[Experiences] Learning A Language & Language Awkwardness

Hello. I thought I’d try hitting a topic hitting more personally and more familiar with those taking their love for Japan, or other nation, more seriously. Learning a language, finding themselves in awkward situations, and just any ‘touristy’ opinions. Perspective of this article being in a Canadian, Slovak, and Japanese perspective of experiences.

– Slovakia – Bratislava – UFO Bridge. (2008)

(All images taken with a Sony W170/120 & Lumix GF1 – Pancake lens from my travels.)

As mentioned, I wanted to try and share some of my experiences with traveling dealing with language when traveling. Just some nice amusing experiences to share, frustrations, language barriers, and such. I’m hoping this shall ‘provoke’ the lurkers of my blog to share their opinions and experiences wherever they traveled.

I myself traveled to both Ontario and Quebec within Canada. I’ve been to Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and little towns in between. I’ve been to Europe numerous times. I’ve been to Slovakia – Bratislava, Modra, Pezinok, Stupava, and little towns in between – while also making my way to Austria’s Vienna. (I’ve also been to places I don’t even remember as I was young within Europe, though shall mention what I do remember). I also had my fun in Croatia’s Tucepi village with the most rural-outskirt of fun in a fishing village. I’ve also been to Cuba’s Havana and Varadero.

Why is that important? Just me bragging while also trying to make a point that relates to languages itself and with what I’m about to say below.


Related Articles & Links:

– 2008 Europe Trip: 123
(The third link contains the most)

– Cuba Trip: 123


– Bratislava’s Market Street. (2008)

Slovakian Language Barrier:

Having a Slovakian background myself I am able to understand and speak enough Slovak. I’m Canadian born, yet still pride myself for being able to understand and speak Slovak while also having fun remembering the festivities. It’s something I do not really want to push away, though inevitably find my Slovak disappearing gradually each and every year.

Not sure if anybody here had the following experiences as myself. I would often find myself stuck in my native Canadian mind-set while gaining understandable reactions in return.

  1. Jet-Lag Language: On day 1 I often, without fail, found myself speaking a mix of Slovak and English. I would find myself struggling to speak Slovak upon arrival with me just rambling on about how I flew on a plane, and how I arrived. Of course the reaction I got from my local “friends” was a combination of 1) Confusion & 2) “Who-the-fuck-cares?” face. Sorry, but I can’t switch to Slovak on command as you can. I’m stuck speaking English. It takes about a few days to even try speaking Slovak in a beginner level ‘native’ manner.
  2. Laughter in Reaction: Normally when I try to speak Slovak the locals would often time point out how I can’t speak Slovak fluently enough in the “overly formal” or “expert” level. I remember at one point I was trying to say how awesome my day was when being asked about my day. They just laughed, I got annoyed, and we just parted ways. Second time being when I tried to tell a little kid to behave or else I’d ‘spank’ him as a light-hearted verbal threat. “Lepaka” is what I remember the parents using and that turned into another overly frustrating moment. I should have known something was up when the kid didn’t react. So much laughter that I wanted to say angrily respond “fuck you! And fuck off!”. I found the whole Slovak laughter provocative and insulting to the point I would just ‘observe’. Why don’t I speak Slovak? That’s one of the reason why, you mocking taunting bastards…..I was even told to relax, that it was a joke. Sorry, but I found it insulting.
  3. Accidental Use of Another Language: When ‘hosting’ a Czech family in a Slovak environment my mind tried using foreign languages. Not Slovak, but French and languages I have no command of. Try counting in Slovak? I’d do so in French. Try speaking Slovak to a Czech? Find myself speaking French that I know barely any of. I know Slovak and Czech are both roughly the same, just different dialect of speaking. Insert a few foreign words that I know nothing of shall send me speaking a language I never used while also sending me into confusion.
  4. Thick Native Accent: I guess I speak heavily in English with a deep low tone. I can’t say for sure as I can’t really hear myself clearly. I do remember being constantly told that I pronounce Slovak words heavily and deeply. A thick Canadian accent stuck onto Slovak words that makes anything requiring specific sounds to come out funny. I guess that led to the severe frustration I faced in #2 when trying to pronounce “lepaka”. This also makes sense when you hear Japanese speaking English in a Japanese accent; (Canadian) French with that heavy accent when speaking English; Russians having that heavy Russian accent into English. What you have learned in your native accent you use in other languages.
  5. Language Barrier: Of course you’ll find yourself stuck at times in a language barrier. I found myself in such far too many times that I had to resort to parents and ‘guardian’ figures to translate what I couldn’t. I was often times even mocked for my excitement of being a translator which hit a nerve. I did however have enough Slovak that I could do overly basic tasks at stores, conversations, and similar. I knew how to converse, but at a very basic level. Frustrating when neither side can progress. A stalemate. Luckily half, or most of the time I even had my cousins and relatives nudge me on the right path.
  6. Matching Slovak with English words: When speaking I tend to translate it word by word, and by hearing the common phrases being said. It’s just a copy & paste for me knowing the general meaning. This becomes more difficult the more native the Slovak speaker speaks, the quicker they speak, and the more foreign words I hear that I haven’t heard yet. It’s like playing a game of puzzle match in your head, but with words and context at chemical thinking speeds. Does this make sense with this? How about this word with that? Should I say it like this? You would use your native English language first, or maybe simply phrases you heard to match the situation of what’s being said.

Slovak is both an easy and hard language to learn. I know what people are saying. I can understand everything that it shocks people, or they feign ignorance, maybe even insulting feign ignorance if they’re that much of a prick, that I can easily relay what they said in English. I can’t speak basic nor overly formal news-worthy Slovak. Both sounds awesome, and the news type is often times intimidating.

(as a side-note: I wish that the Modra movie stared main characters that at least knew a handful of Slovak. It was a painful and snore-fest worthy of a movie.)

On the plus-side of things…..

  1.  Language Locked Jokes: Once you hear the joke in context in Slovak you can easily point them out. Translating them into your native tongue becomes confusion. Basically a ‘lost-in-translation’ that you can understand because it’s in a context you can understand. Sadly I have no examples to offer as it’s more of a ‘you have to be there to understand’ type thing. Of course puns would be a part of this.
  2. Formalities: One major thing one people tend to over-look are all the formalities one has to mention in Slovak, or any other language. It gives off a different feeling, vibe, and thought-wave. Saying “dobru nocs” when going to sleep makes you feel at peace, or to me at least. Words have power and energy to make you view things differently, thus the whole interest of mine in formalities. This makes me wish formalities doesn’t find itself an ancient thing.
  3. Experiencing The Culture: If you simply spoke your native language you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the goodies as a whole. My native language being English so that made things difficult in foreign places, obviously. I was however able to experience each little bit and pieces with the Slovak I knew, spoke, and understand. The things like how Slovaks view Christmas, how they speak, the way they speak both in public and in formal environments, and just the way of life. I still fondly remember how the Slovaks laid out their TV shows, especially the Christmas ones. I also remember how the native Slovaks spoke through body language, greeting one another, and the way they said things. The whole vibe you get as well when you understand, speak, and observe others speaking formally.
  4. English Teaching: I was once an unprofessional English Teacher in a elementary school setting. I had an embarrassing high level of imagination that I ‘lied’ to those in my class about fantasy plants. Luckily the majority of such a memory has been purged, yet still something I would pride myself over because I was received well, treated well, and even respected. Most likely as a crazy Canadian. If there’s a will to be an English teacher then there is a way…..
  5. Being Able To Speak To Friends & Relatives: Being able to speak Slovak allowed me to be able to communicate with friends and relatives there. I was able to communicate just enough that I was able to genuinely (politely) make them laugh, cry, laugh, and be angry at me. Being able to communicate with them boosts your morale while keeping you connected. Since I was able to communicate it allowed me to see things I would have normally not have seen otherwise.
  6. Knowing Slovak Helps With Other Slavic Languages: Knowing Slovak I found myself being able to understand a nice portion of Czech and a handful from other surrounding Slavic nations. Even Russia itself with bits and pieces here and there. Thanks to this I’m able to loosely understand the general topic. Sadly, not the meat, just bits and pieces.

Now why am I mentioning this from a Slovak point of view when I’m trying to connect it to Japan? It’s all connected. Whether you see it or not there are those that had experiences in a similar fashion that they can relate to this, even if it is another language.


– St. francis of Assisi Church – Austria, Vienna. (2008)

Language Personalities – Masked Personality:

I believe I noticed a personality switch when people switch between languages. I wanted to make note of this because I found it to be a major thing to ponder about. Wishing I was about to study this more I would love to know more about this from my lurkers. Please, I ask that you speak up with your thoughts on this.

I believe, and vaguely remember, that I came across a girl who switched personality moods when talking in Slovak by then switching to English, Japanese, or similar. Might also be a Youtube corruption of thought. Something that’s either in the language that forces a personality switch with the way words are being said, or with who taught the person, or what the environment deals with.

I’m assuming that similar to wearing a mask around friends and family that it has something to do shifting desires, thoughts, and moods in that mask. For a slightly better comparison, for trying to stay on the same page, I’m going to compare each language to how people make multiple characters in games. Each character has different class (or whatever the MMO or RPG game calls them), traits, and ways of living their live, similar to how one is able to speak, act, and think in these other languages. Shifting between these languages, like masks and game characters, tends to shift people’s personality from being rude to polite, or polite to rude.

And what do I mean by personality switch? Moods? I’d love to say exactly as that sounds. Let’s say in Japanese this one girl sounds overly polite, formal, and a dream girl, she then shifts into English she turn into an unforgiving street-punk in personality, or as the example and vague memory goes. Her personality switched from what she learned from Japan to more of a loose ‘street’ way of speaking.

What about ‘immigrants’ speaking rudely in their native language? Not the same, and not what I’m trying to point out. Basically using the languages you know as a tool to express one another without the intention to do harm. Trying to stay in one tone and mood to end up in another due to how the language was taught or the environment they found themselves in. Something like a human sponge showing off the person’s experiences.

(Apologies if this sounds uncertain. I don’t have enough experience dealing with people with language-personality switches, nor have I experienced this as much as I wanted. I may have to come back and edit this if, and when, it does become popular as an article. Especially when I actually know what I’m saying. Still staying due to it being a valid observation.)


– Danube River (More towards Vienna coming from Bratislava; 2008).

Tourist Language:

When you’re making your way to a foreign nation you’re often times told to learn their language. This obviously makes sense, and should be highly encouraged, so one can avoid language barriers. You’re often advised into learning your greetings, the basics of the language, and the things to say when shopping, interacting, and the things not to say. This also tends to be something you tend to teach to your friends when they ask you how your non-native languages sounds.

I often taught people how to say your basic greetings in Slovak while hearing what they had to say in their foreign or native tongue. Was quite neat hearing them being proud, curious, and similar. I myself was a bit hesitant because of the level I was at with my language. I know it’s not 100% correct, yet taught curious buddies how to say “dobru noc” (good night), “ahoj” (general hello), and random sentences in said language. If you can read, and read-out, what you see then bonus points to you. Sadly, I couldn’t read Russian so I failed in gaining any bonus points with my (now hateful) foreign friends from Eastern Europe when in Ottawa. There’s always that element of judging and hating, whether you want it to be or not.

When going to Cuba I was taught basic words and phrases in Spanish to deal with the locals. Sure, they spoke English in touristy areas, and sure it spoils you to speak English. You were however still asked to “Tourist speak” to them in their native language by requesting your drink at the hotel bars, making your way to destinations, and similar. Politeness in conforming to their culture. You respect them, they’ll respect you.

There’s just that nice feeling you get when you’re able to obtain small food and drinks in another foreign nation in their foreign language. It just feels awesome being able to do that while feeling that cultural vibe radiating throughout.


– Me next to Napolean in Slovakia’s Bratislava “Old Town” in 2008.

Forced Learning Of A Language:

When in Canada you’re forced to learn Canadian French. You have no choice but to conform and obey, unless you travel further west. I hated my French classes due to how forceful it was. No matter what school, what grade, and what teacher (even if kind) I hated it. I did learn a handful of words here and there, just not enough to be as strong as my Slovak and Japanese. I’m still not sure how I even was able to pass my courses because I know absolutely nothing, except for a handful of names and such. Sorry, I didn’t learn French because -A) I was forced into it & B) I was brutally bullied causing any spare energy to be used to staying sane and alive.

In classes you often times found yourself looking at funky diagrams on papers, watching ‘Anana’ (pineapple) dancing around, skeletons singing and dancing, along with themed lessons. Mostly vintage French learning material while often times asked to say things. Yes, even sing songs in French. There’s also your typical learning of how to construct sentences in both masculine and feminine manner.

As a Canadian in Ottawa and Ontario I had to put up with forcefully having the Canadian French language shoved down my throat while also being bullied. Any spare energy that I did have was sapped away by Ottawa’s brainless, harsh, and egoistical idiotic youth of the 90’s and early (20)00’s. Even if I did care, that in some way the forcing of the French language was in some way taught well, and the learning material was taught well enough, there’s still that factor of having to deal with the harsh reality of being called “lazy” all because of bullying sapping any energy to learn. Teacher’s can’t do enough to keep bullies off of you if you wanted, and they don’t care if you even do get bullied, so you tend to care less about going to class, care less about the lessons, and etc.

Much later into the years when I went to Europe in 2003 (which is now our past) I had a hateful girl I knew who prided herself in learning French. She tried priding herself in knowing French with my close friend. I knew only a handful of words. My close friend happily speaks Canadian French, as does a highly-respected Japanese traveler. Anime also happily poked around with France’s French on two occasions with ‘Ikoku Meiro no Croisee‘ and with musical lyrics in Jormungand‘s soundtrack. That in itself gave me a few regrets of not picking up the French language when given the chance. I however told you why I didn’t learn because of how forceful it was and how bullying saps any will and desire to learn and do anything.

When you have a positive purpose and desire to speak a language you want to know everything there is. You want to wield it to connect with those you would normally not have been able to connect with normally. It opens you up to new doors and opportunities, one of which I half partially open. The door is cracked open enough that it’s inviting enough to learn the language, just off putting due to the amount of stress attached to it from the past.


– Air Canada enroute to Frankfurt from Ottawa on August 15, 2008. Delayed by a thunderstorm in Ottawa; Fancy lights mid-flight.

Poor Native English:

It has been often asked and made note of as to why my English suffers, even though I’m a Canadian native. I’m supposed to be Canadian, I’m magically supposed to know everything there is about the English language, while also being able to magically speak, write, and type it with effortless ease. Of course I should because that’s what society expects of me and every native speaker.

I had quite a number of people pointing out that my English is poor, that they can’t understand what I’m saying, and that I should be able to speak the language with ease just because I’m “Canadian”. They made note of (maybe even boasting) that they know multiple languages at a ‘native’ level. Not expert, just well enough that they can converse fully in two or more languages. Well sorry if I failed to meet your expectation. I’m only human…..

Even though I have no real excuse to give as to why my English suffers, I can give you numerous reasons as to why it does suffer. Allow me to list them.

  • Traveling: During my younger years I would travel a lot to Slovakia with my parents. I found myself there almost every year, or long enough that I had to be held back a grade. This opened me up to learning more of the Slovak language and less of the English language. I was constantly placed in these ‘special classes’ that I eventually found insulting in my high-school years.
  • Poor Teaching: Everything is ‘rush-rush’ that you’re expected to learn things on the first two runbys. Sure, there are times it’s properly taught, and times when it’s poorly taught. Also didn’t help bullying push me away from learning English. You only have so much energy to deal with being shoved learning material in a forceful manner.
  • Lacking Friends: You learn the language by socializing. I barely socialized with people because they were busy being egoistical, brutish, harsh, bullying, following the herd, and just anti-social as myself. It didn’t help that I also thought of them poorly as sheep as well with how ‘barbaric’ they behaved.  When you have friends who can point out your mistake you’re bound to improve thanks to their observations. They’ll politely remind you to fix the common “your” to “you’re” (you are) that’s now all to common on the web. Mixing “than” and “then” with ‘than’ for comparison and ‘then’ for events.
  • Bullies, Harsh Learning Environment & Net Trolls: There are people who want to see you suffer so they simply try to make you suffer more than you need. They point things out then treat you like a pile of manure. They’ll point out your flaws, even confused when you speak Slovak for words you’re unaware of in English (underwear; Gr2-3 thing), while leaving you hanging. They could correct you, they however won’t. They want you to suffer to show others how special they are. Just because I’m in Canada doesn’t mean that everything is picture perfect. I was in an environment that pushed, treated people like sheep, and was treated like garbage by the general public.
  • Multiple Languages: English, Slovak, and French all mixing together tends to wreck havoc with the mind. You’re being shoved numerous amounts of things from numerous subjects, especially a harsh language causing numerous brain farts along the way.
  • Lacking Reading: I did read, and I still obviously do read. I however did find myself being excited when I graduated from thin spine books to reading novels. I checked out a novel to find myself reading it from beginning to end with it dealing with a kid, alien, and how they fixed his eye-sight. Another one being about ‘Hatchet’. Sadly I didn’t read as much as I should have, even accidentally making myself and my parents looking worse than necessary. Everybody judges, hates, and shoves you on a forced path. I read what I felt like enjoying.

Those are the major points at the very least. I’m aware that it would help one to socialize more, study, and just dive deeper into the language. I however have to blame bullying and my environment for sapping all energy I could have been used to learning my native tongue to the expert level.

If the learning environment wasn’t toxic, didn’t judge, nor look down on those they considered inferior people then things would be far better than they currently are. Society however is built on and encourages people to frown upon others, whether good or bad. People are forced to bully, treating bullying a a “right of passage” instead of something serious that should be fixed. The better your environment the better you do. You’re basically a reflection of your surroundings. Thus, I’m an ‘ambassador’ to Ottawa’s somewhat darker side. Even with that, I’m now trying to aim for the positives while flaking Ottawa equally for the amount of stress gained for learning the English language.


– Croatia, Tucepi at 6 am in the morning back in August 2008.

Learning Japanese:
(I’ll be sure to make an article expressing my full thoughts as to why I love Anime. Using it as a bouncing board here to propel to the main thoughts.)

Thanks to Japan sharing the world of Anime to the world I became attached to them. I massively enjoy the way Japan expresses itself in the world of Anime using all their heart, experiences, and emotions into them. They love and care, or they did in the past, about their Anime through various genres. More so than with what I find Hollywood and American media able to pull off. Both Anime and European forms of media speaking more directly to the viewer than with the rushed media America wants to profit on. Thank to the way Japan expresses itself through Anime, with how slice-of-life is mimicked in 2D cartoon form spoke volumes to me.

It’s thanks to Gundam Wing back in 2000, and again to Fate/Stay Night in 2006 for hooking me onto everything Japan. Because of those shows, and the shows after that I gained interest in learning more about the Japanese culture, scenery, language, food, and beyond. Anything that deals with 3D and the way they express themselves, count me interested. Thanks to Anime I began to learn how to understand the very basics of the spoken Japanese language. I know it’s not a perfect way to learn, though it’s a form of media to use when not actually in Japan. I could harass the tourists, though that be highly impolite. Thanks to Anime that I’m even starting to be able to understand Japanese folktales, their puns, and how their language functions. All those hidden jokes, puns, and the way they speak.

Learning my Japanese through Anime is something I started doing back in 2006. I even tried online tests, quizzes, and memory programs. I picked up numerous Youtube Japanese vlogs dealing with people in Japan, their experiences, and similar. If I actually had close friends I’m sure I would even be able to pick up more Japanese words. I occasionally had Japanese followers give me tid-bits of information on how to say things in Japanese. Major respect points to them! I actually appreciate that. I would though like to remind people that I do not do well when it comes to lectures. I need things handed to be in small brief bits of information to chew on, and repeated. Something like those hiragana and katakana cards for example.

It’s also thanks to the Japanese Anime that I learned how Japan behaves in the summer. All the cultural thoughts, matsuri, fireworks festivals, local wild-life, how travel works for them through buses, and similar. Granted, Anime is a form of media with real-life exaggerated for Anime purposes. I’m aware. I’m however sure that there are things that carry over back and forth without corrupting itself. The sound of cicadas for example. You can’t corrupt that comparison, unless you turn it into a distorted hentai.

It’s also thanks to Anime that I began to being able to see numerous ways of speaking Japanese. Sadly I do not know their proper names as it’s one of the first things I tend to forget: The old ninja way of speaking (Yukikaze in Dog Days), the overly formal way of speaking (Kings & nobility), the Osaka way of speaking (nyan),  the old way of speaking (Renge from Busou Shinki), and many others….I can now tell them apart, just can’t be fully specific and clear about it.
(Need to Google, be corrected, and helped on this to correct each and every dialect and manner of speaking.)

The real way to learn a language is simply by taking classes and going to Japan. That’s something I looked into numerous times. Countless times. I wanted to learn Japanese in a school setting, yet saw it as an impossible option due to location, price, and situation in at times. As for going to Japan, tried a handful of times. Tried to even win in contests. I simply feel like I’m either being refused or tested in my desire of going. It’s also to do with my stupidity of also being uninformed, my stupid habits, and funding issues. A frustrating mix of small and big problems preventing me from actually proving I want to enjoy Japan itself while shoving Anime to the side.

Trying to use Japanese at this stage is like playing a puzzle matching game using card pictures. Matching what you heard, what you know in English to its Japanese version tends to slow translation down. It takes less when listening, though longer when speaking by playing a game of word-match from English to Japanese in your brain. Luckily the brain is quick enough that it starts translating gradually quicker the more you know the context and meaning of words.

-> The fun parts of learning Japanese, being:

  • Beginning To Understand Spoken Words: When you can finally understand the general formalities, the basic greetings, along with basic everyday situations. When watching Anime or Japanese video games you’re eventually going to be able to understand the general thing being mentioned, what you’re being ordered to do, or what characters are basically saying on screen. The level of celebration tends to push higher and higher the more you watch Anime, play games, are able to understand Japanese tourists, and anything in a ‘living’ setting. I’m constantly celebrating every now and again with more I’m able to understand.
  • Going In Blind: Going blind into Japanese games is the only way for me to jump into a full Japanese setting. Doing so in a Japanese setting would do wonders to how quickly you’d motivate yourself to learn Japanese.  Japan’s PSO2 (Phantasy Star Online 2), Busou Shinki Battle Masters (PSP game), and Gundam Battlefield Records (PS3 game) all forced me to listen to what was being said to understand the objective. I sadly couldn’t read so was stuck there. I stuck to listening to things verbally as to what had to be done. The more you know the more you pick out. Study and jump in; Study and jump in. Start a new profile or character to refresh your memories. Jumping into the actual environment would be highly ideal.
  • Correcting The Subs: Subbing Japanese media and games tends to still be a struggling point in the mainstream media, and in fangroups. Trying to find a direct translation that matches Japanese words to English words is obviously a workout in itself. When the subs degrade you’re able to eventually ‘correct’ them as you watch. You’re able to mentally say – “This is not how you say it. You’re close, and that’s lazy subbing. It however means ‘this’ due to how it’s said” – when viewing the errors.
  • Eventually Being Able to Read Simple Hirigana& Katakana: I’m struggling to memorie them. I however memorized the symbols for “yen” and “mizu”, making anything else still “moonrunes” (difficult) to read. My mind often times tends to mix words up by substituting letters from another word with the words I’m trying to remember. A mistake I won’t make, yet sitable for the point I’m trying to make: ‘kawaii’ and ‘kowaii’. I however am able to pick out anything that has “mizu” in it, if I can compare it to the theme it’s in, such as ‘mizu-gi’. Even if it’s a simple victory, it’s a victory none-the-less. You’re progressing.
  • Speaking: Sadly I can’t speak Japanese. I can only do the general formalities and mentioning Anime titles. Nothing more. Just like my Slovak everything sounds overly tense, stiff, and ‘broken’. It doesn’t have that calmed ‘native’ touch to it. When I do end up speaking Japanese I’m going to expect tons, upon tons, of embarrassments to be had due to how ‘tense’ my pronunciations are. Can’t wait to break this barrier along with the tension in my pronunciations.

At the moment I’m pretty sure I’m being viewed as a weeaboo, an otaku, in a negative meaning all because I failed to realize my dream of going to Japan. I prepped, hyped, and tried to nudge my way there to only be constantly denied by my own stupidity and the necessities to even make ones’ way over there. The mood currently being “feet are dragging; Tires are spinning in place” with how the situation is going.

(This section may see an edit in the near or far future to clarify thoughts, and to possibly update them, especially when corrected, and if corrected by people.)


– Cuba, Havana (downtown; May 21, 2010)

Language Awkwardness:

When learning Japanese, or any language for that matter, shall always find themselves caught in awkward situations. I found myself in such in Slovakia, in Cuba, and locally as well. When trying to speak natively, trying to purchase things, or simply practicing foreign languages one shall always find themselves caught up in awkward situations.

I already mentioned one or two in Slovakia when trying to speak Slovak so I shall jump over into Cuba and local Japanese language practicing.

  • Cuba, Havana – Tourist Traps: When in Havana (that above image) I had arms forcefully grabbed by woman dressed up to snatch your arms up. They try to snatch your arms so they can be paid pesos when taken pictures of. Not actually spoke, though through body language. Only way to refuse is to deny through body language. I had my arms snatched up, taken pictures with, and and then left alone after pesos were given. Havananites are hungry for your pesos. Helps knowing your Spanish and body language. Arms should be kept at attention. Luckily the Cubans at the hotels are friendlier, though understandably more afraid due to lethal employee envy/jealousy. Speaking English with them was fine. Overly friendly as well.
  • Ottawa’s Tulip Festival: I found myself attached to the Japanese pavilion because well……Japan. No Slovak pavilion so couldn’t have fun there. Did have my fun elsewhere. I tried using a bit of Japanese I learned on them with them kindly using it back at me, though I believe I was a bit….impatient and blunt by using such. Another bit I even had my name written out in katakana (at that point I thought hiragana rules applied to katakana with hidden meanings) so I asked. Minor embarrassments, though worthwhile now I believe.
  • Anime ‘weeaboo’ Behavior: I irritated my close friend a lot when I tried talking about Japan, and the Japanese language at times, while trying to express my facination to him. Of course I ended up getting irritated responses. Type of responses of being told to “shut up” at a friend’s friend home; Told to not worship Japan; Told about how brutal Japan’s lifestyle is in workplaces; Ignored. I remember doing the typical – “watashi wa Tim desu” – when cycling with my close friend, and just being overly excited about it. I even tried my hands at pronouncing the Japanese titles of anime to those at the AnimeStop in Ottawa because that’s the only way I knew of calling it assuming they would know what it is as they would be familiar with Anime.
  • Playstation Home Japan: Not really local, nor foreign as well. Just a digital space noteworthy enough that I know absolutely nothing when it comes to reading and writing side of Japan. A gaming buddy of mine spammed a chat once with random hiragana causing quite a confusion. The second bit being me not knowing how to speak Japanese to somehow find myself playing a card game in a PS Home JP space with two Japanese girls. They expected me to be smarter, quicker, and more familiar with the game or something. I guess even more vocal. When in an awkward situation I tend to find myself not being social. Communication breakdown. Flee!
  • Cuba French Response: When in Cuba with my friend I found myself chilling in the Hotel’s pub area. Just chillin’, drinking. Chatting. On one occasion this Quebecer comes up and asks me something so I respond in French by mistake. Why? Who the hell knows. My mind shifted to French when being asked in French so I panicked and told my friend to cover for me if anything else is asked. Luckily it wasn’t. Why French?! Silly mind. When trying to recall numbers, words, and such in another language it shifts to French giving me that – “wtf?! why French?!” – moment.
  • What’s English?: When in Slovakia I found myself tuned into the Slovak language back in 2003. Myself, my parent, and close friend all tuned into watching Slovak programming on TV to then find ourselves confused as to what language we were listening to when switching to British CNN. It was British English. We were puzzled for a good half minute trying to figure out if what the newscaster was saying was Slovak, German, or English. Brain was used to hearing Slovak so you expect Slovak. Quite a culture shock heh.
  • Renge’s 15 Page Apology in Japanese: Like hell I’d be able to write an apology in Japanese in 15-400 pages. Well, something to that lengthy punishment. I spent a good 10-50 minutes using Google Translate to copy the writing onto printed Japanese paper to write out Renge’s apology. Renge is a 15 cm tall toy based on Konami’s battle robot line that went extinct a few years ago with her based on Japan’s nine-tailed fox folklore. I was told to apologies for not paying attention to her digital form so I had it translated and made aware that her digital game form forced me to write 15 or more pages. I guess I shall when I’m more fluent in Japanese. I however can’t yet. (As a thought I should do a joke Vlog on Youtube saying my apologies for 15 minutes?)

I guess those are quite minor when thinking about it. I listed my Slovakian bits in the previous section so that shortens things here. I wanted to list any Cuban ones but that’s more of a tourist stupidity on my part, not language. I can only rely on when I actually was being ‘obnoxious’ when hyping up Japan while trying to speak the very little Japanese I know. The list would be more fruitful with me actually traveling around, especially into Japan. Until then I guess this list shall stay nearly bare until more embarrassing moments are to be had.

Who knows, maybe I’ll expand this or do a part 2 when more embarrassments are to be had on my part. Or I might remember something to return and edit it.


– Cuba, Havana – May 31, 2010.

Dreaming in Another Language:

Normally you wouldn’t think twice about this because you wouldn’t really care about speaking in your native tongue in your own dream. Maybe you just don’t care, maybe you have forgotten your dream as you awoke, or maybe you’re one of those that simply don’t dream. For those that have experienced enough of another language from foreign forms of media, from studying it, or being in a foreign place may find themselves having at least one very unique dream of the language they have studied or encountered.

I myself typically dream in English. Everybody who I talk to, had talk to me, and all communicate to me all in English. I rarely dream in Slovak, and now even surprisingly rarely starting to dream in Japanese. It’s not a perfect form of Slovak, nor is it perfect in Japanese. You only dream about what you know, and it sticks out like a sore thumb, when someone speaks to you in a foreign language. You immediately are made aware that you’re in a dream where dream entities are trying to speak to you using exactly the same amount of words you know, maybe more if they’re stuck in your subconscious.

I found myself constantly dreaming about being in places I have been to with a quarter of those even trying to immerse itself fully into the culture I have experienced. I was spoken to in Slovak and Japanese that it was noteworthy enough to note. Both of those happened in a retail setting, one of which the Japanese setting was in a back-room kitchen area of a restaurant.

I’m now having quite a number of Japanese related dreams that it’s boarding close on being a tease. It’s becoming quite frustrating that I can’t actually be there. Being spoken to in broken Japanese, and Slovak, tends to be comical and amusing, just…It hits a nerve when you’re aiming to go there. It’s an amusing frustration.

Same exact thoughts, opinions, and conclusion to dreaming in Japanese.


I do hope you were able to take something out of this. I even hope that it all made sense, had experiences you can connect with, or even add onto. I had my fair-share of cultural awkwardness in both personal and language wise. This one was a language article so I do hope it provokes thought about how language is also like music and vice-versa. It can also be a mask, can alter someone’s personality, can lead to irritating laughter, and tons of embarrassments. People expect a lot, tend to judge a lot, while even while it can also help form new bridges, open new doors, and simply be helpful to connect to others. I simply wanted to try something new for my blog that I loosely touched up upon previously.

I’m eager to hear anybody’s thoughts and experiences with their own native language and foreign ones at that. Any is fine, though I’m focused on Japanese. And I ask, please! Please! Please post your thoughts below. Not on Twitter or Tumblr; The comment section below so I can go back and view it at a future date. Thanks!