Sunday, February 21, 2016

Narrate Your Life

  Most people talk to themselves in a way that edges on a self-narrative, and most often during chores or times of frustration.  It's perfectly normal, and is a fun little way to stave off boredom.  But, hey, why not take it a step further and make these little moments an opportunity to practice a few words you may be kicking around?

  I started out learning Japanese by practicing their writing systems of Hiragana and Katakana, and stopped like a deer caught in the headlights at Kanji.  I'm slowly ticking away at it, but it's taking time.  I opted to practice spoken word and pronunciation while I wrap my head around the daunting task of tackling Kanji, and made myself a few little vocabulary lists by writing down some random items laying around then house and then looking up their translations through Google.

  Here are a few that I put together:
1) Apple - Ringo (here's some help from Tofugu on Japanese R sounds )
2) Car - Kuruma*
3) Cat - Neko
4) Dog - Inu
5) Drum  - Doramu*
6) Egg - Tamago
7) Guitar - Gitā*
8) Ice - Aisu*
9) Juice - Juusu*
10) Milk - Miruku*
11) Mirror - Mirā*
12) Pen and Paper - Pen to Kami* (with "to" pronounced "toe" meaning "and," and Kami as "Paper")
13) Snow - Yuki
14) Truck - Torakku*
15) Vacuum Cleaner - Zōjiki

 Two generalizations you may take away from this list: 1) My house is possibly messy to have all this lying around (an egg!?); 2) LOTS of loanwords, eh? (I marked those with asterisks for you up there)

  Well, the first is explained away by the fact that I did this while cleaning and also by opening cupboards and such.  This allowed me to choose objects that I interact with on a daily basis, which is going to be important for training and repetition.  In the morning while eating scrambled eggs, I'll grab for it as I say "Tamago" aloud.  Looking outside, I'll see that yucky "Yuki" that needs to be shoveled, and feel sorry for the "Inu" for having to do her business out there.  Of course, my little "Neko" will be laughing her kitty butt off at this...right before she runs behind the "Gitā," fleeing in fear from the "Zōjiki!"  And anything I need to remember, I can just write down with a "Pen to Kami."  Get the gist of it, eh?

 Now, the second generalization -- dealing with translations -- is explained by the English and Americans having had such a huge impact on their previously sealed-off culture throughout the years.  So, luckily, my first few vocab lists were fairly simple to remember, and repetition wasn't such a chore as I'd expected.

  I'm sure by this point you can see how this whole "narration" thing will work out for you.  It has great potential as a teaching aid for you immediately as a new learner trying to create an association between objects and their Japanese names, and further down the road once you have a better grasp on the language and can practice more descriptive uses of verbs.  If you have any routines you see yourself completing every day, it may be a good idea to look up the translation for the phrase!  For example, since I have to feed my (sister's) Beagle on an average schedule, I can practice saying, "Watashi wa inu o kyōkyū shite imasu."  "Watashi wa" states that I am the subject, "Inu" is the word for dog, "o kyōkyū" designates what I am doing to the dog (feeding her), and "shite imasu" means essentially "am doing" with "shite" meaning to do (kind'a-sort'a) and "imasu" meaning right now (sort of like -ing suffix...but not really...but kind of).  Watashi wa inu o kyōkyū shite imasu.  I am feeding the dog.

  I recommend this technique to be incorporated as often as possible!  It is very useful, and you'll be amazed at how much of an impact it will have on helping you form the pronunciations of words, and with how quickly your own personal vocabulary list will grow!  This is definitely a technique that I'm going to stick with, as it is a simulated form of immersion, and I believe it will be an invaluable tool for mastering this language as swiftly and fully as I can.

  And with that I say "thank you, everyone!"
  "Min'na arigatō!"

\m/ (>_<) \m/

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