Wednesday, August 29, 2007

the need for repetition

One thing I learned while working with Japanese superiors or officemates is the need to talk of the same topic in a repetitive manner. Repetition for better understanding. Repetition for emphasis. Repetition..just for the sake of it.

Case in point no.1: it is common knowledge that NOT all japs talk fluent English and most of them have difficulty in comprehending the language. To meet halfway, I would usually converse in 'broken' english (meaning: never mind the proper usage of grammar) and talk slowly as possible so as for them to get my point.

Or if they still don't get it, all I have to do is just repeat my speech all over until my intended listener gets it. If all else fails, there's always e-mail which is convenient because not only it does save me on i-feel-so-bad-today days but also, e-mails allow them to comprehend better. I have to admit that some of them are good in conversing through writing than in speaking.

Sometimes, e-mails would also prove to be of no help even if it was sent with the presence of a red exclamation mark (read: urgent), and the fact that when my supposed recipient had prior unopened-URGENT emails, leaves mine not the priority. As for urgent matters that require their immediate approval, reply or action, experience taught me not to ever use the telephone because of hearing issues. What I do is I personally go to my officemate/superior's desk for a face-to-face chat. 

Case in point no.2: (Setting: Dinner or Small party with officemates). It is common for Japs not to talk anything besides work in the office. It is only in small gatherings that they have this as-if-freedom to talk non-work related topics, and like a broken record, they (japs) would repeatedly ask anything about yourself. Common questions asked by the SAME people for countless times were about my course, lovelife, 'how long does it take (for me) to bike for office?' and the winning FAQ about me: "HOW DO YOU FIND JAPAN?" For inday's sake, I have stayed here for almost 4 years and still, they ask me about that?! I think that question is most proper for newbies.

Unless they are that sooo curious about my impression every now and then, can't really blame them for that..though I just wish that they have thrown better questions like, my favorite movie. LOL! (i wouldn't be surprised by now that slumbooks are not popular in their culture).

Seriously, I know it's their way of breaking the ice thus, the attempt to create a decent conversation no matter how redundant it sounds. Maybe, it is also their way of making a gathering lively. Or maybe their memory is not really that good. you know..early signs of old age.

If I were in their shoes, I'd most probably do the same thing. Out of respect, i usually play along.

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