I’ve tried new things over the years, both sexually and in regular-life. I do have a sexual bucket list, and one of these days I will knock off everything on it…or at least try to. I’m working on my other bucket list as well, and I find that the older I get, the more I want to try new things while I still have the chance to.
My latest venture into trying something new has been learning a new language. I’ve taken Spanish in the past and can speak a smattering, and I took Latin for years, which isn’t spoken (although we used to), but it helped a lot with my English. This past year I decided I wanted to do some traveling soon, and also that I’d like to be able to watch foreign horror movies in their native language without subtitles…,I want to go to Japan in the near future…so I jumped into learning Japanese.
The first semester of class, I will say I was nervous – more than a skoshi in fact. Japanese has three character sets: 2 kana, hiragana for Japanese words and katakana for foreign words, consisting of 47 characters representing sounds, and the kanji, which has over 2000 symbols representing words. Sometimes words are written in romaji, which uses the English character set to spell the word out, until the kana are mastered.
The hiragana and katakana were hard to learn at first, until I got the mnemonics down, and then I managed to memorize them. The beauty of Japanese kana is that you can read the word by sound, as each character represents a sound and not a single letter – there’s not the confusion that English has with letters pronounced differently. It’s interesting reading menus from Subway and other chains in Japanese – and also a lot of fun.
The kanji are something else – and harder to learn and memorize for me, for the most part. Some of them are easy – mountain and river to name just a few – while others are rather complex and require a stroke order memorization. They’re pretty essential, and I’m up to about 80 so far…and I have a long way to go.
Reading and writing are easier, I think, than speaking, but that’s finally coming too…I’m thankful that I can still memorize fairly easily. Japanese doesn’t have a lot of things other languages have, which is how it makes up for the alphabets, and a lot of it is making sense as I work my way through semester two. If I ever start dreaming in Japanese, I’ll know I’ve got it mastered, but for now I can manage a simple conversation, and even talk about the weather – always a good start.
What will be the next new thing I try? I don’t know. I’m sure something will catch my eye or tickle my fancy, and off I’ll go. I want to experience…and to know.