Kanji Deja Vu

One of the most frustrating things in studying Japanese is coming across a kanji you swear you should know but still don’t.

Usually what will happen is that I’m reading something in Japanese, be it manga, article, essay, or book, and I’ll hit a particular word that I don’t know the meaning of, but still feel like I recognize it. Then it hits me that I’d seen this word previously, and I had been in almost the exact same situation, where I’d be looking at something and finding the kanji, this time determined to commit it to memory. Except I didn’t which is why I’m in that current situation in the first place. Ever break a promise to yourself and then forget that you did? It’s kind of like that, only I don’t ruin my friendship with me forever as a result.

A couple of recent examples include:

基礎 Kiso, meaning “basis.”

至る Itaru, meaning “to reach.”

Maybe if I just complain about Japanese enough, I’ll learn it.

Jokin aside, the real culprit is obviously under-use, and if only I’d keep up my studies more consistently this sort of thing wouldn’t happen. I’m reading quite a bit of Japanese lately so hopefully more of it will be able to stick, at least reading-wise. Spoken Japanese is another matter entirely, and I can feel myself not developing in that regard as much as I should (and possibly even regressing a good deal). I have to reassert my conviction to learn, as I have every reason to do so.


One thought on “Kanji Deja Vu

  1. If it helps, there are probably native speakers who experience the same phenomenon at some point in their studies. Nobody knows *everything*.

    I once had to give up playing word games (Scrabble, etc) with a significant other ten years my junior. After a time, it was just too painfully obvious who had read more and who had been raised by two teachers and who hadn’t; My vocabulary was so much larger and expressive mainly from greater life experience, but unfortunately my S.O. was a sore loser who couldn’t, or wouldn’t see that.

    The coolest thing about learning a foreign language (especially more than one) is how much more you learn about your *own* language in the process, and how languages work in general.

    So far I’ve stuck to learning European languages. Kudos to you for picking Japanese and sticking to it. I find Asian languages very formidable and intimidating.


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