Thursday, January 8, 2009

相槌 or あいづち - Ai-zu-chi How Japanese Listen

In today's lesson : Japanese believe, in most cases unconsciously, that a flow of speech is made up not only by the speaker but also by the listener who participates by giving " AIZUCHI". ( 相槌 or あいづち)

Sometimes the listener goes so far as to finish up what the speaker is going to say.

Two people, A and B, for example, join together in making up one flow of speech. It is quite different from the western notion of what a conversation should be like. The Angmoh's consider it as a form of good manners to keep silent without interrupting the speaker, while the speaker is speaking. But the Japanese way is the reverse part of it.

Keeping silent make the speaker felt as if the listener is not interested in his speech. Hence, Japanese speaker feel uneasy when the listener remains silent without giving " AIZUCHI".

Hence, for an Angmoh, " AIZUCHI", can cause confusion when he/she is speaking. The speaker may misconstrue the expressions by his/her Japanese audience as a sign of agreement where none is intended. Ironically, a lack of " AIZUCHI" by an Angmoh can lead a Japanese speaker to feel that he/she is not being understood.

So, what exactly is " AIZUCHI"?

Summary: Giving short answers or returning word of expession in short from the listener to the speaker such as " はい” ”ええ” ”そうですか” ”そうですね” ”そうでしょうね””そうね” ”そうか” ”そうおもう”’そうだ” these short phrases are called " AIZUCHI" which are used as a signal to the show to the speaker that the listener is "not kunning "(sleeping) but as a matter of fact, the listener is listening attentively and wants the speaker to carry on.( speaking )

That is why as I said above, Japanese speaker would feel uneasy when the listener remains silent without response by giving " AIZUCHI" to his speech.

In short, I am referring to two ways communication expression.

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