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May 17, 2009

文化の違い Cultural Difference

We've got a sad news that one of Carl's co-worker would leave Japan soon and we were invited to his farewell party. He attended our wedding and also gave us an airconditioning etc.... and he's a very nice person. Carl sounded very sad to lose one of his lunch buddies...

Joining in the party, I re-realized the cultural difference particularly between France and Japan (or Western and Asian) and I would like to write about it in this article. Please note in advance that this is just my personal opinion and I would not intend to say which is right and which is wrong. I hope the readers are not offended.

■そもそもパーティーって・・・ Party styles are different?
When it comes to a party, at least among my Japanese friends, we have it at a restaurant or a izakaya (a Japanese-style pub), while western friends hold a home party. Just like what I see in TV dramas. lol
Plus, guests bring foods (usually the host prepares the main plate). It is always hard to think about what to bring! And in Japan, the main person who is supposed to be celebrated (birthday, farewell etc...) is treated as a guest (s/he doesn't have to pay in most cases) and someone else organizes the party as a host (we call the person Kanji, not the kanji stands for chinese charactors). At parties of western friends, the main person is the host of his/her own birthday or farewell. I think it's not always like that especially for a welcome party.

■パーティーに行くと。。。Party this time
I must confess I am a shy girl (can't believe?), and I knew only half of the people at the party this time which made me a bit nervous. And they're mostly Carl's colleagues and I didn't want to give them a bad impression of me like he chose a bitch:-(



As always, there were French men and their Japanese (female) partners. I have experienced this kind of scene many times and I would like to consider(?) it later but let's put it aside today.

Two of the girls no doubt spent their childhood in France and spoke very fluent French which I DO envy...but there were some who didn't speak French including me so basically the conversation was in English, French and a bit Japanese.

■言葉の違いと距離。Languages and intimacy
ちなみに、自己紹介のとき、下の名前だけ言うのって抵抗アリ。。「エリカです」って。。なんかキャバ嬢みたいじゃない?笑 私の洋風な名前のせいだ。。。
If it was an all-Japanese-people party, I am sure it started with a formal greeting like "How do you do? Thank you for everything for my husband (sounds wierd in English but something like this). I am the wife of Carl" and we would use only the polite language.
By the way, I feel awkward whenever I introduce only with my first name. It's fine when it is English and to non-Japanese people but it is rather common to use the family name when introducing in Japanese. "I'm Erika" sounds as if I were a showgirl. lol Maybe because my name doesn't sound very Japanese.

でも、英語もフランス語も、"Hi, how are you?"とか、"Bonjour"とかその後の会話にも日本ほど明らかな「敬語」がないから、すぐに友だちみたいに会話が進む。下の名前で呼び合うしね。これは欧米言語の長所ではないかと思います。敬語って丁寧なんだけど、その心理的距離が大きい。
On the other hand, in English and in French it is like "Hi, how are you?" "Bonjour" and as there is no polite expression as clear as the Japanese one, we can soon talk like friends. On top of that, people call each other with thier first names. I think this is one of the advantages of Western languages. The polite language of Japanese is very respectful but it also creates a "mental distance" between the speakers

■違いは言葉だけにあらず。。。Not only the languages...but attitudes
今回はアベック(フランス人たちなので、あえてこの言葉で 笑)だらけだったので、明らかだったのですが、あまりいい言葉ではないけど「いちゃつき方」も違う。まずはスキンシップ。触る、ひざの上に座るなど。食べ物を「あーん
heart01」する。場合によってはポッキーゲームまでしちゃう。Ma cherie(=僕のハニー)と普通に言う。これらをとーっても自然にできるところが、尊敬。そして彼女達も、海外経験が豊富なので、また自然に受けています。

It was obvious as there were many couples at the party how close they were was different (it is not a good expression but I can also say "how they make out"). Touching, sitting on his knees, giving each other a bite of food. Sometimes eating something from the both ends. Calling "ma cherie"(my honey). What's great is they are VERY natural when they do this. And the Japanese girls were also very natural to deal with those actions.

わ、、私にはできない。。。_| ̄|○ やっぱり根っからの日本人だった。。。
I...can't do any of them... the traditional Japanese trait is deep in my soul.


In our culture, silence is gold, guessing, presuming are important so those expressions of love, verbal or nonverbal, weren't developed, I think. We also have a clear borderline between Inside (uchi) and Outside(soto) which is obvious in taking off your shoes when you enter a house. So perhaps people assume those expressions are private and should be kept Inside.

Carl understands this so he doesn't show his heart01 that much when we are out. Not that much at home :p
Nowadays, many couples don't hesitate to present their love to their partners so this issue is up to each individuals.

■結論? Conclusion?
Anyways, I find it very interesting to learn these differences. I remembered I got more cultural shock when I visited China than the US, my teacher (British) once told us that when you travel to other country you will learn more about your own country... I mean, it's fun to learn things!
I would like to balance between both cultures of us, particularly foods;-)


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Posted by: かおりんご。 | May 17, 2009 at 08:56 PM

引越すると、必ずHome warming partyするみたいだし。


Posted by: えりか | May 18, 2009 at 10:12 AM

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