If you were hungry, would you deny yourself food because you were hungry?
If you were thirsty, would you deny yourself drink because you were thirsty?
If you needed a blood transfusion, would you deny yourself blood because you needed it?
You wouldn’t starve yourself to death to punish yourself for being an “innately hungry person”.
You wouldn’t dehydrate yourself to punish yourself for being “born with thirsty genes”.
You wouldn’t deny blood to someone because he showed “no signs of a talent for not needing blood transfusions”.
So why do we do this with languages and other large-scale habits and skills — indeed with long-term projects in general?
Why do we practice this mindless, illogical “mob triage” on ourselves ?
Surely the thirstiest man should get a drink?
Surely the hungriest child should get a bite to eat?
Surely the hot chick who’s bleeding to death should get the blood she needs because she will bleed to death otherwise?
Surely the thing that’s going to take the longest to do should enjoy as early a start and as many starts as possible? — kind of like how we stick the biggest suitcase into the trunk first, and then fit the small stuff around it…kind of like how we stick the rock into the jar first, and then fit the pebbles around it.
Sucking at something is a natural — but temporary — state. It can only become permanent if we choose to make it so. Once we starve the child to death, whatever food we throw at her thereafter shall be of no use.
If you still, relatively speaking, suck at a language, then feed yourself the language in a biologically appropriate (i.e. tasty i.e. fun) form until you are no longer hungry…until you no longer suck.
We often run away when we suck. But maybe that’s exactly when we should be staying. Just as no animal needs its parents’ attention more than when it’s a baby, you, a virtual (but very real) Japanese baby, need all the Japanese you can get right here, right now, right when you suck, precisely because you suck, because you are hungry, because you are weak, because you are vulnerable, because you were not born in Japan, because you were not raised in Japan, because your Japanese baby will die if you don’t feed her — regularly. Multiple times per day. You need Japanese and you need it badly. In fact, you need it more than a “real” Japanese person does: they’ve had their fill; they can wait. Many of you have gone the entire first 10, 20, 30, 40 or more years of your life, without Japanese. Enough is enough. Eat.
It’s one thing for a fully grown, healthy, strong, “well-fed” Japanese person, born and raised in Japan, to go hours and days and weeks and even months without Japanese. But that kind of neglect would kill a baby.
No group in society contributes less and takes more than babies[*]. Yet they get all that food, love and attention. Your Japanese — the Japanese baby inside of you — won’t give back to you for a long time yet; it’ll take and take and take…and all you’ll have to show for it is the enjoyment you get out of it. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore her until she’s “big enough”. If you wait until she’s big to start taking care of her, she’ll never get to be big. She’ll just die. She needs you now.
Feed the baby. Water the baby. Feed yourself Japanese.
Infanticide = very uncool. Stop killing babies.
This is something I myself have to watch out for all the time, that I’m not punishing myself for being “thirsty” or “hungry”, but to instead quench that thirst/hunger in a controllable way. It has to be a balance. If you eat too much too fast, you’ll choke. If you eat too little too slow, you’ll starve. Balance your “diet”.
Love the post title by the way, “Why have you been killing babies?” ^^;
Nice post. I think a lot of times I underfeed myself… well, maybe not… I’m almost always listening to Japanese music (and when I’m not, I long for it desperately).
Wow I just love these analogies. They make you realize in an easy to understand way of….whats going on. I don’t want to kill my baby. D:
Don’t kill your Japanese Baby now, make sure you feed it and love it until it turns 18. Just think, after that age you will no longer be paying its bills.
‘Infanticide = very uncool. Stop killing babies.’ （笑）
You still crack me up Khatz 🙂 Keep doing so.
well the godam baby wouldnt SHUT THE F—.
Good post but.
Awesome site man! Love your approach to learning! Seems like it could be applied to all sorts of things- music, martial arts, almost anything.
Babies are often encouraged so much by their parents with language- anything they say is amazing and if they say something wrong it’s ‘cute’. And people are constantly talking to them and encouraging them. Plus all these people that talk to the baby have mastered that native language already!
great post. i killed me my last baby around a month ago, around the time i found this site!
I have a lot of thirst. But at the same time, I almost don’t want to learn too much. Because I’m still in the RTK phase.
Since I’m there, I don’t want to go through sentences yet. And yet, It’s hard not to learn and pick up little phrases! Especially when listening to music, watching anime, and Star Trek. You pick things up. It’s almost like you can’t not pick it up.
Focus… I’m still in the RTK phase and I can only do so much kanji in a day. Okay, enough. Time for more reps.
Hmm, I always kept thinking I was so sucky(is this even a word? lol) in Japanese. So that intern made me work harder for it. But now since I’m 9.4 months of learning it(not counting 3months of RTK1+3). I feel I’m really far from the beginning, my skills in the language aren’t where I want them to be. But nowadays I have been giving myself a pat on the back, no need to be harsh on yourself. If you just keep putting in the time,immersion, the “equipment” necessary to become good. You will become awesome in the language in no-time. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot get native-abilities in the language. But it does require time to allow the “equipment” to grow.
I’m sure I’m speaking for everyone when I say, don’t put yourself down. Just keep plugging into Japanese and you will be rewarded for your effort(your skills will do the talking people!)