What’s Up, Doc?

Eight days ago, after my last entry, i began doing something i should have done a long time ago. I was working through Genki II, i choose grammatically interesting sentences, and with the help of A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, A Dictionary of Intermediate Grammar, A Dictionary of Japanese Particles, How to tell the Difference between Japanese Particles, as well as some Online resources, i started translating them from Japanese to English. I was handwriting all the time, with a piece of paper, and a 0.1 pigment liner. This gave me more practice in writing, and i was really enjoying, doing it. Time also flew by without noticing it. I can really say that having done this, gave me a whole new understanding of sentences in general, grammar and particles in particular, and my reading and writing speed increased manyfold.

I have also seen how inaccurate the translations in the book actually are. I also started seeing, how much information the book hides, and how many things aren’t even explained. Of course, a teacher can fill in these gaps, but as an individual learning at home, this isn’t so obvious. And it will not become visible until the time one starts to analyze sentences, gathering information about everything from every possible source, until the lack of sometimes even basic information will be noticed. Basics like Ellipsis, the book isn’t going to tell you about, and you will not find it out by yourself. That is, if you just rely on the information, the authors have given you.

Of course in the beginning it is enough to know, what a sentence means, you might think. But that isn’t true. The book does give you translations for dialogues, and you have seen some examples already, if you have read some of my previous articles, about the Genki textbooks. But once you move on, you will need the information, the book doesn’t loose a word about. I already mentioned Ellipsis. This means that some words or expressions are oppressed in sentences, because what is being talked about becomes clear, from context. But you are not going to notice it, and here is an example, in the form of three lines of dialogue, taken from Genki II.

1. メアリー: うちゆみちゃん、高校生なのに忙しくて、全然遊ぶの時間がないみた。
2. たけし: 子供も大変だけど、親も大変だと思うよ。塾に行かせたり、
3. 英会話を習わせたり、お金がかかるだろうなあ。

1. Mary: It seems that my host sister Yumi is too busy to have time to play at all even though
2. she is a high school student.
3. Takeshi: Children are having a hard time, but I think that their parents are also suffering.
4. They spend a lot letting their children go to cram schools, learn English
5. conversation, and so on.

Pay attention to the marked parts. Do you notice anything? In the translation you see children mentioned once again. They got introduced in the sentence before, so they can be omitted in the following sentence, because it is clear for whom the parents spend their money. This is not so in the marked part of the English translation. There you find them mentioned once again. Of course a sentence that looks like this “Spend a lot money, let go to cram school and learn English conversation,” looks weird at first. But it is enough to understand the Japanese sentence. Once you are used to it, you wont even notice that there are missing parts in the translation, and your brain will fill in the blanks. By knowing that you can omit certain words and expressions, it also gets easier for you, to express your own ideas in Japanese. Not so, if you have to think how this or that long winded sentence would look like in Japanese, just because you think everything has to be translated. This is clearly not how things work. There are other such things that don’t get mentioned, but would greatly help you in understanding what is going on.

This is already more than i planned on writing about the book. To tell the truth, I wasn’t even planning to write about the book. So i will leave it at that, because I’m afraid that if i don’t, this book will haunt me forever! *笑う* Now that i feel like finally letting go of it, i make myself ready to keep working on sentences and dialogues in AIAIJ. I will continue to write out the sentences on paper, i will also continue to copy out the grammar notes from DOBJG, DOIJG, and due to the lack of translations i will create my own. I don’t expect to get anywhere fast doing it this way. In fact i could just print out the dialogues i want to work on, add some lines at the bottom of each page, and start adding grammar notes, and my translations. This is what i was planning when i started working on this project. It would have gone faster, and it would have taken me only 3 days, instead of 8. But the price i would have had to pay if i had done it like this was too high. Even though i was tempted to do it numerous times, because my hand got tired, i didn’t. And I’m glad about it because i know what it means to stop doing it.

I stopped doing it after i was done working with Genki. When I started Genki II, i made a lot of mistakes along the way, from which stopping to work on sentences and handwriting were only two. But i eventually managed to move on without doing it, and i was doing fine, after i started adopting my good-habits and letting go of the bad ones. If you are asking me why i quit handwriting, while doing pretty much all of Genki II, and only just started taking notes all over the place in AIAIJ, the answer is this. I did it just because making progress seemed more important. But nothing is more important, than taking the necessary time, to build a solid foundation to build up on. I could really kill myself for sacrificing almost everything that worked, just because i wanted to make a faster progress, even though it was just one book. And i don’t even want to think about how much farther i would already be, if i kept continuing to hand write sentences, breaking them apart, and translating them myself. No! Instead i was just relying on the information in the book, and i hate myself for it.

At one point i thought grammar would be my weak point, i thought i had solved it, after having a long discussion. I thought vocabulary was my problem, which it was not. Maybe i was going to fast, instead of taking the time, to do things proper, so i decided to work slower. This comes closest to the real problem i have had, since the time i started working with Genki II. But i did see the numbers of cards increase, from a couple of hundreds, to over 5.000 right now. And i can confidently say that i know the facts on them. Vocabulary? Sentences? Kanji? No problem! Those 5.000 cards are unique cards, mind you. Not that i give anything about card numbers, because they have nothing to say. So i was able to make progress, and I am able to understand many things, but the core problem persisted. And the problem was relying to much on translations, making me lazy on the one hand, and confident that i understand what i was served, on the other.

By knowing this now, i look forward starting to work in a proper way on AIAIJ tomorrow. I also look forward to read more stories in the book called 世界のむかし話. The story i will read is called はめるんの笛ふき. The Piper of Hameln. Coincidentally, there is a Gameboy Advanced game, it is a jump and run, that i kept playing for quite a while. I must say i was really fond of the pipers side-kick. Besides that there are other things i plan on doing, and finish doing things i have started, among which is finishing to read Michiel Kamermans book, keep reading through A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar. I’m also seriously thinking about letting go of RTK reviews, because it has done it’s duty. But then again, even if i would like to quit, once i see new cards for review, i just have to get rid of them! One other thing i think i will stop doing is keeping a schedule. What good does it do, to know i have been working so and so long, on this and that thing? I know that i work on things, so i don’t need to schedule anything. Maybe this is a relic from the days i was still working. We have had to keep a schedule, of all the work we were doing during the week, and hand in a paper on Fridays or Saturdays. It’s hard to get rid of this habit. I am also planning on starting a new section on here. This section will be for newbies, i guess. Even though others could have an interest in it, too. As it seems i will be quite busy for some time now. not only with learning Japanese, but also with other rather unpleasant things. I got diagnosed of having an Impingement in my left shoulder. God alone knows what this is and how i was able to get that. It is just another pain in the already long list of aches and pains that trouble me, day in and day out. Looking on the brighter side of things, i could as well starting to look up all my chronic and other health issued, only this time in Japanese. Since why should i miss out a chance to learn some more Japanese.

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