Sunday, November 22, 2009

Learning Japanese, I Think I'm Learning Japanese ...

The gauntlet is thrown.

In my prior blog post about the disappointing contents of some of the sessions at day one of RubyConf 2009 (which is a great conference overall, btw; try to go next year!), I mentioned that some of the presentations were below a standard that I would have expected at the premier international conference for this language/community. As it happens, all of the presenters of the sessions I called out speak English as a second language, and they are all in fact Japanese.

In my defense, I was not talking about the presenters' English skills. Lord knows their English is better than my (heretofore non-existent) Japanese. As an American who has made a point of learning and trying to function in the native language of the countries I've visited (Germany, France, and Italy to-date), I have nothing but respect for anyone brave enough to go anywhere and speak in a non-native tongue to an audience of native speakers.

That's why I've accepted John Mettraux's gentle challenge to gain full perspective by submitting a proposal to RubyKaigi 2010, Japan's version of RubyConf. John assures me that I would not be expected to present in Japanese, but that strikes me as being less than "full perspective". So I'm going to try to learn enough Japanese to not make a total fool of myself (assuming my proposal is accepted). If any of the three of you reading this blog (hi, Mom!) has any ideas for good learning resources, please do let me know.

Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for? -- Robert Browning