How Learning Another Language Can Help You Understand Your Own

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For several years now I’ve had a growing fascination with Japan and Japanese culture, so about a month ago I started teaching myself a bit of conversational Japanese and basic writing using whatever free internet lessons I could find. At first I found myself frustrated by how different everything was; the grammar was strange and the letters seemed ludicrously complex. But then I began to imagine what it would be like if things were reversed. What if I had grown up in Japan and became fascinated by America? What if I, with no prior knowledge of the language, had tried to teach myself English? I think I would have found myself just as confused.

The more I think about, the more I see that all languages, if you really spend time thinking about them, are rather strange. Some may be more efficient than others, or easier to grasp, but they are all odd. They were all created, and have evolved, out of necessity. I doubt much of any of the world’s languages (with the exception of sign language) were really planned. I think it more likely that they just sort of happened, gathering more and more abnormalities over the years.

In the end, I think what I’m trying to say is that everything I learn about Japanese teaches me a little bit about English, and I think every language.

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