Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

Language Acquisition #1: Making Sense of Squiggles and Foreign Sounds

hiragana-chart-featuredYou forget what a toddler world must feel like until you start trying to learn a language.     Know why toddlers cry and scream and throw tantrums so easily like they are losing their minds?  It’s because they can’t speak the damn language on top of having a brain that has not completed its wiring, so they ARE losing their minds (despite the fact that they are hardwired to absorb language)!

Kid Language Birth to Four Year Checklist:
1.  Grow Brains
2.  Repeat sounds
3.  Stop babbling instinct sounds not used in environment
4.  Babble in the musicality of the language
5.  Associate simple sounds to objects
6.  Learn pointing and acquire question words
7.  Learn colors….

1023.   Letter Recognition.

I look at Japanese Hiragana and katakana and it looks like a toddler grabbed a pencil in a fat little fist and drew random marks.     I am sure that this what English letters must look like to children and adults with a completely different writing system.        I am not even going to entertain the idea right now of learning Kanji.

And the sounds.    I am seemingly deaf to certain sounds.    No wonder when my son said, “Momma, dawaddaishwunnin,” he didn’t realize that he said an entire four word phrase as one word.    I get it.    It all does sound like gobbledy-gook.  Where does one word end and the next begin!?     I swear I feel like I am in a Peanuts comic strip where the audio is a lot of “Mwaw Hai, mwaw mwaw mwaw neko mwaw mwaw kawaii mwaw mwaw dess ka?”

Let’s see how much I can improve before I run out of motivation.     Learning the hiragana has helped me some with learning to hear sounds and helps me to read the romanji more efficiently.  I am hoping I will soon not have to use the romanji so much.


For those who speak more than their mother language, do you remember what it was like when you first started?

3 comments on “Language Acquisition #1: Making Sense of Squiggles and Foreign Sounds

  1. locksleyu
    October 19, 2015

    Good luck with learning to read, hear, and pronounce Japanese sounds! Though some people say Japanese is “relatively easy to learn” (at least compared to Chinese), I feel that is making major simplifications about Japanese pronunciation by those who don’t understand it fully.

    I’ve been studying Japanese for over 15 years now, and I am still trying to tune into hearing and speaking everything like a foreigner would

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      October 19, 2015

      Thanks! It is really strange. Sometimes I can make or hear a sound and then not hear it. su vs. tsu isn’t so bad to say make, but hearing the difference is tough. It’s that r/l sound that is really difficult to reproduce. I imagine native Japanese speakers experience the same thing with the letter “v” and separate “r” and “l” sounds. I haven’t even gotten to the problem of pitch in Japanese.

      Liked by 1 person

      • locksleyu
        October 20, 2015

        Yeah, pitch is one of the hardest! I agree, that sometimes it’s easy to make a sound, but hard to accurately identify it when you are listening. If the speaker is not enunciating clearly or there is background noise it becomes even harder.

        I have written a few articles on pronunciation in Japanese, here is one that might be of interest to you.ん-and-the-disappearing-japanese-yen/


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This entry was posted on October 19, 2015 by in Article, Learning Japanese, life, musings, videos and tagged , , , , , , .

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