Japanese is not a speaking-oriented language

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