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Currently reading: 『日本語びいき』by 清水由美

Once again, I find myself reading several books at the same time! I could not resist this book’s title and cover:

日本語びいき.jpg

『日本語びいき』by 清水由美, illustrated by ヨシタケシンスケ, 中公文庫

『日本語びいき』 is written by a Japanese teacher who teaches Japanese to foreigners. From what she writes in her forewords, I guess that there was/is a lack of understanding of what a Japanese teacher is and what skills it requires. People tend to think that anyone can teach his or her own language and are not aware of the challenges that lay behind this apparently easy task:

「私は日本語教師です。この職業も以前にくらべればだいぶ認知度が上がってきたようですが、念のために押しますと、外国人に日本語を教えるのが仕事です。国語教師との違いは、相手が日本語を母語としない人たちであるという一点です。

教えるのは日本語ですから、とりあえず日本語がしゃべれれば務まりそうなものですけれども、学習者から見れば日本語は外国語。教師の側にも日本語を外国語として見る目が求められます。そしてこの、「母語を外から見る目」を持つということは、日本語ネイティブのみなさんがなんとなく想像していらっしゃるより、おそらくかなり、難しい。」(p3)

The author wrote this book for Japanese readers, and her point is to show to native speakers the difficulties, the charm, the strangeness even of the language they speak every day. She wants to bring the amazement Japanese learners experience to the native speakers: 「日々自在に操っていらっしゃる母語、日本語に、新鮮な驚きを感じていただければ幸いです。」(p.4)

When I saw this book and understood what it was about, I immediately thought about 海野凪子(うみの・なぎこ)’s work 『日本人の知らない日本語』. The fact that 『日本語びいき』was first published under the title 『日本人の日本語知らず』tend to draw this two books closer. But they are in fact very different. First of all, 『日本語びいき』is an essay, not a manga, even if it does contain some (but very few) illustrations. More importantly, 『日本人の知らない日本語』 depicts various funny or strange experiences the Japanese teacher is confronted to with her foreign students. 『日本びいき』is only about Japanese as a language. I don’t want to say that it is a linguistic book because it is not as specialised as that, but it dissects surprising aspects of the Japanese grammar, looks at the mistakes Japanese people sometimes do, explains patterns native speakers might not be aware of, and so on.

I am very excited about 『日本語びいき』! It might not be as funny as 『日本人の知らない日本語』but I already have had a lot of enlightening moments since I started it (and I am only at the beginning).

I am sure that this book will appeal to a lot of Japanese learners. I will be able to talk more about the contents when I finish it and write my review. See you then!

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Monthly review: September 2018 | Inside That Japanese Book

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