Sweating

I guess the winter is slowly bending away – even though it’s still dreadfully cold in the apartment, nights especially, the sun shines every day brighter and I feel warm in my furs without extra scarves when walking out at noon. Especially I did not feel cold when spending some time in a box at the local UFJ bank – I was sweating even after I understood to take off the coat.
Sweating not only because of the blinding shine of the sun, but also because my brain was in a serious need of liquid cooling when tackling the problem of transferring money to Finland using a teleservice and japanese language. When in serious doubt about what was being asked for, I often resorted to nodding and “Hai, hai…” – I’ll see in a couple of days if the money appears on my account in Finland. Fingers crossed.
Even more sweating on my japanese lessons. The effect of the several-weel break during the holidays is clear; I’ve forgotten much and become uncertain in even more. For some reason I’ve been unnaturally tired lately, and – hopefully – because of that – my babel fish has stopped functioning properly. It still works, but erratically; I seem to be doing more guessing than previously and especially when dealing with some structures I already had learned, the guesses often are wrong. I’ve noticed that I even read slower and with so much of guessing incorporated trying to speed it up that the results are … humiliating. Often I just read a sentence as I would guess it to be, consciously reading the characters correctly but making that last cognitive jump from individual syllabes to meaningful words unconsciously and wrong.
Actually, quite interesting: imagine seeing a word like to-mor-row in a book, but when reading it aloud it would come out as “yesterday”. Tells you something about how much we rely on non-conscious processing and filling the gaps in our perception from ideas in some kind of internal model of the world we might be equipped with.
An other place that combines sweating and japanese language – training. It has happened that one dojo I spend time pondering upon the differences between the opposide ends of sticks has lost virtually all of its bilingual ninjas. So, no translation available any more. It does not matter when it is about techniques – the actual methods of hurting your fellows do not get any cleared with subtitles on… but, oh the pain, when the techer comes to ask you specifically something or wants to tell you something, or is explaining some tremendously interesting detail about japanese culture, and you’re not certain if he’s talking about someone dying on a ship or enjoying a meal of giant white radishes… not to mention when they’re making a joke about something that clearly does somehow relate to the fact that when I am bent backwards in a technique I don’t fall over before my head touches the ground, and even though I don’t mind being the funny mascot if that wins me a place in the group, but it wouldn’t hurt to know what I did that was so hilarious… 😀
Oh, training. Not only an ambiguous and confusing double-ended stick in one hand – but also a sword in the other. My, was I lost.

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One thought on “Sweating

  1. I so feel for you. When I was on exchange in Australia I went through a period of language shock of sorts. I had been fluent in English back in Finland but suddenly, after being in Australia for some time, all my understanding just halted. It wasn’t just the strangeness of the Aussie dialect but everything, and the more important it would’ve been to understand the less I did.
    At school I couldn’t get a word the teacher was saying and I had to ask a classmate what had just been said (for some reason I understood students better). The only teacher I seemed to understand was our physics teacher who was on exchange from US, and Texas of all places (so he had a broad dialect of his own).
    In my case the period of horrible struggling ended eventually and afterwards I was tuned into English much better. I actually had an Aussie accent when talking Finnish on the phone to my parents!
    Here’s hoping your language crisis will end up being a processing period that will lead you to greater understanding! I understand it might be a lot more difficult since Japanese is such a different thing and if I recall correctly you’re not forced to manage in Japanese all the time (at work etc.). Still, I wish you patience and quick processing!

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