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Thread: Japanese express emotions by facial expressions and music rather than words

  1. #26
    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
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    Anyway... You seem to have some pretty arrested ideas about Japanese behaviour, so I won't try to force you out of them, as mine are just as arrested. However, since coming to Japan and getting out of the teaching business, I've broached the subject a number of times with a number of people from teenage to old age by asking the same simple question: do you consider yourself an expressive person and do you think that Japanese in general are expressive (word for word, no kidding)? I still have to get an affirmative to both parts of the question. But that may just be the people I hang around with, as I don't consider drunken and/or teenage behaviour to be representative of society as a whole... Expression is everything--tone, face, demeanor. Japanese lack two of the three according to your reasoning and experience. If passion is not part of an expressive demeanor and passion is not an emotion, then I don't know what is...
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  2. #27
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    => Tasuki

    What you definitely don't seem to understand is that "expressivity" exist in every human in a variety of forms. Writing is a form od expression. Speaking is another. Facial expression, gestures, social behaviour and clothes are others. Every form of art is a form of expression. So even if manga writers or drawers aren't the kind of people who like arguing face-to-face or make vehement public speeches, they express themselves. I don't think any group of people on earth is more or less expressive than any other. They just express themselves differently. That is my point here. I started this topic only to find an explanation to the apparent lack of diversity in Japanese vocabulary (I mean that used by people, not the literary words that you only find in dictionaries). On a purely linguistic point of view, Japanese express emotions and nuances in meanings (2 clearly different things, but related to the richness of vocabulary) with tones of voice or gesture as explained above, rather than using more specific words. In English you can say that someone look, watch, glance, peep, stare, gaze, gape, leer, observe, scrutinize or contemplate (among dozen others), which each represent completely different emotions or way of looking. There is no such thing in Japanese, so they have to create emotional tone of voices to express suprise when gaping, marvel when contemplating, concentrating when scrutinizing or disgust att sb leering. Do you understand better why I was talking of facial expression, gestures or tones of voice in this case ? I also believe Italian, Spanish or French do just the same becaus these language also lack (though not as much as Japanese) words with such nuances. Have you read my article about emotion words in Japanese ?

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  3. #28
    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
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    No. I haven't and quite honestly don't have any intention to. We're talking about facial expression, and whether you like it or not I'm going to hold you to the title of your thread, which is supposed to give an idea of the point you're trying to make. I don't intend to rise to the bait of you trying to to teach me forms of expressions (as I use some of these aforementionned forms of expression for a living), as I don't see what it has to do with the current conversation. That Japanese are different from everybody else is a fact, but if you start threads saying that they do this instead of that, you have to have a basis of comparison, in this case, foreigners. Compared to foreigners, and the Japanese around me themselves tend to agree, Japanese are not expressive (when it comes to expressing feelings through mannerism, faces, and speech; let's not lose ourselves). That you think otherwise is fine by me, but as a forum advisor you shouldn't be moralizing posters (especially when said poster has been living in Japan three times longer than you have). I said I wasn't trying to change your opinion, grant me the respect of having my own without putting it down or saying I don't understand anything (implying that you do). End of story.

  4. #29
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Maciamo
    => Tasuki

    What you definitely don't seem to understand is that "expressivity" exist in every human in a variety of forms. Writing is a form od expression. Speaking is another. Facial expression, gestures, social behaviour and clothes are others. Every form of art is a form of expression. So even if manga writers or drawers aren't the kind of people who like arguing face-to-face or make vehement public speeches, they express themselves. I don't think any group of people on earth is more or less expressive than any other. They just express themselves differently. That is my point here. I started this topic only to find an explanation to the apparent lack of diversity in Japanese vocabulary (I mean that used by people, not the literary words that you only find in dictionaries). On a purely linguistic point of view, Japanese express emotions and nuances in meanings (2 clearly different things, but related to the richness of vocabulary) with tones of voice or gesture as explained above, rather than using more specific words. In English you can say that someone look, watch, glance, peep, stare, gaze, gape, leer, observe, scrutinize or contemplate (among dozen others), which each represent completely different emotions or way of looking. There is no such thing in Japanese, so they have to create emotional tone of voices to express suprise when gaping, marvel when contemplating, concentrating when scrutinizing or disgust att sb leering. Do you understand better why I was talking of facial expression, gestures or tones of voice in this case ? I also believe Italian, Spanish or French do just the same becaus these language also lack (though not as much as Japanese) words with such nuances. Have you read my article about emotion words in Japanese ?
    Yes, probably just 'communicate their feelings' is a better way of putting it, though, so as not to be confused with expressiveness or expressivity to the degree it is normally thought of in the West. Japanese probably are relatively inexpressive in terms of broad facial movements and or excessive vocalization in most situations, but if there is an implicit understanding or sensitivity to relatively small changes, there wouldn't seem to be a need to go beyond that. Of course relaxing and making silly gestures with friends (not compensating for poverty of language) are probably a different class of behaviors entirely.

  5. #30
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    => Elizabeth

    My Oxford dictionary says :
    Expressive : a) effectively conveying thought or feelings. b) conveying a specified quality or idea.

    I use the word with this meaning. It's as much for thought or ideas (for examples, nuances in the meaning of "miru" or "okoru") than feelings.

    Japanese may not need to make excessive movements or vocalizations, but that is also due to their own sensitivity or culture. That doesn't mean they aren't expressive.

  6. #31
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Maciamo
    => Elizabeth

    My Oxford dictionary says :
    Expressive : a) effectively conveying thought or feelings. b) conveying a specified quality or idea.

    I use the word with this meaning. It's as much for thought or ideas (for examples, nuances in the meaning of "miru" or "okoru") than feelings.

    Japanese may not need to make excessive movements or vocalizations, but that is also due to their own sensitivity or culture. That doesn't mean they aren't expressive.
    Well I suppose in this sense a people could not have survived for milennia not being able to effectively express themselves and even an expressionless face is still conveying something. The point remains, however, as to how successful the Japanese as a whole are at conveying genuinely negative thoughts and emotions, whether those feelings inadvertantly and subtly leak out or not.

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