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July 2014, vol 10, no 2

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J. Zimmerman

Japanese Two (Douzo Yoroshiku)

We begin with almost forty students and after six weeks twenty remain. The sensei's accented English is hard to understand, her rapid Japanese impossible. She chatters throughout our in-class assignments and monthly exams, notices when each person sticks, and exhorts them to try harder, even though each of us is perplexed at a different place: reading or writing or hearing; drawing kanji; muddling a hundred post-fix particles; confusing polite speech with plain; sequencing (or not) sentences by topic, time, location, subject, method, "from" and "to", the object at last, the predicate finally which is often a verb but can be a conjugated adjective, and perhaps then a terminal plea for understanding, which is why when you meet someone new in Japan you ask them "please be good to me."

workday morning
a sweeper sifts the beach sand
coins and a ring