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Stew for Dinner

   My wife made a Japanese style stew for dinner the other night. When Eoghan sat down to eat, we warned him that the stew was still hot and he should blow on it first. That didn’t stop him, of course: he dug his spoon in and put it in his mouth.

   The reaction was immediate. He looked up and, mouth agape, exclaimed, “HOT!”

   When I asked him if he needed some water, he waved me off and replied, “Daijôbu hot.”

   Daijôbu means “All right” or “No problem” or “Okay”. While it’s not quite the best English or Japanese to say, I was happy that he was able to apply the word in that way, that is, to take a word he knew and use it in a new situation.

   I find that learners of foreign languages tend to get locked into a narrow meaning of a word, which has the affect making them unable to take the word and imagine that it can have other meanings, or manipulate it to suit their communication needs. My advice to them, then, is to have fun with the language they’re learning, to think of words not as hard building blocks, but as clay that can be molded as they like.

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