〈5〉1-4 Different people, different language?

  〈5〉  ◆ chap 1  “ What a strange language Japanese is !  

          part 4.  Different people, different language ?  

Japanese language values feelings and it is not limited to onomatopoeia. In many situations, Japanese people use sensuous language to describe their emotions or circumstances.  

                                     One thing that surprises foreigners,

                 is the difference between language spoken by men and women.

Of course Latin derived languages such as Spanish have masculine and feminine nouns and adjectives (There is even a neuter gender in German).  Nobody, even Westerners can really explain why there is such a difference of men and women in the description of things. It is an utterly bizarre grammatical rule.

Yet, both men and women speak the same language. The gender of speaker does not make a difference in the way they speak. Does this mean that they are concerned with the gender of things, and Japanese people are concerned with the gender of person? I would think it is much more natural to change the course of speech according to the gender of speaker... (Oops, excuse me!). 

        Anyway, in Japanese, the speech pattern is associated with the gender of speaker. 

Generally speaking, there isn't much difference in formal conversation, but in informal conversation between close friends or family, you would particularly see modifications of sentence ending particles.

                    ----- I am going on a trip to Europe from tomorrow. -----

        Men's language    : Ashita kara Yo-roppa(Europe)ryokou ni ikunda (yo) 
             Women's language  : Ashita kara Yo-roppa(Europe)ryokou ni ikuno (yo)


If you are Japanese, you would surely capture that the top is men's language and the bottom is women's language. You don't need to add a subject. If men speak with women's language or women speak with men's language, they would convey on additional nuance. The richness of the variation is incomparable to that in Western languages. 

Moreover, there's a surprising abundance of ways to call a person (personal pronouns) in Japanese.

        The words a man uses to call himself (masculine first person pronouns), 

in addtion to watashi and watakushi, includes jibun, boku, ore, wate, oira, oidon, kochira, touhou, wagahai, soregashi, chin, yo, maro, shousei, sessha, gusei..., and more and more... 

        And the words a woman uses to call herself (feminine first person pronouns),

in addtion to watashi and watakushi, includes atashi, atai, atakushi, atasha, achiki, uchi, warawa..., so there is no ending.

Of course there are enormous variations in the second or the third person pronouns, and Japanese people carefully distinguish these subtle differences and enjoy their conversations.

Not only that, many pronouns have changed throughout history, as you can find the old "he" (anokata) has changed to "you" (anata), or "I" (onnmae) has became "you" (omae)", Japanese is a very imaginative language. 

                    Furthermore, there is a esoteric honorific language in Japanese.

It expresses a form of respect by subtly changing or using different verbs to people who are older or superior to you. For example, the verb "iku (go)" could be "ikareru", "oiki ni naru" and "irassharu", and each form may be further transformed to different expressions. It is hard enough for Japanese people to  find the proper usage, so it would be even harder for foreigners to master.

This is because Japanese language reflects the hierarchical thinking that underlies in our society, and it has a fundamentally different sensibility from the equality-oriented Western societies. In other words, we Japanese are quite concerned about our own gender, age, or social-class of people around us, and therefore we carefully choose the words we use in daily conversations.

   You can't learn a language without understanding the culture of the country.


    Learning Japanese language is also a way to understand Japanese culture. 

                    ーーー  The next post will be                         


                                     <6> chap 1  “ What a strange language Japanese is ! 

                     part 5. Mixing four different writing systems together ?

                                          This is published  ⇩


                 See you, soon !!

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