日本語はちょっと難しい、ね

Fancy shoes

It’s easy to make hideous mistakes when you are learning Japanese. Switch a vowel or add an extra syllable and you’re innocent remark has quickly turned unseemly. Here’s two examples.

A few months back, my sister-in-law, who loves shoes, was visiting. The expression on her face made it clear that what I thought was a complement had come out terribly wrong.

「けつはきれいです」 Ketsu wa kirei desu.

What I meant to say was, “I like your shoes.” 「靴はきれいです」Kutsu wa kirei desu. Unfortunately, ketsu means “ass.”

Another time, finishing ceramics class,  I cheerfully told my father-in-law, 「お触りました」Osawarimashita.

What I meant to say was, “I am done.” 「終わりました」Owarimashita. Both in-laws and my husband stared at me, and I realized I did it again. Fortunately, father-in-law has a sense of humor, and demonstrated “osawarimashita” (“touch” or “grope,” made strangely formal by the addition of “o”) by pinching my ass.

As I stumble my way learning Japanese, I am fortunate to have such a welcoming (and forgiving) family.

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7 comments

  1. i have to agree. my experiences are not so embarrassing though… through typing, when the wrong kanji characters come up, i like to look it up in the dictionary. sometimes, I think, if I used that wrong term in real life, i would really have to hide… ;)

    blog-hopping around, BTW :D

    1. adrik: Come back! Japan misses you!

      elusive k: 来てくれてありがとう。マカオにいますか?すごい。行って見たいです。ポルトガル語を話します。

  2. はい、マカオに住んでいます。マカオのポルトガル人です。でも、ポルトガル語も下手です。子供のときに、英語の学校へ行きましたと、マカオに、普通は中国語の広東語を使って、ポルトガル語は、家族だけと話しました。それから、英語と広東語が上手です。

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