The Japanese language can be ambiguous at times.  Maybe many times.  Often, the subject is left unsaid, because people get the gist (hm… didn’t know that was spelt with a “g”) of who is doing what.  Unlike Spanish, the conjugated verb doesn’t tell who’s doing it.  So, if you miss the beginning of the conversation, for a learner, it could be challenging to find out what’s going on.

No, this is not a language lesson, but a cultural lesson.  Really? you ask.

Yes. Language absolutely reflects culture and subculture, no matter where you go. I’m sure someone else has said it, but if they haven’t, remember to quote me on it.

I was recently with two friends.  One in particular I have a lot of difficulty understanding.  I have no idea why, I just can’t seem to catch her.  She’s a Tokyoite, so I’m not sure what the deal is.  I actually feel a bit sad about it.  The other friend has spent some time overseas, so I’m sure that helps me when she’s communicating (she knows what I’m going to understand and what I’m not).

Anyway, friend 1 was saying something that I was working at grasping.  The wheels in my brain were working out of control to come to the conclusion of what she was getting at.

Friend two saw the steam rising slowly from my brain.

“Dakara….” she kindly stepped in. (“Therefore/because of that…”)


Like I hinted at before, there’s a huge part (exaggerated motions here) of language and culture here that’s all about what’s left unsaid.  What’s hinted at.  And to successfully understand the Japanese language [and people], ya’s gonna needsta know this.

1+1= …..

2.  You don’t need to say it.  But maybe in Japanese, it’s like 1+…..

For example, if you invite a friend to something or otherwise request something and the person uses the word “chotto” (a little), that’s usually a no.  EEEeeeeeck, screech the car, case closed.

Beside that, there is SO much about the grammar and phrases that the your language choice conveys the feeling behind it. You don’t even have to say the feeling, the phrase you choose communicates it all.

So, lately, I’ve been practicing my “dakara’s” with people.  What are they really saying here?  Is there something that is unsaid in this situation that they are hoping I catch?

I feel like I must look like an outfielder with baseballs flying all around while I’m just standing there, eyes straining at the air.

Let’s hope no concussions come out of this.


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