cultural differences in Japanese and English

Posted on August 7, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Some people say there are some very interesting differences between English and Japanese which can be felt deep into the culture.
For the past few years I have had the opportunity to teach, coach and work with many very intelligent people in many fields. Many of my Japanese students and clients say interesting things about English and culture. One thing that many people notice is that English likes to be systematic and “logical” where Japanese is more fuzzy and less clear.
English likes sentences to have a clear subject, verb and object, and the sentence is supposed to contain the whole meaning of the communication. Japanese, on the other hand, often doesn’t clearly state subjects or objects at all.
In English the speaker is responsible for making the listener understand what the speaker means. In Japanese the listener is responsible for trying to feel out what the speaker wants to say.
In English the result of the communication is the most important part of the communication, but in Japanese the process of sharing communication is often very important.
In English speakers are expected to have strong opinions which they can support through arguing. In Japanese everyone is supposed to share an opinion.
In English intonation can change the meaning of a sentence completely. In Japanese the social situation influences the meaning of the words.

In Japanese people usually share a topic, which is clear. In English speakers are free to jump from topic to topic.

English is a language of persuasion, arguement, power and personal opinion. Japanese is a language of harmony, sharing and deep sensation.
Many Japanese people tell me that they feel much more free to express their own opinion in English. On the other hand many non Japanese people often learn a few words of Japanese very quickly because English isn’t good at expressing certain feelings the way Japanese is.

My opinion is that Japanese and English are very different in some very basic ways. And maybe, to become fluent in English means to learn how it feels to be an English speaker.

My goal is to help people understand how to feel the flow, power and beauty of English and maybe even appreciate the beauty of their native language even more.

If you have any feelings, opinions or intuitions about this topic, or any other topics please feel free to share.
Or you are welcome to send me an e-mail at

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