Friday, February 9, 2007

Fortunately there is Coca Cola in Japan.

Being in Japan and not being able to speak nor read Japanese makes one feel as having landed on another planet.
And for the Japanese themselves it is an alien trying to communicate.

It used to be in Spain that hardly anyone was speaking English.
However, the Spanish Government realised that opening up to the world becoming global made it obligatory to have English classes in schools.
Nowadays, we can experience how effective this decision of the Spanish Government has been. Young people in Spain speak English now. And also very important, young Spanish men and women are able to have access to vital information in English on the Internet.

But Japan is an island with a monoculture. Totally focused on the Japanese culture, tradition and language.
Few people in Japan speak another language than Japanese.
And their linguistically isolation is made more extreme because of the use of Kanji’s. The symbols representing concepts.

An innocent visitor from abroad is made incommunicado because of this situation. No texts can be read. And with most people no communication is possible.

But if you say: “Coca Cola”, every Japanese person knows what it means…

1 comment:

vibrance said...

your comments about the japanese culture are not accurate. english is taught universally in japanese school and many thousands of adult courses available to continue education. most japanese, however, are unwilling to speak english because they feel inadequate and uncomfortable not speaking well enough.
also, all public signs are in japanese and romanji, using the roman alphabet. the japanese are not isolated on their island, but extremely knowledgable of and interested in the larger are not being truthful to your readers about the japanese, either through ignorance or misunderstanding. i lived in tokyo for two years and never once felt like i was on another planet.