Japanese: the Law of Inverse Returns
Scott Barlow December 6, 1996 Shoji Azuma Japan 355 - 1
The law of inverse returns states that the better the foreign learner's Japanese is, the worse the reaction of the Japanese native population will be to the learner's use of Japanese. In this paper, I argue that the better the learner's
Japanese is, the better the treatment to the learner of Japanese from native
Japanese. I will argue this point by making three statements and then provide opinions and reactions of others whom I have interviewed over the Internet. The better the Japanese language that one has, the more the freedom he feels. I felt this feeling while I was in Japan and I could finally go to the bank and make a deposit or withdraw without fumbling and literally making up my own Japanese vocabulary. Until further Japanese study, did I find out that the word to
"withdraw" money from the bank was the same as "taking something down," like from a shelf. These are the same words, but in Japanese it is the context that they are used is what is important. Not only does better Japanese save you the embarrassment of making a mistake, but having better in Japanese also helps natives feel less of a burden on them, than if you didn't speak good Japanese.
In Japan as a missionary, I had the opportunity to visit a retirement home once a week. During our visit with the elderly, we also cleaned up. doing the normal housekeeping that was necessary for them to live in a cleaner, better environment. I am very glad that I had Japanese that I was able to understand the retirees, especially when the needed someone to talk to and when I was able to understand and help them clean where they asked me to. Through the understanding that I had then as a missionary in the Japanese language, I feel that the full-time workers there were less worried about us performing duties for them because we had better Japanese. This resulted in the better treatment I received as I was in Japan