Friday, 11 February 2011

Foreign Language Friday! Meme #1

The sun is setting, not that I can see it with all the rain-laden clouds around. I've nearly ready to start my evening of relaxing. That usually involves watching anime!

I've been addicted to video games ever since I was little. I had the original Game Boy (the one that now looks like a brick compared to new devices), and life improved from there. I remember buying the first playstation, and being so happy with Final Fantasy 7 (I'm a huge FF fan). At that time I knew it was a Japanese game. I even ate sushi occasionally. As well as all the different spells to cast, the different weapons to fight with, I enjoyed the longer, film-like scenes in the game.

Everything changed when I visited my cousins in Australia. Both enjoy games, but they enjoy different types. The oldest one - both are younger than me - he prefers games like Final Fantasy. The youngest, he enjoys racing car games. Yes, I did race with him. And yes, I chose my car on how it looked, rather than the specs.

Anyway, the eldest cousin wanted to show me an anime episode of Angelic Layer. Oh boy. I fell in love. I was so over the moon to watch something in another language (sometimes I feel that English is boring, and there's no real challenge to it. That's why I like other languages), and it was Japanese!

When I went back home a few weeks later (it was a trip of a lifetime, just relaxing with my family), my case had a few anime dvds in them.

When I mean a few, I really mean a few.

That's when I gained the passion for the Japanese language. I wanted to be able to understand what everyone was saying. I never put on the English dubbing. I knew from my experience with reading French that some nuances would certainly be lost in translation.

I can't quite tell you exactly how I came across my Japanese tutor, because otherwise I'd be giving away the name of my work town, which I'd rather not do. Instead I can say that I emailed my teacher, whose simple but effective website explained she was a native Japanese and had taught for many years over here in England, and the rest is history.

Mostly due to getting tired easily, joining a Japanese evening or weekend course wasn't an option. My tutor was perfect for me. One hour a week I'd learn new grammar concepts with her, which included some homework. If I was ill, it didn't matter, I could text the day before and cancel my lesson. At the moment I'm not having lessons, but I'm still watching anime. I'm also reading manga. Now, manga is easy to get if you want the English translation. However, if you live in England as I do, it is extremely difficult to have access to manga in Japanese. Amazon Japan charges quite an arm and a leg in shipping rates. American sites also charge a lot.

I found this amazing company, who I'm sure won't mind me mentioning them (I have to add that I receive no gain from giving out their details), Tokyo 15. They are several hours from where I live, but thankfully they do mail order. They don't have heaps of manga listed, but they take special requests and do their utmost to track down the manga I'm after. Their customer service is first class, especially when they have problems with their supplier, or customs decide to hold a shipment for no reason whatsoever. (They ship items all in one go from Japan, so I usually have to wait a short time before expecting my package).

In addition to manga, I've recently bought a Japanese children's magazine. I promise to do a post on that soon.

This post was really about introducing how I came to love Japanese, how I came to learn it, how I came to watch so much anime. I do laugh when the subtitles are wrong, and when cultural differences aren't implied at all. It's nice noticing how more and more I can understand what's being said, depending on the type of anime it is. I say that because some anime have a lot of technical terms, often specific to the anime (especially if it involves warfare, or the Japanese feudal system).

Randomly I must mention that Japan is the home of Hello Kitty :) Who can resist her?

I'm not going to have a post with exactly which anime I have. Firstly, I have a lot. The way it is stacked in my room means it doesn't look as bad as it is (I don't have dozens or hundreds of series. But I have a fair few). You'll get to hear about them either in this meme, or in my What Are You Watching? Meme which runs on alternate Wednesdays.

I will be referring to anime and manga throughout this meme, because it plays a large part in learning Japanese for me. I quite happily stick an anime in, with subtitles, and knit in the evenings. I love my anime fests when I usually watch most of a series in one day/over a few days. Mostly this is when I'm ill, and don't do any knitting. Watching anime makes me feel like I'm still doing something. I can watch anime without subtitles, how much I understand depends on which anime series it is.

I'd love to hear if you speak another language (or just read it...I can understand Japanese, French & Spanish more than I can speak or write them. I learn them just so I can read in different languages (or in the case of Japanese understand anime & manga!). Why do you learn them? Is it for pleasure or business?

If you only speak English, of which there is nothing wrong in that, I'd love to hear your views on other languages. Even learning hello/goodbye/please/thank you/where is the....? in the native language will help you when you travel abroad. Most natives appreciate people learning a few customs and a few phrases.

I'm stopping now, it's the end of the week and I'm not entirely sure how coherent this post is! See you next week, for the 2nd meme in this series.

No comments: