Two Major Differences
Throughout your time in Japan, you will most likely notice many things that are unique to Japanese culture. Bowing, not wearing shoes indoors, sitting on the floor, eating with chopsticks, and bathing rituals are some of the more obvious examples. Exposure to and experience with the Japanese language, itself, will give you even greater insight into these cultural differences.
Order of Delivery
It took Shoo Kamei forty years of being Japanese and a trip to Europe before he discovered why conversations in Japan take so long. While conducting business with European and American companies, he noticed that the conversations seemed to be over quickly. He also found that what was being said by both parties, even in his self-described “broken English,” was easily and clearly understood. After the meetings, he returned to his hotel where a Japanese tour guide was waiting to show him around. In conversing with the guide, Kamei-san realized a crucial communication difference.
When Japanese people speak, especially when they are saying “no” to something, they often give several
One theory is that because Japan is crowded, people have to be extra careful in the way they communicate with each other. This means taking care to say things gently, so as to avoid conflict. Some people, like Kamei-san, feel that this practice goes too far:
Japanese people are too careful.
Conversations take too long.
Method of payment is often an issue in business dealings. In Japan there is a kind of late check called the
The suffix -
I ate too much dinner.
They always drink too much.
I'm thinking too much right now.
Likewise, when attaching -
This is too difficult.
That light is too bright.
Another explanation for the roundabout nature of Japanese responses involves the language itself. Verbs come at the end of a Japanese sentence. It makes sense, then, to put anything that might deliver a punch toward the end of a conversation, too.
Few people actually enjoy turning someone down. Finding a way to do it gently, yet firmly, is a challenge. Disguising a rebuff in a beautiful package of verbosity is one option. Be warned, though — Japanese legend has it that the negotiator who can deliver a beautiful “no” and smile the whole time is the fiercest of them all. The rejected party may not even realize it until later.
What is the difference between humble and honorific forms of speech?
Honorific forms of speech elevate the status of something or someone. Adding the prefixes
The following examples are all extremely eloquent refusals. Even dissecting the sentences and translating them word for word will not uncover a single straightforward “no.” Each example, however, demonstrates a way to
While I understand what you are saying, we are thinking this way about the matter.
We will give it some thought.
We will consider it.