Dumb Story Part 1
“Making New Friends”
I don’t know about you, but maybe you’ve used a Japanese textbook before. Almost all of them have conversation practice along the lines of:
- Exchange student comes to Japan.
- Exchange student makes friends.
- Exchange student has dumb exchange student adventures.
This, however, is the TextFugu version of that. Maybe you like those stories. If so, maybe you should use another textbook. Sure, in theory those stories could be applicable to you. Maybe you will become an exchange student someday (and have a name like メアリー or スーザン), but more likely than not, stories like these just have you memorize words and phrases in the hopes that you’ll use those words and phrases later.
Instead, I think you should take a different approach. Who cares what the story is about, as long as it’s interesting. If it’s engaging and you are enjoying it, you’ll be motivated to study more, and that’s what’s really important. Now, I can’t say the stories we’ll be doing here on TextFugu aren’t dumb. They are. But I do hope you feel engaged and enjoy them, at the very least.
Here is the purpose of my stories, and how I’ll be doing things.
- Create a narrative: The story will continue throughout TextFugu, preferably leaving you on some kind of cliffhanger at the end of each. This will serve to motivate you to get to the next one (and really force you to understand the text), hopefully.
- Help with “conversation”: Up until now, we haven’t really focused on conversation skills. Instead, we’ve been building a foundation, so that when you get here, you’ll be ready. You’re still not 100% ready, but I do want you to get started sooner rather than later. Conversation is as important as reading and writing, and probably more useful for you, so from here on out focus will be divided between the two.
- Teach the little things: There are a lot of little grammar points that are a bit too small to get their own chapter. Stories like this are a great opportunity to teach and review easy-to-learn grammar in a fun way. Of course, we’ll keep track of what grammar you’ve learned in these stories, and bring them back for review.
I think that about sums it up, but the best way to get into it is to get into it. Let’s see what Mary’s been doing in Japan. To start off, let’s introduce the characters.
メアリーさん： Mary is an exchange student from Texas. She has just moved to Nagoya, Japan to study abroad, and of course, she’s looking for some friends. Her favorite foods are hamburgers and fries, and she really hates raw things (or even fish when it’s cooked, for that matter). She thinks back to her days in Texas, wishing she had decided to study abroad to Italy, or France, or someplace where people spoke American. She’ll be hanging out with the European exchange students in Japan, most likely. It’s going to be a very long year for Mary, especially since her host family seems to get very upset every time she forgets to take her cowboy boots off at the door.
たけしさん： Takeshi is a local student at the University of Nagoya (名古屋大学)… or that’s what he wants you to think. I can’t give away his real purpose here, but I can tell you that he is a very good student. Enrolled in 23 different classes, including 林田先生’s advanced physics course (see below), he is always top in his class… despite having never registered for any of these. Teachers just assume that he’s supposed to be there. It must be the always-confident vibe he gives off, no matter where he is or what he’s doing.
林先生：Hayashi-sensei is the local physics professor. An eccentric, but lovable dude. Wishes he could travel back in time to save his wife from the dinosaurs… from the last time they traveled back in time. But, of course, that’s a secret. The police just assumed she that she ran off, maybe to Russia, because 林田先生 was just too much of a genius to put up with. Of course, the truth is that they both loved each other very much (and treated each other very nicely). After two years of court preceding and other court room-ish shenanigans, he was set free and allowed to teach again. His original employer, the Harvard-esque Tokyo University wouldn’t take him back. Ever since then he’s been teaching at Nagoya University, trying to find a way to fix his time machine and go back to save his wife.
More characters will be introduced soon, I’m sure, but for now, this will do it for this particular conversation. Everything will be in a “conversation” form, like you’re reading a script. Descriptions of things happening around the conversation will be written in, sometimes in English, sometimes in Japanese. An explanation of the conversation, line by line is provided below. This conversation should be pretty easy for you to understand, with a few un-learned grammar points thrown in for study at the end. I hope you enjoy the first surely intriguing chapter: “Making New Friends.”
Part 1: Making New Friends
メアーリさん walks up to たけしさん to ask him what time it is (and practice her pretty pathetic Japanese). Also, this たけしさん is kind of cute, even though she’d really just prefer to hang out with Europeans all the time.
たけしさん looks up with a furrowed brow.
メアリー： そうですか？ こんばん。。。何？
メアリー waits a moment, awkwardly, as たけし goes back to reading manga while siting on the bench outside Nagoya University’s science building.
たけし looks up, annoyed.
たけし lets out a big sigh.
メアリー： ２？ Two what?
The next day, a missing person’s report was filed, for Mary didn’t come home, and nobody knew where she went, except for 林田先生, who was watching from the bushes (where he slept at night).
…to be continued.
As you went through the conversation, you probably noticed a few small things that you haven’t learned yet, and maybe there were a few things you have learned but they feel a little shaky. We’re going to go through each and every line to make sure you understood what went on. Not only that, but the goal is to help you understand the concepts behind each line as well. If you can’t replicate the concepts behind the grammar, you aren’t learning enough. It’s no good to just repeat and memorize if you’re going to go out and use this in real life.