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Question What are your crazy language experiences?

jack6251

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Hi everyone :)

I thought I'd take this opportunity due to my most recent (but no doubt absolutely not last) account of speaking Japanese and being met with absolute insanity!

ワッパーバーガーふたつをください. たんぴん で. いじょうで. 持ち帰りで お願いします.

I skipped breakfast, no lunch so felt like I'd catch up on calories by ordering 2 Whopper Burgers on their own to take out / go. I was met with "1 cheeseburger?" so I repeated my order...FOUR times and telling them I didn't want 1 cheeseburger, I wanted 2 Whoppers. Eventually the manager came over, I repeated my order and Abracadabra, as if by magic, the order was processed without further pain.

Another occasion in a supermarket, I asked for 1 bag, a plastic bag for my food. The woman replied..."3 bags?" I repeated, "1 bag please"..."3 bags...you want 3 bags?"..."No, only 1 bag"..."3?", "1"..."3?"...."1 (holding up one finger, stroking it up and down). 1 bag please."..."3?"....at this point in English I shouted "ONE BAG!". The man behind me was laughing away knowing this was insane.

Another time I visited McDonalds. Not only did I get my Big Mac, I also got all the items my fingers had accidentally touched on the counter menu as I was leaning in to give my order. That was a real what moment.

I'm wondering, does anyone else have any examples of things going absolutely iNsAnE when speaking fair to good Japanese to Japanese people, i.e, using THEIR OWN LANGUAGE to communicate with them? My theory is, it blows their logic circuits to hear Japanese coming out of a face that isn't Japanese.

Anyone got anything?
 

nahadef

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It’s not unusual, it happens to me sometimes, though outside of a combini or fast food place, I have almost no communication issues.

That said, I know I slightly soften my consonants when I’m not thinking about it, and I might drop an English syllable stress on my words, so there’s likely an accent issue. All the same, saying ke-chap-pu four times increasingly slower at a McDonalds counter is a pain in the butt.
 

jack6251

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It’s not unusual, it happens to me sometimes, though outside of a combini or fast food place, I have almost no communication issues.

That said, I know I slightly soften my consonants when I’m not thinking about it, and I might drop an English syllable stress on my words, so there’s likely an accent issue. All the same, saying ke-chap-pu four times increasingly slower at a McDonalds counter is a pain in the butt.
Ah yes, McDonald's and the ongoing game of "Saizu Ping Pong"..."Potato wa Esu saizu o'kudasai"..."Eru?" "Esu"..."Eru?" (Shake of the head) "Esu de"..."Emu?"..."...Esu....I want S SIZE PLEASE YOU VILLAGE IDIOT!"

..."Eru?"
 

Mikawa Ossan

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Some people just can't "hear" Japanese when it comes out of a non-Asian mouth. I've had that happen to me, too. I worked in a hotel for a while, and I remember once I gave street directions to a customer who just couldn't "get" it. A colleague (who spoke no English) then repeated what I had just said verbatim and like magic the customer understood. Imagine that!

But not everyone is like that. I was in a capsel hotel in Hiroshima, and this guy just started talking to me like he knew me. I was out at.a jinja with two other foreigners once, one who was asian, and the guy there would only even try to speak to me, not the other guys. Not sure why about that one. And I was out in S,Korea once and some guy came up and spoke to me IN JAPANESE in Seoul(!) asking for directions.
 

Uncle Frank

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My strange language run-in had to do with my Japanese I learned from my hippy Japanese friends. I was in Tokyo for a few days near the end of my second year in Japan. I thought my Japanese speaking skills were pretty good. Several people in Tokyo pointed out my Japanese was terrible slang. A bartender commented I must have been taught by a retarded fisherman who never went to school , LOL. After returning to Maine after getting out of the Navy , I took a night school class with the instructor being a beautiful female. I thought I was going to be miles ahead of the other students. After the second night of class , she asked me to stay after. She explained I needed to forget everything I thought I knew because it was gutter Japanese and she didn't want the rest of the class exposed to it.
 

jack6251

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My latest experience...I asked for 1 Big Mac Burger, she said "Teriyaki?" and punched in Teriyaki Burger into the register. "No", I said, "Big Mac"..."Teriyaki?"

Work that one out....that's a beauty!
 

mdchachi

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My latest experience...I asked for 1 Big Mac Burger, she said "Teriyaki?" and punched in Teriyaki Burger into the register. "No", I said, "Big Mac"..."Teriyaki?"

Work that one out....that's a beauty!
Next time try saying ビッグマック 😄
 

jack6251

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Next time try saying ビッグマック 😄
Haar haar. Yes, I never speak English in Japan. I'm only using it here for ease ;) So knowing that, explain to me how they hear
照り焼き Teriyaki - "テリヤキ" over "ビッグマック"....
 

cloa513

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Hi everyone :)

I thought I'd take this opportunity due to my most recent (but no doubt absolutely not last) account of speaking Japanese and being met with absolute insanity!

ワッパーバーガーふたつをください. たんぴん で. いじょうで. 持ち帰りで お願いします.

I skipped breakfast, no lunch so felt like I'd catch up on calories by ordering 2 Whopper Burgers on their own to take out / go. I was met with "1 cheeseburger?" so I repeated my order...FOUR times and telling them I didn't want 1 cheeseburger, I wanted 2 Whoppers. Eventually the manager came over, I repeated my order and Abracadabra, as if by magic, the order was processed without further pain.

Another occasion in a supermarket, I asked for 1 bag, a plastic bag for my food. The woman replied..."3 bags?" I repeated, "1 bag please"..."3 bags...you want 3 bags?"..."No, only 1 bag"..."3?", "1"..."3?"...."1 (holding up one finger, stroking it up and down). 1 bag please."..."3?"....at this point in English I shouted "ONE BAG!". The man behind me was laughing away knowing this was insane.

Another time I visited McDonalds. Not only did I get my Big Mac, I also got all the items my fingers had accidentally touched on the counter menu as I was leaning in to give my order. That was a real what moment.

I'm wondering, does anyone else have any examples of things going absolutely iNsAnE when speaking fair to good Japanese to Japanese people, i.e, using THEIR OWN LANGUAGE to communicate with them? My theory is, it blows their logic circuits to hear Japanese coming out of a face that isn't Japanese.

Anyone got anything?
That happens a lot. Using 一つ they think of as 2 before COVID masking using made it even worse.
 

xminus1

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The travails of a foreigner speaking Japanese is so much of a "thing" that such difficulties were even acknowledged in a Japanese language instruction book I was using. It was a while back that I read it, but I remember the reading exercise comprised a number of anecdotes recounted by a French person living in Osaka. (The passage was understood to be fictitious but it must have been written by someone who had some personal experience...).

The story went that this fellow spoke Japanese and French. He worked in a Japanese office and his friends and colleagues spoke Japanese exclusively. He complained that whenever he went to a department store or restaurant, Japanese people would insist on speaking English to him. He would tell them in Japanese that he prefers to speak Japanese, as he doesn't understand English very well. It would make no difference; they would insist on speaking English.

On one occasion when he needed directions, he walked up to a fellow standing outside a train station, and asked him the way to such-and-such. The Japanese fellow responded angrily "だめだめ‼" and stormed off. The Frenchman asked another woman, who tried to help him rather enthusiastically, but only in English. According to the story, the lady gave him such garbled directions in English that our protagonist got lost. The fellow was understandably peeved, since both he and the lady could have communicated, he thought, perfectly satisfactorily in Japanese, and he wouldn't have ended up lost if they had. I thought at the time this was an interesting cultural phenomenon to include in an elementary Japanese language book. You would think it off-putting for some Japanese beginners.

I also remember Boye De Mente, in one of his many books on the Japanese, writing about the phenomenon of Japanese people not understanding Japanese spoken to them by foreigners. De Mente theorized, as was also noted above, that the cognitive dissonance of some Japanese people seeing Japanese spoken from a foreign face short circuits their comprehension. This is by no means universal, of course. As an outlier on the other side of the issue, John Nathan wrote in his memoir that his language professors at Tokyo University were astonished at his linguistic capabilities. He overheard them saying he was freakily good, which apparently they admired, although considered it an oddity.

And just to further demonstrate an exception to the story in my language book, I remember watching an NHK World travel program where the gaijin presenter was going to speak with a Japanese man about something he was an expert in. When the presenter walked up and spoke Japanese, the relief on the man's face was palpable. "Oh thank God, you speak Japanese!" he told the presenter in Japanese. (Sometimes NHK World programs seem charmingly unscripted and "rough").

My own experiences in Japan are limited, but I can't say I've encountered the "English only" phenomenon myself. When I tell people (in Japanese) that I don't understand Japanese at all, quite often they respond with great volubleness (in Japanese of course). :LOL:
 
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Buntaro

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Many times Japanese cannot imagine Japanese words will come out of a foreigner's mouth. I have found one thing that sometimes works. I start speaking by saying, "Eeeeeeeeto!" This often catches them by surprise -- and works.
 
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It's not quite the same, but one time early in my first stay, I was telling someone about my apartment in English, and they asked if I lived in a mansion. I explained to him that no, I did not live in a mansion, but a small plain apartment in a large plain apartment building. He asked me again if I lived in a mansion, and we just kind of looked at each other a while trying to figure out which one was the idiot.
 
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