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Don’t Be Snobbish, Do Be Picky: Trash Is Good For You

“Everything in Japanese is good for you” does not mean you should do any old crap in Japanese whether or not you’re having fun just because it’s in Japanese.

It means that everything in Japanese is good for you — as long as you’re having fun. First Law of Language Acquisition, remember? If you actually like it — not “I have been told by authority figures that this is good for me and so have numbed my soul in order to like it” like it, but actually like it — then knock yourself out.

That everything is good for you doesn’t mean you have to eat/read/watch everything. Don’t be snobbish. Do be picky.

Celebrity gossip? Jerry Springer? Trash designed to rot and ruin the minds of the masses.

Celebrity gossip and Jerry Springer in Japanese? Highly legitimate intellectual and inter-cultural exercise 😛 . Those are real kanji there, son.

Be a couch potato. Be a bum. Read trash. Watch trash. Eat junk food. Just do it in Japanese.


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PS: Rule of thumb: if you’ve tried it you’re not sure whether or not you like it, then you don’t like it 😛 .

  16 comments for “Don’t Be Snobbish, Do Be Picky: Trash Is Good For You

  1. amy
    February 27, 2011 at 13:21

    now if only the brain-rotting feeling i get from jerry springer and celeb gossip did not drive me insane…!

  2. 魔法少女☆かなたん
    February 27, 2011 at 13:54

    I’m sometimes astounded by the things I find have been translated into Japanese, such as a dub of Fahrenheit 9/11. Where they gave George Bush an awesome voice that just seemed so unfitting.

    • Langknow
      February 27, 2011 at 23:26

      You should check out the Twilight dubs, for some reason, they just sound better in Japanese, and more intense with emotions… I loved it…

  3. February 28, 2011 at 00:51

    The thing that did the most for my German, was watching all 7 seasons of “Star Trek: Deep Space 9” dubbed in German. People told me it was trash, and it wasn’t a real German TV show so it wouldn’t help, and all sorts of other bunk. It was dubbed in German *for real Germans* to watch.

    It was really hard to understand all of it at the start, but I enjoyed it and I knew the characters from having watched it a bunch in English years ago, so I could frequently figure out what was going on. By the time I hit the end of the 7th season, I was understanding a LOT of the dialogue.

    I had also been reading German Harry Potter while listening to the German Harry Potter audiobook, so that helped too. People also told me not to do that, because somehow I’d only learn the words for “magic wand” and “dragon”. Apparently they didn’t realize that 99.9% of the words in the book are not fantasy words, they were just regular German. And again, it was hard to understand at the start, but it got easier.

    It worked too. By the time I actually got to Germany, I understood pretty much everything I heard or read. Now I’m trying to duplicate the experience with Dutch, reading any Dutch book I feel like. Currently on my desk I have book 11 of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series (translated to Dutch), a book about the rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes mountains (in Dutch), The Da Vinci Code (in Dutch), a book on the history of Anarchism in Spain (in Dutch). Basically anything I could find that sounded interesting. I don’t actually own any textbooks about Dutch at all, nor do I plan to. Nothing boring allowed.

    • salem
      March 1, 2011 at 01:19

      Yeah, it’s really crazy which things are the ones that tend to do the most for you. I watched The Matrix (I just got the dub out of idleness) and my Arabic completely skyrocketed. Maybe it’s because we know what they’re saying since we’ve either a) seen the film before or b) can guess via intuition about their environment? I’m not sure. 99.9% of the words in The Matrix are normal, everyday Arabic, and the ones that aren’t are interesting in that you get an angle on how certain concepts translate (“matrix”, “kung fu”, “agent”, “sentinel”, etc.).

      • March 1, 2011 at 07:45

        Totally agree. Playing the game 龍が如く見参! on my PS3 in Japanese, with a dictionary handy and my SRS flashcard program (anki) up and running taught me a TON of fun Japanese.

    • Dangph
      March 2, 2011 at 21:20

      I’m doing the same thing. I’m watching Star Trek Voyager in French. I’m halfway through season 3 now. I also watch a lot of Japanese anime dubbed into French. I really like dubbed stuff. The French take their dubbing very seriously. (Is it the same for the Germans?) I would even say their anime dubs are on par with the Japanese originals. (Just my judgement. I don’t speak Japanese.) They have voice actors who can actually express emotions, unlike in American-dubbed anime where everyone has that same one tone of voice. You know the one. I call it “goofy sardonic”. I love Americans, but their dubbing sucks. I dearly hope there is no one out there in the world who is trying to learn English by watching American-dubbed anime. They would end up sounding like a complete dildo.

      • LOL
        March 3, 2011 at 14:42

        Are you kidding me? Or maybe it’s just that Frenchies improved their dubs, compared to the older ones. Stuff like Dragon Ball, Saint Seiya was crap, not dub… As for the Germans – I don’t like their seiyuus as much as the Japanese, but at least they try hard with OP / ED songs, sometimes they change the song completly, like the French did, but most of the time, they leave the original melody and translate the lyrics properly, also, sometimes getting a better result than the original in my opinion (like in the case of DBZ OP 2 (We Gotta Power/Du wirst unbesiegbar sein).

  4. Ken
    March 1, 2011 at 11:53

    Guilty: a significant percentage of the Japanese I’ve picked up comes from watching the first three seasons of Miami Vice. When a part comes on that’s not dubbed, I’m always a bit startled to remember that クロケット and タブス can speak English.

    On that note, does anyone know if the Japanese DVDs of the 6 seasons of “LOST” are 100% dubbed?

  5. sctld
    March 1, 2011 at 21:27

    Another good thing about trashy reading materials: it’s okay to write on them, since you’re not going to read a piece of such low literary worth twice.

  6. ahndoruuu
    March 2, 2011 at 19:43

    Moar Chinese Project Notes plz.

  7. March 2, 2011 at 23:33

    Yup, same for any other language, I’ve always advised my readers who are learning Spanish to pick some type of popular media they like (music videos is what I’ve focused on, recently did a recipe as a guest post for Randy, movies, TV shows, comic books, whatever) and then use that to teach yourself Japanese. You know Tim Ferriss has written up something similar about this where he used his passion for judo to learn Japanese, have you read it: ?


  8. salem
    March 3, 2011 at 18:16

    Off-topic but here’s something remarkably interesting (at least to me), Khatz: I’ve passed about 2,100 hours of listening, and I started speaking my first sentences out of curiosity. I have no trouble coming up with native-sounding basic sentences at all! It seems the 800 hours mark given in Krashen’s experiments is about on the mark. I’ve decided to keep my mouth shut for a few months longer, but I’m still almost shocked at how intuitive and comfortable my L2 feels right now.

    My learning is also going way, way faster than before; I’d say it’s close to an exponential incline. I’m basically just spending my time filling in half the words I don’t know while bathing in aural glory.

  9. July 10, 2012 at 02:59

    This is why I am continuing to read Japanese self-help books.  I know they are simplistic answers to the issues but why not?

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