Lately I’ve been watching this show on YouTube called Nihonjin No Shiranai Nihongo (日本人の知らない日本語). You may think the title is strange, since it literally translates as “Japanese that Japanese people don’t know”, but I personally instantly identified with this title.
A lot of different people study Japanese for many different reasons. More often than not it starts with manga and anime, and wanting to be able to finally watch Naruto without those pesky subtitles. Others love Japanese history, Japanese art, Japanese food, or Japanese music…whatever the reason that made you start learning Japanese, you tend to really concentrate on that topic and naturally you pick up words that are specific to that subject.
I remember once reading out my homework to my teacher, and I had used the term 結界 (けっかい): kekkai. My teacher stopped me, paused and repeated really confused “kekkai?”. To be honest I can’t remember what my story was about, but my teacher had absolutely no clue what I was talking about. And I had no idea why she was so confused! I mean come on, “kekkai”, like in Bleach, those magical barriers they put up so no one can see them fight and all the civilians are protected, “kekkai”! あれ？私は間違ったかな….? At this point she even had to pull out her electronic dictionary and look it up. But there it was: kekkai! I had taught my Japanese teacher a new word. She was impressed and I was proud.
Now it may be that kekkai was an invented word, but has been used so much in mainstream anime that it’s now in the dictionary, I’m not sure. If you read manga in Japanese, you’ll notice that a lot of times the authors will make up words, and make up kanji for those words. Which I find very interesting, but just make sure you don’t just learn kanji from manga 😉
So going back to this TV series. It’s basically a story about a class of foreigners learning Japanese. To be honest the students in this class are all so stereotypical of the country from which they come from, but just ignore that. This is not the best drama in the world, but it’s interesting from a learning point of view. Watching it, you can learn a few things along the way with the students in the drama, grammatical, as well as cultural. So enjoy, and let me know what you think. Have you ever taught your Japanese friends or teachers something?? Let me know!