29/April/2023 in Tokyo
"Japanese must be for writing-oriented, not speaking-oriented"
I got this impression almost 10 years ago
Reasons behind were;
An absolute terrible level of English pronunciation of Japanese people (I explained here)
Too obvious contrast in between English & Japanese speaking
Back then I often thought Japanese language completely lacked fluency & smoothness
This impression seemed right when watching interviews conducted in Japanese
Japanese people speak their language very sporadically & very "on and off"
Instead of speaking flowingly from the start to the end, like an affluent river, they cut off a sentence, divide it into shorter small clauses & always put a pause between each clauses, as in
"I went to (PAUSE) Hawaii (PAUSE) and (PAUSE) swam (PAUSE) in the sea (PAUSE) and (PAUSE) ate (PAUSE) a local dish"
It sounds very stuck & stagnant, just like smelly dirty drain water
This makes a speaker/the Japanese, who looks already very awkward, even more awkward & even more coward
Not to mention, their morbid avoidance of eye contact makes it even worse & unbearable
For a long time I thought it all came from their morbid mentality
I was thinking that the Japanese are morbidly unconfident, morbidly timid, morbidly coward,
that's why they speak morbidly unconfidently, morbidly timidly, morbidly cowardly
There must be some truth here. One's mentality affects the way of speaking
But there are also more objective, more technical, more cultural reasons here
"Japanese prefers being very indirect"
"Japanese are very careful about not offending others"
"Japanese are conflict-avoidant"
Due to this mentality, they need a constant signal of agreement & acknowledgement, called "Aizuchi／相づち"
They put a pause in the sentence in order to see how a listener reacts
If favourable, they continue a talk
If not favourable, they still continue but possibly change the narrative
It's easier to change the narrative in Japanese, since a verb comes at the end
"I don't think he is right"
In English, "don't think" comes to the beginning part
So that a listener could guess how the narrative goes
While in Japanese, "I, he is right, don't think"
Verb comes at the end, so that it's harder to know if the conclusion is Yes or No／Agree or Disagree
This enables a speaker to change the narratives, according to the listener's reaction
When watching how two Japanese persons talk each other, you'll notice they often do "nodding"
This is the sign for showing a favourable attitude about the narrative
This obviously makes a talk in Japanese slow & on-and off
"What to talk" is less important
"How to talk" is far more important in Japanese communication
In other words, the Japanese puts an importance on "a relationship with a listener" rather than "a subject to talk about"
Thus, instead of speaking a whole sentence at once, like we do in English, the Japanese lets a listener to construct a sentence together
A speaker says the beginning part, then let a listener to complete the latter part of the sentence/conclusion
This way of Japanese communication is called "共話／Talk Together"
In Japan I hear their talk on a daily basis
Japanese conversation often sounds to me very displeasing, very stressful, very awkward, very timid, very coward, very stagnant, very dependent & very sticky
This language is not suitable for speaking, but only for reading & writing