A friend is helping me prepare for my goodbye speeches at my schools. I wanted to do them in Japanese, and I wanted them to be good. Yes, I could rumble my way through some Japanese and be mostly understood without much prep. However, I want the speeches to be better than that, seeing as they will be each given during a whole ceremony thing at each school. Not the time I want to be casual with my words. Also, almost no one would understand the English anyway, if I gave the speeches in English.
All of that, however, is merely the precursor to this next bit…
This friend who is helping me, she’s helping me by recording herself giving the speech. Why? Because I want to hear a native speaker give the speech. As we were discussing this, I mentioned that I do better copycatting someone’s speaking when I have never heard a certain word or phrase already spoken. (If I have heard it already, then I usually have already learned the appropriate natural way of saying it, and can produce it on my own, without aural prompting or guidance.)
When I mentioned this to my friend, her reply caught me off guard.
copying is the basic way for learning 👍🏻
And yes, it is so utterly and beautifully true. As babies, we copy our parents and family members in order to learn to talk and walk and eat and do basically everything that we do successfully. The same applies as we learn new behaviors theighout our whole lives, and it definitely includes learning to speak a new(foreign) language properly.
And yet, schools have this huge concept of ‘copying is cheating, and cheating is bad, so copying is bad.’
I once found myself in a meeting with fellow faculty who were arguing/fussing about preventing cheating in the school, while I was wondering what the whole big deal with cheating was on the first place. It’s not that I was (or currently am) approving of cheating – I was (and still am) simply wondering what the reasoning was behind this terror-inducing aversion to cheating. It just kind of felt like a sort of blind belief situation, with no real background to support it validly. It may very well be completely valid – I have just never sat down a brainstormed enough to find out if it is or isn’t. And I was wondering in that meeting if anyone else had done that. (Though I found it highly unlikely, so I didn’t bother asking – it would have just stirred up trouble.)
And here, tonight, my friend says that copying is like the basis for learning. And with only a brief bit of thought, this idea, this concept, seems to make sense, and much more than the ‘no cheating’ one ever has.
After a bit of discussion in this new topic with my friend, I discovered that the word in Japanese for “to learn” comes from the word for “to copy”. I was in momentary disbelief, and then complete unsurprise – of course Japanese has that. I can so see that, it makes such easy sense with the Japanese culture.
It turns out that the old word for “to copy” is 真似ぶ(manebu) (and the current is 真似る(maneru)). The word for “to learn” is 学ぶ(manabu).
Put more visually simple:
学ぶ(manabu/ to learn)
真似ぶ(manebu/ to copy)
真似る(maneru/ to copy) (old word)
(And manebu is the old word for maneru, but the have the same meaning.)
Wow. Just wow.
I certainly plan to ponder this topic much, much more. This concludes my thoughts so far, however.