On Tuesday while working I over heard a conversation between Adrian and Yasuko. Adrian asked Yasuko which she thought was more difficult to learn to write, Japanese or English, and she of course said Japanese. Maybe some students don’t agree, but Adrian then asked Yasuko, “How do you look up a Kanji in the dictionary?”, and Yasuko replied “by radical?…”, and it was at this reply that I was suddenly listening ever more intently. I thought to myself, “What’s a radical?”, you see, I had never even heard that before, but that’s just because I’m basically ignorant of the most basic Japanese or even how to learn it. See, it was Adrian’s contention that although English is admittedly difficult to learn regardless of your level, he stated that he thought that English is easier for the English beginner to learn more than Japanese is for the Japanese beginner, and this is due to one simple fact, because when learning English once you have learned to read the alphabet, which is something that (thanks to the Japanese Education system here in Japan) most Japanese people can do, you are able to look words up in the dictionary. It’s simple, see a word, look it up, finished. However, trying to look up a kanji in the Japanese dictionary for a Japanese beginner can be incredibly difficult. Adrian explained that when he was first studying Japanese that it would take him as long as 10 minutes to look a Kanji up in the dictionary. And even after studying it for years occasionally he ran into the same problem.
All the time they were speaking I was thumbing through my Japanese dictionary on my “iPhone”, and for the first time realized that there were certain sections of the search function in the dictionary that said, “Search by: Component, Skip, Radical, or by School Year.” I thought “WOW!” I can’t believe I didn’t know of this before. “How stupid am I?”, so when I woke up today I began trying to use the radical search function in the Japanese dictionary to find a Kanji. I finally found one!!! It took me about 20 minutes, so now, yes, I’m happy, but I’m terrified at the prospect of my impending struggle to find more Kanji in the future. Ugh, 20 minutes and that was just one word.
But, I guess that’s just part of the challenge. Wish me luck.