Imagery of bonsai trees, Zen like mountains, and enchanting tea ceremonies are likely to come to mind when you hear the word “Japan”. But surprisingly, the world of Japan is much more than its typically characterized quiet and reserved culture. The Japanese language in itself, speaks volumes to its depth in meaning and emotion. A prime example is its verb “ai suru” (to love). In English, the word love is usually spoken of as a noun used in many contexts ranging from an emotional “I love you” to a casual “I love eating ice cream”. However, in Japanese it’s a continuous action verb that denotes intense fellow feeling much deeper than expressing a mere liking toward something. As the saying goes “mean what you say, and you say what you mean.” That saying holds true In the English language where conciseness and specifics are vital for understanding. While such bluntness allows converses to come to a better understanding of each other and fortifies close bonds, being forthright has also instilled a somewhat lack of “reading between the lines” for many English speakers. In contrast, the Japanese language leaves room for ambiguity which calls for an active ear tuned to the speaker’s true intent, although it may be hidden in a passive voice.
The many subtleties in Japanese open our eyes to appreciate the immense power of words. Through a steady routine of thorough Japanese study, learners can potentially gain fluency and victory over the complexities of Japanese in a minimum of 60 hours and start speaking like a native in no time!
~ Serena Jackson