I was probably in my teens before I realized that didn’t like the fact that I don’t know Japanese. Until then, it’d just been another language that other people knew and I didn’t. My dad knew ancient Greek and ancient Hebrew (and a whole host of other long-dead languages), and I didn’t, and that wasn’t a problem. My ballet teacher and his pianist spoke Russian, and I didn’t, and that wasn’t a problem (though I did learn a few words, and the alphabet). I was learning Latin and French, but I didn’t know them as well as my dad and my mom, and that wasn’t a problem. My parents both spoke Japanese, and I didn’t, and all of a sudden, this was a source of frustration.
I realized that it wasn’t okay with me that I needed parents to mediate if I wanted to talk to one whole branch of my family. At the same time, though, it seemed like such a monumental task to learn that particular language. I knew I’d drive myself nuts by not getting the accent right. (I can’t understand many words, but because I grew up around the language, a bad accent is like nails on a chalkboard.) I was also intimidated by the challenge of learning two syllabaries and a character set. And I think there was an element of not wanting to struggle to learn something that my parents just knew. I’m also just not really great at learning languages, though I do love them.
Well… yesterday I took the plunge and ordered a course in Japanese from Rosetta Stone, and today I bought a Japanese-English/English-Japanese dictionary. I think it’s finally time to admit that I’ll never learn this language by wishing it. It’ll take work. And it’ll be worth it.
I’m so excited. Why am I also nervous?