dorchadas: (Angst)
[personal profile] dorchadas
Studying isn't useless! Who would have thought!  photo doomguy.gif

One thing that paying for Japanese lessons has done is that it's encouraged me to pick up my studies in other parts of my life. Playing video games in Japanese, finally trying to read those manga we bought in Japan but that I've never really opened before, and writing more Japanese as well, like the notes we wrote back to our students in Japan after we visited last summer. But the lessons are also paying off in and of themselves, and I'm noticing that my ability to speak Japanese is getting better. I'm still heavily limited by my vocabulary, but that's because memorizing a giant list of words and their meanings is probably the most difficult task of language-learning, in term of effort that must be expended.

For example, at the last class I was at, we read an essay by Hideo Levy about the difficulty of translating the Japanese word 文学者 (bungakusha, the dictionary gives "scholar of literature"). Levy writes that there are connotations of bungakusha being the guardians of the essential Yamato spirit by means of literature, and mentions how as a younger man he was very annoyed about being an eminent writer but not being considered a bungakusha because he wasn't born in Japan, so people thought he lacked a certain...something.

So we started talking about the difficulty of translation, and I brought up playing Pokemon Fire Red and how I had posted a screenshot that was pretty difficult to translate into English in an elegant way. Here it is:


"Kono ore-sama ga! Sekai de ichiban!

Literally, it's just "I am the best in the world," but that doesn't really capture the way that someone saing kono ore-sama is elevating themselves above the person they're talking to, and translating that sense into English is nearly impossible without being really clumsy. The royal "we" kind of works, but that has its own connotations in English that this doesn't. Translating is hard, is what I'm saying. And I'm just a guy with a dictionary and some study, so I don't have to worry about my audience's knowledge, technical limitations (like in a game), meddling executives, and so on. But on the other hand, we were able to talk for forty in minutes, 85% of the time in Japanese, about difficult translating, pronoun selection in Japanese, and the time that [livejournal.com profile] libby_may's husband and [livejournal.com profile] melishus_b wandered around a park in Hiroshima offering people absinthe and two Japanese men chatted with us for about an hour.

All that money and time I'm putting in is working! Just need to keep 頑張るing. まだまだだけど、できるよな。

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