A Japanese foreign exchange student with halting English came into the coffee shop tonight, and as she ordered her coffee behind me my first thought wasn't that someone was speaking with a Japanese accent, it was that someone was speaking Japanese. Interesting. It makes sense when you think about it, though, since a Japanese "accent" isn't really an accent per se - it's more of a filter; there are only fifty four or so distinct syllables possible in spoken Japanese (the kana writing system is one character per syllable!), so a native Japanese person speaking any foreign language as a novice is pretty much going to make it sound "just like Japanese", as opposed to simply mangled.
In semi-related news, I'm finally getting to the point where some simple concepts and sentences actually roll off my tongue naturally and without having to pause and laboriously piece them together in my mind before I speak them. Unsurprisingly, "Sumimasen - sore wa eigo de nan to iimasu ka?" (Excuse me - what do you call that thing there in English?) is among the first of them. But it's getting better, and that pleases me. Japanese just sounds so damn good when you can roll it out competently; there's a cadence and precision to it that makes it the best language for impressive-sounding declamations ever, in my opinion. =)
I still hate the written symbology, though. I don't care what anybody says, not putting spaces in between your damn words is just idiotic. (readingwrittenjapaneseissortoflikethis,onlywithaboutfivetosixtimesasmanysymbols,fourseparatesetsofsymbols,andquirkysometimesbutnotalwaysruleslikesometimesthecharacterfortsumeanstsubutsometimesitmeansthenextsyllablebeginswithadoubleconsonantsound.)