Man, has this been a difficult blog to keep up. My feelings about Japanese and Japan have oscillated over the past few months that I’ve gone from enthusiastic to “what’s the friggin’ point”, sometimes in the space of a few seconds. I still don’t really know what my block is, but I remain with the theory that it’s just so overwhelming that I can’t find a way to get a handle on it. It’s like trying to pick up the world’s smoothest basketball – with one hand – by the top.
And you know, people keep saying that the Japanese are some of the friendliest people on the planet, but so far… no. Not true at all. Not in my experience. Maybe I’m just a brash gaijin, but who the hell knows.
I did find an online service called wanikani, though. I think it is superior to other online services in one very, very important way: It teaches the on’yomi first. One of the biggest struggles I’ve had is with jyukugo – compound words. It seems nearly impossible to memorize the different on’yomi because it’s not something that’s emphasized when you learn kanji. You learn “It has all these readings”, but until you encounter it on a jyukugo, you have no incentive to remember it. And by then, it’s too late. So in wanikani, you learn the most common on’yomi first, and only then are you taught the kun’yomi – as the vocabulary reading for the kanji, not the kanji reading for the kanji. It makes all the difference in the world. I’m probably going to plunk down money for a subscription if I can ever finish level three.
It also teaches by kanji complexity, and not by meaning complexity, like the kanken books do. I’m not a Japanese schoolchild. I don’t already know the words, but I know the meanings more than they ever will.
So that’s pretty much all I’m doing right now, and it seems enough, especially considering that I’m fighting off major depression at the moment. But my studies persist, and I guess that’s something.
I’ll try to have more pithy and useless observations on Japanese in the future. This blog isn’t closed. I’m just having a hard time mustering up the energy to bother to write in it.