Where do you know that from? 一体どこで覚えたの?

Giulia Affaitati(ジュリア アッファイターティ)

If there is one habit that I preserved from childhood that’s reading and interacting with books, no matter in which language. Listening as a kid to Nezumi no Kaisuiyoku and Karasu no Panya-san my mother was reading to me, admiring enraptured the images, I probably didn’t realize, that I was absorbing all that language like a sponge, expanding my vocabulary.

I believe that’s how my ear developed, not only for Japanese, considering I never lived in Japan, but also for foreign languages such as English or German and my other mother tongue, Italian, all of which I daily use and mix. There is something magical, almost mystical in this: words somehow come out of my mouth automatically, words that I thought that I made up in my mind but actually exist and sound right, or understanding terms I thought I never encountered in my life. When this happens, I automatically start associating similar vocabs to discover in which “family of words” they belong or going simply by gut thinking of the feeling they create or their aura, I try to find the meaning of them. This magical phenomenon of affinity to the typical sound of a language, whether it’s Japanese or German, is created by the books that always were and are accompanying my life.

Fun fact, absorbing all these words without noticing turned out in my experience also to be quite funny creating strange situation I would never have imagined, in particular now that Japanese has become a hit in Europe. On a small beach in the island Venice, seeing that all ping pong tables were occupied, a girl of my age, born and raised there, who has never in her life gone out of that country, sighed out of nowhere: “yare yare daze”. “Wait what?!” was obviously my first reaction but then I thought “Ah, mangas”.

This is something that happens to me constantly, when for example I started reading the manga, Haikyu!!. One day, my mother was searching some chocolate to restore her energy after a long long day, when suddenly she said “eh, doushite zennbu tabechattano-”, “suman” was my answer. That moment she threw me a sideeye. Her eyes were telling me “Not very elegant…I didn’t teach you that… Where do you know that from?”

After several episodes like this one I started not using randomly phrases from books and mangas that probably no one uses anymore, but still I will continue reading books not only for the simple pleasure of sinking into different worlds or of discovering new views, but also because it will definitively help my language skills. I hope that I can share this feeling I have towards books and language with other multilingual and multiculture fellows that can identify themselves with this.






面白いことに、日本語と日本文化がヨーロッパで人気にあふれている今だからこそ、知らず知らずのうちに言語を吸収するというこの現象は、とても面白い経験として表面化し、想像もしなかったような奇妙な状況を作り出しました。夏休みによく行くヴェネツィア島の小さなビーチでの出来事です。卓球台が一つも空いていないのを見たイタリアで生まれ育ち一度もイタリアから出たことのない私と同じ年頃の女の子が、どこからともなくため息をついて言いました。「やれやれだぜ」と。私は「えっ、なに?!」と驚きましたが、すぐに「ああ、マンガからだ 」と気づきました。

このようなことは、例えば私が漫画『ハイキュー!!』を読み始めたときにも、しばしば起こりました。ある日、母が一日の疲れを癒すためにチョコレートを探していたことがありました。見つからないので、「ええ、どうして全部食べちゃったの」と嘆く母に、そのチョコレートを食べてしまっていた私は「すまん」とだけ返したのです。その瞬間、チョコレートが無くなったこと以上に、その言葉に反応した母は横目で私を見ました。母の目は私に、「きれいな言葉じゃないわね…。そんなこと教えてないけど… 一体どこで覚えたの?」と言っていました。


(右)作/山下明生 絵/いわむらかずお『ねずみのかいすいよく』ひさかたチャイルド


ジュリア アッファイターティ(Giulia Affaitati)さん

母、日本出身。父、イタリア出身。ドイツ生まれのドイツ育ち。幼少の頃は本読み会や日本語教室で日本語に触れ、その後は母と家で日本語学習にゆるく取り組む。幼稚園から高校までEuropean Schoolに通い、イタリア語・ドイツ語・英語にどっぷりつかる。今年の秋からイタリアの大学に進学。


① ずばり一言、本は「私」にとって?

opening my eyes

② 記憶に鮮明に残っている子ども時代の一冊は?