✱ Last Sunday it was Father’s Day here in Brazil. I’m lucky enough to live at a walk’s distance from my parents’ house, so I visit them often, almost on a weekly basis, and have plenty of opportunities to talk to them and to catch up with whatever is going on. Even so, last Sunday we all got together — my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, my wife and kids to have lunch and spend some family time together. It is always nice to do such things because I love my family. If it was Father’s Day where you live too, last Sunday, I hope you had the opportunity to be with your kin and with whom you love, spending some quality time together… 😊😊

Takeshi’s Castle Amazon Prime poster

✱ I used to love watching Takeshi’s Castle! It aired during the late 80’s and early 90’s here in Brazil — although in a licensed version, locally developed by Rede Globo, one of the Brazilian TV broadcasters — and made me laugh lots and lots. Later I found out that the original, Japanese produced show, aired in Brazil on cable, too, during 2018, on Comedy Central. The thing is Amazon Prime just released a remake of the show, currently a single season composed of 8 episodes. I’ve watched the first episode with my children and I could relive all the laughs I had with the original programs. Pretty nostalgic for me.

Lucas Moura, after scoring a goal last Wednesday

✱ I don’t usually talk about soccer here — although I support São Paulo since I was about 12 or 13 years old. But I needed to do it this week, at least this one time, first because São Paulo played the second of two matches trying to reach the final round of Copa do Brasil, aiming for the only national title it currently doesn’t have; and second because Lucas Moura, revealed in São Paulo during the 2010 to 2012 seasons and, to me, one of the best players the team ever had, returned to playing in São Paulo, after 10 years away, during which he played for PSG and Tottenham. It was partially thanks to him that my team won a place at the final round scoring 2-0 against Corinthians, one of its biggest rivals. Lucas scored the second goal, sealing the score and gaining us the opportunity to (maybe) finally conquer this last title. Yet to be seen, but coming this far was really, really nice.

✱ I know very well that one of the important parts in learning a new language is trying to practice writing — and by chance I’ve come across a very interesting resource online where it’s possible to do it… while journaling! I’ve heard many people praising journals as good means to put your learnings on paper, and Journaly does exactly that. You can write as many posts as you want in your target language in your journal for free, and have them read by people who are native and are there learning other languages. These people then read your texts, applauding them for incentive and also giving you honest feedback and corrections, all things that contribute to making you learn better. I found it very appealing for me and my Japanese learning, so much that I’ve created an account there, even though I’ve only had the time to post there once so far. Here’s what I’ve posted, by the way:


✱ Still regarding Japanese, that’s not at all an intuitive language for me, as a western person, having been raised speaking an European language, Portuguese, to learn. And knowing English doesn’t help either, except for being able to find plenty of resources to learn by myself of course. In that sense it was very fortunate for me to come across Japanese For The Western Brain, a series of small essays describing Japanese grammar in a non-grammar way, that is, quoting Kim Allen, the site’s author, “[…] so that people who have a working knowledge of English grammar (such as what you learned in school, even if you’ve forgotten some of the details) will be able to compare and contrast English and Japanese grammar“. I’ve been reading it this week and I can say it’s a very spirited text, helping to prepare one’s mind to adjust to Japanese.

My results last Thursday 😊

Keep walking, besides being the slogan of a famous beverage, is something I’m trying to improve at, for health reasons. It’s been sometime now that I’ve heard from a doctor that one should walk 10,000 steps daily — but that is not an easy task for many, me included. What I’ve decided to do was to adapt to the circumstances… using the 改善 (Kaizen) continuous improvement principles, I’ve established to try to meet 6,000 steps a day. Still not that easy for me but much more attainable at the moment. This week I got to reach the goal 4 in 7 days. And I still hope to improve in weeks to come… 💪💪

✱ I’ve never mentioned it here, but, during the pandemics I started a YouTube channel aiming to teach English to Brazilians. This was during the initial months of it all, and my employer at that time advised us all to remain home, for our own safety. But working from home was not a possibility for them, as they lacked the proper IT infrastructure to allow us to do so, and it ended up exposing us all to a situation where you’d stay home without being able to work at all. As I taught English as a Second Language in the past, it occurred to me that sharing my knowledge would be a nice way to keep my mind active. I ended up producing 40 videos from May, 2020, and reached a little more than 700 subscribers what, for me, is a real milestone. After these achievements, though, I quit it altogether by December, 2020. The reason? I was feeling stressed… totally caught in the net of social networks, I felt panic because I received no views, or not enough views, even though this is totally relative and actually doesn’t mean anything or doesn’t matter at all, and felt several other negative effects as well. After I quit, I thought about continuing to help people to learn English and a couple of ideas sparkled on my mind, although I never had the impulse to turn them into reality again. The reason I brought this up this week is because while studying Japanese with YouTube videos, I had some new ideas and I guess I can make this work again, probably without all the stress load I underwent sometime ago. I’m really feeling excited to create at least a pilot and a couple of follow-up experiments, so stay tuned if you wish, for more news soon.

The Don’t Touch the Spikes mobile game screen

I’m really sure everyone has already played at least one mobile game that got on their nerves. I have played several, but this week I decided to remember why Don’t Touch the Spikes (iOS, Android) used to irritate me so much, all because my younger son has been playing it for some weeks now. If you don’t happen to know the game, its goal is pretty straightforward: tap the screen to make the little bird jump higher, release your finger to make it fall. Whenever you hit the wall the bird changes direction and you score 1 point. It is all endless — until you touch the spikes on the wall, when it’s game over. The goal is to score as high as you can. My son’s high score is 83 (at least by now), whereas my personal best is only 66, a score I got I don’t remember when, and that I’m aware of only because everything is recorded at Apple’s Game Center. This week I couldn’t get past 44, but I could clearly remember why it all got on my nerves: as with any games of this kind, you just… lose, for no apparent reason… you jump too short, or too low, or too high, but always at the right measure to hit the spike, and lose. But that’s ok (and expected, after all). This game’s most annoying feature, though, is the lack of an option to turn its sound off. There comes a time when this also gets on your nerves (and on your wife’s nerves), so you gotta stop to keep your marriage going… 😂

✱ I’m really decided to commit to learning Japanese. Thus I’ve paid for a month’s worth of LingQ content. I’ve used this app before while learning French and Spanish and I believe it’s a good way to find both audio and texts for practicing a target language. That doesn’t eliminate the fact that, for languages as Japanese, it’s necessary to learn the syllabaries first, before decoding the language, but I’m pretty confident I’ve made a good choice — and I’ve already started to have fun with it.

✱This week I woke up to find out that I had been victim of an unauthorized purchase made in one of my credit cards. Someone somehow broke into my Rappi account — one that I hadn’t been using for a couple of years and that now, due to the circumstances, I have properly cancelled — and used a card associated to my PayPal inside it to purchase 120 dollars in supermarket goods. So as soon as I found it out, through a notification received straight from my bank’s mobile app, I immediately got in touch with my bank, PayPal and Rappi personnel, so I could try to tackle this horrible inconvenience from all the angles I could. Long story short? The purchase was properly cancelled from all three perspectives. I closed my Rappi account, erased all my credit cards associated with PayPal and changed my password there, cancelled the virtual credit card used in the purchase with my bank and replaced it with another, brand new number, and spent a couple of hours changing and updating payment methods in several services I have subscriptions of. These are all securit measures to prevent future problems, but that doesn’t make the inconvenience smaller. I felt very angry with myself for this, as I’m usually very protective with my personal data (especially financially speaking).

While looking for new ways to learn Japanese and to figure out how to make it stick better in my mind, I came across this video by Bunsuke, where he says he’s never used Anki either to learn or to recall new Japanese vocabulary. That got my attention because I have probably the biggest defender of Anki right here, at home: my older son loves Anki and never gets tired of saying how it has done marvelous things for his Japanese learning along the latest 3 years, and how I’m wasting my time for not trying it, and sticking to it.

The thing is I don’t feel Anki is cut out for me or adequate to the way I usually learn new things, be them languages or not. Meanwhile, right at the beginning of the video I watched, Bunsuke mentioned something that I truly believe when it comes to learning something new:

"I'm completely okay with forgetting. I think forgetting is just part of the process of learning and so I don't really beat myself up over it if I forget a word or forget a kanji. If it's important, it'll come up again"

His relaxed attitude towards forgetting, considering it a natural part of the learning process was really welcome and comforting to me. Bunsuke doesn’t worry about forgetting words or kanji, and this is because he believes important information will resurface through repeated exposure. As his video goes on, he says his learning involves basically two activities: reading and writing down unfamiliar words. Something else I found resonating was that, for him, reading is a form of spaced repetition in itself, rendering Anki not better than reading and recording unfamiliar words and kanji.

The thing is… we will all forget before we learn something. So if, and when it happens, it’s ok. What I do is to keep trying to expose myself to Japanese as much as I can as I try to learn. I’m totally conscious my exposure time is not as big as my son’s, but this is because he’s been dedicating to studying, and only studying, while I have my work duties and a lot of other matters going on. Still, I’m really committed to learning a little every day, even if it means only a couple of minutes (luckily, I’ve been able to do it longer). As for not using Anki, maybe I have an oldschool mindset, maybe not. The thing is, for me, reading and writing down anything I don’t yet know really helps with the learning. I feel that’s what I’ve been doing all my life.

I found out that Steve Kaufmann, a Canadian linguist who currently speaks 20 languages and is an authority in language learning, talks about forgetting languages on a recurring basis in some of his YouTube videos. He says he personally looks for language exposition through reading (and listening to) lots of content, and that this regular exposure to the language makes it quickly revive when needed — so knowing someone as renowned as him also believes important information will resurface through repeated exposure is also comforting to me.

My son doesn’t give Anki all his trust out of the blue. Anki has indeed been the tool that proved crucial for him to gain all the vocabulary, fluency and understanding he conquered in Japanese. This means there’s nothing wrong with using Anki. But his stance regarding Japanese resembles a duty, as he’s dreamed of studying and living in Japan for quite sometime now (and again, I love and admire him for his bravery in doing it this way). On the other hand, although I am learning Japanese for some reasons, I want to do it having fun along the way — meaning that the moment it starts to feel as a chore for me, it will be the moment I quit.

Forgetting words and phrases as part of my learning process has happened to me, and it has been fun. I’ve just got to take a leap of faith while learning, as I’m sure the commonplace between me, Bunsuke and Steve Kaufmann is embracing the idea that forgetting will help building some kind of knowledge reserve that can be retrieved and relearned later. I know it sounds most unbelievable to trust in vocabulary eventually sticking, but I’m sure it will. So that’s why, Anki apart, I believe no one should worry about forgetting along the path of learning.

Who never?

When I was younger my maternal grandmother lived with us. As my parents both worked, she helped raising both my sister and I. It’s been some years now that she’s no longer with us, but among many memories that I’ve got of her, there’s a particular keepsake, a Danone cream cheese glass cup featuring Bugs Bunny, part of a bigger collection, that she kept for me as a gift — I’ve always loved Looney Tunes.

Everyone in my family knows this one glass is special for me: although I don’t forbid anyone to use it, they all know they must take as much care as they possibly can to handle it, specially when it’s time to do the dishes.

Now join this piece of information with another one: our dish rack isn’t the biggest one, so sometimes cups tend to be piled up while drying.

Danone glasses. Mine is on the left.

Fast forward to last weekend. My son was doing the dishes as he so many times does, and piled up some glasses in the rack we have here, among which my special Bugs Bunny keepsake. Needless to say Murphy striked that very moment — and my glass got stuck with another one, pretty much in the fashion pictured at the top of this text.

Now, I’ve been there before. Some glasses we had got broke the moment we tried to separate them, in similar situations. Knowing this could happen, I couldn’t afford that happening with that glass. That’s when I went to YouTube looking for ways to properly separate two stuck glasses.

And I found an answer, thanks to the Manual do Mundo YouTube channel. This is one of the most famous Brazilian channels, dedicated to science and experimentations in general, and thank God there was a video teaching how to use simple physics to separate glasses.

For anyone out there undergoing the same situation, despair not. All you gotta do is fill the glass on the top with ice cubes and water, so it gets cold and starts contracting. At the same time, heat water inside a ceramic mug for about 40 seconds so it gets warm and dive the bottom glass inside, so it starts to get hotter, dilating.

In practice, the coldness will make the top glass wall temporarily narrow, and the bottom glass temporarily widen. After approximately 30 to 45 seconds, all you’ve got to do is to gently pull the top glass out of the bottom one, releasing it in a very nice and practical physics demonstration.

✱ My two week vacations finished this week, so last Monday was time to return to work. I feel blessed every single day for having the opportunity to work from home — only occasionally going to the office, so I cannot say anymore, for sometime now, that I had the opportunity to stay home, because I’m always home these days. Still, it was very nice to be able to spend 15 days resting from work. Although I couldn’t fulfill my goal of finishing the reading of two books I was reading, I used my time to help my son with all the preparations we could see about for his (hopefully) upcoming scholarship. This included a real marathon where we went to medical appointments, blood tests, hours spent at notary publics (again) and translating documents. Now, I know every person has their own notion of fun, but believe me when I say that all of this was fun for me, specially because I know somehow I’m contributing with my son’s future.

✱ In terms of work, getting back was… intense. I’m involved in a very important activity which will need to deliver results between the end of this month and the beginning of September, and from day one, right from when I logged in again, I’ve been dedicated to it. It’s been challenging, but in a good way, as it has allowed me to learn a lot, and counting on the help of good friends. As the week went by, I could properly direct matters in a satisfactory way, so I’m both content and thrilled.

✱ It’s true I didn’t advance with the books I had planned to finish reading during vacations, but that didn’t prevent me from starting to read two new ones (yeah, tsundoku, remember?), both related to Japanese. The first one is Making Sense of Japanese, by author Jay Rubin, which while not intending to be a book about grammar in itself, ends up doing a fine role of explaining the language. The second book is 80/20 Japanese, by author Richard Webb — which I started reading later but has proven to be very nice in terms of demystifying the language. Now, I’m not a native English speaker myself, and that could represent a problem to me, as both works are meant to native speakers, but they are very clear and I’m certainly profiting from the new knowledge I’m having access to. If you happen to want to start learning Japanese, I can recommend both books, at least from what I’ve read so far.

✱ I must admit that I’ve been getting used to (most of) the ひらがな (hiragana) syllables I’m studying. I’m mostly using the Maru Kana app on iOS now, which I’ve found the most funny and nicest way to practice. I’ve also managed to get well used to だくおん (dakuon), small differences in the sound of Japanese introduced when the ゛(dakuten, or ten-ten) or the ゜(handakuten, or maru) diacritics are added to normal syllables, making becoming , or becoming , for example. I have almost com to the point of starting to practice かたかな (katakana), but I feel I’m still struggling with (actually, confusing) the N (na, な) and M (ma, ま) character columns, as I’ve highlighted in the image above. Not sure why I’m confusing them at this point, but I’ll certainly overcome this obstacle by keeping to practice.

✱ After many, many weeks in a row without playing anything at my computer, I’ve come back to gaming (even though it was only for a single day). And it all happened because of a new roguelike I came across while watching random videos from Olexa, one of my favorite youtubers when it comes to reviewing new games. The game’s name is Another Farm Roguelike: one could say it is all about farming, but it is not… unless you deliberately want to, choosing the farmer to start. You can also be a lumberjack, a beekeeper, a merchant, a wizard… or even a dog! In essence, all you’ve got to do is to survive for 5, 6, 7 or 8 weeks depending on the difficulty level you choose — what doesn’t change is that every 7 days you’ve got to pay an ammount of money (as if it was a rent) to continue. Failing to do so means game over. In order to get money you can plant and harvest crops, gather resources, raise farm animals, fish and mine ores, among other things. Everything can be sold in this game. And every week, the rent goes up. A lot. Anyways, I fell in love with it while watching the gameplay and, to my surprise, when I went to Steam to check its price, I found out not only it is a very cheap gem, but also that it was in sale, for 50% off. I paid USD 0.66 for it… a real steal!

“Japanese is very simple to speak compared with other languages. There are no articles, no ‘the,’ ‘a,’ or ‘an.’ No verb conjugations or infinitives…Yukimasu means I go, but equally you, he, she, it, we, they go, or will go, or even could have gone. Even plural and singular nouns are the same. Tsuma means wife, or wives. Very simple.”

“Well, how do you tell the difference between I go, yukimasu, and they went, yukimasu?”

“By inflection, Anjin-san, and tone. Listen: yukimasuyukimasu.”

“But these both sounded exactly the same.”

“Ah, Anjin-san, that’s because you’re thinking in your own language. To understand Japanese you have to think Japanese. Don’t forget our language is the language of the infinite. It’s all so simple, Anjin-san.”

Mariko, in James Clavell’s Shōgun

✱ My son received good news, again, this week. He’s now passed the national stage in his quest to obtain a Japanese college scholarship. The analysis process finished last July, 24th, and this means he’s now one of the Brazilian candidates who’s eligible to travel to Japan. From what I understand, now the only thing between him and the actual travel and scholarship is MEXT’s global stage: as this study opportunities are opened on a yearly basis to candidates worldwide, once each country where there are candidates select their approved ones, MEXT double-checks their available budget. As there’s not really a maximum number of approved candidates per country, anything from everyone, everywhere being approved to no one being approved could happen. The final answer, coming straight from the Japanese government, is due to be published by December this year. So all we can do here is to keep supporting our son with lots of positive thinking and good vibes.

✱ Parallel to all this waiting that’ll take place now, I’ve spent some of my vacations time this week driving my son around: there were still medical exams to be made, documents to be taken care of and other small details. I wasn’t planning on traveling anywhere, anyway, because I already kinda knew it would be necessary, so it felt nice spending this time helping him with what I could.

✱ I’ve unconsciously stopped reading books this week. I had plans to advance (and maybe even finish reading) two thick volumes I started a while ago, namely The Fiery Cross, the sixth chapter in the Outlander series, and The Elven Star, second in The Death Gate Cycle series, but ended up reading none of them, what will certainly impair my goal. Instead, I’ve been practicing ひらがな (hiragana) approaching it in a brute force strategy, as to say. To do so, I’ve used a couple of apps that allow me to see the kanas and tentatively write them on the screen, but also tried handwriting them. There are still some symbols that I forget, but as time goes by, I’m sure that’ll improve. Also, I’ve downloaded an app to help me read Japanese news, as part of an strategy I believe to work well, which is exposing myself to native content, even though I’m currently able to absorve next to nothing. What this has been helping me with is to expose my memory to the kanas I already know, so I can slowly record them. This is not a learning race for me, so I can and enjoy going on in my own pace — and it’s been fun, too, what’s most important.

✱ I’m not usually (that) interested in Brazilian TV shows, but I’ve got to admit that The Others, a original Globoplay production, called my attention. That’s a suspense story, starting when two kids get into a fight while playing soccer in their condo’s court. Their parents disagree on what happened and start conflicting. The lack of communication between the two couples — so common a failure in humanity these days — escalates by the hour and leads to unexpected situations. The story ends up by binding you, and that’s why I’ve binge watched all 12 episodes. I’ve also learned a second season has already been approved, so it seems the story will go on.

Interessante como foi só eu começar a estudar japonês e já cruzei com um termo interessante — e inexistente em outros idiomas, graças a um artigo da Open Culture de julho de 2014 que alguém postou na timeline local da instância do Mastodon em que eu estou, essa semana.

Me identifiquei na hora — e não apenas por conta da palavra que existe só em japonês, 積ん読, ou tsundoku, como no título deste post — porque sou um acumulador de livros confesso, tanto que tenho uma camiseta com a seguinte citação, que dizem ser atribuída ao escritor americano Daniel Handler, que também atende pelo pen name de Lemony Snicket:

“It is likely I will die next to a pile of things I was meaning to read.”

Lemony Snicket

É de fato provável que eu seja encontrado morto próximo de uma pilha de coisas que eu pretendia ler. Frase que ilustra com perfeição o termo tsundoku, que, afinal de contas, representa o ato de comprar livros e deixá-los acumular em pilhas, sem que tenham sido lidos.

A palavra, pelo menos de acordo com o artigo, data do começo da era moderna japonesa, chamada de era Meiji (1868-1912). Tsundoku, que em tradução literal significa pilha de leitura, e se escreve 積ん読Tsunde oku significa deixar algo formar uma pilha, sendo escrito como 積んでおく. Alguém na virada do século parece ter trocado oku (おく) em tsunde oku por doku () – que significa ler. E como — ainda de acordo com o texto do artigo — tsunde doku é difícil de dizer, a palavra foi mexida para formar tsundoku.

Se a história da formação da palavra é real ou não, o que ela representa não deixa de ser verdade. Mesmo no meu caso específico, em que as pilhas se formam mesmo através dos arquivos de e-books que eu tenho armazenados no meu Kindle e no Bookfusion.



Quando eu era adolescente, tive a chance de fazer um teste vocacional, que eu sinceramente acredito que todos deveriam ter a chance de fazer, já que uma oportunidade dessas pode nos ajudar a ter uma noção sobre habilidades que temos, coisas das quais gostamos ou com as quais temos facilidade, e que podem nos ajudar no futuro.

Do resultado do tal teste vocacional confirmei algo do que eu já suspeitava: tenho facilidade em aprender idiomas! Naquela época eu estava igual ao Eduardo, nas aulinhas de inglês. E as aulinhas de inglês eram algo que eu adorava, não apenas porque gostava de aprender tudo que pudesse absorver (lembrem-se que não havia internet no início da década de 90, e os recursos eram limitados!), mas porque eu sinceramente achava fácil aprender. E aproveitando tal facilidade e as consequentes fluência e proficiência que ela me trouxe, depois de me formar acabei indo dar aula na mesma escola de inglês em que estudei.

Anos depois, trabalhando em uma grande empresa em que uma das filiais estava na França, fui aprender francês, estudando com alguns amigos. Nunca obtive a mesma fluência do inglês — talvez pela falta de tempo livre e pela correria —, mas consigo ler razoavelmente e até arriscar algumas frases em conversa. Mas o mais importante disso é dizer que só topei o desafio porque tenho essa facilidade com idiomas. Graças a isso, também, arranho muito de leve um pouco de espanhol, onde minha dificuldade eterna é pronunciar o erre de palavras como rojo.

Meus filhos e o inglês

Como eu disse, não existia internet na década de 90. Situação bem diferente daquela das décadas seguintes, a dos anos 2000, quando meu filho mais velho nasceu, e a dos anos 2010, quando o mais novo nasceu. O mais velho chegou a estudar inglês igual a mim, não em uma, mas em duas escolas de rede, de âmbito nacional, sendo a segunda a mesma onde me formei e dei aula.

Até que ele pediu pra parar de fazer inglês. Me disse que não sentia necessidade, que já aprendia bastante através da internet, YouTube, podcasts e mais uma série de outros inputs. Naquele momento eu me senti meio em choque, porque meu racional inicial era de que, se eu tinha aprendido inglês através de uma escola de idiomas formal, nada seria mais natural do que ele seguir o mesmo caminho, certo?

Errado. Totalmente errado. As escolas de idiomas continuam sendo relevantes, mas os tempos mudaram. Meus dois filhos já nasceram praticamente on-line, e de fato foram expostos desde muito cedo a uma infinidade de inputs, muito mais do que eu. De fato, pensando melhor a respeito, conclui que não apenas o meu filho mais velho, mas também o mais novo, aprenderam inglês muito bem sem a necessidade de ensino formal. Igual ao que eu fiz, aliás, quando fui aprender francês e espanhol, já que nunca me matriculei formalmente em escola nestes casos.

Foi assim que os meus dois filhos pararam de frequentar escola de inglês… e tudo bem com isso. Ambos hoje se comunicam muito bem no idioma, obrigado.

Meu filho mais velho e o idioma japonês

Um belo dia, alguns anos atrás, o meu filho mais velho começou a se interessar por cultura japonesa. Algo que muita gente nos últimos anos tem cultivado, aliás.

Basicamente, a cultura japonesa altera algumas palavras da minha infância: não é mais gibi, é mangá e não é mais desenho animado, é animê (pus esse acento aí só pra mostrar a pronúncia correta, ele não faz parte da grafia). Além disso, como em qualquer outra cultura que é compartilhada atualmente, há músicas, YouTubers, jogos de videogame e literatura juvenil — cujos livros não são mais romances de literatura juvenil também, e sim, light novels.

Spy vs Family, em versão mangá
Spy vs Family, em versão anime

A questão é que ele evoluiu nessa cultura, e com o tempo, não bastou mais pra ele consumir conteúdo em português ou inglês. Ele queria o raw material, o acesso direto ao original. Para isso, então, foi estudar japonês. E me pergunte se ele pediu pra fazer curso formal do idioma?

Claro que não. Quando vi, ele já havia pesquisado tudo de que precisava: foi atrás de gramática japonesa, foi atrás de várias referências que encontrou na internet e, muitas e muitas horas de exposição ao japonês depois, quase três anos se passaram.

Eu tenho que dizer, neste ponto, que embora meu filho nunca tenha mencionado ter passado por nenhum teste vocacional na escola, tal como ocorreu comigo, arrisco dizer que, possivelmente, ele pode ter herdado o gosto por — e talvez até a facilidade com — idiomas de mim. Some-se a isso toda a dedicação e obstinação que ele empreendeu (e continua empreendendo) com o idioma e você tem o resultado que ele conseguiu, do qual me orgulho muito.

No final de 2021 meu filho começou a falar em estudar no Japão, em fazer faculdade por lá. Esta foi outra ocasião que me deixou em estado de choque. Para mim, estudar longe não era novidade — várias pessoas que conheço têm filhos que estudam em outros estados e regiões brasileiras, alguns têm filhos no exterior, mas em locais como Canadá ou Estados Unidos. Eu nunca imaginei mandar meu filho pro Japão.

E no entanto, ali estava ele, com essa meta.

Mais uma vez, isso me levou a refletir muito. Meu filho, em paralelo, descobriu um programa de bolsas de estudo oferecido pelo Ministério da Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia do Japão (MEXT), e me disse que poderia e gostaria de tentar se candidatar a uma bolsa de estudos deles. Ele nunca deixou de se dedicar a isso, ele nunca parou de estudar.

Em 2022, depois de concluir o ensino médio, ele pediu para tirar um ano sabático. Ok, ele não me disse isso exatamente dessa forma, mas o que pediu foi para se dedicar por um ano a prestar a prova do MEXT, e a prestar um exame de fluência em japonês, o JLPT, oferecido pela Fundação Japão, para o qual o paralelo mais próximo que consigo traçar é a similaridade com o TOEFL.

Se ele não conseguisse o que almejava até o final de 2023, como plano B, entraria numa faculdade aqui no Brasil mesmo, para não prejudicar seu ensino superior enquanto estivesse se preparando para tentar de novo. Até conseguir.

Eu sempre acreditei que as coisas dão certo pra quem acredita nelas. E as coisas estão indo bem — nos últimos tempos, tenho falado bastante a respeito nas minhas weeknotes. Tudo, graças a Deus, parece muito promissor. O que, finalmente, me leva à resposta, ao porquê de eu querer aprender japonês.

Os meus motivos

A essa altura do campeonato fica até fácil de entender a minha motivação para aprender japonês. Com meu filho na iminência de viajar para o exterior, e talvez, após concluir seus estudos, fixar residência definitiva por lá, eu imagino diversas possibilidades — embora, como diga o ditado, “o futuro a Deus pertence“.

Penso que pode haver uma ponte se formando entre a nossa família e o país nipônico. Quando esta ponte estiver efetivamente formada, haverá chance deste que vos escreve de visitar o Japão. E aí está meu motivo mais primordial: poder interagir com o povo japonês sem necessariamente depender de ninguém (ainda que, obviamente, eu planeje pedir uma ajudinha ao meu filho).

Imagem de ssaustra, via Pixabay

Essa história toda me fez refletir: no começo eu tinha receio de meu filho estudar longe (digo, tão longe assim). Mas a gente cria os filhos para o mundo e, como percebi com o passar do tempo, a educação dos meus pais foi diferente da educação que eles me deram, e a educação que eu dei — e ainda estou dando — aos meus filhos é diferente daquela que eu e minha esposa recebemos. Então me sinto, agora, mais recentemente, na obrigação de regar os sonhos do meu filho, pra que eles possam florescer.

Se isso significa em um futuro breve construir mesmo uma ponte entre nossa família e a terra do sol nascente, nada mais apropriado que colocar em prática a minha boa e velha facilidade com o aprendizado de idiomas, não é mesmo?

E aprender japonês será um grande desafio pra mim.

Primeiro, porque não tenho todo o tempo que meu filho pôde dedicar — e continua dedicando — ao aprendizado do japonês. Não posso me dar ao luxo de tirar um ano sabático, e minhas horas livres são mais escassas. Então vou ter que achar espaço pro meu aprendizado pessoal começar a acontecer.

Segundo porque, como você já deve imaginar, aprender japonês parece — e efetivamente deve — ser mais trabalhoso do que aprender um idioma como inglês, francês ou espanhol: por exemplo, há três alfabetos distintos, hiragana, katakana e kanji. Há toda uma sequência gramatical e uma estrutura do idioma que são diferentes daquilo com que estou acostumado.

Comecei uma jornada na qual, conforme eu disse ao meu filho, quero antes de qualquer coisa, aprender a ler em japonês. Esse é o meu objetivo principal, o meu foco, a minha meta. O que virá depois disso? Não sei e não estou preocupado com isso, pois tudo dependerá da ponte entre nós e o Japão. Mas uma coisa eu sei: já estou e pretendo continuar me divertindo no processo.

Ao filósofo austríaco Ludwig Wittgenstein, em seu Tratado Lógico-Filosófico, é atribuída a frase Os limites da minha linguagem são os limites do meu mundo. Embora existam várias interpretações possíveis para o que ele disse, gosto de pensar que quanto mais idiomas eu aprendo, mais minha linguagem e maneira de me expressar se fortalecem, o que amplia os limites do meu mundo e da minha cultura.

Assim quero que seja, portanto, comigo e com o idioma japonês: que, ao aprendê-lo, aos poucos e com cuidado, ele permita que eu amplie meus horizontes. Tenho certeza de que isso será muito útil na hora em que eu estiver cruzando a ponte — na primeira vez, ou nas vezes subsequentes.

I’m on vacations! That’ll be 15 consecutive days to rest… from my formal work. With all that’s going on with preparations for my oldest son to eventually get his Japanese college scholarship, I’ll be traveling a lot, only just inside our city: I’ll need to take him to perform some medical examinations, to the notary public in order to authenticate more documents, to his former school to retrieve a translated recommendation letter and to other places as well. Fun enough for me, because I feel I’m watering the seeds of his dream, so to say.

✱ As for my remaining spare time, if I’m lucky enough, I want to dedicate to reading — maybe finally finish The Fiery Cross, the sixth volume from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, and The Elven Star, the second one in The Death Gate Cycle series. They’re both bulky volumes, so this is definitely going to be challenging, but still I want to try it.

✱ I’m also — still — on my quest to learn hiragana. I noticed that I started to forget some of the most recent ones I had learned, so I’m taking my time on this. I don’t have to hurry, after all. I’m also owing people who read my humble posts on this site a brief story of why I’m learning Japanese and other posts on my few discoveries. So this means I’m still determined to learn 日本語 in public… bear with me 😅😅

The meron-pan police van in MIU404
Shima (left) and Ibuki in the meron-pan van

✱ During the last couple of weeks my son would invite me to watch the melon bread series, which we have finally finished watching this week. Strange as it seems, melon bread would mean episodes from the MIU404 Japanese drama series, where a relationship develops between Kazumi Shima, an experienced, rule-following cop with a secret in his past and his new partner, an impulsive idiot named Ai Ibuki, whose impulsiveness makes him loveable. Only 11 episodes long, the 2020 is very enjoyable, as I surprisingly found out. The two main characters end up having to drive a meron-pan van instead of a normal police, or detective car, due to an incident taking place in episode 1, giving a humorous touch to the story and becoming, IMHO, the show’s trademark.

✱ I’m looking for some tool I could use to memorize vocabulary. I need to acknowledge my son’s determination for he’s been using Anki during all his Japanese learning journey — an app whose UI I find horrible, along with its awful UX. Besides, although his clear results, I’m not really a believer that Anki’s SRS is the best implemented one, nor that Anki is the best approach to learn Japanese at this early stage where I’m now… if you’ve read these week notes of mine this far and have any suggestions other than Anki, I’m all ears.