By Natalie Laber
One of the beautiful things about living in Nippon is that if you can say even one word in Japanese, you are considered 上手 at 日本語. If you’re me, sometimes you even get praised for being able to speak fluent 英語 (which makes you かっこいい). All of this constant and undeserved (and possibly even insincere??) praise is more than enough to make a girl forget that oh, right, my Japanese is actually very, very subpar.
Here’s an incomplete list of things that have earned me praise for no reason:
- writing literally two kanji on a tanabata wish paper (after double checking that they were right on my phone dictionary app)
- singing the chorus of the song リンダリンダ at karaoke and just mumbling the rest of the lyrics
- saying my own name in katakana
- writing my own name in katakana
Based off of this you can see how I might have greatly overestimated my own ability, gone into the JLPT without having studied and vastly underprepared, and then gone home to drink away my sorrows. But I digress.
The point is this: if you want a Japanese person to lavish praise upon you, practice saying your own name in Japanese. No further studying is needed for your ego to ride high as a kite every time you walk out the door.
And before I go I just want to leave you with this ancient proverb: In Japan, they don’t say “I love you,” they say 「何で日本語そんなにペラペラなの？？？」and I think that’s beautiful.