Yesterday was our first day of Kanji. Until now, we've been communicating in written form using only the two phonetic alphabets of Japanese, Hiragana and Katakana. Kanji is a pictograph-based alphabet, and it's one reason why Japanese is so hard to learn. Japanese newspapers restrict themselves to using "only" 2000 kanji, but there are many, many more.
The word for Sunday is "Ni-Chi-Yo-U-Bi." The Kanji for "Ni-Chi" and "Bi" is the same, but pronounced differently based on context. This freaked out many of the kids in the class.
I say "kids" because they are all undergrads, and I'm actually older than everyone, including the teacher. It's very humbling, since I'm also one of the dumbest kids in the class. I do fine on the exams, but I can barely talk, and I sound something like Benjy in Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury.
And yet, finally! I was so happy to learn that something from computer science could be reused in my Japanese class. Consider the following snippet of code in VBA:
if (a = b) then
a = b
That's right, the same symbol is used for testing equality and for variable assignment. The term is "overloaded operator" and it's particular use can only be determined based on context. So yesterday's Japanese class seemed obvious to me (for once) thanks to science.