So, there’s this new word out in Japan: 「どんだけ～!!??」(dondake). Well, it’s new to non-fashionistas like me, but it dates back to at least 2-3 months ago among the trendy, which means that some consider it “old”.
But I didn’t come here to discuss whether or not 「どんだけ～」is passé, I came here to share something even cooler.
So, last week, I’m hanging out with (Japanese) friends from the old company, and I’m discussing how every bookstore in Japan seems to have an anti-China section, with books that have titles that would get you sued in America. Somewhere in there, I busted out the word「どんだけ～!!??」to describe my internal reaction to the violently nationalistic drivel that this small-but-vocal minority of idiots seems intent on sharing with the world. We decided that every bookstore should have a 「どんだけ～!!??」Section, where all the crap books like this would be kept (I guess they already do, but we’re saying that it should be labelled 「どんだけ～!!??」.
OK, so my point is, I never made a conscious effort to learn 「どんだけ～!!??」. I don’t even remember the first time I heard it, what show it was or who said it (I just have this very vague feeling — not even a thought, just a feeling — that I heard it on TV at some point). Nor do I remember the last time I heard someone say it other than me. All I know is, I’m there speaking Japanese with my friends, and it comes out. This isn’t the first time this has happened, but it is the most impressive instance thus far of this phenomenon.
It would seem, then, that my Japanese has entered a new phase. I have already mentioned how I can correctly infer the meanings of new words I don’t know — even kanjiless words. What is now happening is that I am acquiring and using Japanese words and sentences without conscious effort. Sometimes it actually worries me a little because the word will come out, and I’ll think to myself: “wait, is that even the right word? I just said it because it sounded right…”. Invariably I go and look it up in my dictionary and/or online and it turns out that my usage was fine. I still learn words consciously; I still do SRS entries and repetitions, but it’s really exciting to know that just sitting around watching TV is helping me in such a concrete-yet-imperceptible way.
What a thrill to be enjoying/observing a “growth spurt” like this; I haven’t had one of these in a while (or ever, really — it’s all been pretty gradual up to now) and I wasn’t expecting something so sudden; I’ve just been coasting along building more and more vocab, faithfully doing my SRS work just like a beginner. I know that practice makes perfect and all, but this still feels like winning the lottery! It’s exhilerating stuff, and something I am sure is in store for anyone who just keeps at it. Anyway, I hope it doesn’t sound like tooting my own horn, but I thought it would be cool to share this new development with you.