Friday, September 30, 2011

The Bane of My Life - Kanji

You know, I really admire those bloggers who churn out posts everyday or every other day. I am struggling as it is to even post three pathetic write-ups in a month. Say what? Oh I forgot. These are FULL TIME bloggers and they get PAID for it. I have been blogging for 15 months and haven't seen or smelled a CENT. Thankfully, the Samurai is well and able to feed me. Also thankfully, I can find self-gratification writing posts that only a handful of people will ever read. I guess that is enough for me to spend the next 1 hour typing another insipid post on something Japan related.

So I am finally down to the last two lessons of Intermediate 1, before embarking on a boot camp to sharpen up my skills and knowledge before my FIRST Japanese exam, the JLPT 5. Failure is not an option, dude, no sir, not for the brilliant-minded Fat Geisha, who was an A-grade nerd in school. Of course, good grades then were a matter of sheer will and brain power, but 20 years later, my brain cells have been dying off bit by bit despite my best efforts to ignore this fact. 

Which brings me to my hated subject - Chinese. I speak Chinese well enough - actually pretty good to win story-telling competitions (yes, in Mandarin). But I so hate writing Chinese characters. Unlike most other languages of the world, each freaking word is a unique character and there are up to 8,000 (or more?) Chinese characters in the Chinese dictionary and a normal adult should know about 3,000 characters (I doubt I am under the "normal" category though). You need to have the MEMORY of a computer to remember all those Chinese characters! I still remember vividly that it was such a pain writing compositions in Chinese. After 18, once I was done with my A-Levels, I swore I wouldn't touch written Chinese again, and didn't....until NOW.

The Japanese Kanji is like my greatest recurring nightmare. Some of them ARE Chinese characters, some of them are VARIATIONS of Chinese Characters, some LOOK like Chinese characters but are actually NOT Chinese characters. Since my Chinese vocabulary is quite weak to begin with (in terms of word recognition, not speech), after learning Japanese Kanji, I no longer know if a particular word is Chinese or Japanese. Is that a REAL Chinese character? Or just a Japanese variation?? I cannot tell. It is screwing up what little Chinese knowledge I have.

To rub salt in the ever enlarging wound, a single Kanji character has up to three!!! or four!!!! pronunciations! And three!!! or four!!!! different meanings! How in the world am I ever going to remember them with my diminishing brain capacity!? Are they crazy? Insane? What is wrong with Hiragana?! Or Katakana? Seriously dudes! Aren't you enemies with the Chinese or something? Can't you not just drop Kanji?

The only thing positive (if one can call it that) is that I enjoy doing Kanji homework (as compared to the others). It is the brainless writing of characters (like when you are back in nursery practicing your alphabets) and you can do it while drooling over Kimura-san on TV.

Doing my Kanji homework!

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