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"I hope your family is safe"

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"I hope your family is safe"

Postby CardinalGuy724 » Tue 09.13.2011 8:42 pm

I think the hardest thing for me right now in my study of Japanese is saying things in a culturally appropriate manner. There are definitely situations where I feel like what I write/say is grammatically correct/fine Japanese but is not necessarily the way a native speaker would say/write the same thing and I'm always self conscious if I'm coming across as rude/weird. Sometimes it's not even that but rather I worry that something that would seem normal for me to say as an American might come across as rude/insensitive to a Japanese person.

Recently I ran into a Japanese woman who was going around asking for donations to help people in Japan struggling after the effects of the earthquake/tsunami. Our conversation went roughly as followed:

Woman: (English) Excuse me, would you like to make a donation to a Japan Relief Fund?
Me: Of course, I'd be glad to help. 日本人ですか?
Woman: はい、日本人です。日本語上手( :roll: )。
Me: ご出身はどちらですか?
Woman: 東京からです。
Me: そうですか。じゃ、ご家族が無事でいますように。
Woman: ありがとう。

After that though I felt that her demeanor changed a bit. She was still nice but I felt like I had said something awkward as I saw her make a face like she wasn't quite sure what I meant and her response seemed kind of off...Anyway I gave her some money and we departed.

So on the one hand I figured maybe I said some gibberish that didn't make any sense? I tried coming up with other constructions in my head like ご家族が無事だといいのです or ご家族が無事なことを祈ります but nothing seemed quite right.

Then I thought that maybe something *had* happened to her family and I had invariably touched a sour spot. I guess I'd never know if that were the case.

Or maybe it's more okay to talk about other people's families in America than it is in Japan? Maybe I was simply being rude somehow?

As you can all see, I'm slightly more neurotic about things than I should be :lol: :?
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Re: "I hope your family is safe"

Postby Ongakuka » Tue 09.13.2011 9:22 pm

As you can all see, I'm slightly more neurotic about things than I should be


I think that sums it up really :sweatdrop: It's perfectly natural and polite to express concern about the other person's family - it's not like you're prying into private affairs or anything, and in my opinion, you couldn't have said anything more appropriate. It's always good to share your feelings on these kind of things, and I feel I ought to do so more often. However judging by what you wrote, I kind of suspect that any change in the woman's tone would have nothing to do with 'what is said according to Japanese custom' and so forth. Perhaps you are right, and she's had a hard time of it. If there is anyone at all who could guess why the woman's tone seemed to change, it would have to be you though, since no one else (presumably) was present at the conversation. Anyway, no need to think on it anymore I say.
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Re: "I hope your family is safe"

Postby Shiroisan » Tue 09.13.2011 9:58 pm

:?

It could simply be that she doesn't have any family there, but didn't want to bother going into the details of her families whereabouts, so she simply said thank you.


Her demeanour easily could have changed after that for not being completely honest.

:think: Actually, if I had to place a bet, that would be it.
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Re: "I hope your family is safe"

Postby NileCat » Wed 09.14.2011 12:30 pm

Well, I too don’t think you need to worry about it.
If you feel like you do want some answer to your instinct, however, I think I could tell you something about the nuance of the Japanese expression.

You told her “I hope that your family IS/BE SAFE” in Japanese, which means, semantically speaking, you said “I know there is a possibility that your family is IN DANGER right now”, right? But, before that, she told you that she was from Tokyo, which means she told you that she was from a safe city that WAS NOT terribly damaged by the earthquake. So, as a possibility, your warm words might have sounded like “BUT, the rumor says Tokyo is a red zone at the moment”, which just sounds like yellow paper-ish, and it might have made her embarrassed (only for a short time).

I'm posting this because I just wanted to ease your worry, not to point out the “misunderstanding” or something. I don’t think the woman got upset by your words at all. I believe she got your warm message rightly.


EDIT:
I've noticed this was my 1000th post in this forum. Yay! :)
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Re: "I hope your family is safe"

Postby phreadom » Wed 09.14.2011 12:57 pm

NileCatさん、おめでとう!☆彡 :dance:

Thank you for all your wonderful and educational posts! :bow:

ありがとうございました :bow:
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Re: "I hope your family is safe"

Postby Ongakuka » Wed 09.14.2011 1:02 pm

I've noticed this was my 1000th post in this forum. Yay!


こういうことになると、しかたないな・・

針千本のーーますッ!! :twisted:

Nilecatさん!いつもありがとう!
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Re: "I hope your family is safe"

Postby Setaceau » Mon 09.19.2011 10:53 am

I think if you want to say that I hope your family is safe, you can ask her simply.
御家族も御無事だったのですか?
But, in Japanese, we often use very short simple question on telephone calls.
you: 地震、大丈夫でした?
Maybe this short sentence sounds strange for you, but very natural for native Japanese.
woman: ええ、無事よ。
you: よかった。御家族も御無事ですよね。
woman: ええ、何とか無事よ。ありがとう。
you: (Thinking of 何とか) でも、色々、大変そうでうね。
woman: ええ、... あんなこと や こんなこと があって ...

Sorry, it's one of patterns. Your conversation was not so bad.
Tokyo didn't get serious damages. I can guess she might get many messages from foreigners and she didn't want to reply same answers again and again, or in opposite, she didn't expect you said that after she said only Tokyo. Don't worry, if she is a Japanese, she surely appreciate what you mean. As you know, most Japanese are not good at English. We always take your words kindly thinking we cannot speak well in English.
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Re: "I hope your family is safe"

Postby kalavinka » Thu 01.12.2012 2:27 pm

Late reply but another possibility could be simply that she was on a mission to collect donations and wasn't really in conversation mode. She was being polite to have one but she really just wanted to get back to donations.

I'm not saying it was a socially awkward conversation, but you know there are socially awkward Japanese people as well so you never know. Everyone is different. I know some people, Japanese or not, really don't want to engage in casual conversations with strangers, particularly when working.
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