Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Humor your hosts, speak to them

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

kore wakattara yomanakute ii

While most Japanese are fascinated with foreign countries and cultures, just as many are simply stumped encountered with the real thing. Social interactions in Japan, well anywhere in the world really, are driven (to a large extend) by gestures and language. However, in Japans largely heterogenous culture, gestures and language are more tightly interconnected than in English speaking ones. If either what you’re saying or how you deliver it is off or unexpected, it could become pretty awkward, as most Japanese simply aren’t used to foreign behaviour patterns.

So it is upon you, the intruder, the migrant, the foreigner to humor your hosts by adjusting your behaviour and, most importantly, your speech to meet expectations. On the bright side, the expectations aren’t high. Most Japanese are conscious that their country is unique, and they are very forgiving. But that doesn’t mean that they’ll help you a lot during your transitional phase either. You will have to make the effort, or you won’t be able to communicate with the natives beyond the barest essentials. (”Me want hamburger, now!”)