Mon Aug 28 01:45:44 2000
To: " Patrick"
From: "Peter M. Rivard"
Subject: Re: Japanese culture
Yup, I'm receiving email. I wasn't looking forward to trying problem resolution in Japanese (no one at this company speaka de inglese), so I'm glad it's fixed itself--it was clearly their problem, so I just let it sit until one of their Japanese-speaking customers called up to bitch at them. Me, I sat waiting for a dish for 20 minutes tonight, even though the waiter had told me when I ordered that they were out (I had ordered by pointing to a picture, he said something, and I had thought "we're all out of that tonight" [in Japanese] was the name of the dish). Earlier, I was very proud that I was able to return a defective used stereo and describe the problem ("CD is broken. Sometimes, OK. Sometimes, noisy. phhhhssssskkkkkk [made static noise sound effects]"). Even my English is fading--after a day and a half of talking with junior high school students, I found that I had lost not only my articles but also my linking verbs. I caught myself saying things like, "American breakfast big. No rice." I was only half a step from the "natives" on Gilligan's Island whose entire language consisted of "oooga boooga" and waving spears.
I made a joke to an Australian friend asking if she'd had linguistic difficulties of this sort when she moved to the States. I was surprised to find out that she had--apparently she drove a garage mechanic to hysterics when she told him she was hearing a rattle under her bonnet. Except for accidently addressing a teenage girl by a term more appropriate for a toddler, I don't think I've done much more than exasperate the very patient locals, for all the sport they've given me.
I hope all is well at your end. Let me know how things are going.