I Think Japanese Language is Negative

I think Japanese language is negative compared to English. I would like to tell the reason today. I have around 550 international friends on Facebook. I’ve been enjoying communicating with them in English. I also have around 20 Japanese friends there. I have linked my blogs in English to Facebook. So, every time I update my blogs, my Facebook friends can know that I update my blog entry.

One day I posted a blog entry. One of my Japanese friends left a comment on Facebook in Japanese. She said, “Wow, I don’t know that you know English very well. It’s awesome.” When I read her comment in Japanese, I couldn’t write like that I always write to my international friends. If I received the same comment from my international friend, I wrote, “Thank you so much for the comment! I’m happy now!” or something like that. The comment sounds rather more positive for me. However, I wrote, “おそれいります。(I’m sorry. I can’t translate the Japanese phrase into English.) My English isn’t perfect. I always have made many mistakes in it. I have to improve it further.” After I wrote like that, I realized that my comment in Japanese sounded very negative.

おそれいります (osoreirimasu) is sometimes used in a negative way. However, it is a very polite, respectable and useful phrase for adults. When we want to show our humble feelings, but we also want to show our thank feelings together, we sometimes use the phrase. For example, when somebody pulls some tea into our cups, instead of saying “Thank you”, we sometimes use “おそれいります”. When somebody gives praise phrases to us, we definitely say “おそれいります”. Most of us don’t say “Thank you so much” at first. We use it to teachers, elderly people and strangers and in many business scenes. We don’t use it between our friends. For some reasons, I think that’s why Japanese language is slightly negative.

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mygsasha
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 14:38:09

    Yes it´s the problem when we speak in other language .We want to say something but they understand something diferent.

    Reply

    • yumi
      Nov 20, 2011 @ 16:08:46

      Hi, Marisol. Thanks for the comment. I think that’s why we have to learn the culture where people speak the language that we have been learning.

      Reply

  2. アンディ (@atamaosoi)
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 03:14:05

    なんとなく賛成できない。日本語は話し言葉とか丁寧語があるね。英語もドイツ語もそんなことない。ドイツ人とドイツ語で話すと、色んな表現を使っても、普通のドイツ語だね。賛成したいと、普通の言葉を使う。読み方は主観的だと思う。
    勿論、日本語大好きだね。偏るかも。。。^^

    Reply

    • yumi
      Nov 21, 2011 @ 13:00:09

      アンディ、お久しぶり。日本語でコメントをくれたので、日本語でコメントを返すね。まず、どういうシチュエーションで使うかによるんだけれど、補足すると、そのコメントを下さった方は、昔、お世話になったペイントの先生。もちろん、私より年上。先生ということと年上であるという条件が2つ重なり、必然的に、丁寧語、へりくだった言い方をしたわけ。英語には、絶対にない言い方だから、これを理解するのは、とても難しいと思うけれど、日本人なら、みんなどういう相手と話すかによって言い方を変えているよ。とにかく失礼にあたらないように話すのは当たり前だから。私は、日本語は否定的にとらえる言葉だと思っている。もちろん、英語と比べてよ。ドイツ語は、よく知らないので、比較できないけれど、おなじ西洋文化圏なので、ドイツ語もそうなんだろうね。英語話すときは、頭を英語にするだけなじゃくて、英語圏の文化も理解して話すように心がけてる。日本語、日本文化とは、かなり違うので、ときどき戸惑うこともあるけれど、今は、本当に英語も、英語圏の文化も理解できるようになったので、問題はないかな。日本語を学ぶということは、日本の文化を学ぶことでもあるので、言語だけを学ぶのではなく、文化も一緒に学んでいってください。それには、日本に住んでいる、きれいな日本語を教えられる日本人の人と友達になって、きちんとした日本語を教えてもらうのが一番いい方法だと私は思いますよ。

      Reply

      • アンディ
        Dec 16, 2011 @ 12:57:45

        id like to add, that in german or english, not only words are important, but also intonation – much, much more than in japanese (in english more so than in german, as we have more complex grammar and more “hidden meanings”). transporting a message via text is worst. via voice all right. face-to-face tho is the best way, and, if done that way, every language does its job equally well, in every aspect.

      • yumi
        Dec 23, 2011 @ 10:02:04

        Hi, Andi. Thanks for the comment. I agree. I also wrote the similar opinion on my other blog entry of Japanese language. That’s why face to face conversations are so important.

  3. niasunset
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 11:52:21

    Not easy to learn language… As in your next post, this is not only to learn langauge grammatically, etc. but it is also to learn the culture of this language. But I want to repeate again, Japanese language is not negative. Don’t think like that. If we think like that, we can find this in all other languages too. I have experience a few years ago about Italian language, it was so difficult for me to learn it. There is not a question for in this language you almost give this by the sound, by the tone of the speaking… And also, it is same for English language too, for example between American English and British English there are differences too and this comes from the differences of these cultures… Nothing is negative…Just different. Thank you Yumi, have a nice weekend, with my love, nia

    Reply

    • yumi
      Dec 23, 2011 @ 10:06:49

      Hi, nia. How have you been? I hope you have a great Christmas with your family. Anyway, thanks for so many comments. You maybe right. Our language might not be negative. Yes, there are so many differences between English and Japanese. I think that without learning culture, we can’t understand other languages. Learning culture is very important for language learners. I’m very glad that our language and our culture seems to be very rich for Western people. Your comments really motivate me up to keep on this blog! Thank you so much!!

      Reply

  4. niasunset
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 11:53:22

    sorry should be like that ” There is not a question form in this language…”

    Reply

  5. niasunset
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 11:55:37

    By the way, I should add this too, sometimes I can see how beautiful expressions in Japanese language… Seems to me very rich language… Between translations there is always so many lost in the meanings… Thanks and Love, nia

    Reply

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