@ Japanese Can't Say "No" ノーと言えない日本人

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Aug 26, 2010 22:28
What a surprise!

An American English teacher said to me that he had never heard the Japanese word "iie" from Japanese people, which means "no" in English, in his six-year stay in Japan!

It appears that he was learning Japanese since his high school year in America, so he was able to speak Japanese from the start of his stay in Japan.

He found that Japanese people say "chigai-masu", which means "different" in English, instead of saying "No." This is the word that I was looking for! There is a well-known quote, "Japanese people can't say "No". I was wondering what words are alternatives for "no" for a long time.

Oh, I remember that in a classroom in elementary school, there was a sign which shows what to say when someone gives a right answer for the teacher's question, and when he gives a wrong answer. The reply for the former should be "I think so too", and for the latter, "there's another answer too." This is "hoka nimo ari-masu" in Japanese.

This is a very conscientious lesson for students so as not to hurt other students, even if they get wrong answers. Thus, from the early age, Japanese people are not used to both be said and state that one's answer or opinion is wrong.

We really hate to say "No."

Ask me ," Aren't you hungry?" , and I would answer like this: "Yes, I'm not hungry. I'm ok" in Japanese.

"Do you want some more coffee?", I would say "Yes, I don't. thank you."

"No" is a word that we sometimes need to say out loud! (^^)