Little House In Ise

When the West JUST Misses Meeting the East
November 21, 2007, 14:25
Filed under: Expat, Japan | Tags: , ,

Non-native speakers of Japanese frequently find a few pronunciation challenges when making a stab at speaking Japanese for the first time. The following list are my favorite, typical, communication failures …

Kowai (怖い) frightening vs. kawaii (可愛い) cute
This is a classic gem of miscommunication. Imagine if a foreigner approached you and with a silly smile told you that your child was quite terrifying…

Kancho (灌腸) enema vs. kanjou (勘定) bill (at a restaurant)
So, you’re done with dinner, please be sure to ask for the right one. Now which was it again?

Obasan (おばさん) aunt vs. (おばあさん) grandmother/old lady
This usually confuses people when you are trying to indicate that a woman is middle-aged but you tell them she is a granny. BTW, both are pretty common ways of referring to strangers whose name you don’t know.

Ojisan (おじさん) uncle vs. Ojiisan (おじいさん) grandfather/old man
Same as for women though less likely to cause verbal beat-down when the mistake is made in conversation.

Okosu (起す) wake up vs. Okasu (犯す) rape
There has never been another verbal slip up that has gotten me in more trouble… If you ever need to a wake up call, please get the pronunciation right!

Hashi (箸) chopsticks, hashi (橋) bridge and haashi (端) edge…
Just give it up. If you are communicating with someone and they’ve lost context so badly that they’re not sure whether you’re talking about a chopstick, bridge or the edge of something, just give up — you’ve lost. Let the poor sot be “enigmatic” in peace.


2 Comments so far
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It’s funny cuz it’s true.

Comment by Whitey

[…] When the West JUST Misses Meeting the East « Little House In Ise […]

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