A little while back I was learning a bunch of vocab, when I came across the word 時代「じだい」meaning “period”, “era”, or “age”, which sounded awfully familiar to me. Suddenly, it struck me. The period of Japanese history from the 15th to the 17th century is known as The Warring States Period, or in Japanese, 戦国時代「せんごくじだい」. After having also learning the word for “war”, 戦争「せんそう」I pieced it together:
戦 [セン」- war, 国「ゴク」- country / state, 時代「じだい」- period
It was so simple! This one simple thing blew my mind. I never knew that the Sengoku Jidai so literally meant “warring-states period”. I spent a good 2 minutes staring at my phone in amazement.
But stuff like this happens all the time when learning Japanese, albeit usually not as mind blowing. Does anyone else have some stories of times when their mind was blown learning something? Or even times when you realized you were able to do something you previously only dreamed of being able to do?
If you want to learn more about the Sengoku Jidai (my favorite period of history):
This isn’t wildly mind blowing but I was using one of my favorite inking pens last night. It’s one of those double sided pens with a brush on one end and a small nib on the other. And on the brush side, I saw 太字 and I was like !!! I know what that means and how to pronounce it and everything! I was so excited. I’m looking forward to more of those little moments as I go on learning. ^^ Maybe one day I’ll be able to read the kanji on the nib side, haha!
I usually discover that I already know the kanji used in city names without realizing. Like 神戸 (Kobe), 仙台 (Sendai), 名古屋 (Nagoya), 札幌 (Sapporo, at least the first kanji is level 7, which is good because I had problems remembering the さつ reading of it), and that 東京都 (Tokyo metropolis) is just “東-Kyoto”.
I’ve had many of those, right now come to mind two related with Wanikani that made reviews much easier:
-If there is a ざ/ぞ/ず on the second, third, etc. kanji of a jukugo, it’s never contracted. For example 仏像 (ぶつぞう) vs 仏僧(ぶっそう ).
-On transitive/intransitive pairs (same kanji, different okurigana), if there is one ending on す, it is always the transitive one, and if there is one ending in ある, it is always the intransitive one. For example 移す vs 移る and 見つける vs 見つかる. I noticed this like five levels ago, and I can’t believe I followed the “sue/rude” crap for so long without noticing this.
You may find some verbs like 引っ越す that don’t follow this rule, but since there’s no 引っ越る and “to move homes” is intransitive in english, it’s easy to figure out. So far, I haven’t found a pair of verbs that didn’t follow those rules.
Besides that, I had some dumb realizations like when I noticed that the と in よつばと！ makes the titles of the chapters go like “Yotsuba and [title of chapter]”. I noticed this after months studying japanese and while reading like chapter 30 of Yotsuba, so I felt quite stupid for taking so long figuring out what that と was doing there, hahaha.
I could never remember the weekdays in Japanese until I realised the weekdays aren’t directly named after elements, but named after planets (which are named after elements), and what’s more, they’re named after the same planets as the weekdays in the Latin/Romance language calendar.
Monday - dies Lunae - day of the Moon - 月 - 月曜日
Tuesday - dies Martis - day of Mars - 火星 - 火曜日
Wednesday - dies Mercurii - day of Mercury - 水星 - 水曜日
Thursday - dies Jovis - day of Jupiter - 木星 - 木曜日
Friday - dies Veneris - day of Venus - 金星 - 金曜日
Saturday - dies Saturni - day of Saturn - 土星 - 土曜日
Sunday - dies Solis - day of the Sun - 日 - 日曜日
(Somehow I could remember the names of the planets when I couldn’t remember the names of the days of the week. Go figure.)
There is an explanation for this on reddit that seems sound, basically they adopted the western calendar and translated their planet names (coming from the Chinese Wu Xing five elements). They also took over the planets you cannot see with the naked eye, for example with Neptune -> 海王星 (sea god planet).
Had numerous mindblowing epiphanies while I was living and working and studying in Japan.
Mini mindblown when I realised that Japanese have different words for animal noises. I guess before then I just assumed everyone in the world would say ‘woof woof’, ‘meow meow’ and ‘cockledoodle doo’ not ‘wan wan’ nya nya’ and ‘cocky caw caw’
Mindblown when I realised that not only do Japanse have different exclamations for things like when you hurt yourself ‘itte’ instead of ‘ouch’ ‘etto’ instead of ‘um’. It’s minblowing to realise that such language utterances become automatic. And best of all at some point and without a conscious effort to do so I switched to using them.
Fully mindblown when I had a girlfriend stay over at my place and she told me I’d been talking in my sleep. Nothing unusual I thought until she explained more and told me I was sleeptalking entirely in Japanese. It was at this point I knew I was on my way to cracking the language.
I get really frustrated with kanji and vocabulary building. It seems as though whatever I am learning doesn’t directly apply to what I am doing right now. For example, working through an N3 deck, reviewing basic characters for 1, 2, left, up blah blah blah. Simple things right?
Fast forward 6 months, and I am still frustrated, thinking, darn, am I getting anywhere. Open up NHK news and rip through a few headlines. 円安・円高、経済. It was like that head jerk moment when you see something crazy in the corner of your eye, whip your head around and think to yourself, did I just see that?
I did that the other day. I was reading an article on the economy, and got 3 lines in before I realized
I am not on the easy site, and
I understand this… 生徒万歳！
After finishing the article, I still have a long way to go…
I know it’s not really Kanji Related… but I had a big “Oh my god!” moment when watching Naruto the other day, and he introduced some of the other characters and I was like, “Oh god… I read their names!”
We found that mine and my wife’s work schedules made perfect mnemonics for the days of the week.
I work Mon-Fri and she works Mon-Wed with a late shift on the Tuesday.
So we have:
GET TO work Monday - getsuyobi
She has to take the CAR on Tuesday - kayobi
She’ll SOON be finished for the week on Wednesday - suiyobi
On Thursday she MOCKS me cos I go to work and she doesn’t - mokuyobi
Friday the week’s over and family (KIN) come round - kinyobi
It was neat how it all tied together. A very personal little OMG moment!!