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A dream about knowing nihongo in Japan 2008/7/14 23:51
So recently I had a dream where I was attending an exchange school in Japan(I never REALLY been to Japan yet, so it's a bit crazy). I know very few Japanese words in real life so of course that affected the dream, but once I started class it seemed the teacher expected me to know how to write japanese(which I don't).

So after trying to explain I was just learning Japanese he/she said (this is the crazy part of the dream) that I brought dishonor to my family for making people assume I knew Japanese, and it goes on from there.

To put it into more simple terms, is visiting Japan making natives assume you know the Language, or do Japanese expect foreigners to know mostly english and there is no question of honor?
by Brian  

Most foreigners... 2008/7/15 09:13
That go to Japan will not speak Japanese. In fact I would say that Japanese people are amazed if you can speak even the tiniest amount of Japanese. I'm sure people can back me up on this. You don't need to speak Japanese to have a successful stay in Japan.
by magpie1862 rate this post as useful

Japanese 2008/7/15 09:53
The whole idea of "bringing dishonour to one's family" is very dated, and sounds like something out of a samurai movie.

You would certainly bring dishonour to your family by committing a crime for example, but you would in your home country as well.

Nobody is going to disparage you for not being able to speak fluent Japanese, they will appreciate any attempt you make.


by Sira rate this post as useful

Hmm 2008/7/15 10:45
So are you saying that the Japanese are kind to foreigners, even if they don't speak Japanese?
by Brian rate this post as useful

no 2008/7/15 15:00
japanese are basically kind to anyone as long as they aren't angry/in a hurry. even tokyojin will help you out -if you ask them to-. i don't think japanese people are different from any other nation really, especially to tourists. i've never been somewhere in the world where people would be rude to you just asking for help or trying to speak the local language.

i don't think foreigners speaking japanese surprises anyone much anymore. foreigners speaking japanese are all over tv. there's even an english teaching program on nhk with an american comedian host that speaks fluent japanese.

sure, they might be initially shocked if you can speak japanese well, and you'll be showered with compliments for a while (i.e. 5 minutes or less).

but after that they'll dive right back into normal pace and if you can't keep up, you'd better figure out some sign language or something.

just from my experience. i came to japan having not used japanese for several years and started working immediately in a very rural place with NO english around whatsoever, and i was the only foreigner for miles around.
by winterwolf rate this post as useful

Japanese 2008/7/15 15:51
Most Japanese people are kind to people who don't speak Japanese and may go out of their way to try and help- this is the experience of friends and relatives who have visited me in Japan. I even have friends who have lived here several years and speak very little Japanese- they love living here.

Japanese people are more likely to be embarrassed that they themselves don't speak English well, and this stops a few of them being more helpful.

Whether or not Japanese people expect foreigners to know mostly English depends. They don't necessarily expect Asian foreigners to know mostly English for example.

by Sira rate this post as useful

languages 2008/7/15 16:50
Not to mention that the average Japanese, by looking at daily news on TV,knows that a huge number of people around the world don't speak English. I once saw a TV program in Japan teaching French, for example. The French speaking channel TV5 Monde is broaDcast around the world, including Japan (and the USA, Canada etc.)
by Red Frog rate this post as useful

Okay 2008/7/15 18:48
Thanks for the answers!
by Brian rate this post as useful

Japanese 2008/7/16 07:02
I speak very little Japanese, but it was still well received when I was there this past spring. In fact, someone commented that my accent was very natural, even though I only asked for a price and said "excuse me."

I wouldn't worry at all. The only thing that might be a problem is if someone assumes (if/when you do use a little Japanese) that you know more than you do. That happened to me a few times.
by Kelly rate this post as useful

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