Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Limited Language Offerings

I've started writing essays for Fukunari-sensei.  My lessons with Kaneko-san are on an indefinite hiatus due to difficulty in keeping a consistent schedule and my focus with Fukunari-sensei.  But I always enjoyed the practice of writing essays, so now I do it for her.

I find myself wanting to share more with her.  Perhaps it's a trust that she will work to really understand my meaning and will accept it and help me clarify it.  I started with an essay about my travels in August, I wrote another essay about the activities I've done with the new members, last week I wrote one about my parents, and this week I will give her one about how I came to play the cello.

It's an interesting practice for me with my current level of Japanese.  I find that I'm able to say more, but don't know or trust the language or cultural understanding well enough to take the leaps that are required to be more expressive.  Sometimes the most precise language is quite non-literal, and I can't use Japanese to speak or write to a Japanese person that way, yet.  It just isn't familiar to me enough to entrust to it some of less literal topics in life.  

So I'm left with essays that would be about a 5th grade level of explanation.  And yet I'm learning a lot about myself and my family through them.  In the simple facts of each of my parents, what they do, how they came to be from their education and values in life, what they enjoy, and their personalities, I felt that I came to know them in a new way, one that I never would have articulated in English in quite the same manner.  I relived their lives in a simple grammar, like reading a haiku, and some things became so much clearer.  Too many words, too many expressions and sometimes the significance suffers.

Likewise with my essay on how I came to play the cello, simple facts from childhood through college that structured how things came to be.  Of course there is more, but these are part of the scaffolding, part of understanding myself.

I always wanted to speak another language fluently, thinking that it could bring a new way of thinking through different grammar and vocabulary.  I had never thought that perhaps the restrictions in the early stages of learning could also provide a new way of thinking and understanding.  It's encouraging to me that limitations can offer so much.

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