Wa-pedia Home > Japan Forum & Europe Forum
Page 3 of 7 FirstFirst 12345 ... LastLast
Results 51 to 75 of 164

Thread: Assumptions that gaijin cannot speak Japanese (at all)

  1. #51
    Master of the Universe Bucko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 4, 2005
    Location
    ロンドン
    Posts
    31
    I'm finding more and more Japanese people here in Osaka who don't give a second thought as to whether or not I speak Japanese. People will just waltz up to me and blurt something out expecting me to understand, and I wish I did (btw I'm a 6 foot, brown hair, green eyed white guy).

    The other day I was waiting for the tram when a man pulled up next to me on his bike and asked for directions to somewhere, in Japanese. I didn't really know what he said so I just replied, "sumimasen, wakaranai". Then he skipped to the next person who gave him the directions he needed.

    I reckon the people who are most surprised that you speak Japanese and that you can use chopsticks are the ones who have had previous (although not a lot of) exposure to Westerners and English. I.e. Japanese who have gone on a holiday to Hawaii, can speak a few English phrases, maybe know someone from OS.

  2. #52
    Angel of Life Kara_Nari's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 13, 2005
    Location
    Seoul, South Korea
    Age
    38
    Posts
    49
    Oh dear, im waaaaaaayyyyy behind here! A lot of chatter has been going on since I last visited this thread.

    All I wanted to say was: If you are bothered about people asking about the weather, when it is evidently clear to you how the weather actually is...
    Think about things that people in other countries might say instead.

    On a daily basis I am asked 'Bap mogosso?' (Have you eaten?)

    Maciamo I really enjoy reading your comments, and arguments, but as soon as I read the weather comment I was wondering how you would cope with this sort of comment on a daily (not even just once a day, numerous times) basis?

    It's the general opening sentence when seeing someone for the first time of the day, usually among friends and colleagues. Dont get me wrong, not everyone does it, but it is common, and many peope do it. Likewise I guess with the weather questions.

    When working in a japanese company, if we saw people for the first time of the day we would always say 'Ohayou gozaimasu' even if it was pitch black outside. Yet, we expected it, and all were guilty of saying it.

    Sorry that this is the only thing right at this moment that is interesting me, perhaps I will be more full of wisdom and wonder tomorrow.

    Kara-Nari Smarty-Pants Wiz-Girl of the Southern Pacific Queen of Communication and International Arbitration and Diplomatic Solutions to Hairy Territorial Issues Her Majesty the Empress コクネ・ you quite rightly deserve the title for your individuality !

  3. #53
    Your Goddess is here Ma Cherie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 24, 2004
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    92
    This is an interesting thread and I've keeping up with the comments made. I still can't get over that weather thing Anyways, I was wondering, Maciamo has there ever, ever been a moment in which you've encountered a japanese person who has made the attempt to differentiate you from other Westners? Or better yet, how would you react? Would you be happy? Shocked beyond belief? Or possibly relieved? I wonder if you've gotten to the point where you feel like pulling your hair out. (kidding of course)
    "Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
    by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  4. #54
    Regular Member Gaijinian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 3, 2005
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    48

    Lightbulb

    Maciamo, first page:It's more than many look genuinely surprised that after 2, 3 or 4 years in Japan I can speak Japanese at a reasonable level,
    The most PRICELESS look is the look of the Japanese tourists faces when I talk to them. My Japanese is pretty good, and it shocks them to see some white kid, only 15, speaking the "バーリ ディフィコルト" Japanese language.

    It kills me that the are surprised that "out-side people" can speak Japanese after being there for several years. 日本で日本語が使われる家に生まれ育っていても、なぜ か日本語が喋れると、日本人がビックリさせるヨ!

    EDIT: I just hosted a kid for a week, and we had talked is straight Japanese for several days. He saw Star Bucks and told me っ、日本にも るよ。Then as if asking a question, he said, コービショップ? To which I said, "Yes, Coffee Shop は喫茶店。”

    I don't know why, but me knowing "kissaten" was a shock ( ), and he replied, 日本語うまいよ... By the WAY, no Japanese person has EVER told me that...
    Why after all are converastion "kissaten" triggered that reaction, I'm not quite sure...
    ___
    I think I may know why Japanese think so lowly of "gaijin."
    We have already established that in Japan, gaijin=amerikajin, for the most part; in general, let's face it, the "American Attitude" is 'Every one speaks English, why learn another language?' (Americans annoy me... ... says the American)

    Maybe that is why they are THAT shocked that we 鬼畜米兵 can speak the language of the kamikaze (plus, Japanese is after all, the most difficult language of them all {sarcasm...}) !!!
    Last edited by Gaijinian; Oct 8, 2005 at 06:44. Reason: 顔文字を付けるため
    これからも絶対頑張る〜

  5. #55
    なおと
    Join Date
    Jul 2, 2005
    Location
    Florida
    Age
    45
    Posts
    9
    I have this funny story. There were two Japanese students walking down on a street. They saw a gaijin coming toward them. One guy said to the other, "Hey, say something to him in English". The other guy determined for the action and waited for the moment. As the gaijin came close to them, he tried to greet and say hi. He was nervous but finally opened his mouth saying, "I..I...I..am.....PEN!"

    日本人がシャイなのは、皆さんがご存知の事実です。  特に、外人との接触する機会が る時など彼らにとって は、何らかの心の準備が必要なほどです。 恐らく沖縄 、大阪、東京以外の県では、外人を見かけるチャンスは 余り りません。 沖縄だと外人住宅が近接していて殆ど どの大通りでも、外人を見かけることができます。 基 地に住んでいるアメリカ兵などは、よく付近の町に遊び に出かけます。 ハンビータウンと呼ばれる所では、その30%の人々が外人だと 、私は思います。 

    そんなインターナショナル的環境に る今日の日本ですが、日本人が、 外人に対してどのようにして応じたら良いかといった、 身近で大きな壁が るという現実は、見逃せません。   そもそも私達日本人は、「外人」という言葉にだまさ れて、自分たちも外人の内で るというのに気付いてい ません。  彼らの日本国の位置は、世界の中心に り ます。 だから、全て他の国からの外人たちは、彼らに とって「外の人」なのです。 
    Gaijin as you know means "out-siders." Many of them do not think out-siders can do what Japanese can. That's why they will look at you like a rare item when you use chopsticks and eat rice. They may die of a heart-attack if you do 落語 in front of them. The problem is really the lack of knowledge on other cultures and people in the world as well as the lack of 身近な経験 with the foreigners.

  6. #56
    Regular Member Gaijinian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 3, 2005
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    48
    日本人がシャイなのは、皆さんがご存知の事実です。
    Not after a bit of sake...

    外人を見かけるチャンスは 余り りません。
    True... to some extent. Even in remote places you'll see a few of "us."

    そもそも私達日本人は、「外人」という言葉にだまさ れて、自分たちも外人の内で るというのに気付いてい ません。  彼らの日本国の位置は、世界の中心に り ます。 だから、全て他の国からの外人たちは、彼らに とって「外の人」なのです。
    True. In Japan or not, anyone not Japanese is a "gaijin." It is strange to think so, but I have been called, and call other Americans gaijin even when in the US! (ex: my teacher is a gaijin=(not Japanese).

  7. #57
    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 3, 2004
    Age
    49
    Posts
    198
    Maybe all people who are easily agitated by Japanese people coming up to them and asking mundane questions should start wearing signs around their neck stating something to that effect? You know: "Don't talk to me unless you are of above average intelligence, as I get easily offended and do not want to come across as a jerk to you when you make small talk!"

    Who knows? It may just work and stop all this nonsense? Then again, maybe we should just continue educating the poor people who have been misinformed!



    Just a thought!

  8. #58
    Non-Member
    Join Date
    Sep 17, 2005
    Posts
    153
    Good morning!

    I know Maciamo can fend for himself, but I feel that he's getting a lot of undue bad feelings for something that I started. Of course, I'm referring to "the Weather Incident". So I've decided to gather all of the pertinent posts up to the point the misunderstanding got out of hand.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikawa Ossan
    Somewhere down the line, I came to the realization that many times the people saying these things are just trying to make conversation. They're not REALLY surprised at the fact that you can use chopsticks, but they think it's a safe topic to start conversation. It's like talking about the weather, in that sense.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Sometimes such remarks come after I have known the person for a while and we have already discussed about many things.
    I know this is not about the weather incident, but it was part of a reply to my post that everyone seemed to miss.
    Quote Originally Posted by Silverpoint
    I could apply your argument to absolutely anything. If someone said to me "nice weather today", should I in the same way feel upset and insulted because I've been living on this earth for 32 years, and I'm intelligent enough to know for myself if the weather is good or not. And they should be well aware of that.
    This is where the trouble starts.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Not really. When someone say "nice weather today", they just want to share their present feelings, or ask for a confirmation from the other party. Note that weather is independent from any party involved. It is different from complimenting somebody on things that do not need compliment, and thus making them feel awkard.
    Maciamo is making a distinction here between the weather and "conversational" compliments. I got the impression that by making this distinction Maciamo was intending to express that he would NOT get offended by talk of the weather. This point seemed to have been missed, and after this point, things seemed to have gone bad.

    I hope this straightens out the "Weather Incident". Please understand that Maciamo is NOT saying that he would get insulted by talk of the weather. The point was originally brought up as a rhetorical device by Silverpoint, and Maciamo responded by (indirectly) saying that it was an invalid point.
    Last edited by Mikawa Ossan; Oct 8, 2005 at 08:34. Reason: Added missed name to a quote

  9. #59
    Non-Member
    Join Date
    Sep 17, 2005
    Posts
    153
    Quote Originally Posted by Gaijinian
    Not after a bit of sake...
    I don't mean to sound like a parent, but you're too young to drink. If your friends are underage and drinking, that, too, is bad. If they are "of age" and letting you drink, that is irresponsible. They should not be drinking with you (in front of you) in any case. (I understand you were joking, but underage drinking is a serious topic.)

    True. In Japan or not, anyone not Japanese is a "gaijin." It is strange to think so, but I have been called, and call other Americans gaijin even when in the US! (ex: my teacher is a gaijin=(not Japanese).
    Since you can read Japanese, let me quote the definition of "gaijin" as defined by 広辞苑, a well respected Japanese dictionary.
    がいじん【外人】
    @仲間以外の人。疎遠な人。
    A敵視すべき人
    B外国人。異人。 <=>邦人
    Note that 邦人 and 日本人 are not necessarily the same thing. When you call your American Japanese teacher, "外人" in America, I assume you're doing it in the 3rd sense above. Technically that's wrong, because using Japanese from the perspective of America renders Japanese citizens as 外国人. By definition, one can not be a foreigner in their native country; therefore, your teacher is not a "gaijin" so long as he/she remains in America (assuming that America is his/her native country).

    This is a good point when talking to Japanese people about what it means to be a foreigner in the first place.

    A Japanese calling an American citizen "gaijin" in America is making the mistake of failing to understand that gaijin is a relative term. If it's said as a joke, it's only a joke because it's a play on the relativity of the meaning of the word. In other words, it's using the term "gaijin" in terms that are inappropriate for the situation, thereby making it strange and funny.

    Of course, if you mean 外人 in the first sense above, that's different. But that brings up the subject of what 仲間 you're talking about. Personally, I've never heard 外人 clearly being used in this context.

  10. #60
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 22, 2003
    Location
    アメリカ
    Posts
    298
    Quote Originally Posted by Gaijinian
    The most PRICELESS look is the look of the Japanese tourists faces when I talk to them. My Japanese is pretty good, and it shocks them to see some white kid, only 15, speaking the "バーリ ディフィコルト" Japanese language.

    It kills me that the are surprised that "out-side people" can speak Japanese after being there for several years. 日本で日本語が使われる家に生まれ育っていても、なぜ か日本語が喋れると、日本人がビックリさせるヨ!
    西洋的な顔をしている日本語のネーティブスピーカを見ると、英語語脳と日本語脳に切り替える努力をしていますが、ちょっと難しいです よ。

    そう見える場合には、本当の日本人がどうかわからない と考えているので混乱するためです。 でも、もし私が突然日本語を話し始めれば、ショックを 受けた顔のか。。。
    ということに気づかないです。  
    Last edited by Elizabeth; Oct 8, 2005 at 10:24.

  11. #61
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by Kara_Nari
    All I wanted to say was: If you are bothered about people asking about the weather, when it is evidently clear to you how the weather actually is...
    Think about things that people in other countries might say instead.
    ...
    Maciamo I really enjoy reading your comments, and arguments, but as soon as I read the weather comment I was wondering how you would cope with this sort of comment on a daily (not even just once a day, numerous times) basis?
    Quote Originally Posted by Ma Cherie
    I still can't get over that weather thing
    Did I ever complained about the weather ? I very often talk about the weather to start a conversation. It is Silverpoint who mentioned the weather, not me. Frankly, did anybody else understand that I disliked talking about the weather ? I thought I was clear in explaiing that it was ok because it was just sharing a feeling, and it was not complimenting/flattery or misconceptions. Or maybe are your referring to the '4 seasons' question (this is completely a different issue, btw. It's about the Japanese firmly believing that very few countries except Japan have four seasons, while all 35 European countries and many more do, and they should know it if tey have been there as is often the case).

    It is not surprising that Elizabeth, Silvepoint or others misunderstand what I say if you can't even understand something explained so clearly. Then you miss probably a lot of more delicate issues and things that are not written because I assume you have read the threads in link (like this one and this one and read everything properly, and kept everything in mind while reading other posts). If you don't you wont' be able to understand me. Maybe that is what Silverpoint was insinuating just above.

    When working in a japanese company, if we saw people for the first time of the day we would always say 'Ohayou gozaimasu' even if it was pitch black outside. Yet, we expected it, and all were guilty of saying it.
    So what ? I never said otherwise. I also use fixed expressions like that all the time. What I was explaining is that complimenting foreigners about chopsticks or their Japanese or asking them if they can eat sushi or natto have become like those fixed expressions for the Japanese (but ONLY in Japan; where else are you constantly asked whether you can do this or that because you are a foreigner ?). Greetings are universal, but asking whether you can eat sushi and be surprised because you say 'yes' is peculiar to Japan.

    I hope that was clear enough this time.


    EDIT :
    Quote Originally Posted by Mikawa Ossan
    Maciamo is making a distinction here between the weather and "conversational" compliments. I got the impression that by making this distinction Maciamo was intending to express that he would NOT get offended by talk of the weather. This point seemed to have been missed, and after this point, things seemed to have gone bad.

    I hope this straightens out the "Weather Incident". Please understand that Maciamo is NOT saying that he would get insulted by talk of the weather. The point was originally brought up as a rhetorical device by Silverpoint, and Maciamo responded by (indirectly) saying that it was an invalid point.
    Thank you Mikawa Ossan. I see that at least you read my posts properly. It's incredible how much misunderstanding can be created by people who can't read, then call me Nazi because the understand the exact opposite of what I mean at almost every post (=> Silverpoint).
    Last edited by Maciamo; Oct 8, 2005 at 12:32.

    Visit Japan for free with Wa-pedia
    See what's new on the forum ?
    Eupedia : Europe Guide & Genetics
    Maciamo & Eupedia on Twitter

    "What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?", Winston Churchill.

  12. #62
    Your Goddess is here Ma Cherie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 24, 2004
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    92
    I understand what you're saying Maciamo. I've read the threads you've posted, when I pointed out that I couldn't get over the weather thing, I meant that I don't understand how most japanese people seem to believe that their country is the only one (or one of the few) that believe they have four seasons. That's just........well nevermind that.

  13. #63
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by Gaijinian
    The most PRICELESS look is the look of the Japanese tourists faces when I talk to them. My Japanese is pretty good, and it shocks them to see some white kid, only 15, speaking the "バーリ ディフィコルト" Japanese language.

    It kills me that the are surprised that "out-side people" can speak Japanese after being there for several years. 日本で日本語が使われる家に生まれ育っていても、なぜ か日本語が喋れると、日本人がビックリさせるヨ!

    EDIT: I just hosted a kid for a week, and we had talked is straight Japanese for several days. He saw Star Bucks and told me っ、日本にも るよ。Then as if asking a question, he said, コービショップ? To which I said, "Yes, Coffee Shop は喫茶店。”

    I don't know why, but me knowing "kissaten" was a shock ( ), and he replied, 日本語うまいよ... By the WAY, no Japanese person has EVER told me that...
    Why after all are converastion "kissaten" triggered that reaction, I'm not quite sure...
    ___
    I think I may know why Japanese think so lowly of "gaijin."
    We have already established that in Japan, gaijin=amerikajin, for the most part; in general, let's face it, the "American Attitude" is 'Every one speaks English, why learn another language?' (Americans annoy me... ... says the American)

    Maybe that is why they are THAT shocked that we 鬼畜米兵 can speak the language of the kamikaze (plus, Japanese is after all, the most difficult language of them all {sarcasm...}) !!!
    Thank you, thank you ! At last somebody that understand my plight ! I agree on everything you said. As for the "kissaten" vs "ko-hi-shoppu", that is exactly what I wanted to explain when I said that the Japanese look surprised that I can speak Japanese just after saying a few words or reading some basic kanji. For those who didn't understand (e.g. Silverpoint), the kind of situation that bother me is just like the "kissaten" example of Gaijinian. Many times, when I am in a situation like Gaijinian described talking to a Japanese in Japanese, never mind how fluently I talk to them, they will try to use katakana words like コービショップ because they think it's easier for the stupid foreigner to understand. These are always, very basic, daily words, (e.g. subway instead of chikatetsu, bookshop instead of honya, tea instead of ocha, home instead of uchi, car instead of kuruma, etc.). How could someone not know a word like "kuruma" (one of the first words learned) and yet speak quite fluently ? Why should the Japanese so constantly try to use English words in their Japanese with foreigners (words that they would not normally use with other Japanese) and be surprised (not just the look, but as Gaijinian said, with the "sugoooii ! nihongo jouzu desu ne") because a fluent foreigners knows the word "kuruma" instead of car.

    When I speak English with a Japanese who does not yet know that I speak Japanese, but knows I have been in Japan for several years and am married to a Japanse (e.g. most of my students, as I teach one-to-one lessons, and I explain my background during the trial lesson) and that person cannot find his/her words and think aloud in Japanese, I usually just tell them the word that they were looking for. Even when it is a very simple Japanese word that I translated for them (e.g. 部長 "buchou", department manager), their reaction is often close to disbelief. "Oooh, what, sugoooi ! You can understand Japanese. Wow ! How comes ? Are you Japanese ?". Give me a break. Who doesn't know a word like "buchou" after 4 years of working in Japan ? Then, even if they were surprised, no need to make such a scene about it. Just shut up and keep your astonishment for you.

  14. #64
    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 3, 2004
    Age
    49
    Posts
    198
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Give me a break. Who doesn't know a word like "buchou" after 4 years of working in Japan ? Then, even if they were surprised, no need to make such a scene about it. Just shut up and keep your astonishment for you.

    I must say that I am surprised. This is the very first sign of emotion (to my knowledge) that you have ever shown! You are human afterall!

    While I agree with most of what you say, I just think that you let it get to you too much. Meaning that you take it too personal...as an attack on you or something to that effect. I quite often battle with my friends and employees. They quite often want to speak to me in broken English, and as you mentioned before I will finish their sentences for them. (usually because I get frustrated waiting for them to think of the correct word) Only about 3 of my 50 employees have figured out that it is easier to speak Japanese to me, than it is to try to use English.

  15. #65
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by studyonline
    He was nervous but finally opened his mouth saying, "I..I...I..am.....PEN!"
    Do you mean the 'gaijin' said that ? If that is the case, it was probably a joke, as I have heard countless times Japanese who couldn't speak English shout to me in the street "This is a pen !" because that's all they could remember from their English class (and by the way, we don't start English classes with "this is a pen" or such nonsense in Europe).

    日本人がシャイなのは、皆さんがご存知の事実です。  特に、外人との接触する機会が る時など彼らにとって は、何らかの心の準備が必要なほどです。
    I will reply in English so that everybody can understand. I am also a rather shy person. Probably shier than most Japanese, which I found to be as expressive and open as the Italians- at least between themselves. Whta I don't understand is why most (if not all) Japanese behave so much differently when meeting Westerners. Why does a normal person suddenly become shy when they have to deal with a foreigner ? When I go to the combini, sometimes the staff is so nervous when I ask them something in Japanese (e.g. コピー機を使っていいですか?=> May I use the photocopier ?) that I can see them trembling in fear, and some cannot find their words to reply and call for help (gaijin da ! gaijin da !). Fortunately, this happens only once out of 50 times, but it does happen. And that is in cental Tokyo (e.g. Nihombashi) where there are Westerners going to that combini maybe 10 times a day. We can't even say they are not used to dealing with foreigners ! The funny thing is that it's almost always young males (in their 20's) or older women (over 50 years old) that panick at the sight of a Westerner. I may understand the latter, but not the former. Where is the proud and strong samuari spirit of the young Japanese men ?

    Where I come from (Belgian countryside), we almost never see foreigners (much less than in any Japanese city, even small country towns). It is close to 100% white. But nobody panicks, behaves differently, or say "help, that's a foreigner ! I can't speak English !". It makes absolutely no difference. I have travelled all around Europe with my (Japanese) wife, even in small country towns with no foreigners, and never have people behaved strangely like with 'gaijin' in Japan.

    Gaijin as you know means "out-siders." Many of them do not think out-siders can do what Japanese can.
    Thanks for confirming what I have been explaining.

    They may die of a heart-attack if you do 落語 in front of them. The problem is really the lack of knowledge on other cultures and people in the world as well as the lack of 身近な経験 with the foreigners.
    I doubt that the lack 身近な経験 (close-contact experience) be the real reason. As I said, where I come from, most people have probably never had close contact experience with a Japanese or a non white. But my wife can go in anywhere (shop, supermarket, train station...) and nobody even tries to speak something else but French, except when they see she doesn't understand, so they may try English if they can. Nobody assumes that because she is not white she can't do things as well as locals. This is called racism.

    What's more, the area where I live in Tokyo is very central and I see many Westerners everyday. I see them at my local supermarket, in restaurants or bento-ya in my area, etc. and yet some locals (older men, especially during matsuri when they are a bit more uninhibited) will shout "hey America !" or "This is a pen" when seeing a Westerner. This would never happen in Belgium. There are many Morrocans in Brussels (the capital) but it would be considered very racist to shout Arabic-sounding things that do not mean anything or shout "Hey Morroco !" when seeing one. Nobody does it (afaik).

  16. #66
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by Gaijinian
    True. In Japan or not, anyone not Japanese is a "gaijin." It is strange to think so, but I have been called, and call other Americans gaijin even when in the US! (ex: my teacher is a gaijin=(not Japanese).
    When I went on a sightseeing tour in Shanghai with a Japanese group, I couldn't help noticing that eventhough they were in China, they called the Chinese gaijin. I have heard Japanese in Europe refer to locals as 'gaijin'. So the term does not change in function of the environment. Logically, the 'outsiders' or 'foreigners' are those who do not live in the country. But it is so deeply rooted in the Japanese mind, that where ever on earth, anyone that isn't or does not look Japanese is always a 'gaijin'. I asked my wife : "Aren't we the gaijin here in China ?", but she wasn't too sure. Although it sounded logical, she understood why other Japanese referered to locals as 'gaijin'. That is one of the thing that make me believe that the Japanese are not linguistically logical people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikawa Ossan
    Note that 邦人 and 日本人 are not necessarily the same thing. When you call your American Japanese teacher, "外人" in America, I assume you're doing it in the 3rd sense above. Technically that's wrong, because using Japanese from the perspective of America renders Japanese citizens as 外国人. By definition, one can not be a foreigner in their native country; therefore, your teacher is not a "gaijin" so long as he/she remains in America (assuming that America is his/her native country).
    Technically it is wrong (because illogical), but the Japanese do use it that way. The Japanese are not people who usually care very much about definitions. The 'feeling' is more important. Hence, my impression that they often say very illogical things. I may be more sensitive to it because French speakers are taught very strictly about linguistic logic - much more than English speakers (esp. outide Britain => note that I said 'Britain' because I didn't want to include Ireland, famous for its weird "Irish logic").

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikawa Ossan
    A Japanese calling an American citizen "gaijin" in America is making the mistake of failing to understand that gaijin is a relative term.
    In my experience, the Japanese have little notion of relativity. For example, if someone calls me, a Westerner would reply "I am coming" (coming toward you) in any of the European languages I know. But the Japanese never use this relative meaning of "come" and would say "go" (ikimasu !). There are many more examples if one analyse the language carefully. French language may be even more relative than English in this case, as we can also say 'J'arrive' ("I am arriving") in addition to 'Je viens' ("I am coming"). So, it's not only a relativity in space but also in time ('arrive' implies that the person will be arriving in front of the other person in a very short time).

  17. #67
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by CC1
    Maybe all people who are easily agitated by Japanese people coming up to them and asking mundane questions should start wearing signs around their neck stating something to that effect? You know: "Don't talk to me unless you are of above average intelligence, as I get easily offended and do not want to come across as a jerk to you when you make small talk!"
    What about :

    "Maybe all Japanese shop attendants who are easily agitated by gaijin coming up to them and asking questions should start wearing signs around their neck stating something to that effect?"

  18. #68
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by CC1
    While I agree with most of what you say, I just think that you let it get to you too much. Meaning that you take it too personal...as an attack on you or something to that effect.
    I am someone who likes to analyse things, and reflect about what people say and how they behave. Not everyone is like me (few people are, I think), but one cannot change personality or sensitivity just like that because it would make life in Japan easier.

    Only about 3 of my 50 employees have figured out that it is easier to speak Japanese to me, than it is to try to use English.
    Don't you find this amazing ? It may be difficult for native English speakers to imagine what foreign language to speak to a foreigner. But I have grown up in several non-English speaking countries, and never did anyone try by default to speak English with someone, even if they knew for sure they were foreigners. It's something the Japanese do, and I cannot understand why in my or your case, it takes them so long to understand that just speaking normally in their mother tongue is the easiest way to communicate. It's usually fairly evident after a few seconds of conversation between 2 people which language works best. Maybe that's again the lack of critical sense. They can't judge things like that by themselves (well, some do, but as you said they are exceptions).

  19. #69
    修行中
    Join Date
    Jan 8, 2004
    Posts
    158
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    When I went on a sightseeing tour in Shanghai with a Japanese group, I couldn't help noticing that eventhough they were in China, they called the Chinese gaijin. I have heard Japanese in Europe refer to locals as 'gaijin'. So the term does not change in function of the environment. Logically, the 'outsiders' or 'foreigners' are those who do not live in the country. But it is so deeply rooted in the Japanese mind, that where ever on earth, anyone that isn't or does not look Japanese is always a 'gaijin'. I asked my wife : "Aren't we the gaijin here in China ?", but she wasn't too sure. Although it sounded logical, she understood why other Japanese referered to locals as 'gaijin'. That is one of the thing that make me believe that the Japanese are not linguistically logical people.
    I disagree with you here. If we consider that one of the meanings for 国 is "our country," that is, "Japan," then everyone else is a 外国人 no matter where a Japanese person is. Another example of this is 国語. One of its meanings is "Japanese." If we consider just 外人, then it seems that they think of it as meaning "people outside of our circle," i.e. non-Japanese, i.e. the rest of the world. That doesn't seem to defy the meanings of the parts of the words to me.

    There was an incident that seems to confirm this thought process to me. It occured about two weeks ago. A few people from one of my classes and I were talking to a Japanese girl, and when she found out that one of my classmates was half-Japanese (his mother is Japanese), she said to him お母さんによろしく伝えてください. Upon hearing this, I asked, "do you know his mom?" She said no, but Japanese people have a collective mentality about themselves where they see themselves as a unit, so this wasn't strange to her at all, as it probably wasn't to my classmate's mother, either. I found it very odd, though, and can't imagine someone coming up to me and saying that someone said "hi," just because we are both white or American. I relay this story to show why I believe there is a bit of logic involved in using 外人 for anyone not Japanese.


    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    In my experience, the Japanese have little notion of relativity. For example, if someone calls me, a Westerner would reply "I am coming" (coming toward you) in any of the European languages I know. But the Japanese never use this relative meaning of "come" and would say "go" (ikimasu !). There are many more examples if one analyse the language carefully. French language may be even more relative than English in this case, as we can also say 'J'arrive' ("I am arriving") in addition to 'Je viens' ("I am coming"). So, it's not only a relativity in space but also in time ('arrive' implies that the person will be arriving in front of the other person in a very short time).
    I disagree with this as well, because it's a matter of perspective. Japanese people talk about where they are at the time, not where the other person is. Really, it's more logical. I can't "come" somewhere that I'm not, anymore than I can "go" somewhere that I am.
    Last edited by Glenn; Oct 8, 2005 at 16:33. Reason: slepling

  20. #70
    Banned
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2005
    Age
    46
    Posts
    64
    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn
    I found it very odd, though, and can't imagine someone coming up to me and saying that someone said "hi," just because we are both white or American.
    I like the reasoning in your post and agree with a number of points you make. My only real disagreement would be with the above quote.

    I sometimes find when walking down the street that a fellow gaijin (by which in this example I mean white foreigner, who I don't know) coming the other way will give a little nod of recognition as they walk past, which is exactly the "we are both white [guys in Japan]" that you mentioned above. Interestingly there are also those that clearly don't want to associate with the other foreigner and will go out of their way to avoid eye-contact with you. Although you could argue that this in itself is another form of recognition that we are of the same group.

    To extend this further (the one-step removed family member example you quoted) my wife actually came home a few weeks ago with a can of baked beans which was given to her in a bar by an English guy she met, who thought I might appreciate them simply because I'm a fellow Brit. He had recently been home and picked up some food. Why he happened to be carrying it at the time I don't know, but I do know that despite not knowing me, or ever having met me, he still felt able to make such a gesture.

    However, I would accept that in my experience, this bond or identity as being part of a group is perhaps not as strong as between 2 Japanese.

  21. #71
    Non-Member
    Join Date
    Sep 17, 2005
    Posts
    153
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Thank you Mikawa Ossan. I see that at least you read my posts properly. It's incredible how much misunderstanding can be created by people who can't read, then call me Nazi because the understand the exact opposite of what I mean at almost every post (=> Silverpoint).
    Please do not use my posts in a way that defames other forum members.

  22. #72
    修行中
    Join Date
    Jan 8, 2004
    Posts
    158
    Quote Originally Posted by Silverpoint
    I like the reasoning in your post and agree with a number of points you make. My only real disagreement would be with the above quote.

    I sometimes find when walking down the street that a fellow gaijin (by which in this example I mean white foreigner, who I don't know) coming the other way will give a little nod of recognition as they walk past, which is exactly the "we are both white [guys in Japan]" that you mentioned above. Interestingly there are also those that clearly don't want to associate with the other foreigner and will go out of their way to avoid eye-contact with you. Although you could argue that this in itself is another form of recognition that we are of the same group.

    To extend this further (the one-step removed family member example you quoted) my wife actually came home a few weeks ago with a can of baked beans which was given to her in a bar by an English guy she met, who thought I might appreciate them simply because I'm a fellow Brit. He had recently been home and picked up some food. Why he happened to be carrying it at the time I don't know, but I do know that despite not knowing me, or ever having met me, he still felt able to make such a gesture.
    Your second example is certainly closer to mine than your first one. I was talking about a third person involved in the process, not just between two people, as you pointed out. I can see it between two people when they directly have contact with each other, but it really struck me as odd to just say "give your mother my regards" without ever having met her. Even your example seems more acceptable to me, maybe because it's more of someone giving a sense of home to someone else than just giving a "what's up?" of sorts. Although, your example does strike me as a bit odd as well. Maybe it's just me and the type of persone I am.

  23. #73
    Non-Member
    Join Date
    Sep 17, 2005
    Posts
    153
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Technically it is wrong (because illogical), but the Japanese do use it that way. The Japanese are not people who usually care very much about definitions. The 'feeling' is more important.
    Well all I can say is, the (Japanese) people I've explained it to all got it the first time. They really started to think about it, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn
    I disagree with you here. If we consider that one of the meanings for 国 is "our country," that is, "Japan," then everyone else is a 外国人 no matter where a Japanese person is. Another example of this is 国語. One of its meanings is "Japanese." If we consider just 外人, then it seems that they think of it as meaning "people outside of our circle," i.e. non-Japanese, i.e. the rest of the world. That doesn't seem to defy the meanings of the parts of the words to me.
    Let me illustrate more specifically how I expain the concept of foreigness to Japanese, many of whom have never given the issue a single thought. I find that lack of thought to be a blessing in a way. But I digress.

    Let's take the term 国語. Anyone worth his salt knows that 国語 and 日本語 are not the same thing. 国語, in its most basic meaning, is the native language of a given country. Or more accurately, [その国において公的なものとされている言語。 その国 の公用語。自国の言語。] (Quote from 広辞苑、5th ed.) When a Japanese says 国語, they are referring to 自国の言語, or the language of one's own country. Namely, Japanese. They would most likely not ever think of using it in terms of any other language. But we foreigners can do so quite easily, as long as you qualify it by stating something like, 「私の国の国語」, when referring to your own language in the same sense that Japanese generally do when they speak of Japanese 国語. To be more specific, the subject at school. (For my purposes here, before university, but I can make the case for University as well. It's just longer.)

    Just as Japanese do not learn 日本語 , but rather 国語 at school, people where I grew up did not learn English (in the sense that English is taught in say Japan), but rather 国語. In this sense, it's American 国語 or American English. Since Japanese lump the Japanese grammar, vocabulary, kanji, and literature that they learned at school into the term 国語, I do the same for the English grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and literature that I learned at school.

    I don't know whether I conveyed what I wanted to say clearly or not, but every single I put the concept of 国語 in these terms in Japanese, every single person understood what I meant the first time around.

    So you see, Japanese people can understand the relativity of the term 国語; it's just a matter that they never have to in their daily lives. Still, it's one of those concepts that makes perfect sense once one has been told correctly.

    The same holds true for 外人. I can go in more depth if anyone has a desire, but 国語 took more space than I thought it would. It's essentially the same concept, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I am someone who likes to analyse things, and reflect about what people say and how they behave. Not everyone is like me (few people are, I think), but one cannot change personality or sensitivity just like that because it would make life in Japan easier.
    There is nothing wrong with that, but there IS such a thing as over-analyzing something. Even the master himself said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." (I'm referring of course to Sigmund Freud.) I ask that you keep this in mind as you make your analysis.

    It seems to me that sometimes you cause yourself problems by analyzing things that don't necessarily need to be. It's easy to become hyper-sensitive to foreigner issues when one lives in Japan as a foreigner.

  24. #74
    なおと
    Join Date
    Jul 2, 2005
    Location
    Florida
    Age
    45
    Posts
    9
    Quote Originally Posted by Mikawa Ossan
    Let's take the term 国語. Anyone worth his salt knows that 国語 and 日本語 are not the same thing. 国語, in its most basic meaning, is the native language of a given country. Or more accurately, [その国において公的なものとされている言語。 その国 の公用語。自国の言語。] (Quote from 広辞苑、5th ed.) When a Japanese says 国語, they are referring to 自国の言語, or the language of one's own country.
    Hi there ya'll serious and smart people. Mikawa さん is right. We use 国語 for the academic subject in schools. When we say, "日本語", we refere to the language of Japan. Difference? While both are Japanese in English, there is a slight difference between them.

    We usually acknowledge 日本語 for foreigners to learn the language. And we say 国語 for a purpose of education. It is true depending on the level of your study Japanese, your 日本語 can be as high level as 国語. But for Japanese, we don't say that we study 日本語 because we speak it and live with it.

    While the elementary level of 国語 is very similar to 日本語 in terms of the difficulty as the kids in those ages just start to learn it, 国語 really starts to kick in with its real meaning at 5th-6th grade level.

    自国の言語 is a good expression for 国語. I must say the depth of the language is pretty deep. Sometimes that depth can be so intimidating and make people confused. 曖昧な表現 is not just because of the nature of the language. Another reason for that is the depth of it.

    Have you noticed that there are kinds of arts in Japan? Even for drinking tea.
    Both Chinese and Japanese people like things to be arts. We like to appriciate what we do. And that spirit is actually seen in 国語. Once you learn 日本語 and very good at it, try 国語 or 国文学. I find Japanese is very good at expressing 微妙で繊細 things.

  25. #75
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by Mikawa Ossan
    Well all I can say is, the (Japanese) people I've explained it to all got it the first time. They really started to think about it, too.
    In my experience, when I explained the logic of "gaikokujin" being relative to the country where one is, the Japanese understand what I mean, and even agree in principle. I am not saying that the Japanese cannot understand logic, I am saying that they prefer not to be logical by choice. This is the exact opposite of French speakers. For a French person, it's sometimes more important to be logical and cartesian than to be practical or just agree with others for the sake of communication. I am of course influenced by this mentality, although I try not to overdo it as some French people would (even if Silverpoint can't believe that there is worse than me on this).

    Let me illustrate more specifically how I expain the concept of foreigness to Japanese, many of whom have never given the issue a single thought. I find that lack of thought to be a blessing in a way. But I digress.
    That's also what I mean when I say they choose not to be logical. They don't waste time pondering over a definition. It can indeed be a blessing, but when discussing cultural differences with non-Japanese (like we are doing), it can lead to confusion.

    I think that the misconceptions I was complaining about above are mostly due to a similar lack of reflection. For example, they know that countries like France or the UK have 4 seasons (and of course, Belgium too, as it's about in between the two), but they ask about it anyway because they never gave it a good thought or tried to answered that themselves. I am sure that they don't want to confirm what they were taught and actually know the answer, because I have been asked this question by people who have been many times to Western Europe, and I asked them what kind of weather they had. Then they realised by themselves that indeed there were seasons there too, without my having to tell them.

    What I find most interesting is that so many Japanese ask this question (rarely when first meeting someone, though. Usually when the discussion leads to it, the cherry blossom and koyo seasons being the most propitious times). Why ask it if they could answer it by themselves ? Because they usually never tried to answer it by themselves. Why ? Because of the education system that does teach them to wonder and answer questions by themselves. They are taught to memorise and do like everyone else. They are not taught critical thinking and doubting what people say. In other words, if somebody doesn't give them the answer, they won't try to find it by themselves. I find this cultural specificity of utmost interest, but sometimes quite annoying (because my education taught to think the exact opposite way and even distrust information that my mind could not confirm on its own).


    Let's take the term 国語. Anyone worth his salt knows that 国語 and 日本語 are not the same thing. 国語, in its most basic meaning, is the native language of a given country. Or more accurately, [その国において公的なものとされている言語。 その国 の公用語。自国の言語。] (Quote from 広辞苑、5th ed.) When a Japanese says 国語, they are referring to 自国の言語, or the language of one's own country. Namely, Japanese.
    I agree with that. I noticed that the Chinese also use 国語 to mean Chinese.
    When talking about my schooling in my country (in Japanese), I used the word 国語 to refer to my mother-tongue's classes, and they never assumed that it meant Japanese.

    So you see, Japanese people can understand the relativity of the term 国語; it's just a matter that they never have to in their daily lives.
    Yes. Again, they 'can' understand the relativity of the term. But if you ask them directly whether the word could mean another language than Japanese or not, most have never given a good thought. It's not useful for them to wonder about that in their daily life, so they don't do it (contrarily to us who discuss it eventhough it is not "useful", just interesting or mentally stimulating ).

    There is nothing wrong with that, but there IS such a thing as over-analyzing something. Even the master himself said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." (I'm referring of course to Sigmund Freud.) I ask that you keep this in mind as you make your analysis.
    There are hundreds of ideas that have crossed my mind and that never expressed on the forum because it was too far-fetched or over-analysed. I already try to moderate myself. Some people have a low tolerance to in-depth analysis (like Silverpoint), others a bit more, and others crave for it. I also love analysing, comparing and interpretating statistics, but I am aware that no everybody does.

    It's easy to become hyper-sensitive to foreigner issues when one lives in Japan as a foreigner.
    That is true. Repetition of small things with little consequence can get on one's nerves seriously in the long term.

Page 3 of 7 FirstFirst 12345 ... LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Do you speak Japanese ?
    By Maciamo in forum Japanese Language & Linguistics
    Replies: 327
    Last Post: May 21, 2013, 19:58

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •