Thursday, March 7, 2013

When Language laughs in your face...

It's funny how language seems to make fun of you from time to time.

The other day, I tried to compliment a friend's shawl (parka?). I said, "きらい!" I knew this was the word for pretty, but I wasn't clear on how to make a complete sentence with it, I just said the word.

Today, I'm looking through an old textbook, studying old and new lessons, and I come across a section explaining how to use Japanese conjunctions.

The example sentence uses kirei. In the paragraph, it has a note: "Kirei" means "clean," but "kirei na" means pretty.

Ah, I think to myself. No one corrected me when I said it wrong. I feel embarrassed for saying it wrong! What did my friend think I was saying about her shawl?

It's an interesting note that friends who are aware that you are trying to learn their language, but whom also have immense sympathy for any mistakes you might make during conversations will happily ignore those mistakes and continue talking.  I know I did this a lot in Korea. I didn't want to stop a person in the middle of their sentences to correct them. Most of the time, I was just happy to have someone build up the courage to speak to me! I didn't care how many mistakes they made. If I could understand (or figure out) what they were saying, I didn't stop them.

Yet, sometimes, you want people to stop you and correct you, yes?



So, I asked about this to an older friend. She said nothing was wrong. Saying kirei along is fine. I feel I have been twice tricked (by my own mind). I really must calm down and think things through.

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