Jul 25, 2008

Using word association to master Japanese

How To Use Word Association To Master Japanese

A good goal when learning another language is to try to remember words so that you won’t ever forget them. That is a lofty goal. You make absurd associations that are meaningful to you and in this way by making absurd associations between something that reminds you of the meaning of the word in Japanese but sounds like that in English. The more absurd the associations, the less likely you are to forget them, unless you forget the association related to the words you are memorizing. For example tanjo^bi = birthday, anchovies have birthdays too or tan Jo be chilling cuz its her birthday yo wassup! Mentally picture a tan person named Jo talking ghetto cuz she be this and be that! You know what I’m saying. Get down and ghetto you can speak Japanese fluently only if you try. So this tan girl or guy named Jo be hunh? She be what? Who cares! As long as you can relate meaning to sound in a way that helps you remember the word until you reach the plateau of usefulness. Once a word that is new to you in another language is used, from the very first time to the 50th time, you get better with each use of the word.

Another good method I have found that when you are practicing your conversation skills, replace during the day any word that you would want and set aside 2 hours where you speak only in the target language at all costs. No matter what you can always get your meaning across. If you can’t practice this way and act normally in this type of situation then you won’t be able to last long in the land of the rising sun. So how do you do it? Simple! Let’s say you learned the word for paper that day, or you learned the phrase ha o migaku, to brush your teeth. Do you tell your mom or your roommates or whoever you live with that you are going to brush your teeth? NO! You say to them in Japanese and to all who will listen and put up with your intense desire to speak fluently the Japanese language, IIE HA O MIGAKIMASU or something to that effect.

Japanese Word Association Examples

SURU – Suru was the guy who would take over the ship in Star Trek if Captain Kirk couldn’t be there, and he was a busy guy. Suru was the guy who always was doing something. Make an association between the verb to do, and the guy named Suru on Star Trek. You’ll never forget words if they are associated in a meaningful way to you. SURU in Japanese is the verb to do.

NEKO – imagine Cleopatra with a long neck and her long neck cat called necko etc.

MIMI – the little girl whose ears were so cute you would always grab her by the ears O-mimi with the honorific prefix means the honorable ears, the ones affixed to your head.

DENKI – the electric light is so very tiny & dinky in Japan image etc.

Tofu can fly = TOBU means to fly, jump etc.

MUHO^SHU^ moo + hoe +shoe = free service

Young children often KURAI in the dark, I mean cry in the dark!

To sneeze is easy, in Japanese it sounds more like what we actually do than the English word to sneeze. In Japanese to sneeze is KURAKUSHON SURU.

One of the first Japanese I learned was the Don’t touch my mustache or Do Itashimashite

Now don’t go overboard with the associations. There must be a point at which you can enter back into real study mode to pull out the real words and not just what they sound like.

As Always, Ganbatte Ne! Do Your Best!
Makurasuki Sensei