Work in Japan Advice Board
We have had over 1,000 people from 40 different countries study Japanese at our school.
Those who study at our school, do so for various reasons, including: “Going on to a Japanese University”, “Understanding Japanese manga”, “Getting a job at a Japanese company” or simply because they “love Japanese fashion and pop-culture”.
The purpose of this column is to help explain some of the common problems encountered by those who wish to study Business Japanese.
Japanese is often said to be one of the hardest languages in the world to learn, One particular point that always proves difficult for our students are phrases related to “giving and receiving.
Even those who have studied Japanese for only a short while will have learnt phrases such as those below:
In phrase 1, it is clear that my partner was given a present by me. However, phrases 2 & 3 express that a present was received by me from my partner.
But do you know the difference between phrase 2 and 3?
Phrase 2 shows how I initially asked or wished for a present to be given to me, while phrase 3 expresses that the gift was bought for me unexpectedly, also indicating a feeling of being pleasantly surprised.
Such phrases are also used often in business. Understanding the nuances of these phrases can help you to interpret the feelings of your Japanese associates.
(I’m really sorry for bothering you but could you get that document.)
(Sorry to be a pain, but please get that document.)
(Please quickly get that document.)
(If you could grab that document, it would be great.)
(Go grab that document please)
Of course, different people have different ways of expressing themselves, so it’s important to read the situation when trying to interpret how things are being said.
While phrases may have the same meaning on a fundamental level, you should try to understand why people have used a certain way of saying it. In Japanese, there are many phrases which speakers can use to express nuance in what they want to say.
Instead of just trying to “understand Japanese”, by learning “practical Japanese” we can begin to form strong business relationships with even the most difficult-to-read Japanese people.
Human Academy Japanese Language School - Chief Manager
After graduating, Mr.Tanaka taught Japanese in a number of countries in the ASEAN region including Malaysia and Brunei.
He then taught at a Japanese school for foreign students in Japan for 10 years before making a transition to school management.
As the role of Japanese language teaching changes, Mr.Tanaka focuses on Japanese teaching methods that fit the needs of students today.