WOOOO!!! Finally got my act together and jumped over one of the hurdles that has been holding me back since the beginning– FEAR OF KANJI!! By no means would I call kanji easy, but it’s really not the big hairy monster everyone kept making it out to be. Of course, I am only at the beginning of my journey, having only mastered READING about 15 characters. It’s ok, I’m just glad I’m in the pool instead of sunbathing on the sidelines, trying to look cool when everyone could tell I was just scared of drowning. (As you can tell, I’m not really good at metaphors, but eh it works!)
I’m here to share my experience mostly to document it for my own purposes. BUT if anyone just happens to come across this post–well not just anyone, but the Kanji-phobes–I want to let you know that it’s ok. Really. I know who you are, because I was you. At first I figured I could get by on Romaji (before even knowing it had a special name to begin with). I then eased myself into Kana, thinking it couldn’t hurt for pronunciation purposes. But then… the line was drawn and my defenses were up. Kanji? No way. I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. I wouldn’t even dare READ about it. Soon, it was hard to avoid getting a bit curious.
Just wanting to be informed, I began googling every article about kanji known to man… and found out how negative people in the language learning world can be! Sure, it’s realistic, but not helpful to a noob. You can find hundreds of thousands of articles on Kanji and the Japanese language in general and scroll down to the comments and read the same conversations that boil down to the following:
“Japanese is the easiest language.”
“Japanese is the most difficult language.”
WTH. Yes, almost every commenter has a different perspective on how difficult learning all aspects of the Japanese language is. But I’m kind getting off track… the point I was getting to is that reading more about Kanji than actually READING it did me a disservice.
Sure, it’s important to know the basics. Knowing the history of how kanji came to be and how it’s used is essential. But there’s no reason to overanalyze and scare yourself to death! And there’s NO reason to tell yourself you’ll be fine learning Japanese without kanji. Come on… that’s embarrassing! You want to be illiterate? Imagine all of the wonderful things you’d be missing out on! Japanese blogs, websites, books… etc etc.
And don’t pressure yourself. If I go back to the Kanji “pool” metaphor, you could say I’m that kid splashing around with the floaties on her arms and lifesaver around her waist. I’m learning Kanji, but not killing myself over it. I am slowly introducing Kanji into my life, making full use of furigana and learning only one or two readings of each character.
Well this post is getting a BIT long winded, so might do a separate one on what my methods are. Ah, and for those of you wondering how my AJATT challenge is going… hmm let’s just say I’ve been a bit distracted lately 🙂 .
So please… get your feet wet, put on your floaties… and jump on into the KANJI pool with me! (GAHHHH dying over the lameness! Oh well that’s me! :-D) Here are a few articles I reccommend for a quick and painless overview of kanji:
P.S. Yup, that’s Squints from The Sandlot. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then shame on you! 🙂