Hi! I’ve been on WK since March, and have had a great time learning Japanese words. For the most part, metacognitively I’ve been mapping Japanese sounds and characters onto concepts I already have live in my mind.
I’ve run into a problem though with temporal-directional words. I’ve always been a little weak with three dimensional spatial stuff (could never throw a ball straight). Until I was five, I couldn’t distinguish left from right, until I figured out I could just name my right arm “right” and my left arm “left,” and then I was able to remember (hey a mnemonic!) Same with the other directions. They are not stored as abstract concepts in my head; they’re stored, I guess, as an extension of my muscle memory. Right, left, up, down, behind, in front, before, after; my conception of all these is relative to my body’s three dimensional position in space. Instead of having to generate a 3D image in my brain (which I’ve heard men are poor at doing; who knows), I cheat and use my body, which is always there!
The problem is that the analogies for temporal location (after, before) are stored in the exact same place as the spatial ones. To me, “after” means “forward,” and “before” means “behind.” “Before” as a spatial word (“before God”) is stored in a totally different place in my brain, and I don’t really think about it as the same thing as the temporal “before.” I recognize that etymologically this is backwards (before should be forward) both in English and in Japanese. 後 is behind and after, and 前 is in front of and previous. So in my head, both kanji contain two contradictory meanings within them.
Any advice for separating these concepts? Do I need to reprogram my brain? Ha.