Communicating with the Japanese
 
By Joyce Millet  

 

 

 

 

Japanese - 
"The Devil's Language"

 

 

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   From the 1967 movie, Cool Hand Luke, comes a phrase 
we hear almost every day, all over the world...

"What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate" 

Communication problems are part of life.  Parents fail to communicate with their children; the boss does not communicate with his/her staff; men and women cannot seem to communicate with each other. These difficulties are universal--people everywhere have trouble communicating even in their own language. What happens when we add different cultures and languages to the mix?

Japanese is one of the most difficult languages in the world, and the Japanese seem to delight in the fact that only a few foreigners have mastered the language. This gives credence to the popular myth that Japan is unique and therefore only the Japanese can speak Japanese.

In the 16th century, St. Francis Xavier reported to Rome that the Japanese language had been devised by the Devil to prevent the spread of Christianity in Japan. Many who have attempted to learn Japanese might agree with St. Francis!

But, is it really necessary to learn Japanese in order to  successfully conduct business in Japan?  After all, there are hundreds of good interpreters, and, English is the accepted international language for business, right?

For those of you who decide to forego learning Japanese and just stick to English, here is another popular myth--most Japanese speak English. When you do find those who have a good command of the language, you will begin to realize that there are three types of English spoken in Japan.



 

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