Thursday, September 30, 2004

Language Disclaimer

I conduct the majority of my daily life and work in Japanese. I also have a few interests and hobbies here that I do / study in Japanese, and most of my social group is Japanese. In those areas, I am more or less fluent in the language (um, often less, but I get the job done). However, outside of those narrow areas, my Japanese vocabulary rapidly drops towards the third grade.

For example, I do business meetings, discuss products and services, do some interpreting between foreign and Japanese co-workers, and do email in Japanese on a daily basis. If a Japanese-speaking person approaches me on these levels, I will seem like a normal adult, although often with some stilted grammar and odd languge constructions as I weave my way through foreign terminology.

However, as soon as you ask me, in Japanese, about politics, you will be talking to someone with a third grader's vocabulary. Although I am interested in politics, I have never studied politics in Japanese. Since I can read about it in English, and it's not part of my job, I have never had to learn Japanese political terminology. Besides, I'm busy learning business and fun terminology.

I say all this because, when I comment on what I see or hear or read in the Japanese media, you should know what you're getting. Although I promise to be as accurate as possible, I am quite sure I will sooner or later make some gross blunder in relating something from the Japanese media. When it happens, I would certainly appreciate it if someone with better Japanese skills than mine catches it and points it out to me so I can post a correction.

Finally, I'll show off and close with a famous Latin saying: "readerus bewarus."

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