Eastern Vs Western Communication

Every word of this is truer than true, which did not stop me from laughing so hard I had tears running down my cheeks.  Dave Barry on visiting Japan (but this is true of at least two other eastern cultures with which I have some passing familiarity):

“Compared with the Japanese, the average American displays in communication all the subtlety of Harpo hiting Zeppo with a dead chicken. The Japanese tend to communicate via nuance and euphemism, often leaving important things unsaid; whereas Americans tend to think they’re being subtle when they refrain from grabbing the listener by the shirt.  (and they are all generally very reluctant to come right and tell a person “no.”


He created a handy little table, which, to this American is side splittingly funny, but it’s not at all subtle.  Nevertheless, you should probably understand what these things probably mean:

I see.  Translation: No.

Ah.  Translation: No

Ah-hah.  Translation: No.

Yes.  Translation: No.

That is difficult.  Translation: That is completely impossible.

That is very interesting.  Translation: Why are you still asking for the impossible, you boorish American? Don’t you know enough to be embarrassed?

We will study your proposal.  Translation: We will feed your proposal to a goat.


I couldn’t find a youtube video of the Marx brothers with a chicken (that sounds more like The Three Stooges to me), but I did find this:


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