I don’t particularly like to make fun of “Engrish” errors or word choices in Japan, because I know that my own Japanese is laughably, horribly, embarrassingly bad. I don’t see any point to making fun of someone’s language ability, especially when that language is as hard to learn as English is.
Sometimes studying Japanese involves meticulously memorizing kanji, poring over textbooks, and pulling my hair out in frustration. And sometimes my Japanese lessons consist of the math teacher drawing doodles on the back of school memos and teaching me the words for them.
Guess which lessons stick more firmly in my head?
As it turns out, I should’ve waited to post about all of the strange and delicious Japanese foods I’ve eaten since moving here, because the dinner I had last night would’ve topped all the others. I’d mentioned that my school has a lot of work dinner parties, and those at the end of the year are usually of the best quality. Those are the “bonenkais” (忘年会, which literally means “’forget the year’ party”), and all the stops are pulled out for them. Continue reading Testing My Taste Buds’ Limits
“I’ve never seen a foreigner eat that before!” Whenever I hear someone Japanese utter that exclamation, their voice colored half by shock and half by admiration, I know that I probably don’t want to know the identity of whatever I just ingested. And it’s happened a fair bit in the past year and a half.
The original version of this post appears on http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/the-beauty-of-untranslatable-words/.
I have been obsessed with language, both my native one and otherwise, ever since I learned to read. I’ve been a voracious reader my entire life, and in the past ten years, I’ve studied two languages, German and Japanese, in-depth, while delving into two others, Arabic and Spanish, for shorter, less dedicated stints. Now, I make a living out of trying to explain the labyrinth of the English language to Japanese high school students. I like words, to put it plainly. Continue reading The Beauty of Untranslatable Words
One of the (few) things that I dislike about living in Japan is that I’m not really afforded any opportunities to keep up with my German. It’s easy enough to keep my comprehension skills sharp. I can read German books and often watch my favorite television shows in German. (Though since those materials are the Harry Potter books and The Vampire Diaries, Angel, and Battlestar Galactica, respectively, the vocabulary skill set that gets honed isn’t really the most useful for day-to-day dealings. Knowing the German words for “vervain” and “hallows” won’t really get me far.) It’s my speaking that has really suffered in the past year; in northern Japan, German speakers don’t really abound. Continue reading In Which I Discover a Source to Sustain My German Bread Addiction