The Nuance of the Japanese Language

So, I’m back, I guess? Between traveling, my recurring battle with SARS and a life that is, to be kind, completely tedious and repetitious, I’d kind of fallen off the “post every weekday” wagon. I’m doing my best to remedy this…

At any rate, I’m reading and quite enjoying Tune In Tokyo:The Gaijin Diaries by Tim Anderson. He’s an American (and fellow gay) who went to Japan to teach English and this book recounts his trials and tribulations. I was reading in bed the other night and had a hard time sleeping, since I kept cackling over this particular observation about learning to speak Japanese.

I read in one of Ewan’s books that the syllable “o” is an honorific, placed in front of some words to make them softer or more polite. I’d omitted it in front of the word “money,” and this omission had drastically altered the sound of the sentence, judging from Yoko’s reaction. So instead of saying, “Thank you so much for the books. I’ve brought some money,” I’d actually said something like, “Here’s your money, you greedy bitch. Thanks a fucking lot.”