a B in another, and so on. Each pointing in a different direction, and therefore collectively messy (even though I was very careful to form the individual letters correctly).
Something about placing the letters randomly around the page was exciting, I remember. It was…fun! And a little rebellious, perhaps? As an adult, I often take notes that way: in chaotic swirls rather than rows.
Practice Makes…Better Than Totally Lame
I have been spending a lot of time practicing my Japanese writing skills, and it gives me feelings similar to the ones I associate with that early memory: profound joy, resulting from the placement of representations of sound on paper.
I am in fact writing the Japanese kana in tidy rows, but I find many of the symbols inherently messy in appearance. Some of the kana are sort of random-looking.
One of the two katakana symbols for the syllable ji, for example, is almost ugly to me. Like a deformed smiley face with an extra pair of eyes!
It is, by the way, only one of four ways I have encountered to write the syllable ji in Japanese!
A Deformed Smiley Face?
In any case, I am now like a woman obsessed.
Amid the obsession, I am still getting other non-writing-focused language-learning tasks accomplished. Today I advanced to the second of three Pimsleur levels, and I have continued with Rosetta Stone. Still, my focus on learning to write the Japanese kana is definitely encroaching on the time I would normally spend developing my oral skills through Pimsleur.
I have therefore decided I need to come up with mnemonic devices that will help me remember some of the characters I have not been able to get into my head. It is harder work to come up with mnemonic devices than to copy things over and over, and I am sometimes lazy, so I will have to make myself.
Okay, here is a mnemonic device I just came up with for the hiragana symbol for yu. Although I have been able to remember that the syllable starts with a y, I keep mistakenly thinking it is yo, not yu, so I need something to help me fix the vowel portion in my head.
How You Write “Yu”
How You Write “Yo”
Since yu looks kind of like a fish, I came up with, “Ooooooooo, a fish!” (“Oooooooo” being read here as a long u sound, not as an “oh.”)
Silly, I know, but it will probably work!