Eons ago, I went to hear novelist Rita Mae Brown read. When someone asked for advice on becoming a writer, Brown said, "Learn as many languages as you can. Once you do, you'll understand the roots of words, and you'll make connections. Bells will go off!"
Inspired by this idea, I took up Spanish and later Japanese. (I had hated language study in childhood and never thought I'd be doing such a thing voluntarily.)
Years later, I had dinner with a relative who wanted to know why I was studying Japanese, of all things. I mentioned Rita Mae Brown's suggestion. He scoffed, "Well, that makes sense if you're studying Romance languages. But not Japaneeeeeese!" (His sneer made the word twice as long as it needed to be.)
I couldn't defend myself. For one thing, I'm bad at producing instant retorts while reeling from an unexpected attack. For another thing, Japanese has taught me about English countless times, but there's a nebulous quality to those discoveries, and I can never recall them on demand.
Last weekend I had one of those discoveries, and I still feel thrilled, not only because I've delivered a mental "so there!" to my relative but also because it's exhilarating to make connections between languages.
Here's what happened. Tomorrow I head to Tokyo, where (among other things) I'll go out for Korean food with Kensuke-san, my language partner. (He lived in Korea for years.) As we chatted on Skype last Saturday, he showed me restaurant options online. For instance, he directed me to this page, then to the following picture, as he craved that dish in particular:
[To read the rest, go to Joy o' Kanji!]
Causes Eve Kushner Supports
The Milo Foundation, Planned Parenthood, Doctors Without Borders, PCI, FINCA