Language Is Peeing: The Approximately Top Ten Reasons Why Language Acquisition = Micturition

This entry is part 14 of 15 in the series Intermediate Angst

“Don’t force output in L2. Just keep getting input. Don’t force yourself to go to the bathroom, just keep drinking water.”
Jamie The Pensive Urinator

Sarah Silverman, Linguist

Sarah Silverman, Linguist

Language is peeing.
Jamie (yes that Jamie), of Twitter fame, a leading authority on the urinary arts, actually came up with this analogy.
To tell you the truth, I’m jealous, because I think it’s the best language acquisition metaphor ever invented. Ever.
It’s like a golden shower of insight…

Because of the…golden nuggets of wisdom it contains?
Wow. Crossed a few lines there.
That R Kelly, when will he learn, eh lads, eh?
Anyway, let’s look at:

Approximately ten reasons why learning a language is exactly, 100% like peeing.

  1. No matter what you drink…
    • Mountain Dew (Anime)
    • Water (Unscripted natural conversation)
    • Milk (The Moë Sentence Pack)
    • Ambrosia (Comedy)
    • Protein shake (Star Trek)
    • Green smoothie (Evangelion)
    • Green smoothie with added vitamins (Rebuild of Evangelion)
    • Green smoothie with added vitamins, made and served by a maid dressed in short shorts, with blue hair that completely covers one of her eyes: if you’d been there with me and the lads that night in Akihabara…you’d understand. (The part in Rebuild of Evangelion where Shinji’s eyes go red and he roars: 「綾波を、返せ!」 )
    • Unfiltered gutter water (Textbooks) 1

    …it’s all mostly made of water and it all comes out as pee. All FUNBUN 2 Japanese is Japanese. Even “anime Japanese”.

  2. You don’t know exactly when you’re going to pee, but if you keep drinking, you will pee.
    • So stop freaking out about when you’ll get good or when you’ll start speaking. Everyone’s a little different! You’ll pee when you pee! Shut up and drink!
  3. Worrying will get you nowhere. Just drink more. Keep drinking.
  4. The more you drink, the more you pee. Volume(pee) Volume(drink).
  5. Eventually, you won’t be able to help peeing: you won’t be able to help talking like a Japanese person. Eventually, it’ll be harder to not pee than to pee. Sweet, huh?
  6. You always pee less than you drank: input and passive vocab will always outstrip output and active vocab. Input precedes and exceeds output. Never expect to drink a liter and pee out a liter. Volume(pee) < Volume(drink). You’re going to pee out less than you drink…
  7. …and you’re not going to pee at all if you don’t drink. Nothing begets nothing. 0 begets 0. No drink, no pee. Drinking = input. Peeing = output. There is no output without input.
  8. There is no output before input, either. Drink now. Drink first. Pee later. You have to drink before you pee. You can’t pee before you drink. You can’t “get fluent” at Japanese, then immerse. What, you think the language can understand your future promises (“oh, he’s going to pay me later; he said the cheque’s in the mail, so let’s give him an advance on the fluency”)? Darling, Japanese only knows what you’re doing for her right now. 3What have you done for me lately?” That’s what your Japanese perenially wants to know. You have to immerse in order to get fluent. Prior to getting fluent. Drink first. Pee later. Immersion first, fluency later.
  9. Drink a lot at night (sleep immersion), and you might wet the bed (L2 dreams, L2 sleeptalking)
    • HAHAHA! You bedwetting loser! 4
  10. For added reliable, constant hydration (and thus peeing), you can go beyond just drinking and set up an intravenous drip for yourself  – (TV left permanently on, radio, automated immersion, multiplexing, small-but-radical(-and-persistent/stable) environmental changes)
  11. Tasty drinks → more drinking → more peeing. So drink tasty drinks!
  12. Conversely, drinks that taste gross → less drinking → dehydration → acute and chronic health problems (including impaired mental function) → death. Watching and reading boring Japanese will lead you to avoid all Japanese, which will lead to Japanese “dehydration“, which will lead to the death of your Japanese (baby).

People always want to know what your pee situation is. How thick is the stream? How long can you go? What color is it? People are so interested in comparing and contrasting and speeding up the peeing process.

But no one wants to hear about the drinking. People want to drink as little as possible and pee as much and as quickly as possible. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting that — wanting the (apparently) impossible is how progress happens — but it’s a dumb thing to get stressed out about when…you could just drink more.

That’s it. The Pee Theory of Language Acquisition. So, relax and drink up ;) . Your shower of golden wisdom will come! 5

PS: Many paths to enlightenment pass through the restroom. If any more micturative wisdom occurs to you, please share :P .

Series Navigation<< Mastery is Mastering the BasicsThe Intermediate Phase Is Like Tepid Tea, But That’s Fine, Because Tepid Tea is Hotter Than Ice Tea >>

Notes:

  1. I’m being flippant. Textbooks are useful…for about 10~300 seconds, after which the boredom infects and kills your will to learn
  2. For native, by native
  3. Ask Mr. Uwano — you can be friends with Japanese (the language) right through to adulthood — for 20 years — but if you skip out on her…she’ll forget you
  4. Unlike you, I am not a loser. I never wet the bed. There’s no evidence that I ever wet the bed. My Mum? You’re gonna believe her? You know she’s not a virgin, right? What? The kids I went to boarding school with? OK, show me the sheets. Yeah…that statute of limitations burns, doesn’t it?
  5. Don’t judge me! Don’t act like you know me! You wouldn’t have been able to resist making this joke either! :D

  17 comments for “Language Is Peeing: The Approximately Top Ten Reasons Why Language Acquisition = Micturition

  1. Saradus
    April 29, 2012 at 05:07

    This is one of the weirdest metaphors I’ve seen (and yet it fits perfectly). Standard khatz-style method of proving a point, love it! :)

  2. Parpar
    April 29, 2012 at 09:52

    Nice analogy.  I can imagine also that drinking too much can lead to peeing your pants unintentionally (thinking in the language by naturally/by accident).

  3. クリス
    April 30, 2012 at 07:38

    So this might be a stretch….but you could compare SRS reps to Kegel exercises. You know…to uh…promote “muscle memory” and prevent “unnecessary leakages of inputs” (mental incontinence). A disturbing analogy, I know, but there is some truth to it.

  4. Carl
    April 30, 2012 at 14:30

    I like how you get these kind of ideas across. I feel less discouraged about my progress in Korean. I haven’t been drinking as much as I’m suppose to for the necessary output. BTW, I rolf’d at the note for point 9

  5. Monochrome
    April 30, 2012 at 21:41

    Man, these just keep getting more & more weird.

  6. Thomas Smith
    May 1, 2012 at 08:07

    If I might add my 2 cents to the metaphor…
     
    Even when you’re dehydrated, it is possible to pee more by taking diuretics. (Diuretics = L1 to L2 cards, set phrase memorisation, bluffing your way through by learning how to say “thing” in L2, “Speaking From Day One”, romaji, etc)
     
    Speaking as a doctor*, although diuretics may help you produce more urine, they have side effects that can damage your kidneys as well as your general health and well being.
     
    *I’m not a doctor

  7. Jimbaloo
    May 7, 2012 at 06:55

    Theres tons of people that can understand English perfectly yet can barely string 2 sentences together when speaking. If you go to the htlal forums you can read some ppl who talk about this problem they have….tons of passive input doesn’t necessarily translate into conversation ability. I’ve noticed that my spoken l2 ability increases in proportion to how much time I spend doing it…it’s needed for my brain to learn how to make all that passive stuff active. Ideally I like to go 50/50 on input/output once I’ve got a certain amount of vocab and comprehension.

  8. May 7, 2012 at 22:00

    Wow.  Seriously.  Wow.
    Input and output.  I see where you’re going . . . I mean, I see where you went, but jeez Khatz, I kind of wish you hadn’t gone there. 
    Some of your analogies are spot on, too.  Just not sure I was prepared for that shower of golden wisdom.  But I sure do need a drink all of a sudden.

  9. Romuś
    May 11, 2012 at 17:32

    Beer – you pee almost instantly, almost everything you put in, you have Fun drinking and after a while even peeing. And with practice you can drink more and pee more and if you wake up the next day with a hangover, you just reach out for another beer and it keeps on rolling. With time you get addicted, you drink all the time and you don’t even bother to go to pee. You just wet your pants sitting on the couch with the pile of cans all over the place and no one’s coming to see you anymore, everyone left you. Now you’re just a lonely drunk who think to himself when he sobers up: “Life is crap” and you drink again and keep drinking. Until you die and nothings left.
    What i want to say is don’t overdo it. And be careful with what you drink lest you hurt yourself. And you need some nutrients too. I mean your Japanese (baby) will die without food (knowledge, humor, stuff) as well. 

  10. May 28, 2012 at 05:25

    It is a shocking simile, but true like hell. For sure I will use it.

  11. Olof
    May 31, 2012 at 23:50

    Sara Silverman pees with her panties on?

  12. June 3, 2012 at 18:22

    and what happens when you drink too much alcohol?….really really fluent?! Great analogy and easy to read.

  13. アミール
    June 20, 2012 at 23:06

    Where do you find “Unscripted natural conversation” text????

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