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The Ten Commandments of AJATT

January 1, 2013
  1. Thou shalt not be a foreigner. Be Japanese.
    • Be a pretender. Pretend to be Japanese. Pretend the language belongs to you. Pretend you are merely taking back what is yours. Pretend you have a birthright to this language. Way, way back in the day, an African theater buff ( :) ) named Terence wrote: “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto”, or “I am a man, I consider nothing that is human alien to me”. Japanese is not a foreign language. It is your language. It’s as much — no, more — your language than it is anyone else’s. Others were in a Japanese woman’s womb in a Japanese house on Japanese soil. You chose Japanese.
  2. Thou shalt not learn Japanese: get used to it.
    • Thou shalt not get serious. You have to play. You have to have fun. Who do you ask for massive financial favors? Strangers? Or family and friends? Japanese is a person. But you can’t become friends until you hang out and have a childhood together. And once you’re tight, then you can ask her for money.
  3. Thou shalt not hold back on media.
    • Media is the air you breathe and the blood that flows through your veins. Buy, borrow, acquire FUNBUN (for-native-by-native) media — books, movies, video games, magazines, food, etc. — like your life depends on it. That means regularly, massively, plowing through it. You are a media buyer. You are the programming director of your own Japanese media conglomerate. Entertain yourself.
  4. Thou shalt not do what you should, do what you can. Thou shalt not do nothing. Thou shalt not discount non-nothing. Small counts.
    • Small multiplied becomes large. Nothing multiplied begets nothing. Thou shalt not do nothing. Do something Japanese. Anything Japanese. Touch Japanese. Somehow.
  5. Thou shalt not control your time, don’t control your choices: control your environment.
    • Thou shalt not do the “right” thing. Make it so that only the “right” thing can be done. Make it convenient to come into contact with Japanese and inconvenient to come into contact with anything else, especially English. Break the pots and burn the ships. Regularly.
    • Example: designate certain devices and/or physical locations as Japanese-only.
  6. Thou shalt not have high standards, have wide standards.
    • You need to be able to sustain your progress. Don’t make big plans and promises. Just do what you can right now. Thou shalt not  do what you can’t: don’t be a hero. Thou shalt not do it later: don’t be Nostradamus. Do it now. But only do what you can.
  7. Thou shalt not work hard. Be a couch potato. Passive time should far outstrip active time.
    • “Active” study tops out very quickly. Only do a little of it. Thou shalt not run a marathon. Sprint. Work briefly, little and often, in short bursts. The rest of your time — most of your time — should be spent being lazy. Video games, cartoons, tabloids, smut, hanging out, music are your staple diet. Intellectual junk food is broccoli-and-spinach-level good for you, if it’s in Japanese. Everything bad is good for you, if it’s in Japanese.
  8. Thou shalt not forget stuff. Use spaced repetition memory software.
  9. Thou shalt not overthink it. Go through the motions. Look at books you can’t read yet. Play songs you can’t sing yet. Play movies you can’t understand yet.
    • You don’t practice because you’re good. You’re good because you practice.
  10. Thou shalt not bother to read about/learn formal grammar until you can read about it in Japanese.
    • Grammar refines, grammar does not define. Grammar sharpens, but it needs something to sharpen. Have something first — a physical, procedural, muscular knowledge and used-to-ness of Japanese. Then slap on a bit of formal grammatical polish. Make your shoes first, then polish them.

You’ll notice that most of these suggestions are behavioral rather than technical. I think people’s behavior patterns are far more crucial than technique specifics. In fact, I’ve seen people with bad behavior patterns and perfectionistic, “type A” attitudes literally run themselves into the ground with my technical advice. AJATT happens to have better technical advice for getting used to Japanese than one is (or, at least, was) likely to get anywhere else. However, that advice is predicated on a foundation of…just chilling out and enjoying oneself.

P.S.: Hey, remember back when I said AJATT wasn’t a religion? Ah, youth. Good times, huh? Yeah…so, are you thirsty? Coz I have some Kool-Aid…

Don't donate to AJATT because I'm beautiful; donate to AJATT because can't even make this joke work. Dang. It seemed like such a good idea going in, you know? I, I,...dunno, man. I just feel so down about this joke. I think the only thing that's going to make me feel better about this is, like, a donation or something.

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7 Responses to The Ten Commandments of AJATT

  1. Strawberry Vibe on January 1, 2013 at 01:30

    Great post to end 2012! Haha I know you aren’t much for resolutions, but maybe I should make mine to crank up the amount of media I gather :)

  2. Dave on January 1, 2013 at 06:28

    I believe the latin for numero 4 is “ex nihilo nihil fit.” Don’t forget to include that one in the AJATT catechism. Let us prosper this coming year!

  3. Agent J on January 2, 2013 at 10:56

    You like this shirt? You like this Q-tip?

  4. 超人間主義 on January 4, 2013 at 02:17


  5. Livonor on January 6, 2013 at 07:12

    Anybody here knows a good “alternative” source of games in japanese??

  6. Andrea on January 21, 2013 at 11:04

    I am going to print these out and stick them on my wall. Great way to start studying! Thanks Khatz!

  7. [...] is a bit weird for me.  Having embraced the “All Japanese, All The Time” DIY methodology of learning real Japanese sentences, I had been avoiding textbooks.  And [...]

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