In the past, I have made statements to the effect that languages are intellectual toys and that learning them is nothing but a game to be played for fun and never out of a sense of duty. I stand by these statements. They are still true. But today, I want to hit you with something different. And that is the idea that you must learn languages, especially Japanese.
Well, not for global brotherhood or being a “citizen of the world” or any other such internationalist bullshizzle.
What? Magic? Yes. Magic.
You see, words are magic. Words are magic spells we cast for getting what we want from the Universe/other people. Yeah I said it. And I am standing by that statement, too. I’m standing by like an infomercial product operator. I’m standing by it like it’s Wesley Crusher. Metaphorical truth is just as important as literalism, and often moreso, and anyone who doesn’t appreciate that is, frankly, a bit of a philistine. Because if you’re going get pedantic, even movies don’t exist; all they are is rapid sequences of still images, and anyone who tells you other wise is literally lying.
Where were we? Oh yeah.
Language is magic. Words are magic. You cast spells on other people using The Word, using words. But when people don’t understand you(r language) very well (if at all), they default to saying “no” to you. Your spells don’t work. However, if and when you speak their language — speak the right magic words — the people suddenly light up and get friendly and (most importantly) cooperative.
The world is full of Consuelas who default to “no”. And East Asia has more people and Consuelas than even wherever Conseula is from. And East Japan, per capita at least, has more Consuelas than anywhere else in Japan or East Asia; it’s the Consuela capital of the world. If you can’t explain yourself in precise and accurate Japanese 1, Japanese people will just say “no” to you. But if you can, (almost) every rule will be broken and every exception made to suit your preferences. Like magic. That is how Japan is. Not all the “no’s” will turn into “yeses”, but most of them will, especially the most important ones. And that is why you must learn Japanese. Because it will make your life fun and awesome and customized, just like a pimped out ride. And that is how it should be.
People aren’t saying “no” to you because that’s the real/correct answer. They’re saying it because that’s the easiest answer. You need to give them a way of giving you a better answer. Make it easy for them. The way you do that is by being able to ask, answer and understand the right questions in the right way. So we come full circle back to Tony Robbins: the quality of life is the quality of your questions (and the ability of your interlocutors to understand your questions).
- Japanese that is just as vague and just as specific as it needs to be. ↩