the lowly shellfish

the lowly shellfish

More than three decades have passed since Douglas Adams penned the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’m still waiting for my babelfish ear piece.

I’m trying to learn Japanese. For the longest time I struggled with where to even begin. I speak French and German, but Japanese is from another plant, by comparison. Should I learn written or spoken first? Which set of characters?

Now I’m stumbling deeper into my new bible, Remembering the Kanji by James Heisig. My boyfriend’s mum recommended the Heisig Method. She’s a gaijin as well. The method is layed for Westerners, starting with the easiest characters to draw, working up to the more complex. He also groups similar looking characters.

Basically it’s one big game of word association. The crux of the method is to attach a story to  the character and meaning that will send the kanji straight to your long-term memory.

Sometimes it’s absurd, for example I know the characters for things like “gall bladder” and “old age,” though I don’t yet know essentials such as “train” or “bathroom.” “Employee” is my favourite character so far. Combining shellfish and mouth, I can just picture little crabs scuttling around the factory floor, chatting away to each other.