Culture and language

One day I hung out with my Canadian friends and had rich cheesecake.  One of them asked me “what is ‘rich’ in Japanese?”  What I came across was something you hear in Iron Chef judge’s comment, but people do not speak like that in casual conversation. Then I thought how I would explain traditional Japanese food that has a rich taste, but I could not find any example.  Conclusion: no traditional Japanese food has a rich taste, thus Japanese do not have a casual expression that describes rich taste.  Since a language develops in a culture, this is quite natural.

Now I work between Japanese engineers and Canadian workers.  I have known that translation between two languages is, ultimately, impossible, and found that it is quite difficult to explain it to people who have not been exposed to foreign cultures.  Merely staying or even living in a foreign country dose not count unless they talk with locals in “their language” whether it is their native language or not.

As I wrote in a previous post, I like teaching and have experiences in teaching in different settings.  It is relatively easy to teach to people if they are willing to learn.  If not, the first step before teaching is to make them understand that they need to learn. Now, I work with Japanese engineers who do not need to learn Canadian culture or English-speaking culture and in fact are not interested in it.  My struggle continues.

November 23, 2012Permalink