(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on May 13, 2010.)
I am what you can call, a “Word Lady.” Some may think, “Yeah, Maggie sure talks a lot,” but that is not what this Ochazuke is about. It is about communication, words, phrases in English, Japanese and Spanish that have touched my heart and/or caused me to become upset.
May I begin with English. You give someone a “Thank you gift” for some favor or kindness done and the person says, “You didn’t have to do that.”
I know I didn’t HAVE to, but I wanted to so I did, is what I think to myself when I hear that comment. I think it is a thoughtless statement.
If you tell someone you lost something, the immediate response is, “Where did you lose it?” If I knew where I lost it, I wouldn’t have lost it, right?
Now let’s take Japanese. There is the word, “go-ku-ro-sama,” which to me is so beautiful, but loses its beauty in translation to English. When some one goes out of their way to do something for you, that is the term the Japanese use. It is a heartwarming way to say, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness.”
One proverb I learned in Japanese is, “Hana yo-ri don-go.” Simply translated, it means, “It’s better to have food than smell the flowers.”
Another Japanese proverb is, “A-wa-be-no-ka-ta o-mo-i.” The abalone has one shell while the clam has two shells. The proverb indicates that the abalone, having only one shell, therefore, loves in vain.
Mexicans have a saying, “Mi casa es su casa,” translates into English, “My house is your house.” This expresses warmth and hospitality. I went to Mexico in 1969 and the Mexican people are very friendly and love their children and family. I met a Mexican lady on the street in Mexico City who had three chicks in a basket. Smiling, she told me, “I feed them now and soon, they will feed me.”
Another Mexican expression is somewhat humorous, yet could easily be applied to any ethnic group which is, “Mucha trabajo, un poquita dinero.” It translates somewhat into, “Little money for much work.”
An expression which is used in both English and Japanese and perhaps in other languages is, “Hang in there,” or gam-ba-re (na-sai.) It’s an encouraging phrase and is told to someone who is having a difficult time. It seems lately, “Gam-ba-te-i-masu,” seems to be my favorite expression which is to say “I’m hanging in there.”
Languages and/or words and phrases really intrigue me. Good conversation stimulates me and through conversation I get to know the person with whom I am conversing and gain a lot of knowledge. Both oral and written communication are most important and using the right words at the right time can eliminate much misunderstanding and unhappiness. To me, good conversation is the essence of good living. We cannot live by bread alone. We cannot be isolated from one another. We need each other.
I have mentioned this before, but I open the mail which comes into the English section. In all the years of working as a secretary and, hence, one of the main tasks of my position was opening the correspondence (mail which comes into the office), I can honestly say that I have never read such cruel and heartless letters as I have in this office.
It is pathetic that people take pen in hand and/or type such letters and are not bold enough to sign the letters and actually mail them, but with no return address.
Effort should be made in applying the three C’s in conversation and written communication: conciseness, correlation and correctness.
May I say that the Golden Rule actually applies to all phases of life and try to remember this when the feeling of wanting to give someone a “piece of my mind” comes to thought. AMEN.
Maggie Ishino is a Rafu typist. Ochazuke is a staff-written column. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Rafu Shimpo.