Jul. 8th, 2011

eldrako: (Nihongo)
When someone compliments the Japanese on good work, nice clothes, a beautiful house, a wonderful dinner, etc., it is customary for them to downplay their abilities, possessions, etc. While negating a compliment may be considered a sign of lack of confidence or even insincerity in some cultures, the Japanese frequently use it as an expression of modesty and deference in daily communication. As a case in point, consider this conversation:

"That was a wonderful meal! You are a great cook, suzuki san."
"Oh, no. I only followed a recipe. Anybody can cook."
"I certainly can't. Could you teach me?"
"Can I teach? Oh, no. You cook far better than I can. I'm the one who needs to take lessons from you.

Suzuki may be seen as too modest by American standards, but this is socially acceptable behavior in Japan. This humility is only seen as avoiding appearing to be arrogant or conceited.

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eldrako

January 2012

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