Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

Note that this thread has not been updated in a long time, and its content might not be up-to-date anymore.

Japanese Sarcasm 2004/8/13 10:01
I'm wondering if sarcasm is universal and used in all languages or whether the concept is only used in some of them.

Do the Japanese use sarcasm?
by Parrot  

Riiiiiight... 2004/8/14 03:19
I'm sooooo sure that the Japanese use sarcasm!
by Smiley rate this post as useful

truth 2004/8/30 16:35
Many Japanese are inert to sarcasm because an appreciation for sarcasm requires enthusiasm for truth.
by luvmagnet rate this post as useful

How RUDE! 2004/8/30 22:30
What was the point of that above post other than to insult a culture?

In answer to the above question, I haven't dealt with a lot of sarcastic Japanese...but they DO have their own way of using pointed language. So far as I can tell, it is less sarcasm than subtlety. For instance, a child being imperious might be addressed by a parent as "-sama" instead of "-kun" or "-chan" to subtly let them know that they are being overly rude or demanding. When you have a language that is as full of layers as Japanese is, you can almost say more to an alert listener with HOW you say something that with WHAT you say.

I am sure that more sarcastic things can be said than the subtleties of everyday language; I just am not alert enough in my Japanese to notice them yet.

by Seanolan rate this post as useful

sarcasim 2006/1/23 23:13
sarcasim is widly used in Japan.
Every human is sarcastic
by Tulip rate this post as useful

Even though 2006/1/24 01:12
Even though this is a very old post that got dredged up, I smiled so at something Sean said that I wanted to react. I think addressing your obstreperous child as "-sama" is exasperation rather than sarcasm. It's like calling your child "Thomas William Wilson the Third!" just to say, "I'm serious, pay attention!"

In regard to the OP, I rarely heard Japanese being sarcastic...or maybe it was so subtle I just didn't recognize it.... :)
by watagei rate this post as useful

something good 2006/1/24 09:09
i think sarcasm is same everywhere you go.

My sarcasm:

being sure for what you say. Offend with no mercy, just say the truth if someone is a weakling tell him and laugh(with sarcasm again) for him being weak.
by I Love Sakura rate this post as useful

Too polite 2006/1/24 16:47
When I first came to Japan, I tried to use sarcasm and no one understood. My sarcasm wasn't understood and people told me not to bother because it doesn't exist here.

Well, Japanese actually DO use sarcasm. There are subtle differences in rank and language so Japanese are sarcastic by being overly polite.

This is why "Omae" which is the most polite form for "you", when said to anyone other that Emporer can get you into a fight.
by Jevon rate this post as useful

sarcasm 2006/1/24 20:23
is not common as a source of humour. More often politicians, or people critisizing osmething will use it, and use it in a serious and critical way. For example right now with Horie san the tv shows are interviewing people on the street and the people use sarcasm to point out the DPJ old guys who were so afraid of Horiemon and now are making fun of him, when the DPJ guys are just as bad.
by yar rate this post as useful

The answer to Japanese Sarcasm 2008/6/27 12:07
The excessive piling of honorifics and the use of teinei-go and keigo
is one way I think. I've tried it out on my Japanese friends and they understand that.

It's like saying "Do awe-inspiring you mind helping insignificant me with my infinitely small problem?" instead of "Can you help me?"
by critiasc rate this post as useful

Contextual Sarcasm 2008/8/31 05:28
I am part Japanese, and yes, we do use Sarcasm.
It is perhaps much crueler then the American version, but if you do any study into contextual language differences, you would see it more fluidly.
If you are American coming into the country, you probably will not pick it up, unless you pretend to only speak English, and really can understand Japanese. The Japanese do not want to be thought ''rude'' but within the context of privacy ''sarcastic'' comments flow like a tidle wave of water. -- Or the ebb into the conversation in very subtle comments. (which are followed by a laugh, to make you insecure as to whether truth was said, or not)

by Lael rate this post as useful

Japanese sarcasm 2008/9/1 07:59

Could you give an example of this? I would genuinely be interested in hearing/reading an example of Japanese sarcasm.
by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

correct me if i'm wrong 2011/8/31 15:18
my experience is that japanese people don't use sarcasm as freely in normal conversation, and it's not thought to be particularly funny. I often read jokes/comics/humor with my japanese class, and the most difficult type of joke is one in which the humor lies in the sarcasm.

also, yes, the dictionaries don't make much of a distinction between sarcasm and irony. the basic difference is that things that happen are ironic. events can be ironic. speech can be sarcastic. they use one word to describe both concepts, and that in itself reflects a way of thinking that is different from in english. language does help create a way of thinking folks!
by adum rate this post as useful

. 2011/8/31 17:31
If the so-called "boke & tsukkomi" is not sarcastic humour, I don't know what is.

I've often heard that sarcasm is commonly used in English while it hardly is in Japanese, but being a native Japanese speaker I never understood what they meant. Sarcasm is very often used in Japanese, and I'm sure it's used all over the world.

It's just that things like sarcasm or humour is quite difficult to translate. In other words, there is a great risk of jokes not sounding funny or sarcasm taken seriously. Hense, people may tend to avoid using it in front of people who come from a different culture.

But then, why was Monty Python and Snakeman Show both popular in Japan?
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2011/8/31 18:58
Yeah I think it is true that people wont use sarcasm or other complicated humour with foreigners because they don't expect them to understand even a straight sentence let alone saying something in a sarcastic way.
Perhaps becuase of keigo and all those things in japanese people are more inclined to adapt their language depending on who they are talking to.
However I think in English sarcasm is more spontaneous and irregular and maybe people use sarcasm in less predefined ways than in Japanese?...if you can spot the sarcasm despite this irregularity it kind of brings the two people closer together so I think it is kind of like a social bonding exercise. Like if you can still understand me even when I say it like this then that means we are REALLY in tune with each other.
Not sure sarcasm is used in Japan the same way?
People seem to just find it irritating when I use english sarcasm and just say "why dont you say what you mean!" or something like I dont use english sarcasm a lot here and my japanese is not good enough to understand where japanese use it.
It isnt sarcasm but the closest thing I can think of is when people say
shi-taku instead of taku-shi(taxi) or a rude one...pai-otsu instead of oppai (interesting how the small tsu changes to pronounced tsu)....I guess this is similar social bonding thing of saying stuff in a weird way to establish how closely you understand each other although these are obviously used by various people and follow a set pattern so they are less personal.
by gilesdesign (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2011/9/1 01:58
Sarcasm is rampant & deep rooted in Japan as well.
If you know the history and the common sayings, you will know immediately when you hear.
For example, 士農工商(read sinoukoushou),the official class system during the Edo era, meaning "samurai, farmer, manufacturer, merchant" in that order even though the farmers were the poorest and the lowest of low social status but elevated to the 2nd class.
Another is 武士は食はねど高楊枝(bushi ha
kuwanedo takayouji) meaning the samurai chews on a tooth pick as if he just ate when he couldn't buy food & hungry.
It has been used in rakugo/manzai(one or two men comedy story telling).
Because Japanese society is controlled/disciplined, the sarcasm is used often to express one's true but concealed feeling to others who is not smart enough to get the wit.
Today the sarcasm is often used in talking to his/her company's (dumb)superior as if you are praising him/her.
There are cultural differences between Japan and other countries the way or what was said in sarcasm. Often you will notice the differences when watching western movies/slap stick programs or comedies when Japanese and westerners laugh at different scenes.
by ay (guest) rate this post as useful

sarcasm? 2011/9/5 14:27
My older relatives and their friends in France used a form of sarcasm that is perhaps close to what the Japanese do..

They would call somebody "my very dear friend" with a slight change in the tone of voice that meant just the opposite.

Some people wouldn't get it, much to the silent glee of the other guests that did.
If the person that was the recipient of the sarcasm replied they felt insulted, then the sarcasm would become more pointed..

One of my well heeled clients once told me that a famous French President told a lady guest at a party, after greeting her, " You are wearing your favorite evening dress" the poor lady blushed and stammered "it's the only one I own"

The president replied "you OWN your dress? what an unusual idea" and walked away, while all the other ladies around turned beet red..

Apparently most of them would borrow an evening dress, before a formal event, from a designer "to show my husband" then bring it back the day after the event saying "sorry, he didn't like it"...
Obviously the president knew..
by Monkey see (guest) rate this post as useful

reply to this thread