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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Springtime in Charlotte and My Future Plans

With March now squarely in the rear-view mirror, it seems like we've left the cool weather behind and can look forward to... well summer, which is actually worse. In the meantime though we have Spring, as fleeting as it may be. I picked up my final Christmas present today, a new camera and I took it out for a test drive today. Fun stuff.

That's all minor stuff. Much bigger news is that I have accepted a position teaching English in Japan. Nothing is guaranteed yet, the Japanese Immigration Bureau still have to approve me for a work visa, but if that happens I'll be off to the land of the rising sun. It's pretty exciting stuff. This has been in the works for well over a year now and I'm really excited that things are coming together.

Of course, now I have a nice new camera to take with me, and hopefully I'll be updating this blog somewhat regularly with my exploits in Japan.

Don't think that just because I haven't updated my blog since January that I haven't been working on my Japanese either, I have. I took a break from Rosetta Stone to read through an introductory grammar book on Japanese; it was an excellent decision. I think if you are learning another indo-European language Rosetta Stone's system of not directly addressing grammar is fine, but it doesn't work so well in Japanese. The idea behind Rosetta Stone is that you learn the language in the most natural way possible, by being exposed to it with contextual information, just how we learn our first language. The problem I found is that, as adults, we come with baggage, expectations based on knowledge of our own languages. In my case, my problem came from English's emphasis on word order. English grammar is all about word order, and the order we put our words in decides the meaning of the sentence. This is not the case in Japanese. Other than the need for the verb to come last, word order is VERY flexible. Instead, Japanese grammar is based on particles that are tagged onto the end of words that indicate what that word's function is.

は is a topic marker.
に indicates direction of an action or location of existance.
で indicated location of actions or by which means an action is done.

Rather than translating, if you were to swap out words it'd look like this.
Tomorrow, I (topic marker) beach (direction marker) car (by means of marker) go.
Of course, translated this says, "Tomorrow, I will go to the beach by car."

There's a lot more to it than that, but that will give you an idea.

Needless to say, Rosetta Stone just dives in throwing the particles around, but it never became clear to me how exactly each particle was functioning. Now that I understand the particles though, I'm back into Rosetta Stone learning more than ever.