j_rant: Possibly the second most generic Japan-themed icon! (Default)
2011-03-03 01:55 pm

The Internet is for...

If you're learning Japanese, you've probably heard of the blog All Japanese All The Time. In this excellent post, khatzumoto talks about how "logical" reasons for learning foreign languages don't work but addiction does. It's a point I've seen in a lot of language learning blogs, but his version is particularly clear, succinct, and amusing. But there's one thing I haven't seen a lot of language learning blogs mention:


Yeah, I'm sure that will creep some people out to think about. You're learning Japanese for noble, pure reasons. Your BL manga are about Art and Story and they're "erotica", not that filthy, nasty porn. Blah, blah, blah. Look, this advice may not apply to you, but if you're like most of the rest of the internet, it does:

No amount of artificial timeboxing or self-help book motivation crap and no amount of valid long-term goals will motivate you to learn kanji half as much as reading porn with one hand in your pants. Your brain is lazy: it does not want to remember hard, boring kanji. It does want to know what the next filthy line of your yaoi fanfic/tentacle porn/celebrity self-insert epic says, and it wants to know right now. Add to that the fact that most porn is highly repetitive, and you have an ideal prescription for language learning.

But wait! Won't porn teach me useless porn-only words?

No. If you're reading something with enough text, whether it's online fanfic or an ero game or a dirty manga, it will have grammar and conjunctions and particles. It will have some porn-only words, but it will also have a lot of words that have both dirty and normal meanings. It will also have a lot of kanji that occur in lots of different types of compounds. Yes, 触手 ('tentacle') isn't that useful outside of porn or fish markets, but the kanji 触 is used in 触る ('to touch') and 感触 ('sense of touch'), among other things, and 手 is the kanji for 'hand' as well as being used in thousands of very common compounds and expressions. (And as an added bonus, the word for tentacle is literally 'feeler arm', which gives you a nice mnemonic to link both kanji and at least three different words.) Also, realistically, if you're looking at porn today, you'll still be looking at it ten years from now, so even those porn-only words will come in handy.

Every little bit of knowledge helps, especially when it comes to kanji. It's far easier to remember second and third meanings, pronunciations, and uses of a kanji once you already recognize it in at least one context. And it's far easier to learn that first usage when you have a direct, immediate, and very strong motivation.

So don't be afraid to embrace your kinks while you're studying Japanese. The rest of us may not want to hear about them, but they'll make you learn kanji like nothing else.