I’m at a point in my Kanji journey i’ve never been before, and I’m noticing something happening while I’m learning more and more Kanji. I’m starting to “fill in the gaps” with words that have Kanji I haven’t learned yet. Meaning, I’ll be reading an example sentence for a new Kanji and in the sentence there might be a word with one Kanji I don’t know, and I make an educated (correct) guess as to the possible Kanji because it has popped up in other places. This is interesting because it means the brain it memorizing Kanji i’ve learned and understand the context for, but it is learning and recognizing Kanji I have not yet learned.
This sentence was the last in a recent series of these occurrences.
彼は警察で拷問を受けた (kare ha keisatsu de goumon wo uketa)
He underwent torture from the police. Here the word for police is 警察 （けいさつ）I immediately knew the reading for “Kei” but in my mind I just said aroud “Satsu” because we are talking about torture and I know the word for police is “keisatsu” so my brain put two and two together and made its own connection. I have not started learning any of the Kanji for “satsu” yet.
This is another example of “the brain doing its thing” and why a big part of this process involves “trusting the brain” because it is doing a lot of heavy lifting behind the scenes. Of course, this observation is relative to some words I knew in speech but not in reading, but isn’t that how we all learn anyways? All children learn to speak before reading so the recognition process is inverted. I do not have such a robust Japanese vocabulary that I am making dozens and dozens of these connections, but whenever it happens I feel like i’ve activated a cheat code.
Why is this important?
Because this really shows how the software of the brain works. We all have the capacity to learn any language as children based on our biological makeup and by feeding the brain information in a specific manner at an adult age, that “software” still works the way it is designed to, within context and a certain kind of exposure. The “shapes” of Kanji are becoming more familiar, and i’m reading sentences now much faster than I was only two weeks ago. I’ll make more notes as progress continues.