Wednesday, January 1, 2014


I have a love-hate relationship with Japanese.

I have wanted to learn to speak Japanese for as long as I can remember. I was born in Japan, and while my parents moved back to the states long before I was old enough to remember anything from Japan, I have an entire baby album with pictures of me there. The album was bought in Japan and is full of Kanji, and all of the Japanese congraulataions cards that my mom got when I was born are in there, also covered with kanji.  I used to look through my album a lot as a kid, and from the moment I was old enough to understand that those funny looking characters represented a Language completely diferent from English, I was hooked.

Most of my favorite memories from highschool and college are about my pursuit of the Japanese Language. Memories that are happy are numerous - I became an Anime fan because of Japanese. I met a lot of awesome people. I went to the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC every year and that was FUN. I took and failed the DLPT and felt cool just for being able to take it. I even went on a nine day trip to Japan. I have amazing memories from that, but I also kick myself over all of the missed opprotunities. I was such a sheltered introvert then, I could enjoy myself so much more if I could go back now!

Many of my most bitter regrets are about Japanese. I was so focused on learning Japanese that I didn't really think about anything past that. That means that like most Americans who go to college, I never actually looked into actual JOBS I could get with my degree until towards the begining of my final Semester. While I am desperately in love with Japanese, studying it taught me that just because you love something doesn't mean you will be good at it. I struggled with C's through most of my Japanese classes, and eventually failed one, Although that had more to do with my poor health at the time than my abilities as a student. Such a shame.

By now I'm sure you are wondering how any of this is related to pokemon. Your right, other than the fact that pokemon came from JAPAN, and all. Doesn't have much to do with most of the contents in this post. Just go with it.

My dad gave my lots of advice, most of which I either ignred, or else his advice would wildly contradict itself. He would tell me to always follow your interests and not let people dictate what you do based on 'success'.  He said if you were happy with something you should do it even if it made less money as a career than something else. But he also said I should study Arabic and work for the Government.

I took Arabic classes at AACC after I ran out of Japanese classes to take, and I considered my options when I went to College Park. After all, Arabic was a good career move, right? But I studied Japanese instead. Probably for the best, because I eventually joined the Navy and learned Arabic anyway.
three-four months into my military Arabic course, and I already had a more functional ability in Arabic than I ever did in Japanese. Kind of Depressing huh? What was even the point?

I can't be too bitter though. I met my husband studying Arabic.

The thing is, I STILL want to learn Japanese. After all these years. Over time I feel like I have changed a lot as a person, but this one thing hasn't changed. I can't put into words or rationalize my desire to learn this Language. I'm well past my fantasies of moving to Japan and living there, I'm not interested in being able to watch anime without subtitles on, (you don't really need the subtitles anyway. If you've seen one anime you've seen them all. )
I don't know what I would DO with a functioning knowledge of Japanese. But I want it.

My husband loves to play pokemon.  (Aha! She's getting to the point!)
Other people play minesweeper, or do sudoku or crosswords to pass time when they need a bit of busy work to occupy their hands. Not Aaron, he just plays his pokemon games over and over, And like me, he is fixated by the idea of learning Languages, so he has been getting me to teach him Japanese. It's hard because I don't really remember much of it, and he is so much better at Languages in general.... That I think he has pretty much already caught up with my current level of fluency.

So the new pokemon games that came out a few months ago....X and Y. They are the first (to my knowledge ) English copies of the game that come with the OPTION to switch Languages. So of course Aaron and I have been playing it in Japanese. It's so FRUSTRAITING to be so illiterate, but it turns out that playing it is actually helping me remember stuff I used to know! Because I know what the stuff is supposed to say in English, I can often use logic and context clues to figure out what words in the Japanese version mean. My favorite game is to read the name of a pokemon attack and then read the discription of it, how many of the words can you figure out once you KNOW which move it is? It's not hard to figure out which moves are Fly, DIG, or SURF, for example, and once you know what the move does it gives you a huge advantage in figuring out those illusive vocab words.

So whats the point?  I don't really have one. I guess sometimes I just seriously question the things I choose to waste my free time one. I mean, I can play pokemon in English, so why do it AGAIN in another Language? There's no need.  But it's fun. Fun is good. I just don't know WHY it's fun, and that is the part that is driving me crazy!

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