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Do you think in Japanese?

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RE: Do you think in Japanese?

Postby Shirasagi » Mon 01.28.2008 9:36 am

I had dreams in Japanese within a month of starting to study it. Some people still ooh and ahh when I say I dream in Japanese, but it has nothing to do with ability. If you're spending a lot of time thinking about Japanese, chances are you'll dream in it.

Like others have said, I don't "think" in the Japanese language. However, sometimes when I'm in the States, and speaking English a lot, it's like I'll have a Japanese program up and running in the background. Someone will say something to me, and in the back of my mind a Japanese equivalent will come up. Or, I'll say something in English, and at the exact same time, in the back of my mind, I'll think of the Japanese equivalent. I don't know if this is just a remnant of the old days when I had to think and translate everything in my head, or if it's just my Japanese language centers getting some work in to stay in shape. It doesn't interfere with my conversation at all.

The only time I get confused/messed up by English modes and Japanese modes is when I'm focusing on something very hard. If I'm reading some Classical Japanese and you suddenly ask me to spell "Illinois", you will probably hear an audible "clunk" as I switch back (hard) to English mode. But most of the time these days, transitions are smooth and easy.
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RE: Do you think in Japanese?

Postby mjmsisco » Mon 01.28.2008 12:31 pm

NZJutsu wrote:
skrhgh3b wrote:
I won't claim fluency in Japanese or anything, but sometimes it's difficult switching between languages.


Agreed.

Last year I had to give a speech in my German class, and I screwed up (Used the verb conjugation for 1st person instead of 3rd if you're interested, fellow German students.) and a すみません just slipped out of my mouth heh. Luckily my German teacher can speak Japanese as well so he didn't really mind.


I always do that!
I take Italian and French at school, and when we have presentations and im saying something in French or Italian i often say "anou".. maybe cuz im just in the "speaking a foreign language mode" when I'm speaking these languages.
However, i find it easier to think in French and Italian than in Japanese, although ive been speaking italian only 2 years and Japanese many many more than that... French I have been learning since Kindergarten...But when I hear things in French and Italian I can often just picture what is said in my mind without translating to English - thinking in those languages.
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RE: Do you think in Japanese?

Postby chiisu321 » Mon 01.28.2008 1:05 pm

as you have experienced, refering back to english can be a dangerous thing. It would be better if you could refer back to thought itself. Like instead of thinking back to the word, think back to a picture of the word or the meaning/feeling. It's very hard for me to explain, but whenever i start to learn a language, i avoid english as much as possible.
Also, i think this can be hard if you're trying to take these languages in school, most of them will just have you comparing to english all the time. Unless the teacher is actually smart.
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RE: Do you think in Japanese?

Postby Jay3205 » Mon 01.28.2008 3:05 pm

I've tried thinking in Japanese before while in conversation. For normal topics, it doesn't pose such a huge problem (I'm not a beginner at Japanese, but definitely not advanced). However, anything that involves some kind of critical thinking is extremely hard. Trying to figure out 100+102+18 while thinking only in Japanese takes me a relatively long time compared to the time it takes when thinking in English.
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RE: Do you think in Japanese?

Postby Tarok » Mon 01.28.2008 5:41 pm

I have imaginary discussions in japanese in my mind... I just imagine I encounter a japanese tourist in Paris and help HER out. Maybe I'll restranscript what I imagine so I can be corrected...
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RE: Do you think in Japanese?

Postby furrykef » Mon 01.28.2008 6:17 pm

I barely speak any Japanese, so I can't either think or dream in it. (If I have a dream in Japanese, surely 99% of the Japanese will be fake, no matter how real it may feel at the time!) However, I do speak a fair bit of Spanish and have little problem thinking in it as long as I know all the words. Unfortunately, I still can't understand the spoken language, only the written one, but the written language is easy enough for me to handle.

I do tend to "translate" words that I recognize but don't know all that well, but if I know a word pretty well, the translation becomes superfluous and my mind doesn't do it. Though sometimes I'm simply in no mood to study Spanish and my mind either stays in "translation mode" or it simply refuses to process Spanish at all. Happily, I think the worst cases have stopped happening by now, because I do at least one thing in Spanish every day (if nothing else, I read the day's Condorito, a Chilean comic strip), and I think my mind has gotten used to it. Still, it's interesting how much one's mood can affect one's ability to use a foreign language, at least before fluency is attained.

Surely the same thing will happen as I learn Japanese, and the need to understand rather than translate can only be greater. After all, Spanish syntax usually resembles English syntax; Japanese syntax rarely does, especially once you throw subordinate clauses in.

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RE: Do you think in Japanese?

Postby Hatori » Tue 01.29.2008 12:00 am

I sort of agree that you say things without much thought. In my German class, when we are asked things we are very familiar with, I can just say what I want to say like how I say things in English. With something I'm new with, I must peice out what it means. If I hear fluent German speakers in videos, I take what I know from the speaker and try to figure out what else the speaker said.
I sometimes use German tidbits in conversation without realizing it, and confusing my friends. It's weird.
I shall continue my little speech later because I have to get off now. :)
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RE: Do you think in Japanese?

Postby furrykef » Tue 01.29.2008 1:49 am

I forgot to mention, I often think or say phrases in Spanish without realizing until after I've already thought/said it, but it hasn't happened in conversation, only when speaking to myself. (Yeah, I think out loud a lot.) It's particularly funny when I start saying a sentence in Spanish and then I get to something I don't know how to say, so I have to stop myself mid-sentence and I think, "Wait a minute..."

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RE: Do you think in Japanese?

Postby kitamichibi » Tue 01.29.2008 9:21 am

xD I don't think in japanese a lot but sometimes I do, which is weird in conversation with people when all of a sudden I say something in japanese. I remember one time when I was talking with a group of friends and they said something and I was like, "...nandemo nai" and they're like "O_O what?" and I blinked and corrected myself, it's really weird when it slips out. ^^
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RE: Do you think in Japanese?

Postby Chris Hart » Tue 01.29.2008 12:11 pm

skrhgh3b wrote:
I definitely don't work backwards from English when speaking in Japanese. I won't claim fluency in Japanese or anything, but sometimes it's difficult switching between languages. For example, I was having dinner with a Japanese friend here in America not long ago, and we had been chatting in Japanese all day long, so when our waitress came by to refill my glass, I turned to her and said, "Arigatou." ... Then realized I just accidently spoke in Japanese to an American waitress in America. Same thing happened earlier when I reentered the country after spending six weeks speaking Japanese. Customs was asking me a bunch of questions, and at least twice a "hai" escaped my lips. "Hai... I mean, yes."


I understand that completely. A few months ago, I was on my way from work to a meeting, and was checking in to a traffic net. Net control was a bit confused when I said 「KC8UFVです」 instead of "This is KC8UFV". I had been listening to a few intermediate lessons and Miki's blog from JP101 for about 45 minutes at that point. It's even worse when you don't even realize what you did until a few minutes later.
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RE: Do you think in Japanese?

Postby Pork Chop » Tue 01.29.2008 2:02 pm

Yesterday I was talking to my gf and said "If you have a free time".
Now, I don't know what category that falls under, but it really freaked me out.
Last edited by Pork Chop on Tue 01.29.2008 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Do you think in Japanese?

Postby AJBryant » Tue 01.29.2008 2:54 pm

Pork Chop wrote:
Yesterday I was talking to my gf and said "If you have a free time".
Now, I don't know what category that falls under, but it really freaked me out.


It's a fairly common mistake among speakers of ESL.

It just so happens that WE think of "free time" as an uncountable noun (like "water"), but if she had said "free moment" or "free minute" you'd have not had a second thought to "a free minute" or "a free moment."

It's just unfamiliarity with the idiom. She'll learn.


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RE: Do you think in Japanese?

Postby richvh » Tue 01.29.2008 3:42 pm

I think Pork Chop was saying that he had said "a free time."
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RE: Do you think in Japanese?

Postby AJBryant » Tue 01.29.2008 4:35 pm

Gah.

Okay, that *is* weird. ;)


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RE: Do you think in Japanese?

Postby skrhgh3b » Tue 01.29.2008 4:51 pm

So he's picking up bad habits from the speech errors of his ESL girlfriend? That's hilarious :D
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