I really enjoyed this posting and many of the comments. There's obviously a lot of serious thinkers in this group.
I have studied Japanese on and off for years. In the early 1990s I attended the EASLI program at Indiana University in the Summer. They put me in the 5th year level, so there was 1 person better than me and 65 worse. That said that level is not enough to really understand Japanese well.
The reason that I want to study Japanese is that I may have to leave China and I want to do something related to what I already know. From the very beginning I was always better in Chinese. People said I was fluent by the time I was 19 and I could pass for native over the phone in Mandarin by the time I was in my 20s. (I was born in 1958.) Now I can pass for native on the phone in Taiwanese-Hokkien and Cantonese also. But despite all of this I have found it difficult to make a living in China. I have spent most of my time working in the energy industry and the last 10 years, I have worked in the power industry. I suppose I could have chosen another line of work, but I ended up staying in this industry because I was good in the technology and I am not an engineer, so while I may be good at what I do now, I might have real difficulty starting for scratch in a new field with my weak understanding of engineering fundamentals.
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