mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Why are there no sossidges for my grandson!

So I'm learning hanzi, yes? It's a soothing occupation. I spend an hour or so a night at it, reviewing old ones and learning new. I mean for certain values of 'new' because I know most of these characters in some context or other, though it's amazing how many obscure Japanese kanji you can learn while studying the basic Chinese hanzi. I start with my simplified hanzi book which has instructive mnemonic stories about giants and fairies and teddy bears and dwarfs, to represent the various tones (not that I'm trying to learn tones) and some close but no cigar English word to suggest the reading (not that I'm trying to learn the readings either: my goal, truly, is to be able to read Chinese subtitles in English.) And then for fun I go look at my traditional hanzi textbook where the hanzi are, generally, more familiar (bar a few WTF ones) and where they give and name the elements as well, most instructively but also occasionally WTFish because the evolution of Chinese, I begin to think, is just Like That. ('This character used to mean blah-blah but it sounded like yaddayadda so now we use it for that, and somewhere along the way we added an extra element just so you'd *know* it meant 'country' and not 'lance.') And then because kanji study makes me very sleepy I go to bed and sleep deeply.

But there's one very basic necessity for studying foreign languages.

Flash cards. Flash cards on a ring. And I could swear I'd had them here when I was first learning Japanese twenty years ago; but then I remember that no, no I didn't; I had to cut file cards in half and punch holes in them to make my flash card ring. And I could swear I'd seen them at, say, the dollar stores which import so many Japanese-type things like four-coloured pens, but no, they're not there either. Midoco the stationery store has 2 x 2.5" flash cards on a ring, but it calls them file cards and they're lined and they're in, of all things, designer colours like teal. No pen shows up against a teal background, guys.

So, amazing as it seems, an item that's available in any Tokyo conveni is not to be had for love or money in Toronto, where people don't study languages as a hobby and review vocabulary on the train. Maybe the Japanese don't either, anymore. Maybe they study from their net-attached cell phones. But I don't have a cell phone.

Necessity is the mother of invention. I must have my flash cards for reviewing hanzi in what passes for a kissa in TO, since memory still won't hold on to all the meanings after one or two passes, or the readings either even though y'know I'm not trying to learn the readings. So I find little mailing tags with holes in them, about the same size as yer average flash card, and I find metal rings that will go through them, et voila, I now have flash cards. Go me.
Tags: chinese

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