Realizing I Know Japanese

Tips & Tricks ,

For some reason there has always been this mysterious gray area between not knowing and knowing Japanese. There is this tendency to believe you are either fluent (know Japanese) or you aren’t. But life isn’t all 1’s and 0’s.

We tend want to believe you either know Japanese to the native/fluent level or you don’t know it at all. But that’s like saying you’re either a professional basketball player or you’re not a basketball player at all, which just isn’t true. The most common example is the tendency to shy away from telling other people that you know Japanese. Sure, you might tell them that you are learning/studying Japanese. But when’s the last time someone asked you if you know Japanese and you confidently replied back “Yes, I do. I know Japanese.” regardless of how far along your Japanese was? For most people, it’s doubtful that they have ever done that.

I’m not condemning anyone for this fact. I’ve done it myself plenty of times. Be it Japanese or something else. But since signing up for AJATT SilverSpoon, where I’m e-mailed multiple times every day with little quotes and sayings (along with reading obviously), I’ve really started to take to heart what it means to believe that you know Japanese. In fact, here is the quote that really drove it home for me (this quote was sent via AJATT SS btw) :

Optimism doesn’t need to be justified. Confidence doesn’t need to be backed by past experience (in fact, when confidence is backed by past experience, it’s not actually confidence any more — it’s just memory: almost by definition, confidence is baseless).

I’m not saying you should tell people that you’re awesome at Japanese or even pretend that you’re better than whatever level you actually are. But regardless of your level of Japanese, you should be able to firmly say, “I know Japanese. I am Japanese.”

If you played basketball 5-7 days a week and someone asked you if you play basketball (basically asking are you a basketball player), you’d obviously say “Yeah, I am. I play basketball all the time!” Now if they were to ask you “Are you a professional basketball player?”, then that’s a whole different story. But when someone asks you if you know Japanese, they aren’t asking if you’re fluent (a professional) unless specifically stated. Look at it this way, you know Japanese the same way a Japanese 4th grader knows Japanese. Just because his or her skill level is at a very low level would you be willing to say to that kid, “YOU THINK YOU KNOW JAPANESE!? TROLOLLOOL” Of course you wouldn’t!

All I’m saying is to think of yourself as a Japanese kid. The better your Japanese gets, the higher grade level you are. Don’t let anyone tell you you don’t know Japanese just because your level isn’t up to par to their standards. Fuck their standards, and fuck them. あなたは日本語を話すことができます! 😀

2 thoughts on “Realizing I Know Japanese

  1. Zyaga, if you allow me, I’d like to give my opinion on the subject.

    Maybe it’s a matter of semantics, but to me true, real confidence is what Khatz refers to as “memory”. True confidence MUST be backed up with past experience, (a lot of?) past failures AND a lot of past successes. Otherwise, “confidence” is just a dangerous kind of optimism that can blow up in your face at any second.

    I don’t like blind, baseless confidence one bit. Actually, I hate the whole “fake it ’till u make it!!” thing. I hate trying to convince myself of something I’m NOT. If I’m not really good at Japanese, then I’m honest about it with myself and others. Period. Instead of kidding myself and saying “Oh yeahz me nihongo masuta!!11”, if someone asks me “Hey, you know Japanese”? I’ll just be honest and say: “Yes, but what I know right now is very, very limited. I’m still learning, though.”

    I’m honest with myself: I suck (right now). However, that shouldn’t be discouraging. That’s just how it is. You suck. Do something that helps you suck less. Enjoy the progress you make each day. Repeat till fluent.

    Thanks for sharing! 😀

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