One thing that many people don’t know about me is that I’m fairly competent on the piano. As with Japanese, I am only now learning exactly how much I don’t know in that discipline, but I can hold my own. If I really want to learn a piece, even if it’s difficult, I usually can.
But the reason I chose the piano was precisely because it is a different instrument. I also became relatively proficient with the clarinet, and while in some ways it is a far more expressive instrument, and with all of those levers and buttons it has its own form of complexity, but it was not really a satisfying thing for me to learn. It wasn’t complex.
Many languages don’t hold much appeal to me, even if I know their usefulness. I have absolutely no interest or desire to learn Spanish, even though, living in Texas, it would be a terribly useful language for me to know. One of these days I will probably learn it, even as I really don’t want to. I learned conversational German in college, and while I’ve forgotten most of the vocabulary, I remember much of the grammar. It was also not particularly challenging, so I lost interest. Most of the Germanic or Anglo-Saxon languages don’t interest me – I already know English, so what’s the point, really?
However, languages that have their own special symbols have always fascinated me I learned a little bit of Thai a long time ago, and I’ve forgotten all but a couple of phrases, but I found the fact that it has its own alphabet and/or syllabary to be quite interesting. I’m not particularly interested in learning Hebrew or Greek, but those languages do have some quite interesting symbols I’d be interested in understanding at some point. Russian, with their Cyrillic alphabet, probably would interest me if I hadn’t have had some run-ins with Russian people who soured me on the whole culture. And Chinese… well, that does hold a certain fascination for me, but being a tonal language, it’s very likely something that would be too complicated. I only have so much time, after all. Plus I’m really not impressed with their culture at the moment, so on to greener pastures for me. (and I know what will likely happen with that statement, and I won’t approve those comments.)
So that pretty much leaves me with a few of the other far-east languages, like Korean or Japanese.
Korean doesn’t hold a lot of interest to me because its writing system is actually simple. Their grammar is very similar to Japanese, though their vocabulary is not, but after learning Japanese grammar, it should be pretty simple to pick up Korean if I really wanted to – just learn a much simplified writing system and pick up vocabulary, and I’m golden.
So that leaves Japanese. One of the most complicated languages in existence. Three writing systems, a completely inverted language structure, several politeness levels… basically a hodgepodge and mishmash of things stuck together, jerry-rigged, and smushed into one huge glorious ball of confusion.
And I suspect that is the major reason I chose it.