Can You Speak Japanese?

Sometimes.

I began learning Japanese about 6 years ago, and by God’s great kindness I am now at the stage where I can understand 80-95% of what I hear and read (although my reading speed is s.l.o.w.). Of course often it is the remaining 5% that makes the difference between comprehension and blurble. But that’s what makes it fun!

My speaking is, however, not so good. Especially in situations where I’m meant to be polite. Being polite in Japan requires that you dress up every other word in a different 3-piece suit, making sure that none of the colours clash but that everyone has matching cuff-links. I can generally make myself understood, but I am sure I often test the patience (and occasionally the pain-threshold) of those I’m speaking to.

I’m also not great at understanding Japanese men, which is obviously something of an issue, given my vision for working with, well, Japanese men. In my defence, they don’t so much speak Japanese as they do grunt it. If you have teenage children you have some sense of my struggle.

Hence I’m going to be spending my first 8 months in full-time language study.

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