View Full Version : Japanese is feminine, English is masculine

Dec 2, 2002, 22:32
I've just finished to read Why Men Don't Listen & Women Can't Read Maps (http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0752846191/ref=sr_aps_books_1_3/026-0434447-8594061), a book that I recommend to everybody in order to comprehend male and female behaviour differences and thence lead a happier life by avoiding conflicts and misunderstandings.

This said, I have analysed the book in details and it dawned on me that Japanese mentality and language was typically feminine, while English mentality and language were unmistakeably masculine.

In short, here is how male and female brains work :

1) Men want power and status, are ambitious and like working alone. The important for a man is to show his abilities, be efficient and successful.

Women want cooperation and friendly relationships. They prefer teamworking and compromises. They values feelings and emotions over achievements, status and power.

2) When dealing with stress, with a problem or a difficult situation, men isolate themselves to think until they find a solution. They don't want to talk and don't need help (receive unsolicited help is outrageous for a man as it means is not capable to solve his problems by himself and thus feel completely useless).

In the same situation, women need to talk about the problem as much as possible. They will consult people and just need that others understand their feelings.

3) When men talk, they go straight to the point. They are both concise and direct to avoid speaking too much and therefore loose time and energy. They concentrate on one subject at a time.

Women do the opposite. They speak more because it make them feel better. They can talk on the phone while cooking and listenning to the radio without being confused, something men are incapable of. In a conversation, they like talking about different things simultaneously and always change subjects then come back to another a bit later. Men find it impossible to follow.
Women are also much more indirect and more sensitive to other people's feelings, emotional reactions and body language.

4) When it comes to the meaning of words, men are literal (need a clear definition for each word) and logical.

Women talk more emotively (for example, they say "you always do that", when they mean quite/too often ) and use more figurative senses and metaphors.

That may not yet be evident that these traits define clearly the opposition between English and Japanese mentality, but it does.

Japanese stress the importance of harmony, cooperation, keeping friendly relationships through politeness and avoiding confrontation. This is the most typical feminine characteristic in th list. English-speakers (and other Westerners, but at different levels that we will see later) like competition, individualism, confronting ideas and opinions, etc. This difference has long been considered the major opposition between Japanese and American mentality.

In Japan, decision are taken by talking a lot and understanding each others feelings. There is a real cooperation, a great deal of emotional sensitivity and intuition. How could it be more feminine. The funny thing is that most company's boards of directors are almsot exclusively males. The biological explanation is that East-Asians have less testosterone (male hormone) and have therefore more feminised behaviours.

English-speakers, at the contrary, like direct (constructive)confrontation, debating or imposing their opinions.

If we look at how the Japanese language works, we'll see that nuances are mainly emotional, such as politeness levels, or words that don't have any meaning appart from a particular feeling or emotion like the "da yo, da ne, da zo..." or else the onomatopeas (muzu-muzu, gan-gan...).

English is probably the richest language in the world, but has great difficulties in translating Japanese nuances, because they are not semantic, but emotional. The reverse is of course true as well. Japanese lacks words for expressing abstact concepts, precision and semantic nuances such as ape/monkey, turtle/tortoise or just quick/early (like in Italian, BTW).

Among European languages, English has the largest amount of words with the more semantic nuances, thanks to its hybrid Latin and Germanic heritage. But English is a over-masculinised language and suffer from typical male problems. It is very efficient for scientific, technical, abstract descriptions and cold logical explanations, but fails when it comes to expressing direct, crude emotions. As a French-speaker, I know how French is rich in insults and other words that can free yourself from tension. English is not nearly as rich and is kind of akward in using the existing expressions (maybe that's because of the pronunciation that is too cold). Latin languages are much richer in onomatopeas and words without any real meaning. They are closer to Japanese in several ways, especially Italian.

However, French people are even more argumentative, polemic and harmony-destroying than any of their Western counterparts. Contrarily to Japanese, it is very direct and lack politeness, though it wouldn't seem so to foreigners as it sounds so soft and delicate. French language is the paramount of male coldness and reason inside a woman's body. That's probably why tourists are disappointed by French manners when they visit France.

So I would say that on a scale from male-minded to female-minded, English is the most virile, then French, then Italian and finally Japanese. Germanic languages are probably as male or more than English.

I was also wondering if this male-female relationship had anything to do with the natural mutual attraction between Western men and Japanese women, that doesn't seem to work the other way. Genetically, Europeans have more testosterone than East-Asians, which surely explains this.

Dec 4, 2002, 12:06

Dec 4, 2002, 15:46
ya... interesting... anyone read any comparison of japanese with other asian languages, such as korean, chinese, etc?

Dec 4, 2002, 21:10
I have read a few comparisons on the Japanese language. There really isn't anything like it in the world.

Dec 4, 2002, 22:19
Originally posted by samuraitora
I have read a few comparisons on the Japanese language. There really isn't anything like it in the world.

What do you mean ? Could you explain a bit more ? On which respect is Japanese unique ? Its grammar has a lot of similarities with Korean and even other Asian languages (not so much Chinese) as far as India. It uses Kanji like Chinese and like Korean and Vietnamese before. It has its own writing system like so to say all major Asian languages (especially Indian languages, but also Thai, Laotian, Cambodian, Javanese (not used any more), Korean...). It has adopted a large amount of foreign words, first Chinese, then especially English, French, Dutch, Portuguese and German. But so did all other Asian languages.

Japanese is unique if you compare it to European languages (well, without even Basque, Suomi or Magyar), but very normal compared to other Asian languages. Chinese is probably much more peculiar, as it's the only modern language left (is it?) that doesn't use any "alphabet" to write. It has no inflection at all for tenses, while Japanese is more like Scandinavian languages (inflected to show the tense but no real conjugaison for each personal pronoun like in Latin languages).

Japanese has no direct relative (except Korean for grammar and Chinese for half the vocabulary), but neither have Basque and some other small languages.

Finally, Japanese is a very hybrid language. It's vocabulary comes half from Old Japanese (Yamato kotoba) and half from Chinese (via kanji compounds). It's exactly like English that comes half from Old English and half from Latin (via French).

Well, I'd be interested to know what make you think of Japanese as unique. What did you read exactly ?

deborah gormley
Dec 5, 2002, 09:29
very interesting!! I'm looking forward to further posts!:bow: