Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Talking the talk...

I've been feeling a little anxious of late. I've been spending much of the last week at literary events - really awesome literary events - and the realisation is hitting me that I won't be able to enjoy these kinds of events for a year.

In fact, I won't be able to enjoy simple communication.

That's right - I'll be moving from a place where I work amongst shelves full of knowledge and literature, bringing information to people, and having a background in information management and English literature, and spend far too much (yet not enough) of my spare time engaged in literary activity... becoming functionally illiterate.

When S and I first applied for the JET Programme, we read that no knowledge of the Japanese language was necessary. Which was fortunate, because neither of us spoke Japanese, and my Japanese vocabulary consists of about five words - most of which amount to "hello", depending on the time of day.

And now, we're going to be living in the "inaka", where pretty much nobody speaks English.

Worse still, I've been told that, since I have a non-specific variant of Asian in my appearance, people will assume that I can speak Japanese, and will treat me like I have some kind of mental illness if I have no language comprehension skills. (Whereas, S - who is white and blonde - will undoubtedly have endless praise heaped upon her for the results of two month's Japanese language tuition from the CAE)

Kinda serves me right, coming from a Western country that has a long-standing tradition of treating its non-English-speaking residents as second-class citizens.

(Of course, I'm being somewhat facetious, and assuming the worst - it helps lower expectations, and hopefully everything will be pleasantly accommodating and wonderful when I get there.)