November 16, 2003

the programming of languages
A couple of weeks ago, Kat from SFSU introduced me via email to her friend Nikki (whose real name is actually Makiko, but she likes to go by Nikki). In my correspondences with Nikki, she suddenly shoots out a question: do I know a Kayo who lives in Tokyo? Turns out, Nikki's friends with a gal I met in San Francisco named Kayo who attended a couple Kinyoukai's (our Japanese-studying crew's weekly Friday gathering).

So, this afternoon, I had some time to meet with Nikki. Kat had met her on Craigslist a couple months ago while she was looking for Japanese to practice speaking with. And Nikki and Kayo were attending the same language school in SF.

Tonikaku, we were talking about languages, and I noted that I enjoy studying grammar. I didn't really know how to explain it before, but thinking about it again's given me some better answers.

When I first began studying Japanese, I related much of the study of Japanese to the learning of a programming language. Granted, learning a programming language is in no way as complex as learning a natural language; however, in my mind, I found similarities between learning syntax for Japanese and learning syntax for, say, something like Scheme (lambda power!).

What I'm trying to get to is that learning more grammar in Japanese gives me more tools to more accurately and efficiently utilize the language much like how learning (and eventually grokking) a programming language gives me full command of how I want a program to run.

In one case, I'm manipulating how a computer understands my intentions; in the other case, I'm manipulating people's minds... but that's a discussion for another day. :)

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