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View Poll Results: How should Japanese deal with foreigners ?

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  • They should assume that they can't understand Japanese and use gestures

    4 2.76%
  • They should first ask them whether they can speak Japanese (either in Japanese or in English)

    92 63.45%
  • They should address them in Japanese and only use gestures or speak more slowly if the person doesn't understand

    49 33.79%
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Thread: Should all Japanese directly address foreigners in Japanese ?

  1. #201
    Regular Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by hanbun View Post
    Unforgivable, in my opinion in a city like New York!
    Just start a thread about it.
    I simply think a restaurant is the place where you eat.
    And it is good of you to think that one unforgivable personal experience could allow your generalization.

  2. #202
    TNT Basketball Analyst Charles Barkley's Avatar
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    Jun 14, 2007
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    I think it is quite ironic that hanbun is complaining about not being able to use Japanese people for Japanese practice in America when one major point of the thread is that it is not ok for Japanese people to use Americans (and others) for English practice in Japan. Keep on fighting against that xenophobia there, hanbun.


    I will chime in to say that this is by no means limited to Tokyo/areas where people are used to dealing with lots of tourists. I live in rural Tohoku and the same thing happens all the time. The worst incident for me was in Kamakura(I think) up in Akita. Went up there for a snow festival, and of course my group of friends (mix of ALT's and Japanese) included the only foreigners there. There was a sign near one of the food stalls, and I asked my Japanese friend who was standing about 10 feet away, in Japanese, if the sign referred to the catholic cross (i.e., what I later remembered to be 十字架, though I was initially mistaken, as the word in question was a name that contained 十 and 字)。

    Some random Japanese man working at a food stall stepped in between us and began to repeat the word no, which he must have said 10 times, while waving his arms in according gesture. I moved to the side, so he wasnt blocking us, and asked my friend again, though this time I also asked what the sign actually did mean, but the man moved between us again and kept saying no (which at this point was no longer even answering my question). I then had to literally move directly next to my friend, turn my back on the man, and walk away before repeating the question, which he answered in about 5 seconds, satisfactorily, of course in Japanese. I was absolutely furious at that. And the most astonishing thing is that the man of course had initially understood my not entirely basic question, which I had asked in Japanese, yet that fact somehow slipped clear out of his mind.

    From people asking Japanese friends sitting next to you whether you want the set with your order, to people repeating in English the same thing they have just said in Japanese every time they speak, even in tohoku people run the gambit in terms of pushing the buttons of a foreigner trying to learn Japanese (or simply trying to live without being condescended to). The cause, in my mind, is definitely a lack of familiarity with foreigners, which is understandable but nevertheless infuriating, especially since, unlike perhaps in Tokyo, I have run into a grand total of maybe 5 people during my two years here whose English is at the level of my still not all that great Japanese (and in that number I am not excluding the 7 Japanese teachers of English that I have worked with, as they comprise only 2 of the members of that list).

    Having one's able Japanese ignored by another's able English is one thing--having one's able Japanese tossed aside to throw the conversation into shambles or endless, tautological greetings is another.

    I am looking forward to finishing my role as a teacher, moving to tokyo, and responding to any English with either 'なんで英語で言うの’ or 'ごめん、英語が話せない’ Only 3 more months...

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