Connect better with a culture.
I really like Japanese culture. I like learning about all things Japanese, history, food, festivals, animations, etc. Of course just being present and watching any cultural event is cool. But I think that being able to speak the language, even if it just a tiny bit helps, as if you are part of the experience. I guess you are always part of the experience, but it enriches the experience more knowing some of the language being used.
It is almost as if being able to speak the language will make me part of the people who speak that language. Maybe a little part of me becomes Japanese when I speak to others.
You can’t help but understand the formalities associated with the language. You use different words when you are with your friends than with strangers. This automatically sets you up to be aware to share communications differently. I remember a friend of mine telling me I didn’t have to sound so formal when talking with her, because we were friends it was okay to talk more casual. Interesting note is that most first time students learn formal Japanese. You can’t go wrong if you are formal with everybody, but may upset some strangers if you are too casual. It isn’t too hard really to grasp the difference, but there is a difference.
I think that across most cultures there is a way to speak to people who are of a different social status than you. It helps you to be aware of the situation you are in when you hear other people talk in your target language.
The meaning of words in another culture.
We all say things differently but mean the same thing. One example that comes to mind is thirsty. I say thirsty in English and it is obvious to English speakers. Japanese speakers say in literal translation throat is dry to mean thirsty. I think there are plenty of examples like the one above. This just adds to the richness of another culture, I find this very interesting.
Some words have no translation. Forgive me, but I forgot the Japanese word for the light that shines through the leaves of a tree. I think the closest we have to that in English is shimmering. I had watched a show on this topic a long time ago and this was one of the examples that stuck with me.
Know the words know the culture
This was something I heard a while back as well. Although, maybe it was more like to get to know a culture you need to know their words. To me this means that just understanding the words that are being said you can really understand their meaning or intent behind the words.