Do you think Japanese people are not very straight forward? There are many Japanese expressions that are very vague and confusing. For example, when someone asks you out and you don’t really want to go out, Japanese people often say..”hum..chotto..demo..” (hum..a little..but..”) But people in Southern California are the same way. People prefer not to reject people obviously and they often ignore phone calls or just come up with excuses.
So you know that she isn’t that into you!
I wrote about “Honne” (honest feelings) and “Tatemae” (facade, the face you show to the public) but the way Japanese people apply this concept tactfully in order to avoid uncomfortable situations.
Another confusing word is “Kekko desu”, which literally means “That sounds very good.” “That is very good, enough” But when you get a call from telemarketer, you can just say “Kekko desu” and slam the phone. You are really saying “No. Don’t call me” but this phrase also means “It sounds good.”
Another thing that Japanese people do is confusing especially to westerners. We tend to nod and say “Hai” (yes) while listening to another person speak. It doesn’t really mean that we agree with everything the other person is saying but just acknowledging what he or she is saying. This act is called “Aizuchi” (brief response). Another concept of honne and tatemae, just being polite to the other person.
In conclusion, it is extremely important that you learn how to read between the lines when learning Japanese language. We can’t really master a foreign language without really understanding the intricate nature of the culture. And these subtle expressions are great examples of Japanese culture. I personally think it is not limited to my culture because I see a lot of Californians do that.
I say Californians because my friends from midwest and the East coast often complain about them being very vague and fake. Again, we have to read between the lines here in California.
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