Monday, May 16, 2011


my window showing windmill palms, a branch of weeping cherry tree

If I had a second chance, what would I want to do?
Master Chinese, Hindi, and Arabic.

If I had the third chance, what would I want to do?
Master Korean, Russian, and Mongolian.

If I had the fourth chance…
Master Spanish, German, Portuguese, French, Danish...

If I had the fifth chance…

Would all the languages survive long enough for me to learn?
Also, I want to include Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Sanskrit.
What order in my reincarnation should I learn Sanskrit?
What if prospective languages are gone? Wait a minute. Maybe I’m living in the Japanese-and-English part of my reincarnation. I wish we can carry over our languages to next life and add them to new languages.


kristieinbc said...

You sound like me! I wish I had studied languages when I was younger. I am attempting to learn Chinese using the Rosetta Stone program, but it is not easy. I plan to try a couple more languages with Rosetta Stone, but I am having a hard time narrowing the list of "want to learns" down.

ZACL said...

Interesting thoughts about linguistic gymnastics.

keiko amano said...


I just checked the Rosetta Stone program. That's not cheap. My weekly Chinese class is only 5000 yen a month, and the teacher is great. I enjoy our conversation at our tea and osembei(rice crackers) break. With only 1000 yen more, I can take one more lower or higher class. I took two last year, but if I don't study, it doesn't do much good. I know it's only wishful thinking, but I think it does no harm. I can keep wishing, and try to speak a word or two whenever I get a chance.

For westerners, to learn Chinese must be hard. I admire your courage. But I believe we all benefit even if we learn only a few chapters. I've learned quite a bit. It is enriching my life, and I made more Chinese friends, and I think my longtime Chinese friends like it although they don't understand when I speak Chinese to them.

keiko amano said...


Yes, I hope it would be like gymnastic in my head to keep me young. Yesterday, my Chinese teacher wore a beautiful light purple sweater. I almost completely forgot how I could say that, but I remember maoyi (sweater) because mao is mao (hair or wool) of Mao tse tung, and yi is yi of yifu which is similar to Japanese, yifuku. I was excited. So, with a little help from the teacher, I learned "Nida maoyi shi dan ji si!" Your sweater is light purple color.

keiko amano said...

yifu and yifuku are both 衣服.
It means clothes.

ZACL said...

I was trying to say maoyi...I assume it is pronounced as written - ma-o-yi.

It reminded me of the Italian word Maglia (silent 'g') with a similar meaning.

Rebb said...

Keiko, I enjoyed your poetic expression and appreciate your passion for language and learning. When I go to work in the mornings, I pass a large coffee shop and there are always a group of three of four men smoking and talking. On the outside, they could be American, but when I pass, Russian sounds come out of their mouths. I would love to know what they talk about because they seem to talk about a lot and they get so excited, swinging their hands around, cigarettes in hand. I don’t really know French, but maybe one or five words. Sometimes, I pick up a book I have of small pieces that have French on one side and English on the other. Oh, how I love the sounds of the French language. I can pronounce many of the words alright, but I have no idea what I’m saying. I once worked with a Chinese gentlemen in a deli. He was the nicest man. I learned how to say ‘how are you.’ I think it was how are you. ‘Ne-how-ma.’ I don’t think I spelled it right. Languages and communication is wonderful! I bet you’ll be reincarnated to one day know them all.

keiko amano said...


I'm excited.
Ma of Maglia is the same as Maoyi. Although it's understandable because all these languages belong to the Indo European language, I'm still thrilled to find similarities. It must be very very very old element of the language.

keiko amano said...


About the Russian language, it’s fascinating to think about how it was developed to be a major language and literature. Apparently, the language is relatively young, and created by the writers who spoke, read and perhaps wrote multiple languages. I enjoy imagining how things were then and Tolstoy and other writers were talking like those men you saw in the café, and went home and wrote the kind of dialogues they were speaking on paper. And that formed the base of the modern Russian language. It was a revolution.

The Japanese language had two such exciting moments in the history, and both times, they came from the writers who could read and write multiple languages. I think it’s possible in the internet age. How it is going to be, I don’t know, but it’s very interesting.

Kathabela said...

Hello from Shanghai, Keiko, my ears are full of Chinese here, but all the lectures are in English. Still, lots of the students speak Chinese to each other. We have Chinese cell phones here, since we will be here a month. At the conference banquet all the nationalities sang in their own language -- there were so many you would have loved it! I sang in Japanese, and Italian and English! I was singing the sweet Japanese children's song about fireflies with a wonderful couple, both mathematician professors, ho ho ho hotaru koi...!

keiko amano said...


I envy you. I wish I can be in China for one month. I don't know Shanghainese, but can you hear the difference?

I love old Japanese children songs. We often use onomatopoeic like ho ho hotaru koi. My most favorite is the racoon song.

Sho sho shojoji, shojoji no niwawa, tsun tsun tsukiyo de minna detekoi koi koi koi!

keiko amano said...

The racoon song is here.