Saturday, June 26, 2010

Language: Anime is Dessert

One of the best ways to learn natural examples of a language is to listen to and watch native speakers in natural situations. This, when balanced with structured learning and practice, can really help you progress.

Some new learners of Japanese rely on anime to provide natural language and behavior, and while you can definitely pick up some cultural customs (shoes off in a house, bowing, etc.) and some language and phrases, it's critical that anime not be the main bulk of what you're listening to and watching. It's like dessert, something you have for fun after everything else (live action movies in "normal" worlds with normal characters, TV shows, interviews and news programs, etc.).

The reason is that there are certain conventions in anime that don't hold up in real life, much like over-the-top dialogue in some English-language movies doesn't occur in real life.

(For example, while some female anime characters call themselves "chan" and talk in the third person about themselves, in real life it sounds about as strange as it does in English when anyone over three years old does it.)

This post isn't about beating up on anime: I love the old Berserk series and a few others. :) It's just a friendly reminder to keep anime a tiny part of your overall listening practice rather than depending on it wholly.

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