Pokemon as a language acquisition metaphor

Masculine, feminine, verb, noun, adjective...

Masculine, feminine, verb, noun, adjective…

You see – Pokemon is a JRPG where your combat party consists entirely of cute imaginary animals that you need to hunt down and capture. Along the way you fight several pokemon gym leaders who award you badges that grant certain privileges. Finally, you have to defeat a group of people called the elite four in order to be recognized as the reigning Pokemon Champion (and along the way you usually foil the schemes of a laughably inept criminal organization).

It occurs to me that you can use this format as a metaphor for learning a language. The Pokemon themselves are your vocabulary. Like words, Pokemon have a life separate from that of the trainer, with their own behavior in the wild. But with some effort they can be brought under your command. Both Pokemon and words are studied by Pokemon profs and linguistic profs respectively, but just about everyone makes use of them. The pokedex, which catalogs and describes Pokemon, is obviously a lexicon.

Pokemon are classified into different types, and a substantial amount of combat strategy falls back upon understanding their affinities and weaknesses. Similarly, in learning a language you need to get a grasp of how to use the different kinds of words correctly in order to put them together into a meaningful sentence.

Your Pokemon will grow and evolve as you practice with them; similarly your use of words will become more nuanced the more familiar you are with them.

Gym badges are your grammatical paradigms – your declensions, conjugations, etc. Gaining one will make some unruly Pokemon obey you and allow you to access or do things you couldn’t do before. The badges allow you to advance in status and power in the world of Pokemon – just as mastering the grammar piece by piece is the essential backbone to becoming linguistically competent.

I dunno. It’s just a thought I had.


About Josh W

A Catholic. Likes to write stuff and draw pictures.
This entry was posted in fragments of culture, Our Allies in Nippon, pop culture and its discontents and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Pokemon as a language acquisition metaphor

  1. That’s an amusing thought. Sounds like one of those thoughts one must write about in order to be rid of. You just need a Pokemon metaphor for how learning one language helps you to learn others.

  2. jubilare says:

    LOL! I love it! A very effective, and unexpected metaphor.

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