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The Language Learner’s Prayer

I know you have kids.
I know you have a job.
I know you’re busy.
I know your friends are making fun of you.
I know your spouse is giving you funny looks.
I know people make double-takes when they see you holding a Japanese book.
I know you live in the boonies and there are no Japanese people around.
I know you don’t have language midi-chlorians like me and AppleMilk.
I know. 我知,我知,我知。

So let me ask you:

Are you the world’s b***h?

What are you going to do?
Is this how you want to play? Does the world own you? Does it have you turning tricks for cigarettes?
Are you going to keep being the world’s b***h?
Or are you going to bite its **** [hand?] off, spit it out, wipe the blood off your face (and maybe use some mouthwash…you’re going to want to disinfect things somehow), and start making decisions for yourself?

…Or are you going to keep being the world’s b***h?
Because that’s a decision you can make, too.
You can decide to have the world decide for you — it’ll gladly tell you what to wear, who to be, where to live, how to live, what to put into your mouth, what to put into your mind, what to expect, what not to expect, what to accept, what to believe, what to read, what to watch, what to listen to, when to wake up, when to go to sleep, when and how to use what vehicle to go where it tells you…
Either way, you decide.

I’m not saying you should ignore other people and follow my instructions — banana smoothie-guzzling, Japanese-speaking, 26-year-old cat owners probably shouldn’t be high on your list of mentors.
I’m merely suggesting that you might consider following your own instructions for a change. Whatever those instructions may be. And maybe you can’t change everything overnight, but guess who ultimately suffers most if you continue being a you-know-what for the next 2, 5, 10 and 50 years?

Don’t you think you deserve better?
Aren’t you worthy of dignity?
Isn’t the real improvement of your condition worth the temporary inconvenience of minor pattern disruptions? Especially disruptions to patterns you don’t like that much anyhow?

Well, that was all very family-friendly.
I think I’ve been watching far too much Oz

You know what? I’m sorry. I have no right to talk to you this way. You come here to be inspired, not abused. Let’s put this whole foul-mouthed post behind us, OK? Let’s say a prayer together. Everyone always says AJATT is a cult anyway — let’s prove them right; let’s be spiritual soldiers together.

Here it is. The Language Learner’s Prayer.

Oh Richard Dawkins,

Grant me the serenity to quit whining about not being a child, the courage to show people where they can put it, and the wisdom to know when to ignore them and focus on input, which apparently is most of the time. Because any of that would be better than being the world’s b***h.

In the name of Karl Popper,


  48 comments for “The Language Learner’s Prayer

  1. Rochella
    November 26, 2009 at 12:47


  2. November 26, 2009 at 12:53

    Sometimes people need a little ‘abrasion’ to catch their attention and kick them into thinking for themselves. GJ Khatz.

    Although I did feel a bit b***hed out by your gratuitous use of the word b***h.

  3. Drewskie
    November 26, 2009 at 13:13


  4. November 26, 2009 at 13:52

    Man, I needed that.


    And EOF.

  5. November 26, 2009 at 15:11

    Basically, stop being a b***h and take control of your own decisions. Stop listening to other people’s ideas to reinforce your excuses. Got it.

    26 year old punk calling me a b***h. Nothing new to me, really. 🙂

  6. Rhino
    November 26, 2009 at 22:53

    I needed this post.

    thanks khatz.

  7. Lord Joseph Hayabusa Johnson-Smith Yamamoto Ⅳ
    November 27, 2009 at 00:06

    This is something I’ve been thinking about recently, I’ve kinda gotten into a comfortable pattern; all I need to do is keep going until I reach the top the hill.

  8. November 27, 2009 at 01:40

    This is the blog I read to get smacked in the face.

  9. Ed
    November 27, 2009 at 03:53

    The EOF’s made me smile 🙂

  10. Leonardo Boiko
    November 27, 2009 at 06:11

    You surpassed yourself on this post, khatz. Great text.

  11. Gav
    November 27, 2009 at 08:57

    I just made a shank out of hashi and killed my boss.


  12. Ken
    November 27, 2009 at 11:15

    Ha! Well, I lol’d.

    Back to SRS’ing my 漢字。

  13. フランク様
    November 27, 2009 at 12:35

    haha great post 勝、these are the kinda posts I’d like to share to my goal-less friends and family..ところで・・・その「我知」って・・本物の単語?そう思わないけど・・・ったく日本語を書いたらちゃんとしなさいね。 いつもありがとうよ

  14. Matt
    November 27, 2009 at 15:08

    I finished RtK1 today. A very, very sincere thank you, Obi-San. As a padawan learner (also 26), I have found that studying Japanese is a great deal similar to being a runner. It’s not academic; it’s physical. It doesn’t matter where or when I run, as long as I run. It is a one-man journey of fathomless miles with a definite beginning but no perceivable end, and no way of knowing if I am “fluent” yet; I only know that today I am better than I was before; I focus only on what I can accomplish in one day, today, only in one moment, now; I focus on enjoying the run not as a means to future happiness but as an end in itself; this site is a drinking fountain at a way-point, a wave from another runner, a fresh pair of shoes when I need them; as immersion accumulates, every so many weeks, mid step, I take a breath and know, feel, that most gratifying of sensations: “…I can run faster.”

    Today, I ran faster than yesterday, Khatz.

    Thank you.

  15. Fdsfdaafsd
    November 27, 2009 at 17:28

    I can understand this. You have to make decisions for yourself no matter what. Yes you will have to stop being the world’s b***h. My dad wanted to take me to a movie and I even considered it. If you don’t get rid of anything English now you will regret it. Khatz’s method is destroying everything English in your life is a bit extreme but you have to. You have to trick your mind into believing yoiu can’t go back. The only out is to move foward into the future. Foward is the only way to go. If you can’t that will destroy your Japanese. If you stand still your Japanese will be destroyed. If you go back your Japanese is already dead as far as I know it. It’s your decision but I’m speaking from personal experience. Do what works for you.

  16. Leo
    November 28, 2009 at 07:23

    Oh no Richard Dawkins,
    he is a blasphemer!

  17. Daniel
    November 29, 2009 at 00:31

    Well here’s a coincidence–in reference to your post, I am also 26, also a cat owner, and read this while having a banana (mango) smoothie. So maybe it only makes sense!

  18. yo
    November 29, 2009 at 04:58

    @franck sama,
    我知= I know (in chinese).

  19. November 29, 2009 at 07:33

    「我知」wo zhi! I know I know! 我不知道 = I dunno.

    But soon… I WILL know.

  20. metfan85
    November 29, 2009 at 07:57

    You always have a way of saying the right things to get me on the move.

  21. Maya
    November 29, 2009 at 13:48

    Excuse me for being off topic (as usual :D), but this was too good to keep to myself. OK, ready?

    Alice in Wonderland:

    The Aristocrats:

    Little Mermaid:

    Mouse Hunt:

    Some parts of the Twilight movie (couldn’t find the whole thing – the 2nd one has side-by-side Japanese/English scenes):

    That’s all for now 😀 Hope that helps at least 1 person.

  22. William
    November 29, 2009 at 17:34

    Hey, Khatzumoto

    Wonderful, inspirational site you’ve here! I now devote at least 30 minutes daily going thru the archive.

    After reading the following post
    I’ve been looking for sites offering Japanese movie notes similar to those for English films in ESLnotes like:
    but wthout success.

    Would you happen to know of ay places with such resources?

    Please keep up the good work!


  23. NDN
    November 29, 2009 at 17:46

    くそー、ナルトと同じような事いいやがって。でも、39。 :)

  24. GoddessMaverick
    November 30, 2009 at 03:06

    Amen to that!!!
    I’ve been using this site for nearly a year and I have been getting such bull from my friends who keep thinking I’m some kind of Japanophile. Not that there’s anything wrong with that… but people just can even appreciate the want to expand you horizons. I don’t turn tricks for anybody!! SUCK IT WORLD!!!!!

    haha but seriously keep up the good work.

  25. Radek
    November 30, 2009 at 05:18

    Man, calling somebody’s a b**h and being thanked for it? Epic. But dude, that was low…

  26. November 30, 2009 at 20:24

    This is the driving factor behind my life now. AND due to it I have suffered but it is for a GREATER GOOD! I read recently being lazy pays off TODAY and “HARD WORK” pays off in the future! And due to people that set forth alternative methods of Learning l.e. KHATZ and many others Hard work is HARD FUN! The fun things get done. We all tend to differ on many points and contradict ourselves but I have also read that Certainty on anything leaves no ROOM for GROWTH or development! We have to always question our theories and ideas and develop them. I have learned so much from this site and it inspires my ART and Writing! LETS PUT THE DOO DOO THEORY INTO ACTION!! CAN YOU SMELL IT…(inside joke…Go to my blog)www(dot)thezeeree(dot)com
    Oh and Khatz you should add more hyper links to info and references for Folks!
    ALot of them I understand but that link gives me a fast refresher!!

  27. November 30, 2009 at 20:25

    OH yeah and Kanjilish is the new JAM!

  28. mypapa12
    December 1, 2009 at 00:40

    I bought RTK1 thanks to you. I’ll buy RTK3 next. You rocks.

    +1 Insightful.

  29. Surrealus
    December 2, 2009 at 08:15

    Your words are not my words but they mean the same. Thanks.

  30. アメド
    December 2, 2009 at 12:52

    SRSing is starting to become boring recently, or maybe it’s just today lol had so much tests, just feeling so lazy to continue my 100/day sentence routine. Only been 6 months(3 months kanji+3 months immersion+sentences). I’ve reached 3600-3700 sentences so far. I think the main problem for people to continue is the motivation, that always effects me. Like today i don’t feel like doing my sentence reps(it’s 769 cuz i was missed one day of reps). I’m lucky that usual my motivation is just linked to my energy. So when i’ve got lots i always continue. I haven’t gotten any output yet, only thing is for output is probably easier to say things+read. But what i’ve noticed when i try to write from memory is that, it takes more input to produce output. So i’m convinced with large heavy input, it’ll eventually lead to some really high level output. But i think it’s good to just do both lol. Work on output with japanese people and do input on you’re own, and in 1 years time, it’ll both collide and produce pure ownage!

  31. Ken
    December 3, 2009 at 01:34

    アメド: I’m only at the kanji stage, but I find that SRS’ing *by itself* can become boring (or frustrating, since — as Khatzu points out — it only shows me what I suck the most at). My fix: apply it!

    When I walk through the International District, every week I find I can read a little more of the signs. I went to a Chinese restaurant with some friends on Saturday and I could read half the kanji on the cover of the menu (not technically Japanese but who cares?). On one of the twitter feeds I read (they’re great because they’re short sentences but real Japanese!), I could read a *whole sentence* today — because one of the kanji was one that my SRS has been showing me constantly for the past couple days, and I was *finally* able to write it this morning! (But I could easily read it, since reading is 5x easier.)

    It also helps me to see that the things I used to think were hard, are now easy. When I flip open my kanji book to page 30, I can remember struggling with those, but today I can easily name every one. So I can imagine a day when I think the whole book is easy.

    Here’s an idea: with that much kanji, you can probably get around on your computer pretty well. (You *do* have your computer set to Japanese, don’t you?) So go into your GMail preferences and set the language to Korean for 2 minutes. Holy cow I can’t read a single thing, or even pronounce anything, and all these characters look identical, I swear, and … OK, OK, breathe, it’s alright, I’ll just switch it back to something easy … Japanese! 🙂

  32. アメド
    December 3, 2009 at 08:55


    Well I can’t really switch my computer to japanese ,as I have to share it with other people, in the near future i’ll buy myself a really really solid laptop and just make it pure Japanese. I’m trying just to put sites that i visit, such as youtube to japanese.
    Yea I think since I haven’t really applied it much, kinda frustates me abit, Everyone wants results but obviously that takes time. But I’m trying to apply it to school, sometimes i just write random stuff in japanese, and ppl do tend to look and say “What’s he writing down?!” lol I remeber i randomly wrote like a paragraph of sentences of in japanese and one girl was like “YOU KNOW JAPANESE!?”. I was like no i suck at japanese! lol Maybe i;m not giving myself enough credit or something but i still suck badly. I’m sure the input will be able to get me fluent in 1 years time since i do spend quite a large amount of time doing sentences+reps and immersion. But output hasn’t come just yet for me. I think my problem is just to apply it and try to see how good i’ve gotten so far. But input i’ll do on my own, but output i’ll try practising even if it’s early on, like khatz said, if you want to do output early it’s good just have the person who you are speaking to correct you ruthlessly lol. So far i’ve went to 3117 kanji and 3700 sentences in 6 months.

  33. パン
    December 4, 2009 at 22:17

    Thanks for the post Khatz.

    As rude as some people might think you are, I find you to be an awesome mentor. I think it’s all about having the right attitude towards language learners when preaching them, I mean, I’ve read it too many times already..’It won’t work for everybody’とか, ‘Not everybody could reach the same results’とか and other lines coming from those who ‘think’ they’re helping us when they’re doing nothing but wasting their time and more importantly, ours.

    Keep up the good work!

  34. December 7, 2009 at 05:37

    Tony Robbins has nothing on Khatz.

  35. beneficii
    December 7, 2009 at 17:11

    Here is a recap of the Cards game tonight in Japanese:

    And I’m going to watch the Rice Bowl on January 3rd!

  36. Max
    December 10, 2009 at 11:17

    Is anyone else having trouble accessing scripts on dramanote? I’ve been trying to get to the scripts for 花ざかりの君たちへ and 電車男 but it keeps taking me back to the main page of the site (that lists the latest drama scripts).

    If anyone could help me out, that would be fantastic! These scripts are the main source of my sentence mining!

  37. December 11, 2009 at 17:02

    Another great point that Khats made was Delete bad cards or they will delete you. Via Twitter… Following Japnese Speakers on twitter has a wealth of Natural sentences. and slang

  38. Auxie
    December 12, 2009 at 00:45

    First comment after 15 months of lurking (and studying) 😀

    Thanks for the verbal slap in the face, Khatz. I don’t particularly need it at the moment – motoring along quite nicely (though fluency in 15-18 months ain’t gonna happen – maybe 24-36?) – but it’s bookmarked for the next time I start making excuses. Also, you’re 26? I always thought you were younger than me (clearly I fail at maths). The knowledge that we’re the same age makes me feel better… even though you’re fluent and I’m nowhere near it. Ummm, yeah.


    You WIN, you do. Chalk me up as a person helped : ) I can already recite the English version of Alice In Wonderland by heart (every line, every poem, every song, right down to the intonation) – now I can do it all again in Japanese!

    @Daniel & @Matt

    26 is clearly the prime age for language learning ; )

    And smoothie drinking.

  39. Chester
    December 14, 2009 at 04:21

    HAHA, nice way to start a prayer with dawkins. He is awesome.

  40. Heather
    December 14, 2009 at 05:11

    Thank you! A kick in the butt is just what the doctor ordered.

  41. Kat
    December 20, 2009 at 15:50

    I’ve always considered your site to be a “Personal Development” site above a language learning site because the truth is, you’re not teaching me ‘jack’ about Japanese 😛 (but telling me all the juicy tips on where to get such a noble edjumucation)

    Anyway, I just wanted to ask about the fast-food link. I didn’t get what you were getting at, because there is no mention of fecal matter or dying children pristine white or otherwise. It seems like a bad attempt to criticize honest, hard-working individuals who found a better way to do business successfully and *gasp* honestly by using a personal brand of ‘personal development’ we could probably learn from. (At one point, the author seemed disgusted that a honest businessman was not ASHAMED of being so successful.. because what, PROPER success is guilt-laden?) Is that why you linked? I’m just completely lost on the connection…

  42. Zach
    November 6, 2010 at 17:05

    Karl Popper, woot woot!

  43. 星空
    November 14, 2010 at 09:40


    言いたい事は1つだけ:エドワード・エルリック 100%。

  44. Kimura
    October 21, 2011 at 08:40

    Well, the problem in my case is that my parents keep trying (seemingly on purpose) to distract me from learning Japanese. “Just move out, ばか!”, right? Not for another 1.5 years I legally can’t, I’m only 19 and have no job experience (thanks Running Start for simultaniously coughing up for college and making me un-hireable during that time!). Right now, I’m limited to doing Anki reps, using any site/program I can 日本語で (including Firefox itself), and whatever else I can find on the internet that doesn’t need a paypal account. So am I apparently the world’s [EXPLETIVE REDACTED]? Maybe, but it sure as Shitpickle isn’t by choice.
    Also, it’s “End of Line”. “EOF” is what programmers put in their code because they want to save half a byte (only half because you need a pair of ”s for it, instead of just one for a normal string. /level1codenerd)

  45. December 17, 2011 at 14:15

    Oh man… that first 
    Are you the world’s b***h?

    really packed a punch! I laughed so damn hard mannnnnnn

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