Sunday, September 18, 2011

Putting it Out There!

Well, I just invited everyone I know to take a look here, and send this link to people they know who might be interested in Japan.  If you're reading this, I'm talking  to you!

My sensei, Toyoko-san says that I can only really learn Japanese if I "shower" myself with Japanese every day.  So whenever I'm in the car, I'm listening to Pimsleur Japanese disks (I'm on Volume 2).  I like Pimsleur very much just to hear the language and that "call and response" technique.  However, the funny thing about those CDs, is that every language I've used them for has had some form of odd conversation having to do with meeting someone else's wife and asking her out for a drink while her husband is on a business trip.  I'm not kidding, it's very funny.   O.K., it's a little veiled, but I can see someone using that lesson in exactly that way.   And the Spanish version spent at least 6 lessons making sure the listener knew how to order drinks, ask others to drink with them, find out how much drinks (wine and beer) cost.  After the 4th lesson of this it was enough already!

Japanese thru Pimsleur is definitely "business" related.  There is one lesson that is clearly a lesson in how to tell your colleague (kaisha no hito) that you have to go back to American but you wish you could stay here in Japan with him (or her).   The colleague wishes so too and offers the idea that he/she could maybe go back to America with you.  There is a sadness in the conversation, a longing that's not expressed.  I find it a little odd on a language tape for beginners!

Jaa Mata! (until next time)


  1. As to that last language tape bit, I suppose it's never too early to learn the concept of mono no aware if you're studying Japanese.

    Yeah, that's probably the last Japanese phrase I will probably contribute to your blog, but I will put this in my blog roll as soon as I get off here. Looks very promising!

  2. Thanks Seana -- for those of you who haven't heard this phrase here is what wikipedia has to say:

    "Mono no aware (物の哀れ?), literally "the pathos of things", also translated as "an empathy toward things", or "a sensitivity to ephemera", is a Japanese term used to describe the awareness of impermanence (無常 mujō?), or the transience of things, and a gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing.

    The word is derived from the Japanese word mono, which means "things", and aware, which was a Heian period expression of measured surprise (similar to "ah" or "oh"), translating roughly as "pathos", "poignancy", "deep feeling", or "sensitivity". Thus, mono no aware has frequently been translated as "the 'ahh-ness' of things", life, and love. Awareness of the transience of all things heightens appreciation of their beauty, and evokes a gentle sadness at their passing."

    Two years ago when I was on a train leaving the Ueno countryside on my way to Nara, a young student stood on the train with me watching the sunset through the cherry trees (sakura). He looked very thoughtful and said, "Everyone in Japan feels wistful at twilight, and especially during the spring when the cherry blossoms drop."

    Now I understand...

  3. I would imagine more than a little difficult for beginners! I know how I struggled with French, and that's not even a hard language to learn. But, once everything clicks, what a thrill it is! I admire you very much for taking on this endeavor. How exciting it must be! And, I love that line in your post in which you wrote, "There is a sadness in the conversation, a longing that's not expressed." I find the very same thing in the Japanese novels I read, and that's with translation.

  4. Thanks Bellezza. It is hard, but the challenge of learning it really keeps me hooked in. There are very easy parts to learning the language, like for instance, there are no plurals! And almost never any pronouns! It's almost as if the beginning creators of the language looked at the words he, she and it and hid them between the leaves of a giant rolled scroll, to be taken out and glanced at every once in a while. And there's no future tense!

    And look how many exclamation points in American English! In Japanese, you rarely see them!

    What Japanese novels have you read Bellezza?

  5. She's read a fair amount, Julie. Belleza runs the Japanese Literature Challenge and I mentioned this over on her blog in case any Japanophiles were also studying the language.

    If you end up reading a Japanese novel in translation, you might want to do the challenge too!