2006年06月16日

つなぎの言葉

今日は趣向を変えて本文を英語で書いてみました。
気が付いたらやたらと口語的(colloquial)な表現が多くなってしまったため、明日あたりにフレーズ解説か日本語版を追加するつもりです。

どの表現が分かりにくかったか、コメントをいただければ参考にしますので、よろしくお願いします。

ちなみに、以下の文章はいつもの日本語の文に比べるとかなりくだけた感じのものになっています。

Very often, students who get stuck while conversing will revert to Japanese, filling in those uncomfortable silences with words like "eh-to", or even worse "nandakke".

I think most students who do this can't help themselves, and will say "eh-to" even when they're speaking to someone who is obviously foreign. But when students say 「あれは何て言うんだっけ」and give me this look, as if to say "You understand me, don't you?" I get the feeling that they expect me to cut them some slack because I'm fluent in Japanese too.

I usually put my foot down when this happens, though, and demand that the students repeat the question in English.

Unfortunately, although I've always cracked down on students using the 「なんて言うんだっけ」approach, I've usually looked the other way when it came to relatively minor slips like "eh-to".
Recently, I've come to the realization that this isn't doing anyone any favors.

If you're talking to an English speaker in English, it can be downright rude to lapse into Japanese. The reason: because whomever you're speaking to won't be able to understand you, and this will make them uncomfortable. For all they know, you could be muttering some sort of curse to bring bad luck down on them and their progeny. 

So, to make up for all those times that I didn't correct my students, I'd like to use this opportunity to suggest some alternatives. The next time you can't remember a word and feel compelled to say 「えーと」, try to use one of the following:

"Uh..." (In British English, this is spelled "Er...")
"Hmmm..."
"Well..."
"Let's see..."

Of these three, I don't really recommend using the first one; although it is the most popular, you won't sound very bright if you repeat it too often. Think President Bush. On the other hand, if you manage to stick to "well..." and "let's see..." with the occasional "hmmm...," you'll manage to sound thoughtful and competent.

These expressions only buy time, though. If you're searching for the perfect expression, and are unsatisfied with what you come up with, you can say, "How do I say this?" This will indicate to your partner that you would like to be corrected, because you are not sure with your choice of words.

Let me give you an example:

A: "So what did you think of Japan's losing to Australia the other day?"
B: "Well, it was...how do I say this? I was unhappy."
A: "Oh, do you mean to say that it was upsetting?"
B: "Upsetting?"
A: "That means..."

You get the idea.

Or, if you're simply looking for a single word, you can ask, "What do you call..."

A: "What do you call the...what you use in skiing to keep your balance?" (gesturing)
B: "Do you mean poles?"

If you find this difficult, you can simply start off with "What do you call..." and then gesture wildly.

Of course, it's perfectly all right to use Japanese words in English conversation, as long as you make a conscious decision to do so. Things like Japanese food and uniquely Japanese concepts are often untranslatable anyway, and words like "tofu", "edamame", "giri", and "kaizen" are already acknowledged as having entered the lexicon.
But remember, you must always be prepared to follow through with an explanation in English!
posted by EnglishMaster at 14:49| Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | 雑記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする
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