Language Barrier


English signs are plentiful in Tokyo, and each Tokyoite has a vocabulary of English words in his language, the only thing is his pronunciation. To understand him master first how the basic vowels, A,I,U,E,O, sound A is as an Art. I as in Imp. U as in Bull. E as in End. O as in Odd. Repeat them slowly and distinctly in front of Japanese so he can correct you. You’ll get it in no time. Usually these vowels are preceded by consonants which you pronounce in the ordinary way. From here you are successfully venturing the road to healing and speaking the Japanese language.

If you cannot be understood in English, it maybe you’re talking too fast. Anyway sign language helps and it is amusing. The Japanese are great in catching pantomime , after all their great Noh and Kabuki are actually mimes. Don’t give up, be patient, for the crucial moment, someone will be at your elbow saying in clear English “Can I help you.”

You won’t get lost in Tokyo, you can even successfully shop, eat drink and be merry in silent understanding. Here’s one tip, be sure the “yes” is “yes” and “no” is “no”. The yes may mean just the opposite, like “Yes, we have no bananas.”


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