Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Excuses, Excuses...

The other day I was reading through r/japan on reddit, as you do, and I came across a post asking about apologies in Japanese culture. What I found interesting was one reply that said that Japanese people see American style explanations of what went wrong as 言い訳 (ii wake), or "excuses."

I found the answer to be very interesting because as an American, I, I need to know how someone came to their decision. I thought about that thread when I was chatting with my boyfriend last week. He went out drinking with some co-workers, ended up in at some station in Tokyo after the last train and had to take a taxi home...spending a lot of money. Then a day later, he drank too much and had to sleep in an internet cafe.

That's about all the details I've gotten out of him. I was expecting to hear a detailed account of how he went out with his coworker, they ate at this izakaya then went to that snack bar...that they drank 12 bottles of sake and made out with a homeless man before waking up in the middle of the street in their own barf. But just getting the part out about his coworker was pulling teeth!

Perhaps this, along with the apology style is the Japanese way of saying that what led up to the outcome doesn't matter, only the outcome. For me...for Americans, all those steps are so important to understanding...everything!

As a final, I've always wanted to say, "Joe said that Cindy said that you said that I said that I'd go," in Japanese. But the only way I know of cuts out all of the middle parts, giving you a very general, sad, "It seems that according to Joe I said I'd go." ジョは私が行くと言ったそうだ。Very frustrating.

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