Saturday, March 11, 2006

Japanese: Language of Satan?!?

This article tells of a former missionary's problems with the Japanese language (I'm assuming she's talking about the volitional form):
Gulick said that Francis Xavier, the famous 16th-century Catholic missionary, "said that the Japanese language was a particular invention of the devil to prevent the understanding of the gospel, and that is true." In Japanese, "there is no definite future, so you say, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you might be saved (instead of shall be saved.) It's a problem."
I have a feeling Japanese can fathom the concept of a definite future event and knew what she was getting at, but she's given it up and is now learning Runyoro, a language spoken in Uganda.

4 comments:

tian said...
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tian said...

Amida,

That is interesting, because I just wrote about World Bible School's claim of Chinese as the "language of God".

http://www.hanzismatter.com/2006/03/chinese-language-of-god.html

amida said...

Funny, I saw a post about that on Pinyin.info a while back, but didn't make the connection until just now--
Chinese=God's language, Japanese=Satan's language?!?

Check out the pinyin.info post at:
http://pinyin.info/news/2006/misunderstandings-of-biblical-proportions/

Nick Tausek said...

Hey guys. I live in Japan, and speak the language. While Japanese does not have what we would consider a "true" future tense, with a combination of adverbs, you can indicate definite future events. For example,
太郎が死んだら、悪魔に食べられるのだろう。(Tarou ga shindara, akuma ni taberareru no darou.)
This sentence can mean "If Taro were to die, he may be eaten by a devil." It could also mean "When Taro dies, he will be eaten by a devil." This kind of vagueness is quite common in Japanese.

It's a little less natural linguistically, but you can easily say
太郎が死ぬと、悪魔に絶対食べられるのだろう。(Tarou ga shinu to, akuma ni zettai taberareru.)
This means "When Taro dies, he certainly is/will be eaten by a devil." This is a bit bulky, but leaves no room for doubt.
There are numerous ways of expressing the future in Japanese, since there is no one definite future tense.
I'll finish with,
たくさん勉強しないと聖書を和訳出来ない! (If you don't study, you can't translate the Bible into Japanese!)

Naturally, I'm not a native speaker, so if any Japanese want to point out any は・が errors or whatnot I may have made, feel free!

Peace!