I hear a funny word: chuu-ta-han-pa. It sounds familiar. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it and have even looked it up before. It doesn’t sound like Japanese, not even like the normal two-syllable Chinese-borrowed words. Suddenly I hear it everywhere—on the train, in meetings, on TV. I try to Google it and can’t find it at first. It turns out it’s “to,” not “ta” (chuu-to-han-pa: 中途半端), a four-syllable idiom combined from Chinese-borrowed words, and it means “half-finished.” It becomes a little ditty I can’t get out of my head. Chuu-to-han-pa, chuu-to-han-pa, chuu-to-han-pa had a little lamb, chuu-to-han-pa how I wonder what you are.
Eventually, it’ll settle in and make itself at home in there.
Then I think, wow, so much brain distraction for just one word. At this rate, about one word per 1.5 weeks, my bones will know a grand total of 60 news words by the time I finish my Japan stay. That’s kind of discouraging.