misunderstandings …

The word "Nihongo" written in Kanji....

Image via Wikipedia

English: Japanese "alphabets" in Did...

Image via Wikipedia

Japanese language has a lot of aspects. Some of which can create for foreigners some unexpected “twists” either in their own expression, the way they are understood by others – or “the way you understand how the world works”.

For example, the written language uses four different means to graphically express the spoken word: 1) Chinese characters, 2) TWO forms of Japanese alphabet = Hiragana and Katakana and the Latin alphabet. In particular the Japanese alphabets may sometimes cause confusion, because they render individual sounds where apart from the five vowels ALL other sounds are expressed in an alphabetic expression by TWO letters: a consonant and a vowel. Like

ka, sa, ta, na …

The second of the mentioned alphabets is used MOSTLY for writing foreign words. Because of the additional vowels you hear as a foreigner, you may sometimes “mistake” what you really hear for something else.

For example, I remember when I first heard the word “windbreaker” = meaning a piece of clothing.

I was sort of stunned, because I could not for the life of me figure out, why people would like to “break windows”.

THAT is how I recognized the spoken word with the additional vowels: “window breaker” …

It took some explaining, but I finally got it.

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About nyuwa

German acupuncturist living in Japan for 32 years. My ideas about "common sense" may not necessarily be common sense to others.
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2 Responses to misunderstandings …

  1. Pingback: Fuckin’ Sale? | nyuwa

  2. Pingback: Learning alphabets « Polyglot Posturings

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