Japanese: It’s Not Easy

After some consideration, weighing the pros and cons of home study against that of being in the class room, I opted for a full package of Japanese from Rosetta Stone.

To give some background, I AM part Japanese. However, I am painfully ignorant of the language, since my mother rarely spoke it at home. When I was a small child, I knew a little bit, like hello, goodbye, the numbers, and a few enchanting Japanese nursery songs, but what one learns when they are under the age of two, one usually forgets by the time they reach kindergarten. And so it was with me.

I’d always wanted to learn Japanese, but I never could find the time. The local university has a Japanese program, but it involves driving to a far western suburb two evenings a week. I can barely commit to my violin lesson one evening a week, and so for the last two years have almost signed up before backing away at the last moment. Last year, it was because a girl quit the office with little notice right as school started in September. I didn’t mind losing her (she was a terrible employee), but that meant I had to pick up the slack in the evenings.

Last year, my son started going out with a Japanese exchange student. Besides being very cute, she is also teaching him Japanese. I’m amazed at how much of the language he knows, even if he does pronounce everything with a stilted Midwestern accent. It’s the same stilted Midwestern accent he has when speaking German.

This year, my Japanese cousin came to visit me for the weekend. (Yes, she flew halfway across the world to stay here two and a half days and then flew back.) I really wanted to be able to converse with her, but I couldn’t. Thank goodness she speaks English.

My sister and I want to visit the relatives over there, before my aunt passes away. We have plenty of cousins over there too. The target date for our trip is next summer, although it could be even farther in the future.

Now, Rosetta Stone. I’ve only finished about one third of the first segment, and it’s tough. I can say a few things, hello, goodbye, apple, eating, eggs, juice, water. I can say that my cat is running. (!)

In addition to learning the language, I’m also learning the alphabet. Kanji is extremely difficult. The language has a lot of symbols. My brain is really small. It’s hard to get all of those symbols into my tiny brain.

My opinion: Japanese is not easy. If you are faint of heart, don’t even go there.

If you want to use my Rosetta Stone in a year or so, call me.

9 Responses

  1. As you know, my cousin became a millionaire through learning Chinese (supposedly impossible for adult Westerners to do).

    I don’t know how my linguist/business owner brother is doing on learning Japanese. I will tell the (clean as far as I know) story about the young Japanese business woman who invited herself into his company as an intern in my blog one of these days.

  2. I got dibs on Rosetta Stone.

  3. I envy your courage. I lived in Fusa for three years, while my ex was in the military. I learned how to find a bathroom, say good morning, afternoon, and evening, excuse me, that hurt, and thank you. I could also find a policeman and count to ten. The only Kanji I learned to read was Tachikowa (misspelled I’m sure), because I could find my way home on the train that way. It looked like a trash can by a river.

  4. The language is hard, but at least the food is great.

    Dr. B

  5. Wanda… YEAH! Then we can converse in Japanese together!

  6. More likely you’ll be talking with one or both beasties, would be my guess, Pan. In other news, I learned to fingerspell my older kid’s name last night for his sign language homework. 🙂

  7. I’d love to be able to sign! Maybe after I’ve conquered Japanese.

  8. Shawn’s description of the kanji cracked me up.


    Maybe the city itself looked like a trash can by a river?

  9. I am gawdawful with languages. I took ASL in college, and can remember the ABCs and a few vulgarities. And how to introduce myself.

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