Have you ever spoken to someone in Japanese, and noticed that they seem to cut out words from a sentence that you typically would include in English?
If not, you’ll notice this soon.
Japanese is an extremely high-context language, meaning that the speaker makes certain assumptions with regard to the listener’s ability to comprehend certain sentences.
This contrasts heavily with English, a lower-context language that requires that words are explicitly conveyed in order to process the meaning.
Let’s take a look at an example.
In the sentence, “Did you eat the sandwich that you brought to school today?”, the speaker is clearly talking to “you”, and includes all essential particles, such as “the”, “that”, and “to”.
However, if we look at the same sentence under casual Japanese, we see major differences:
If this were to be directly translated into English, it would look like:
“Today, sandwich brought to school ate?”
We see many differences here. The sentence only really includes the key words needed, and therefore is significantly shorter in length, the major particles can be dropped, and the verb lengths in casual discussion can be shortened (in this case 食べましたか goes to 食べた).
If we tried using the word for you (あなた), as well as the particles (を、か), the listener would still understand the question, but it would not sound very natural.
In conclusion, there is a lot more context that is required in Japanese, as Japanese people often drop key topics or people they are referring to if it has already been previously introduced in an earlier sentence.
They also do not necessarily use key particles, and can shorten verbs in casual, non-formal discussions.
While this does not exist in English, the benefit of English communication is that words and expressions are clearly expressed, and there is no confusion.
We hope you enjoyed this quick read, and stay tuned for more language lessons from BondLingo!
Learn more Japanese online with BondLingo ?