Sarcasm or modesty

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Feb 21, 2012 22:28
Yesterday I talked about my daughter with an America lady. I said my daughter was a university student studying fine arts. She asked me, "Is she talented?" I answered "I'm not sure, but at least she draws better than me." She said "That might not be saying much." Then she added "That is a sarcastic sentence."

According to a dictionary "sarcastic" means "marked by or given to using irony in order to mock or convey contempt."

I'm not a talented artist. She and I already knew it. Therefore it was obvious that my daughter drew better than me. Even so, I dear compared my daughter to me. This implied that I mocked her.

She might think I was a sarcastic person. I don't know a native English speaker's feeling about "sarcastic", but judging by the dictionary definition "sarcastic" is a negative word. I don't want to make friends with a too much sarcastic person. (A little bit sarcastic person is welcome. It's spice of life.)

How did she think?

Japanese people never think I am a sarcastic person, instead they think I am a good and polite person. Because what I said was modesty.

When Japanese person talks about himself, in order to show his respect to the person he is talking to, he says he is worse than in reality. The logic is that if he becomes lower then the other person becomes higher relatively. Putting the other person at a higher position shows his respect. This is Japanese modesty. In the Japanese modesty, those whom he put at a lower position include not only himself but also all people on his side, such as his wife, his children etc.

In my case, I was talking about my daughter. She was on my side. Therefore I put her at a lower position by using a sarcastic sentence. The literal meaning of the sarcastic sentence was mocking her but I was not going to mock her. I was going to show respect to the person I was talking to.

Do people outside Japan find it difficult to understand it?