Hana and Chris keep asking me this question. They suspect that I secretly take Japanese classes for a long time and pretend not understand what they are talking about. The spy and undercover story. Although I reiterate that I learn only some phrases from Japanese TV shows and others, Hana and Chris just don’t believe me. 😛
Compared with English speakers, it is definitely easier for Mandarin/Chinese-speaking people to travel around Tokyo. Lots of kanji, Japanese characters somewhat similar to Chinese, everywhere. We can often have a good guess of what it might mean. Although not necessarily accurate all the time, it still gives us some clues. Besides, I don’t look a foreigner to many Japanese. With an Asian face, shopkeepers, clerks and waiters all speak to me in Japanese. What should I do? Answer them in Japanese!
It’s always good to have a travel phrase book with you. Just open and point the words (or the menu), and they will understand you very well. To tell the truth, you don’t even need to learn Japanese to live in Tokyo for a long time. I have a friend just does that for more than two years. (Yes, Jason, I am talking about you!) Tokyo is really a big city, and is equipped with signs in English everywhere, especially in the subway. Some people say it looks complicated when you read the Tokyo subway map, but to tell the truth, it’s fairly easy. The subway company is really afraid that you will get lost inside, so they provides MANY MANY signs. Just remember the color and you’ll be just fine.
Back to Japanese language. I later find out that not only Hana is suspecting my Japanese comprehension is way beyond what I claim to be “jodo” (Japanese, means “a little”), but also our friend and GV translator Mariko seems to share the same doubt. I think it is a good proof that learning language, especially Japanese, from watching TV is effective in some ways. The grammar is still difficult for me, but it’s quick to have a sense of Japanese.
Anyway, I haven’t successfully persuade Hana and Chris that “Leonard doesn’t speak Japanese”, but I think it would be more difficult as we spend more time hanging out together.
What language should I learn next?