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Thread: English-friendly Japan

  1. #51
    Five times to Japan. ArmandV's Avatar
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    Thank God that Japan is as English-friendly it is. I truly appreciate having signs in English so I can navigate myself around, etc. Whether or not it compares to other countries in this aspect is irrelevant. I am just happy it has what it has.

  2. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    As for letting the argument stand on it's own merits, you don't understand how much I dislike people who come and criticise my analysis based on nothing but their own desire to argue.
    I've only just arrived at this website, but maybe they don't actually agree with what you're saying? Also maybe your arrogant and patronising tone might have something to do with the responses you elicit?

    I don't agree with you on this subject, based on nothing but my own experiences in the month I've spent in Japan as a non-Japanese speaker.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    What's wrong with telling people who I am (not how great I am, but on what personal experience my analysis is based).
    I think you're trying to draw a false distinction between the two - seems more like you are telling us about yourself to emphasise how great you are and how you can never be wrong. You can never be wrong, right?

  3. #53
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gaijin 06
    I don't agree with you on this subject, based on nothing but my own experiences in the month I've spent in Japan as a non-Japanese speaker.
    Alright. Like everytime I write a thread about cultural/country comparison, I should have given the reason why I decided to write such an article in the first place. This is in my signature, but for those who hadn't noticed, I am also the webmaster of Eupedia, whic includes a directory of Europe-related websites in English, similar to JREF's Japan Directory.

    While working on these directories (I've bee reorganising a lot in the last few days), I found that European countries tended to have fewer websites in English than Japan, especially when it came to government websites (but maybe more when it came to hotels and tours). Whereas Japan has almost 300 government websites listed, France only has 64, Belgium 148, the Netherlands 118, Germany 118, Italy 72, and Spain a ridiculous 25. The trend is even more surprising when looking at news and media websites. Japan has close to 400 of them in English, while European countries typically have around 10 or 20. Yet these are two rather fundamental things for English speakers living in a foreign country. I think it is largely due to the Japanese authorities' desire to look more "international", but also because of the Japanese tendency to (falsely) believe that Westerners cannot learn their language.

    Then, being also the author of JREF's Japan Guide. Having travelled extensively around Japan to gather information and take photos, I realised that Japan (and not just Tokyo) was in general much more English friendly than the countries where I had lived or visited many times in Europe. I'd say that the Netherlands, then Switzerland, then Germany, then Belgium are the most English-friendly countries in Continental Europe. I think it is necessary to explain that I have lived in 5 EU countries and know well several others (e.g. France, where I have never lived) so that people can assess the value of my comparisons, based on my observations as a "travel writer" (I have also written the Belgium Guide and England Guide) and somebody probably more "analytical" than average*.

    * that's what I have been told, but I sometimes find it difficult to accept (socially) that other people should be less analytical than me.

    I think you're trying to draw a false distinction between the two
    Does that mean that you do not accept this distinction ? Does IQ detremine someone's greatness for you ? Yo visibly have no idea of how hard it is to live (especially as a child) being exceptionally gifted.

    - seems more like you are telling us about yourself to emphasise how great you are and how you can never be wrong. You can never be wrong, right?
    Oh yes I can be wrong. But I like it when people come with stronger arguments to demonstrate that I am wrong, the way I demonstrate that I am right. An argument is like a scientific theory; it's right as long as it has not been proven wrong.

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  4. #54
    Regular Member Akakubisan's Avatar
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    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo

    Does that mean that you do not accept this distinction ? Does IQ detremine someone's greatness for you ? Yo visibly have no idea of how hard it is to live (especially as a child) being exceptionally gifted.

    Umm, I have a feeling that it is just as difficult or more so to have a learning disability (say ADD) as a child or an adult. Having a high IQ is not totally unnatural, I have a similar IQ, and I know a number of people as well with high IQ's.

    Please get off your high horse and leave it.
    Last edited by Akakubisan; Oct 27, 2005 at 11:53.

  5. #55
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akakubisan
    Umm, I have a feeling that it is just as difficult or more so to have a learning disability (say ADD) as a child or an adult. Having a high IQ is not totally unnatural, I have a similar IQ, and I know a number of people as well with high IQ's.

    Please get of your high horse and leave it.
    I cannot know for sure what your IQ is. But did you experience an utter feeling of boredom at school because it was always too easy ? Did you get envied by your class mates because you passed tests witout studying while they were studying 2h a day ? Did you find yourself misunderstod on a daily basis because the words you used were to difficult for people of your age to fully understand ? Did you dislike school because you prefered learning by yourself ? Did you experience that your own family members never managed to understand the way you thought or even felt as if you were speaking different languages ? Did you constantly have completely different (more mature and more intellectual) interests than people of your age ? (e.g. preferring to read an encyclopedia than play football) Did you argue with your teachers when you disagreed or found that then had mistaken (and could prove it) ? Did you get hated by some of those teachers for making them look stupid in front of the class ? Did you want to study almost every subject at university and couldn't get satisfied if you couldn't have enough variety ? Do you often find that you are like an alien among humans ? Do you do an intellectual activity to relax when others prefer watching TV, have a massage or play sport ?

    If the majority of these are not true for you, then I doubt that we are comparable.

    Here are a few accounts on the internet of/about other exceptionally gifted people (please keep in mind that gifted, highly gifted, exceptionally gifted and profoundly gifted are all different).

    Highly, Exceptionally, and Profoundly Gifted

    Characteristics of Giftedness Scale

    Gifted adults

    Why do I call myself the Outsider?

    NB : Do me a favour, edit your post above and add the missing [/QUOTE] tag.

  6. #56
    Regular Member Akakubisan's Avatar
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    I fixed my quote, thanks for pointing that out.

  7. #57
    Regular Member Akakubisan's Avatar
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    Originally posted my Maciamo
    I cannot know for sure what your IQ is. But did you experience an utter feeling of boredom at school because it was always too easy ?
    Yes

    Did you get envied by your class mates because you passed tests witout studying while they were studying 2h a day ?
    Yes again. (doesn't make you very popular)


    Did you find yourself misunderstod on a daily basis because the words you used were to difficult for people of your age to fully understand ?
    Don't really recall

    Did you dislike school because you prefered learning by yourself ?
    Depends on whether it was interesting or not.

    Did you experience that your own family members never managed to understand the way you thought or even felt as if you were speaking different languages ?
    Yes as a child and teenager, this is what happens when you are young, as you get older you learn to explain yourself.


    Did you constantly have completely different (more mature and more intellectual) interests than people of your age ? (e.g. preferring to read an encyclopedia than play football)
    I don't know about the more mature part, but yes i prefer the intellectual interests over others like sports.


    Did you argue with your teachers when you disagreed or found that then had mistaken (and could prove it) ? Did you get hated by some of those teachers for making them look stupid in front of the class ?
    I don't know if I ever made them look stupid, I did argue with them though.
    I still argue, I'm pretty good at that.


    Did you want to study almost every subject at university and couldn't get satisfied if you couldn't have enough variety ? Do you often find that you are like an alien among humans ?
    Yes to the first no to the second

    Do you do an intellectual activity to relax when others prefer watching TV, have a massage or play sport ?
    Yes watchinig TV is not high on my priority list, I prefer to read. But a nice massage is wonderful.

    If the majority of these are not true for you, then I doubt that we are comparable.
    I never said we were comparable, I was just pointing out that there are other highly intelligent people in the world and that you have to deal with it.

  8. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Does that mean that you do not accept this distinction ? Does IQ detremine someone's greatness for you ? Yo visibly have no idea of how hard it is to live (especially as a child) being exceptionally gifted.
    Oh dear. I don't want to get into a "my IQ/father/willy/bank balance" is bigger than yours discussion.

    I'll leave others to draw their own conclusions, rather than forcing my opinion of myself down their throats. For the record, pretty much all of those things you mentioned were true for me - but I grew out of them.

    Back onto the subject at hand

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I realised that Japan (and not just Tokyo) was in general much more English friendly than the countries where I had lived or visited many times in Europe. I'd say that the Netherlands, then Switzerland, then Germany, then Belgium are the most English-friendly countries in Continental Europe.
    As a non-Dutch speaking, non-German speaking, non-Japanese speaking person I found it much easier to live in the EU than Japan. Why - very simple reason, already stated:

    European languages share the same alphabet and origins - many of the words in one language are recognisable in another. So for an English speaking person, it is much easier to live in the EU than it is Japan.

    Also, it seems more common to me for EU inhabitants to speak English as a secondary (or tertiary) language than it is for Japanese people to speak English.

    While I am not denigrating Japan in the slightest for this, I must take issue with your assertions that is it very English-friendly and much more so than European countries.

  9. #59
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gaijin 06
    European languages share the same alphabet and origins - many of the words in one language are recognisable in another.
    But kanji are also pretty easy, as you can understand words just from the shape of the character, even if you can't pronounce it or write it. It's a fairly minor adaptation problem, compared to understanding the local culture, business customs, political system, taxation system, history, or any other fundamental thing that somebody should know to live and work in a country.

    I don't deny that it is much easier for a speaker of a Germanic or Latin language (English being a hybrid of both) to learn another language of this group. But motivation to learn the local language is as important, in my opinion.

    So for an English speaking person, it is much easier to live in the EU than it is Japan.
    But that's a different issue. I never said that it was easier for an English speaker to live in Japan than Europe. The cultural difference is so much bigger that it seems pretty obvious. Then, an English-speaking Weterner could easily pass for a local in most of Europe, without facing discrimination or having locals behave weirdly in their presence.

    Also, it seems more common to me for EU inhabitants to speak English as a secondary (or tertiary) language than it is for Japanese people to speak English.
    That's where I completely disagree. All Japanese learn English at school, and for 99% of them, their is no 3rd language available at school until university. Apart from Nordic countries where most people speak English quite well, Europeans tend to learn first the language of the nearest country from where they live, or the one they personally prefer. For example, Most Belgians learn the second main official language (Dutch or French) before English. In France, people typically learn first German in the North-East, Italian in the South-East, Spanish in the South-West, and English in the North-West. Many German people learn French before English (esp. near the border). Many Spaniards, Portuguese or Italians learn another Romance language first, because it is easier. I know that many French speakers are not muc better at English than the Japanese (even though they ought to, as French is much more similar to English). I have lived a bit in Italy and Spain, and most people couldn't speak English, or not well enough to comfortably hold a conversation. In Eastern Germany (I lived a while in Berlin), more people speak Russian or French than English. It didn't matter for me, as I was there to learn the local language.

    Nowadays, most Europeans may learn English (the rate is increasing year by year), but still often as a 3rd language (which means that they may only have 3 or 4 years of it instead of 6 or 8).

    You might want to check the statistics regarding the percentage of the EU population that speaks other European languages. If it is true that English is the most widely spoken EU-wide thanks to Nordic countries and Eastern Europe, only 31% of non-British/Irish Europeans can speak English.

    Have a look at the graph below to know the percentage of people who speak English as a foreign language in each EU country. Apart from Malta and Cyprus that were British "colonies", only Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Austria have more than 50% of people who can speak English. Only 32% of French people, and 28% of Italian people can speak English. I think it's comparable in Japan.


  10. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    But kanji are also pretty easy, as you can understand words just from the shape of the character, even if you can't pronounce it or write it.
    You might be able to, but I have no clue. Same with katakana.

    If I want to order from a menu, visit the barber, understand the pricing options on furniture in Tokyu Hands, understand a place name, understand what the words on the adverts in real estate agents windows mean etc etc I can confidently say that looking at the shape of the characters did me no good whatsoever.

    All examples from my first month here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Have a look at the graph below to know the percentage of people who speak English as a foreign language in each EU country. Apart from Malta and Cyprus that were British "colonies", only Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Austria have more than 50% of people who can speak English. Only 32% of French people, and 28% of Italian people can speak English. I think it's comparable in Japan.
    I wouldn't, from what I have seen. Learning a language (or any other skill) at school isn't the same as being able to apply it anyway. I learn to read music at school and can't anymore because I never practised it. Many of the things I learnt much more recently in university I would struggle to perform now as I've not used or practised them enough.

    I am sure this is the same for many people. In fact I learnt French at school, got the highest grade possible and now can't remember more than a few words.

    From your link above, 1 in 2 people in the EU think they speak English well enough to hold a conversation. Lets take the 1 in 3 figure of Europeans who speak English but not as their mother tongue..

    Are you seriously asserting than 1 in 3 Japanese people can hold a conversation in English? If so then I'm living in a different country to you.

    Again I'll stress this is not meant as a slur or slight against Japan or Japanese people.. it is just about the claims made in this thread. I no more expect English to be spoken/used in Japan then I do Japanese in England.

  11. #61
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akakubisan
    I never said we were comparable, I was just pointing out that there are other highly intelligent people in the world and that you have to deal with it.
    What made you think that I did not recognise that there were other highly intelligent people in the world (or on this very forum) ? I think we have quite a lot of very gifted or intelligent members on this forum. I am not going to give names for fear of offending those I forget to mention. I certainly do not hesitate to show my appreciation of other members' contributions by giving them the reputation points they merit. I wouldn't enjoy this forum as I do if we didn't have so many interesting and bright people (I tend to get bored quickly around "not so bright" people).

    So what is this about ? Because Gaijin 06 said "Sometimes it is better to let the argument stand on it's own merits, without having to bolster it by telling everyone how great you are, how high your IQ is..." ? For the record, I only mentioned once my IQ in over 6000 post and over 3 years on this forum (because I was asked for it), and never mentioned it on any other forum. I never once said that I was "great" or anything to that effect. As for the "condescending tone", this happens when I am irritated that some intelligent people do not make use of their intelligence to post (= don't think enough before they post) or try to (deliberately or unconsciously) sabotage my thread.

  12. #62
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gaijin 06
    You might be able to, but I have no clue. Same with katakana.

    If I want to order from a menu, visit the barber, understand the pricing options on furniture in Tokyu Hands, understand a place name, understand what the words on the adverts in real estate agents windows mean etc etc I can confidently say that looking at the shape of the characters did me no good whatsoever.

    All examples from my first month here.
    Is it much easier to understand these things in French or German ? When I first went to Germany, I couldn't speak German at all. Everyday I had to check dozens of words in my dictionary to help me get by n my daily life. That's wasn't very different from Japan, except that German words were a bit easier to remember, when they were similar to the languages I already knew. As for the kana, it took me 1 week to memorise them (less than 100 characters, so not that difficult), and that was just before coming to Japan, as a preparation.

    Are you seriously asserting than 1 in 3 Japanese people can hold a conversation in English? If so then I'm living in a different country to you.
    Most people under 40 can speak at least some English. Often they can read it or write it much better than they can speak it or hear it.

    In 2003, about 1.5 million Japanese took the TOEIC test. You can check the results here to see what are their average scores (most have high levels enough to hold a basic conversation). It's difficult to know exactly how many Japanese have taken the test (or others like the more difficult TOEFL or Eiken) in their life. But with 1.5 million a year, that's tens of millions in the last 10 years alone.

    Again I'll stress this is not meant as a slur or slight against Japan or Japanese people.. it is just about the claims made in this thread. I no more expect English to be spoken/used in Japan then I do Japanese in England.
    Well, that's a serious mistake. All Japanese learn English for at least 6 years. Many now start from kindergarten. Most Japanese companies check TOIEC scores to recruit their employees. Japan has more private English schools per inhabitant than anywhere else in the world. If you've only been one month in Japan, you will see that very often Japanese people are just very shy and lack confidence to speak English, but once you get to know them and they are a bit more used to speak English (even just once a week), they will open up and speak it. I have had some students who wouldn't say a word in the first lesson as they were nervous. They couldn't even answer a simple question like "What are your hobbies ?" or "What kind of job do you do ?". But they read books in English during their free time and could understand most of it without a dictionary. After a few lesson, they gradually started to speak, and their level eas much higher than I could have imagined at first.

  13. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Is it much easier to understand these things in French or German ? .
    Yes!

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo

    Most people under 40 can speak at least some English. Often they can read it or write it much better than they can speak it or hear it.
    Fine, but in relation to the topic - how English-friendly is Japan - the majority of interaction most people need is verbal!

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    If you've only been one month in Japan, you will see that very often Japanese people are just very shy and lack confidence to speak English, but once you get to know them and they are a bit more used to speak English (even just once a week), they will open up and speak it.
    I read that before I came to Japan, but it really not applicable to how English-friendly this is again.

    If I want to buy a bed, some shabu shabu, a hair cut, a mobile phone or rent an apartment I don't want to have to get to know the sales person, barber, waitress or realtor before they're confident enough to talk!

    If most people who can speak English choose to refuse or are reluctant to - then it isn't very "English-friendly".

  14. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gaijin 06
    Fine, but in relation to the topic - how English-friendly is Japan - the majority of interaction most people need is verbal!
    Er not really. The title of the thread is not "How well do the Japanese speak English". It is English-friendly Japan, and Japan is the country more than the people. It means that the facilities, signs, information available to residents and tourists, etc. are made to accommodate English speakers. How well the locals speak is only relevant for institutions/companies that deal with foreigners (at least that was what I meant since the beginning of the thread).

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    Ummmmmm.. I would say Japanese people are are important component of Japan.

    Much more so than signs and facilities to be honest. I would venture that it isn't just companies/institutions that deal with foreigners, and that many Japanese people also do so.

  16. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gaijin 06
    Ummmmmm.. I would say Japanese people are are important component of Japan.

    Much more so than signs and facilities to be honest. I would venture that it isn't just companies/institutions that deal with foreigners, and that many Japanese people also do so.
    Tourists can easily take the train/metro, find their way (maps, street signs), reserve a hotel, find English menus, etc. Not every hotel staff speaks English, and not every restaurant has an English menu, but there are enough of them to be convenient (more than in Thailand or China).

    For residents, there is enough info about government, laws, visas, taxation, emergencies, enough services in English (Amazon Japan, other bookshops in English, mobile phones, PC and TV programmes in English...) to live easily. Before the advent of DVD's, it would have been very difficult to find non-dubbed movies on TV or in video shops in France, Germany, Italy or Spain, for instance. As for meeting people, there are certainly enough Japanese who speak English fluently enough to find them easily at a bar or party. Anyhow, I would expect any resident in a foreign country to learn the local language, except if they want to stay with expats that speak their language. It's the same everywhere, so it's kind of absurd to claim that Japan is not English-friendly because the locals don't all speak English perfectly fulently. There is a big gap between "English-friendly" and "English-speaking" country.

    India is an English speaking country, yet only 2% of Indians are native English speakers. Because English is an official language used in government and education (most universities have lessons in English), you can expect at least a few percent of the people to be very fluent at English. But Japan is not an English-speaking country.

    Belgium has French, Dutch and German as official languages, but very few people can speak German outside the tiny German area, and I haven't seen any street signs in German in most of Belgium. Likewise, there are still many people who do not speak (or not well) the other main official language (Dutch/French). In many ways, Belgium is less German-friendly than Japan is English-friendly, and French-speaking Wallonia is about as Dutch-friendly (less for street signs) than Japan is English-friendly.

    Is that unreasonable to say that Japan is English-friendly when the infrastructure and government are as English-friendly as if English was a national language (yet from a different region), and the locals speak English about as well as Belgian people would speak one or both of their other national language ? In that case, Belgium would not be Dutch-friendly, French-friendly or German-friendly although these are the national languages (let alone English-friendly). Why not claim that Canada is not French-friendly because many English-speakers don't speak French ? I guess a place like New Mexico would not be very English-friendly either then.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Anyhow, I would expect any resident in a foreign country to learn the local language, except if they want to stay with expats that speak their language. It's the same everywhere, so it's kind of absurd to claim that Japan is not English-friendly because the locals don't all speak English perfectly fulently. There is a big gap between "English-friendly" and "English-speaking" country.
    I agree that residents in foreign countries should learn the language.

    In Japan it is a necessity as it's not "English-friendly" and hard to get by in daily life without speaking and reading Japanese.

    Anyway, I didn't claim "that Japan is not English-friendly because the locals don't all speak English perfectly fulently."

    Of course, the number of people who can speak English has a direct bearing on how English-friendly a country is. Kinda obvious really. If most stores, restaurants, barbers, bars etc had one person who could speak English then that would go a long way towards being "English-friendly" for me.

    However this is not my experience at all, even in areas with a heavy alien population like Akasaka.

  18. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gaijin 06
    Of course, the number of people who can speak English has a direct bearing on how English-friendly a country is. Kinda obvious really. If most stores, restaurants, barbers, bars etc had one person who could speak English then that would go a long way towards being "English-friendly" for me.
    So you are basically saying that Belgium is not German-friendly, although it's an official language, Switerland is not Romanche-friendly although it's only spoken there, and Spain is not Galician-, Basque- and Catalan-friendly because most Spaniards cannot speak those languages, although again they are only spoken in Spain and all official.

    For me, Japan is like a country where English would be official without having native speakers (apart from the foreign residents or naturalised Japanese like Arudo Debito). In every possible way, the Japanese government behaves as if English was the second official language. Were Guam or Saipan to be annexed to Japan and English declared an official language, there is little the Japanese government could do it is not already doing to make the country more English-friendly for its English-speaking population.

    Here is another example of what I mean :


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    Check the site "japanese Engrish" to see how Engrish friendly this cuntry is. Still very retarded.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Well, that's a serious mistake. All Japanese learn English for at least 6 years. Many now start from kindergarten.

    I worked as a teacher and have many friends who (still) are teachers or professors. In my observances the vast majority of people who have studied English for 6 years in school are still struggling with the same phrases that the 1st year learners are being introduced to!

  21. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Tourists can easily take the train/metro, find their way (maps, street signs), reserve a hotel, find English menus, etc. Not every hotel staff speaks English, and not every restaurant has an English menu, but there are enough of them to be convenient (more than in Thailand or China).
    But doesn't that equate to more money pumped into the economy by tourists? If everything was in Japanese, then the average weekend tourist would have difficulty getting around. These things are not necessarily done to accomodate long term residents as they are to help make the tourism industry more adaptive to foreigners. Don't you think?


    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    For residents, there is enough info about government, laws, visas, taxation, emergencies, enough services in English (Amazon Japan, other bookshops in English, mobile phones, PC and TV programmes in English...) to live easily. Before the advent of DVD's, it would have been very difficult to find non-dubbed movies on TV or in video shops in France, Germany, Italy or Spain, for instance. As for meeting people, there are certainly enough Japanese who speak English fluently enough to find them easily at a bar or party. Anyhow, I would expect any resident in a foreign country to learn the local language, except if they want to stay with expats that speak their language. It's the same everywhere, so it's kind of absurd to claim that Japan is not English-friendly because the locals don't all speak English perfectly fulently. There is a big gap between "English-friendly" and "English-speaking" country.

    Is that unreasonable to say that Japan is English-friendly when the infrastructure and government are as English-friendly as if English was a national language (yet from a different region), and the locals speak English about as well as Belgian people would speak one or both of their other national language ? In that case, Belgium would not be Dutch-friendly, French-friendly or German-friendly although these are the national languages (let alone English-friendly). Why not claim that Canada is not French-friendly because many English-speakers don't speak French ? I guess a place like New Mexico would not be very English-friendly either then.

    I would think (though I am not positive) that the choice to use English was based on the idea that English is a global language. I would think that a decision was made to adapt to a foreigner friendly language and English was chosen to accomodate the maximum number of people (of course the US military presence probably played into this as well!). As for the creation of the websites, etc... It is only a guess, but I would think that many of these places only employ a limited number of people who are cabable of performing this work. Chances are that the people who work there are only capable of translating to English (as the number of English speakers is quite high in Japan). Many government sites are not going to spend the necessary money to change to mulitple languages. Especially since you have so often noted that Japan is less than welcoming to people of other nationalities to become long term residents...I really don't see them wanting to make this process as easy as possible for people by putting all of the information in their native tongue!

    All of this is likely to change in the next 5-10 years as Chinese may likely overtake English as the preferred language in the international community.

  22. #72
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CC1
    But doesn't that equate to more money pumped into the economy by tourists? If everything was in Japanese, then the average weekend tourist would have difficulty getting around. These things are not necessarily done to accomodate long term residents as they are to help make the tourism industry more adaptive to foreigners. Don't you think?
    The reason why they spent money translating all the stuff is matter for another separate discussion. If you check the JNTO link earlier in this thread, you'll see that Asian tourists make up a much bigger part of all tourists in Japan than Westerners. So the policy of the Japanese government is at best inconsistent with reality, at worst a form of discrimination to encourage English-speaking tourists and discourage others. This lead us to your second comment :

    I would think (though I am not positive) that the choice to use English was based on the idea that English is a global language.
    Or at least the commonly shared Japanese belief that all Westerners speak English, and that Westerners are more desirable as tourists than other Asians. It's not with such policies that Japan is going to improve its relations with Korea, China and other Asian countries. At least, there is a new trend to translate 'some' public signs and websites into Korean and Chinese - but that's a tiny fraction of the signs and websites that are translated in English.

  23. #73
    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    The growing trend around here is for them to be translated into Portuguese/Spanish, but not English.

  24. #74
    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    The reason why they spent money translating all the stuff is matter for another separate discussion.
    Not really...I am merely shedding light on one reason why they would be, as you put it, so "English-Friendly"!

    If you check the JNTO link earlier in this thread, you'll see that Asian tourists make up a much bigger part of all tourists in Japan than Westerners. So the policy of the Japanese government is at best inconsistent with reality, at worst a form of discrimination to encourage English-speaking tourists and discourage others. This lead us to your second comment :
    True, but there are also another 100,000 Americans here yearly that are not classified as tourist, but contribute significantly to the tourism industry!


    Or at least the commonly shared Japanese belief that all Westerners speak English, and that Westerners are more desirable as tourists than other Asians.
    I will not debate who is a better tourist. That would be hard to prove. I suppose I could drudge up numbers on how much money is spent by each group, but I suspect that it would be Asians that lead this, being that many Americans desire to be more frugal with their money.

    As for the language part...It is still widely believed, not just by the Japanese, that English is a more widely known language worldwide.




    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    It's not with such policies that Japan is going to improve its relations with Korea, China and other Asian countries. At least, there is a new trend to translate 'some' public signs and websites into Korean and Chinese - but that's a tiny fraction of the signs and websites that are translated in English.
    But that is not the point of this thread, nor is it the desire of the Japanese...so why bring it up?

  25. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    So you are basically saying that Belgium is not German-friendly, although it's an official language, Switerland is not Romanche-friendly although it's only spoken there, and Spain is not Galician-, Basque- and Catalan-friendly because most Spaniards cannot speak those languages, although again they are only spoken in Spain and all official.
    For someone with a self-proclaimed high IQ you are having surprising difficulty grasping the concepts of this thread.

    Did you miss the bit where we agreed that it is much easier to move from one European language to another than it is to move between a European language and Japanese?

    As for the signs - I could go and take pictures of hundreds of Japanese only signs, just like you can go and take pictures of hundreds of signs in both languages. Not really enhancing the argument, is it?

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