Posts like these are hard to write, because I never quite now how they’re quite going to turn out, and I never quite know how much of my soul I’m going to bare in the process.
About three months or so ago, I had a medical crisis that caused me to pretty much drop off the grid for two months. Thankfully, I have good insurance and am in decent financial shape after having to take two months off of work, but many things in my life had to take a serious hit, and my Japanese study has been one of them. I have been continuing to take classes after I was able to get stabilized enough to make it there, but that’s pretty much the only practice I’ve been doing.
I haven’t lost interest in the Japanese language, but after having taken a rather forced break from it for a couple of months, I no longer see it in the same way. I can’t decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s just fact.
Japanese is pretty much everything English isn’t. I think that’s a broad statement that I feel comfortable making. Everything’s backwards in comparison to English. The sentence structure is backwards. We have twenty-six letters that come out to about fifteen thousand syllables. They have about one hundred syllables and over 2,300 letters (I’m counting kanji as individual letters because, in my view, they are). It’s not that it’s impossible to learn, it’s more that one’s thought patterns have to be almost completely wiped and all of one’s assumptions about what a language is or should be have to be put aside. How many times in my lessons have I thrown up my hands in an only semi-joking manner and said something like “well, of course that compound word is pronounced differently and means something differently even though it’s written the exact same way depending on where and how it’s used! It’s JAPANESE!”.
My sensei laughs, because even though she’s native Japanese, she gets it. Every time you try to pull the language apart into its components so you can put it back again, it refuses, laughs at you, and pulls another exception out of its bag of tricks for no reason other than I’m a gaikokujin and it can. How many times have I asked her why something is the way it is and gotten a shrug, I look online, and find a fascinating, halfways sensible, completely counterintuitive explanation so loaded down with exceptions and rules about when to use it and when not that you’re actually worse off than when you began?
I’m trying to get back into studying right now, I really am, but to be honest, even though the language interests me, I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of unforgiving kanji, and there are no lifeboats.