Saturday, April 21, 2012

Simple "YES" & "NO" Hard for us Japanese

(posted; Etymology page)
Mainly, I have hard time explaining for two things when I teach English especially to junior-high-school students. I mean besides the grammar and all.
One, I have already posted herelink about "Japanese name order". And the other is "Differences of "YES" & "NO" between English & Japanese".  You might not belive me saying this as I can guess how you feel; so I would like to write about the differences and what is the confusing point,
The trouble arises with the negative questions; and the Japanese concept will be really hard for English speaking people. Here is the example conversation I made for you to figure out better, which I translated literally from Japanese.

A;  Don't you know the news about Tsunami?
B;  Yes, I don't know about it  because I was really busy today.
                           ("Yes" means affirming not knowing.) 
     Or, if you knew about it,    
B;  No, I knew it from the news. What a terrible thing happened. 
                           ("No" means denying not knowing.)

Firstly, we affirm or deny for the negative question itself and then answer for what was asked.  I am sure that this mixture of denial and affirmation for an answer sounds quite funny to you all. It is also hard for Japanese students to grasp your idea; you just have to answer the truth "which it is".  And I find it very sensible.

This is I scanned from the textbook. The added illustration for interpretation won't be much help to them (^^;)

Thank you very much for reading and I hope I didn't confuse you too much. I wish I could make myself understood with my explanation. 
I found the draft of this post far below my "edit posts" list, I was happy to feel like finding the lost child (^^;)   
The day before yesterday, my father sat on the bed. And he started eating a little yesterday, whew.  Thank you very much everyone for your thoughts and prayers for him 


  1. Miyako, I do believe this is how our lawyers speak! ha ha Confusing! You are doing a great job teaching your students. You really give a good explanation. Have a wonderful week,I hope your Father is improving. xo

  2. Dearest Miyako,

    Guess the same is true for Bahasa Indonesia... I've come across the very same problem there. But the 'feeling' is a cultural difference that one must understand when engaging into business with the two languages. For tourist talk, one never will get to know this.
    Great news about your Dad!
    Have a wonderful weekend and I'm glad you found this post in your Drafts; it's an important one.



  3. Miyako san,
    I found the draft of this post far before my "Edit posts"list I was happy to feel like finding the lost child.
    You are very good the teaching English Miyako san.
    Have a good weekend.

  4. What an interesting difference in the languages arould the world.
    You are a very good teacher and I'm sure your students love you.
    Hugs & Love

  5. I never realized this, my friend! A whole new part of brain unfolded in thinking about this. I find things like this fascinating. Thank you for sharing- I truly learned something new. You are an excellent teacher!

  6. Miyako...I would never be able to speak Japanese or write a blog in it. You have amazed me from the very beginning of our friendship with your expertise and desire to keep learning. Thank you for bringing your vast knowledge of your part of your world to me.

  7. I used to teach English as a second language and found some things really difficult to explain! Good luck - I'm sure you do a great job!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  8. Very interesting! I can see how this would be confusing for those learning English or Japanese. Hugs and love!

  9. Miyako san,
    I was thinking about today,
    because what happen for me...
    Do you think I need stop from write about in here?
    I was happy to living in with all my friends,

  10. thanks so much for that - you did a good job of explaining it! In South Africa we would often say "yes no" when really all we meant was yes...

  11. lol, that was a wee bit confusing! Thanks for the lesson and I must say that your blog is such a pleasure to see. Love those ikebana arrangements.

  12. Now this was interesting I thnk it must be difficult for not only the Japanese to understand the english language but also people from other countries

  13. That's a great way to explain it. I don't think I could ever learn to speak your language. I once spoke fluent French and German, but have forgotten a lot. We lived in Germany so it was necessary to learn. I learned to speak French by taking it for three years in school.

  14. Well sweetie, I think it is amazing that you teach English and your native tongue is Japanese. You speak and write better English than some people I know who were born and raised in America. I am always impressed by your skill. Hugs to you!