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September 18, 2007



I just read a piece by Amy Chavez, and I hope it's the last time I have to read anything by her. It was very self-centered, and not at all forward-thinking.

The Christian Science Monitor piece sounded more like a rant than a warning. If you mimic female speech you will sound female in any language. That is the nature of 'mimicking'. (Imagine a male Japanese exchange student in California who learned English from teenage girls, "It's so, like, amazing and like this shirt is so cute, like, I HAVE to have it!"

I'm grumpy today. Typhoon Nari (台風11号) destroyed my attitude.


I'm worried. For several reasons.

One, if Japanese people really are that reluctant to tell us when we're saying things wrong, how will we ever learn?! I mean, when people speak poor English to me, I still praise them to try and encourage them because god knows most of my students stare at me with blank expressions when I ask them "How are you?" If the general meaning can be conveyed, does it really matter how technically accurate your speech is?! Would it help if people were constantly picking apart the things that you said, or just make you feel even worse because of ALL the mistakes you were making?!

I'm also concerned because that article was written in the style in which I speak to fellow English teaching friends here. Throwing in the odd "chotto" "genki" or even "daijobes" (complete bastardisation of the language obviously) for comic effect, and also because its sometimes just so much easier and natural. But to see it in writing makes me realise that it sounds bloody ridiculous!!!

Dear me. I'm rather afraid to speak Japanese ever again! Why did that guy not realise that he sounded like a woman though?!?! I mean, SURELY he must have heard Japanese men speak at some point in time in TWO AND A HALF YEARS!

Thomas (

I heard about this phenomenon when I first started learning Japanese, and I've always tried my best to avoid it. I often ask my wife "is it ok for a man to say that?", especially when it's a sentence I picked up from her. Sometimes I still catch myself saying something girly by accident though (like "iya da" - i hate that word).

I think that most Japanese people think my Japanese sounds more childish than girly though - my most-involved conversations usually occur at the elementary school. I can be pretty fluent if the topic is colors, food or dodgeball.


-I like the exchange student example. I think once you have some facility with Japanese you can recognise types of Japanese, but for a person new to a second language I think "Japanese is Japanese"

-To be frank I think we have to take responsibility for our own learning and much as I would love for Japanese people to correct me (we Australians are very linguistically unforgiving with visitors) the fact is that most people won't, and after all, it is our job to listen and copy what Japanese people say and monitor our own output. I have had luck asking friends and Japanese teachers to correct me - but sometimes it must just be easier to let stuff slide so long as the message gets through.
-And incorporating Japanese words into English is a perfectly natural phenomenon when you live in Japan ( 5 man versus fifty thousand yen - I know which I find easier to say) - not so much when you are writing an article for an English speaking audience.

-I guess we guys just have to bite the bullet and start hanging out with.....guys!

Reality bytes

This is a stupid thing to worry too much about. Most people who worry about this shit can not speak Japanese well enough to have concern.


I used to have the opposite problem,
I am a girl and I used to use "Ore",
and "Zo" or "Ze" at the end of some sentences.
I must have sounded like a punk!

Of course, some of the people I knew in Japan
(other girls) used Zo and Ze and Na instead of
ne but I haven't heard a girl use Ore yet..

It took a while for me to notice and I still don't think I've shook the habit completely yet... (^_^;)


-Reality Bites

But everyone has to start somewhere, right? I mean you didn't master juggling in a day did you?
BTW I'd love to see a show, and I think you'd be a great interviewee.

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