At the edge of the horizon

At the edge of the horizon
At the edge of Japan

Monday, July 15, 2013

Afternoonの昼下がり Gets It Right

I've been following a vlogger who is named Micaela Braithwaite.  She's made a career out of video blogging (vlogging) about her life in Japan and now works full time making small videos regarding a range of topics.  She's managed to get the attention of a number of people.  Being smart, young, and entrepreneurial as well as bilingual, it makes sense that she's been successful with this.  She is also starring in a series calledAfternoonの昼下がり

The project is actually a short web series in which she has a conversation with a Japanese guy named Micchiy on a park bench regarding all kinds of various topics.  The subject matter isn't so much what I want to focus on, though I really like their Les Mis skit.  What Micaela and Micchiy excel at in this skit is the way English and Japanese are used in the conversation between these two individuals.  I feel like  I've had these types of conversations, where my listening skills are good enough for me to respond back, but my speaking skills aren't anywhere at the same level.  So what happens is a strange amalgam of Japanese and English.

This situation happens so often in Japan.  I think it's because many Japanese people is too shy to speak in English, while the foreigner isn't fluent enough to speak at an advanced conversational level (he/she either lives in an area of Japan where they can survive without speaking Japanese beyond basic conversational level, or they have infrequent opportunities in which they can have full length, extensive conversations in a supportive environment or they just don't care about learning the language - shame!).  I am very interested in this patchwork bilingual phenomenon that I often see or experience here.  And this video series replicates it almost perfectly.

What does this signal for the future of ESL in this country, or for that matter the Japanese language?  Will the two languages eventually merge into a pidgeon language in the same fashion such as places like Singapore and Malaysia?  I suspect something like that will happen down the road, more so than in a place like Korea or China where they are emphasizing straightforward bilingualism for economic advancement in the global market.  Japan doesn't emphasize bilingualism in the same sense, yet the language has incorporated so many foreign words already.  I often hear my kids say things like "OK desu! Happy desu!" among other words and phrases.    I really do think eventually there will be a Japanese language that is riddled with English words and phrasing.

What do you think about the future of the Japanese language and the role English will take on in Japan?  

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