Japanese Inner Monologue – My Experience

I was going to comment on Cure Dolly’s article about changing one’s inner monologue to Japanese, but in thinking about it, my comments seemed long enough for a full article.  I am an extrovert as well, I think, although not so strongly as Cure Dolly has described herself to be.  Still, a lot of my inner monologue is rehearsing conversations.

vlcsnap-2015-04-25-14h57m30s077Like Cure Dolly, I have found that using brute force to change my English thoughts into Japanese is not very useful.  One of the reasons this may be so is that my Japanese thoughts tend to be much different than my English thoughts.  My English mind is very noisy, far, far noisier than my Japanese mind.  The first difficulty I have is just getting my English mind to be quiet.  It goes round and round in circles endlessly, sometimes rehearsing the same conversation over and over again.  Even though I have relationships that are almost exclusively in Japanese, I really do not rehearse my Japanese conversations very much.  Indeed, I only do so when I need to communicate something above my level, and I need to work out what to say.

When I do quiet my English mind, my Japanese mind tends to be rather still, often just enjoying the quiet.  This is great for my soul, but I am not sure that it is all that useful to my Japanese.  Sometimes when words do come to my Japanese mind, they are things like Anime theme songs, or simple things like 幸せ (shiawase), happiness, or 気持ちいい (kimochi ii), good feeling.  I think I am much happier in Japanese.

I am shyer in Japanese than I am in English, I think.  I am realizing that with the Kawaii Japanese Forums.  It is interesting.  I am happy reading and listening, but I find it hard to talk.  Some of it is my current level of Japanese, which is much lower than a lot of other participants.  It is really exciting, we have people of all different levels, from professional translators to those who are just beginning their Japanese journey.   Some of it is that I am just not as talkative in Japanese as I am in English.  I like to be with people and listen to what they say, but I do not always feel the need or pressure to add in my two cents, as it were.  Spoken Japanese is so nice that way, in that one can get along for a long time with 相槌 (aidzuchi), or words and phrases that indicate that you are listening, such as そうですね、そうね、and そのとおり, without having to interject anything at all into the conversation.

Given all of this, I have developed my own strategy for converting my inner monologue to Japanese.  I do not know if it will be helpful to anyone else, but I think it is working for me.  I am letting my English mind be my English mind, and my Japanese mind be my Japanese mind.  In order to quiet my English mind, I have been talking to it in Japanese.

For example, if my mind is going round and round rehearsing a potential English conversation, I might say, 気になるね (ki ni naru ne), “this is worrying you, isn’t it?”.  Then I feel myself responding そうね, and my English mind gets quiet.  Sometimes my Japanese mind gets more forceful, 英語、英語、英語、やめて!(eigo, eigo, eigo, yamete!) “English, English, English, stop!” or even うるさい! (urusai!) “Noisy!”

When I can quiet my English mind, I let my Japanese mind do what it will, even if it just wants to be still.  Sometimes Japanese comes, sometimes it doesn’t, but I am allowing that to be ok.  This seems to me a better strategy than to try to force my English thoughts into Japanese.

2 thoughts on “Japanese Inner Monologue – My Experience

  1. While you may be shy on the Forums, Cure Yasashiku, I seem to know someone who, viva voce, chatters charmingly in Japanese like a chatterclub chatterer from ‘way back.

    I find that conversations of all kinds whirl in my head, and I find that they are absolutely like a row of little switches for language.

    Today, for example, I was thinking about a conversation in Japanese about certain ideas. Of course the thoughts were going around in Japanese. That led my mind to how those ideas tie up to an article I wrote in English and ping! my mind was in English.

    Oopsy! Eigo dame!. Think about writing a post on those ideas at the Forums (just think about it, whether I am really going to write it or not). Ping! back into Japanese. What you think about governs what language you think it in, provided you think about it in terms of past, future or potential communication. Which I always seem to do anyway.

    That is why one needs Japanese communicative arenas. Without them (apart from the other benefits) trying to change one’s thinking-language is trying to move the mind's orientation without any levers. Kind of like trying to carry a suitcase without a handle or open a drawer without a handle. It can be done but it is so much harder!

    1. Heeee…well, you do bring out the chatterbox in me, in any language. I do completely agree with your point about needing Japanese communicative areas. It really is exciting that we have them now, isn’t it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *