View Full Version : Depth and language
2004-08-20, 03:53 AM
Does anyone's signifigant others look for deeper meanings in the stuff that you say? It drives me crazy sometimes. And when you explain that you mean exactly what you say, you get the backhanded compliment that english is such a simple direct language and japanese has so much depth etc etc... I should have kept my mouth shut, but I couldn't..... "oh, but wait. You said when you talk or listen in English that you also think in English... so why do you even need to ask if there is a deeper meaning to what is being said... " I then almost said "it's funny that if the Japanese have such depth in their language it is quite strange that they care for only the most superficial things in the material world... Please explain dear.... " If I said that, I would have probably be typing this from somewhere other than my house...
2004-08-20, 05:39 AM
It's not a cultural problem. It's a gender problem. You didn't have any GFs before you got here, did you? Are you the real Charisma Man?
2004-08-20, 07:36 AM
uh yeah, I'm not over here. I'm in the states and I've had a number of girlfriends. Some were damn hot if I do say so. "I do." While they all did drive me crazy, the one and only asian girl I ever dated and got married to absolutely takes the cake in so many aggravating ways. Of course she wasn't always like this... I'll see if I can some pics of my past gfs to post. You know stroke my huge ego.
2004-08-20, 10:35 AM
Assuming your question relates to deeper meanings that lead to arguments.
If you are else where, may I hazard a guess that your wife/GF is experiencing a little culture shock. She see`s deeper meanings in things because she`s is insecure and stressed out.
I can relate to this, as I, a Brit living in Japan, often wonder what does my wife mean by that exactly and what exactly does that guy mean when he looks at me like that on the train etc etc etc@I know I am being sensitive and I know its culture stress. The only answer I have found is to get out of Japan for a week or two at regular periods. It really helps.
The other thing is I am lucky, my wife and I both look at our problems and accept we both say and do stupid things sometimes. We don`t dwell on them. However me and the guys on the train are not so lucky. I have some serious issues to get through with my fellow commuters :)
2004-08-20, 10:47 AM
Never heard the 'Japanese is deeper' thing from my SO. But a few students and friends have felt that way. And I think that it really can be argued that as a written language, Japanese is deeper than English. But that's not what these ladies meant, they insisted that the language itself has more depth and subtlety.
They would bring up Japanese words or phrases that don't have English equivalents like 'yoroshiku onegai shimasu' or 'giri' (which does in fact have a few perfectly good English equivalents) as proof. It was no good to mention the many English words that have no Japanese equivalents, since these ladies didn't understand them.
And there you have it- seems that those who say English has no depth are simply not very proficient in the language.
Ask your wife to read, say, "Slaughterhouse Five" or "Lolita". If she can understand it, and still insists English lacks depth and subtletly, maybe then her point is worth arguing. Until then, tell her to hush up/button her lips/shut her pie-hole/snap her trap/zip it/talk to the hand. She'll surely know what you mean, English being such a simple language and all.
As for always looking for deeper meanings, my husband used to do that. We still hadn't learned to communicate properly. So he tried to read between the lines when there was nothing to be read. Drove me crazy, until he finally understood that he was wasting his time. And he knows that my more direct aproach at communication is not becuase English is a simple language, it's because I myself am a very simple person.
2004-08-20, 10:20 PM
You wrote: "Just as many native English speakers have such difficulty grasping concepts of indirect communication". Don't universalise. Many American native speakers have that problem, due to the prevalence of hyper-rationality as a quasi-hegemonic social ideology. The rest of us Native Speakers are actually fairly adept at sublety and euphemism.
Furthermore, if you actually bothered to learn to speak, read, and write English properly, you would soon realise that such facile absolutist comparisons between English (even your American English) and Japanese are totally without value. Your constant rose-coloured lensed, romantic view of Things Japanese is perhaps due to your own ethnic gig. Fair enough. But be aware of it as personal viewpoint rather than representing it as universal fact, and foisting your simplistic accounts onto those of us who actually live here AND understand the people, their language, their society, and also the annoying presence of inflammatory Gaijin trolls on these fountains of Reason and Wisdom.
They are WOMEN. Thats what they do.
I think I wish to stroke your huge ego. I hope U R being euphemistic, Yes?
;) And don't worry, lots of us get driven nuts by 'em all the time. But that's only half as nuts as lots of us drive them.
2004-08-27, 12:09 AM
Kurogane was right.
It has nothing to do with the supposed "subtleness" of the Japanese language, or the directness of the English language, or any of that other shite. (By the way, when you learn Japanese, you find it isn't so different from English. It is just like a "back to front" English. The "deep grammar" is essentially the same, as Noam Chomsky pointed out in his famous theory.)
Anyway, back to the point: laterthanyou's girl was just behaving like a typical woman.
And Japanese women behave the same as English women, or Australian Aboriginal women, or Ancient Egytpian women. All women act like this. When in love, they obsess and get paranoid about small things and drive their men crazy with their constant questioning and interrogations.
For example, lying in bed:
SHE: Do you think I am ugly?
HE: (Pausing momentarily, stunned by the brutality of the question, and wondering whether this is a trick question) Er -- no! Of course you're not ugly!
SHE: You paused! Why did you pause?! So you think I am ugly after all!
HE: It's not true. I think you are beautiful. Why would I be sleeping with you/married with you, if I thought you were ugly?
SHE: So you can't get a beautiful woman, so you will settle for me instead. I hate you! I am never speaking to you again! (Turning over in bed, turning his back on him.)
And on it goes, endless variations of the above.
Being with a woman is kind of like white-water rafting. You have to navigate constant, treachurous, turbulent waters. The rewards are there, but you have to learn how to deal with chick logic. And the rules for Japanese women are exactly the same as for foreign women, in my humble experience at least. That's why I have no time for people who say Japanese are different from other nations. They are exactly the same, and it is time they started recognising that fact.
2004-08-27, 12:24 PM
When in love, they obsess and get paranoid about small things and drive their men crazy with their constant questioning and interrogations.
Oh come on. Not ALL women. At least not the ones that are all grown up.
And while I strongly disagree with all that "Japanese is a deep, subtle, emotional and indirect language" crap, I do think that Japanese people, both men and women, tend to expect that in an ideal relationship, a lot can be said with just a few words. So early on in a relationship with one of us English speaking westerners, some Japanese may look for hidden meaning when there is none.
Either that or I married a girly man...
2004-08-27, 03:49 PM
Nice. In tune, and on course.
Of course we know it isn't every single women. My point, and CR's, I think, was simply that the tendency to read into things like that is more gender than culture specific. Certainly Canadian women have been known to do it, and many Japanese women don't. Now, as for the Girly Man status of your hubby, does he moonlight at one of those cross-dressing cosplay bars in Kiyamachi? I think I saw him the other night. I was only there at a cusomer's request, of course. ;)
I agree that a lot of Japanese couples do talk less than what we might consider average, but a lot of people at home probably do as well, we just don't elevate it to the level of cultural norm. Which is why She-pimp's ignorant rants dressed up as universalist observations hack me off.