Marrying Someone who Speaks a Different Language: The Good, The Bad, and the Awkward

I get a lot of messages from people regarding the “language barrier” in my marriage. Some people are simply curious; others are also dating or married to someone with a different native language and are wondering how Ryosuke and I were able to “work through our problems.”

Believe me, Ryosuke and I have plenty of problems… but they don’t come from a language barrier. They come from the fact that we are different people – something that every couple has to deal with (regardless of whether they were raised in different countries or in the same small-town neighborhood). 

Language comes up, of course, but not nearly as often as you might think.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, ever since I wrote this guest post on my friend Jocelyn’s blog (Speaking of China) about the benefits of being married to a non-native English speaker and publishing the author, Tracy’s, guest post about the 10 surprises about marrying someone who speaks a different language.

I think I just wanted to get this post out on the internet, it hopes that it can help someone else (or at least provide a bit of insight into the fun, interesting, and sometimes awkward aspects of marrying someone with a different native tongue).

The good:

1. I get the chance to learn a new language

And I’m going to be honest here, if it wasn’t for Ryosuke, I would have quit learning Japanese a long time ago.

The burning desire to be able to communicate with his family better is the only thing keeping me going through the hundreds of hours of self-study. I’m bad at learning languages; I always have been (something I talked about quite a bit in this post). Some people are good at art, math, business – some are good at learning languages.

2. Misunderstandings and miscommunication is normal

Do you know what takes pressure off the relationship? Knowing that the default mode for everything is different. When we disagree about something, that’s not a sign that we’re incompatible as a couple, it is the sign of two people who were raised in radically different environments.

This takes a lot of the pressure off of the relationship.

3. We’re much more honest with each other and take things at face value.

If I ask my husband “does this dress make me look fat?” I expect an honest answer. He doesn’t know that certain English phrases have hidden meanings (or, in this case, socially acceptable answers). So he gives me an honest answer… regardless of whether that’s what I want to hear or not.

A good example of this was several years ago, when we first started dating. Around our one month anniversary, Ryosuke sent me a text that said “Don’t plan anything tonight, I want to talk to you about something.”

Needless to say, I freaked out. Hard.

I ran back to the dorm after my last class finished and asked him what was wrong. I thought he wanted to break up with me. Or we were about to have a huge fight.

He was confused. When he sent that message, he meant “I don’t want to hang out with any friends tonight, I just want to chat with you about anything – like that movie we saw last week or where we should go for Spring Break.”

Whereas I took it as “Don’t plan anything tonight because I have something serious that I need to talk to you about… and we’re probably going to fight. Or break up.”

Ryosuke occasionally says loaded statements or asks loaded questions in English. I probably do the same in Japanese. We’ve learned to take what the other person says at face value.

If he asks “Are you ok?”

And I answer “I’m fine,” then it means I really am fine. I’m not mad. If I was mad, I would tell him I was mad. It’s not fair expecting him to be able to read into what I’m saying. He doesn’t have the same upbringing or cultural expectations. Weirdly enough, this makes life quite a bit easier.

98 want to talk  comic cartoon comics

4. Arguing is much easier – neither of us is trying to “out-talk” the other person (or trick them into saying the wrong thing).

I don’t like arguing. Or at least the arguing I usually see. I think it’s stupid.

I think it’s important to have a respectful conversation with someone if their behavior is somehow bothering you. I think that you should chat with your significant other if specific needs aren’t being met in your relationship – or if the gap between expectations and reality is causing your problems.

But when both sides are trying to “win” the argument, everyone loses.

When Ryosuke and I argue, we are careful to stay away from name calling, dragging up past mistakes, taking cheap shots, or trying to trick them into saying the wrong thing.

When we argue in English, I have an unfair advantage. And when we argue in Japanese (much more rare, but it happens), he has an unfair advantage.

So when we fight, we make sure to fight fair.

5. Ryosuke doesn’t make fun of the fact that I don’t know very many big words

And thank you dear reader for not making fun of that either.

6. We have a connection that goes beyond words.

We have fun together. We have a lot of fun together.

It’s not about the words. Neither of us fell in love with a tale the other was spinning. We fell in love with each other’s personalities.

You need more than pretty words to build a relationship. And without those pretty words, we made sure build our relationship with a strong foundation of humor, adventure, mutual respect, and love.

kimono photo couple japan

The bad:

1. One of us will always be dependent on the other

I did all the planning for our wedding in Texas (with plenty of help from my mother, aunt, and grandmother). I also planned the majority of our honeymoon (again, in America). And when we lived in America, I was in charge of planning our vacations, booking hotels, organizing transportation, and doing all the other “technical” stuff.

Now that we live in Japan, Ryosuke is the one who compares flights, finds hotels, and plans our vacations. We moved back in March and he was stuck doing the vast majority of the technical stuff – finding a new place to live, getting all our documents in order, figuring out moving companies, etc (all the while, dealing with his last couple weeks at his old job). It was really overwhelming for him. I tried to help out when I could, but over-all, I felt pretty useless.

I can able to open a bank account by myself in Japan but I still needed Ryosuke to accompany me to the tax office during tax season. He can go to the doctors office by himself in America, but still needs me to take care of any English-speaking phone calls.

That’s going to be the rest of our life.

When one of us is in our element, the other one will feel like a fish out of water.

kimono furisode seijinshiki foreigner gaijin japan tokyo engagement

2. I’m always going to feel more comfortable talking in English; he will always feel more comfortable talking in Japanese

When we’re alone, I talk to him in English. He responds in Japanese. It works for us… most of the time.

No matter how much we study the other person’s language, the fact of the matter is that both of us spent the first 20 years of our life only knowing one language. Japanese is never going to come as easily for me and English is never going to come as easily for him.

We can try to shorten the gap… but that’s all it is. Shortening the gap.

3. Which makes finding “couple friends” hard

In a perfect world, everyone would be able to speak every language. Actually, that would be really awesome. Think about it.

Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world.

Instead we live in a world that makes it really difficult to find good “couple friends” because of language problems. Most of the “couple friends” I find speak English fluently… but can’t hold a conversation in Japanese. Or have one partner who is foreign (like me) and one partner who is Japanese (like Ryosuke).

Most of the “couple friends” Ryosuke find don’t speak English. At all.

Of course, I prefer hanging out with native English speakers. They get my humor. I’m in my element. It’s easy.

Of course, Ryosuke prefers hanging out with native Japanese speakers. He can keep up with the conversation – even lead it (if he wants). Everyone always thinks he’s hilarious, clever, and cool.

See the problem?

These days, we have a nice assortment of “couple friends” with various language abilities. You know, to keep things fair.

4. Not to mention talking to family members about difficult subjects

Back in late February, Ryosuke quit his job. It was a good company but a bad fit.

Breaking the news to his parents was… hard (my parents didn’t particularly care, because the American mind-set isn’t set towards lifetime employment).

I sat by Ryosuke holding his hand while he explained our decision to his parents. One of the first things his father did was turn to me and ask “And how do you feel about this decision?”

It’s hard to convey my (true) feelings in Japanese. I knew how to say that Ryosuke’s happiness matters more than money, how we had plenty of money saved up, and that I honestly believe he should quit and look for a more fulfilling job. But it was hard to convey how I supported Ryosuke’s decision 100% (and wasn’t just saying that to make him happy). And I knew I couldn’t say that I thought times are changing and the Japanese lifetime employment system is stupid (especially to a family full of people who thrived in the lifetime employment system).

When it comes to tense situations, I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I don’t want to accidentally say a loaded sentence and inadvertently offend everyone at the table.

So I stay silent and trust my husband to speak for me.

And when it comes to tense situations in English, he trusts me to convey his feelings to my family.

He knows me; I know him. It’s frustrating having to trust someone to speak for you – but he’s never let me down (so far).

The awkward:

1. Our personalities often change depending on what language we’re speaking

Sarcasm does not exist in Japanese. Which sucks because literally every fourth thing I say in English is sarcastic.

Ryosuke thinks it’s hilarious (and a little disturbing) how much more polite I am in Japanese. And I don’t understand half the jokes he tries to make in English.

There are several articles online about this change of personality. This is one of my favorites.

sakura couple picture

2. I sometimes switch into speaking Japanese without realizing it, especially when I’m talking to a close friend or family

I can’t help it if English doesn’t have a word to describe exactly how I’m feeling. I’m so used to switching between English and Japanese when I talk. Most of my non-Japanese friends here in Tokyo speak Japanese at the same level as me (if not higher). We all do it.

I was chatting with my parents a while back and was describing the weekend Ryosuke and I spent babysitting his brother’s kids. “They’re cute and I love them to death, but they’re so freaking genki and I just can’t handle it.”

“Grace, you keep using that word. We don’t know what it means.”

Recently a friend came to visit me in Tokyo. We were stuck on a crowded train and our stop was coming up. The announcement (in Japanese) said the doors on the left side were opening. Luckily we were standing near the left side.

When the train started slowing down, my friend started panicking. “What side do the doors open up? How do we get to the other side?”

I just gave her the look. “Left side. It just said that like 10 seconds ago. Weren’t you listening?”

It wasn’t until we were off the train that I realized the announcement had been in Japanese. She didn’t speak a word of it – and had absolutely no way of knowing what was being said. I apologized. She laughed it off.

3. Always fielding the “so what language do you speak to each other?” and “what about the (future) children?” questions

There are lots of questions. I don’t have the answers to them.

4. People stare at my like I grew three heads when I talk in Japanese, especially out in the rural countryside (only applies if you live in a country where you are the ethnic minority)

Because apparently white people can’t speak Japanese. Or something like that.

I can’t count the number of times someone has talked about me (in front of me) in Japanese, assuming I didn’t know what was going on. Or a cashier trying to tell me how much money is due in very broken English (two… uh… thousand… and… six hundreds… and, uh, … twenty seven yens) instead of the much quicker Japanese (二千六百二十七円).

It’s understandable (Japan has a large number of annual tourists who don’t speak a word of Japanese), albeit annoying.

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In any case, those are my thoughts on the matter. Does anyone else have anything interesting to add?

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

33 Comments on Marrying Someone who Speaks a Different Language: The Good, The Bad, and the Awkward

  1. Ha! The part about grabbing random words in a second language, while speaking a first made me giggle, as I do the same! My 1st language is English, but my 2nd language is American Sign Language (ASL). May times I have been struggling for an English word, or trying to decide just how to express something, and I sign a word or 2 before realizing my husband or boss, or some other innocent person has NO clue what I have just said.

  2. Frederick Lim // 4 March, 2016 at 4:22 pm //

    LOL. love this this post. My wife and I are both ethnic chinese. but we have been living in the US for so long we chat in both English and Chinese! The language best fit the situation wins.

  3. Thank you so much for this post. My boyfriend and I have been dating for 3 years and a lot of the points you made really resonated with me! Both the good and the not so good. It’s nice to know there are other people out there experiencing the same thing. :)

  4. One thing I learned to love (in a perverse way) when living in Japan was visiting shops in rural areas. I’d come in and the chatter amongst the shopkeepers, usually of the same family, would turn to either “Come look at the foreigner.” or “Keep an eye on the foreigner…he looks sketchy.”

    I’d bow and go about my business, not speaking until it was time to complete a transaction or leave. I’ll never forget the looks on people’s faces when I spoke Japanese to them, watching the realization that I’d understood their chatter wash across their faces.

    Usually, it was just amusing, but when they were actively rude, crude or racist in their comments, the looks were utterly priceless.

  5. Thank you. I like your article and your insight was interesting. I can definitely relate to how people speak in the local language thinking you don’t understand… Very annoying ?

  6. When I first moved to Japan I could understand more Japanese than I could speak. One of the teachers I worked with didn’t speak much English. He would speak to me in Japanese and I would respond in English. The other teachers gave us crazy looks! Now that I’m back in the U.S., and have been for 21 years, I still occasionally want to insert a Japanese word into conversation, especially if there isn’t an English equivalent.

  7. I feel like the biggest issues with language for us is using a word and not fully understanding the significance of the meaning behind it. I think this might come up more as you guys get better at each others languages and start to expect more from each other.

    Does Ryusuke ever use swear words inappropriately? Mine does and I have to remind him of the weight certain words carry even if it’s a joke. Sometimes it is hella funny though.

  8. Hi, Grace! Thank you for an yet another great article – have lots of fun reading yours.

    What you say is all TRUE!! And I can say after 15 years (we celebrated our 15th Anniversary on 4th July) this is still true. Misunderstanding/miscommunication still are there…. ha, ha, ha and we depend on each other…

    In our case we have slightly different language issues which complicate the situation and probably this is because we are living in a small country in Europe where society itself is already multilingual. (We are in Switzerland where official language is four, i.e German, French, Italian and Romansh!) People from big countries, such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain or G. Britain, do not have this luxury… And in our case, because of this, we use different languages: I speak Japanese (mother tongue and secondary business language), English (fluent and primary business language), German (for office use), and some Russian, Dutch and Italian while my wife Russian (her mother tongue and one of the two family languages), Ukrainian (the other family language), German (fluent and her business language), English (our common language), Japanese (when she cannot find the right expression in other language!)….. so it’s complicated, specially when we are tired things can easily be mixed up.

    That said…. we survived so far. I feel that Japanese (and some other Asians) are a bit too nervous about the language, specially speaking English. Here in Europe, with the exception of the island state at the other side of the Channel, although English is used it is far from good English. But life goes on without any major problem, normally. Another thing is there are enough couples with different language background here – you can think of almost any combination. But as far as European languages are concerned, be it German, French or Italian (Italian/Spanish and Portuguese are very close to each other), they are much closer than between English and other languages. And many are multilingual. (In the office here we have 14 different nationalities so imagine what happens…. we are used to the life like this! Of course this is more complicated between a couple but still…)

    One problem area is the expressions which cannot be translated into other language(s). In case of Japanese, e.g. “mendokusai”(ano hito ha mendokusai, for example), “otsukare-sama”, or “zutunai”….. also in Russian and/or German. There is a Mid-West expression (I forgot it unfortunately) which cannot be put in standard American English… so there we go!!

    Life is FUN!!

    • mikoamaya // 23 July, 2015 at 10:52 pm //

      I have a few Japanese friends here in America and when I was trying to find the perfect word for a story and coming up short, my friend used that word, mendokusai. When I asked him what that meant, he was like, “kinda like troublesome or what a drag or something like that?” We laughed about it and now we use that word between us a lot. :D

  9. Fatima J // 17 July, 2015 at 11:41 pm //

    Hi Grace. I love your blog and youtube channel. It is so fun seeing you and Ryosuke together and how you interact. you’re such a cute couple :)

    Being a child of an international couple, my mum is British while my dad is an Arab from the UAE, I find reading about these relationships really interesting. To me it has always seemed so normal and so simple, but to get an insight of what it must have been like for my parents in the beginning of their relationship is very interesting, and actually makes me appreciate them and my upbringing much more.

  10. Thanks for sharing your insight Grace! Although no one has ever approached me about language barriers in my relationship, I have always been prepared to emphasize that language issues only compromise a small fraction of misunderstandings.

    We speak 98% in Japanese, his English is limited to naughty words. Sometimes I have trouble understanding him, sometimes he thinks I’m not listening because I don’t make enough responsive sounds (んー そうなの?とか) it just doesn’t come naturally. But when it boils down to the things we butt heads about, its primarily personality differences. We are like yin and yang in our differences which is mostly harmonic, but occasionally frustrating.

    I think that he sometimes has trouble remembering that communicating entirely in Japanese is more difficult for me and he gets irritated, but normally he comes around and remembers that it’s a struggle for me sometimes. Luckily, he is a very frank and talkative person, so we have lots of opportunity to discuss issues when they arise.

  11. Very interesting post! I have to say that several of your “the bad” aren’t true in my own relationship with a Japanese guy, though. He can’t speak English and has never been abroad, so we communicate only in Japanese, which has it’s own ups and downs. I often feel that he both underestimates my Japanese ability (In the middle of a sentence, he’ll stop and ask me if I know a word he just said, but it’s usually a super easy word that I learned in Japanese 101) and overestimates my Japanese ability. As the woman in our relationship, I’m in charge of most of the stuff that women in Japanese-Japanese couples are in charge of. My work hours are shorter than his, so by the time he gets out of work, tax offices and doctors’ offices and so on aren’t open anymore, so I am in charge of making our doctors’ and appointments on the phone, submitting our change of residence papers, getting jyuuminhyous and shakoshoumeishos and all other kinds of troublesome paperwork. It’s troublesome and seems kind of counterproductive to have the one of the two of us who is NOT a native speaker doing these things, but since he’s working normal salaryman hours, this is what he needs his partner to do for him, and so I do it. I’m not incapable, after all, it’s just more difficult to me.

    I’ve definitely accidentally spoken to family members in Japanese before. When I went back to the US and was breaking up a fight between my little sisters I instinctively yelled at them in Japanese (like I do to my Japanese students when they are roughhousing and misbehaving). but they had no idea what I was saying. Likewise, when I fell asleep watching the Hobbit with my boyfriend (English audio with Japanese subtitles) and when I woke up I started speaking to him in English instinctively and couldn’t figure out at first why he didn’t answer me. Lol

    • Ahh my husband does that to me too. I have to make all appointments and yakuba visits even if I ask him for help because he doesn’t want me to be dependent on him for that sort of stuff. It’s tough love but I appreciate it, I need to be able to do everything on my own anyways!

  12. razwan abdullah // 16 July, 2015 at 5:05 am //

    i was going through your videos on youtube and stumbled on this article. very nice article miss grace! love it!

  13. Loved this post! Especially the part about how sarcasm doesn’t translate well (my husband got a crash course in sarcasm when he met me), and how personality changes depending on what language you’re speaking. 1000% accurate to my life~

  14. Mixed language is the best! Both my partner and I come from a different linguistic and cultural background from where we live now, but we’re both linguaphiles, so our communication is sprinkled with words from several languages.
    I feel every language excels at describing certain concepts, and so will have more words for it that are missing in other languages.
    Like describing food in English is super limiting!

    It’s really hard for us when we’re around each other’s parents, who only speak one language well. I get really jumbled talking to them, and then anyone else, because my brain doesn’t always switch to the correct language (and it can take me minutes to realise!)

    PS: Genki is an *excellent* word.

  15. P J Ebbrell // 15 July, 2015 at 4:25 am //

    Even if you share the same country and region, you family culture can still affect you. My wife grew up in as an only child to parents who were born in the 20s and grew up in with a Victorian father. Whereas my family was slightly later growing up in the 40s and 50s. So there are clashes and it does go down to the line, of chucking it all away and giving up. My wife had a top down autocratic style of family, whereas mine, we would all argue and share our opinions on topics.

    But love is a two way street and being able to recognise your mistakes and having some one who is willing to live with you and share the world. Marriage is not going to be sweetness and light plus hot sex, it requires commitment and working at your own faults. We are coming up to our 24th wedding anniversary and at times, I never thought we would make it, this far on occasions.

  16. Really interesting read. When I lived in Japan, every time I spoke Japanese at all, people gasped in awe. I don’t think they think many foreigners know the language.

    I’ve got a lot of American friends who married Japanese locals and I always wondered about the language gap in their relationship. Many hardly even spoke each others’ languages too. It seems like you said, it can make things a bit more honest and you definitely don’t have the problem of arguing.

    It’s amazing how much your personality changes when you speak Japanese. I felt the same way.

  17. Being married to someone who speaks a different language is always challenging. In case of me and my wife the main language is English which is not the mothertongue of either of us. She learned now German in a intensive course here in Germany and I studied many years now Chinese, however we even have another language to communicate with each other: Finnish. This results that there are often misunderstadings :)

  18. Richard Solomon // 14 July, 2015 at 10:47 pm //

    Thanks for a heartwarming post about the complexities of being married to someone who speaks another language and comes from another (very different) culture. Being married 44 years+ to a Japanese woman I can identify with all of the things you noted. Trust me when I say that the benefits far, far outweigh the challenges that come with such a relationship.

  19. It would be nice if everyone took the same approach to arguing as you and Ryosuke are taking.
    I used to be very mean during arguments, and well.. as i collect years behind me i realized being mean brings nothing good in the long run.

  20. Well done Grace and I agree. I love being with my boyfriend (Japanese) because we work well together. There are times when he needs to fill in the gaps for me if I can’t say something and I’m learning to be much more patient. The disagreements actually are as you say as well. It’s easier to talk to each other when you realize it might be a misunderstanding. Me and my love try and help each other even when we have a disagreement. Not to mention its very calming to think of why you are mad and how to explain it haha.
    There’s a point where we can start to see how a language works then say things more like yourself. Maybe not 100% but better. But albeit of course there is sarcasm which is a never ending source of amusement.
    It’s fun :)

  21. Thinking about having a different personality for each language you speak is interesting. I only speak two languages fluently (German and English), but I can’t really say there is much of a difference for me. Possibly because they are both Germanic languages and the cultural divide between German and England isn’t that big – I usually use an English accent and identify most with the associated culture; I can do a GenAm accent but I have no deeper cultural knowledge to back it up. However my syntax and idiomatic expressions tend to have some US influences, seeing as I have never lived in England and the internet mixes so many varieties of English that I don’t always notice them sneaking their way into my usage.

  22. Good post. We don’t have language issues either. It all comes down to the efforts you make to communicate, same as any relationship.

  23. Stephanie // 14 July, 2015 at 1:38 pm //

    I’ve been reading a little bit on language learning over the past several months. The people who speak multiple languages fluently say that there is no language learning gene/talent.
    You need to have motivation. That is why a lot of people don’t get fluent if they learn a language for work/school instead of personal interest.
    You need to have interesting content in your target language. If the content is boring, you will probably not get far; you will forget what you read, lose focus, and are more likely to give up.
    You also need to spend a lot of time with the language. Reading and listening are great for building vocabulary. Read interesting websites. Listen to interesting podcasts (ones with transcripts are especially helpful) or watch TV shows/movies. The more time you spend with the language, the better you’ll get at it, and finding compelling content will help you stay interested enough to continue and focused enough to remember what you read. People can look up words in the dictionary and immediately forget them, but words picked up in an interesting context are much more likely to be remembered.

  24. Can relate to this so much- have been with my husband for 11 years now (met when I was 19) and when I met him we communicated with an electronic dictionary most of the time – now, my Japanese is fine and his English has come a long way too but we still have miscommunications all the time. Despite 11 years, one of those years spent in Australia, getting married, 3 kids, 5 moves and buying a house later….

    He & I always spoke in Japanese- we met here and he spoke no English and I was studying so my Japanese was conversational at best but it improved relatively quickly. However, since we had kids I speak English when they are awake, even to him usually….and he speaks back in Japanese.

    By the way, a lot of our friends are other couples in biracial relationships where either the wife/hubs is non-japanese- works great as he always has a native Japanese friend to speak with :) Plus university friends who have known us both a long time and we all speak in mixed languages….all the time. haha

  25. I’m glad you continue studying Japanese because I know many people who just give up and say they aren’t good at languages. I don’t really agree with that. I used to think I just wasn’t good at science or math, but when I took science and math classes in isolation and studied for them every day, I got really good grades in both. I think you have the drive to learn Japanese to speak with your in-laws and your husband and since you live in Japan you also need it to talk with everyone around you. However, I don’t think people are ‘bad’ at learning languages per se. Everyone has different goals and motivations and a lot of people just don’t prioritize studying or haven’t found the right study methods that work for them. People who tell me, ‘Yeah well you are good at languages so you don’t know my pain’ make me frustrated because it almost wipes away all the work I’ve put in, making it seem like I just woke up speaking three languages one day. Anyway, I hope you continue to develop your skills because I know you are passionate and hard-working. I can relate to a lot of things in this post, and I agree that language makes life more interesting and awkward and funny but the real differences couples like us have are personal differences.

  26. I do #2 from the awkward list all the time, I have a tendency to take words from English and use them in Spanish (rewritten to fit the language). Gets even more awkward when I attempt to conjugate verbs.

    Not married to anybody, just I speak both languages commonly.

  27. This. Is. The Best.
    I love your list posts and I love that this is one that I can relate to on so many levels. The best part being that the language barrier is not the point of arguments. So many times (my) Ryosuke and I fight are not because of what we can’t say, more when I want him to say more. To see that you guys have all of these problems too gives me hope for my future too.

    As for when you both need to rely on one-another in the other’s country is best when that person really wants to help. Ryosuke really likes when I rely on him to help me with really complicated things–but on the other hand, when I always ask him to ask for simple things he really wants me to try and do it myself. A really good support system but one that will help when you really need it! :)

    The awkward is SO TRUE. I’m geting my mother accustomed to random Japanese words because I can’t find other words and they spill out and she just agrees that eventually she will learn Japanese after a lifetime of skype.

  28. Hi Grace, I love basically all your blogs, and I really feel connected with what you are saying in this one. Neither my boyfriend nor I am native English speaker, but English is so far our only language in common. He is a german-speaking swiss guy and my first language is Chinese. We are doing fine using English but there is always something that I feel we could never achieve using this second language. For example I am (or I think I am) a person with good sense of humour, and when I am being funny in Chinese people surrounding me simply just couldn’t stop laughing. But as he probably will never aquire Chinese, or at least to the level where he gets all the joke, he will probably never know how funny I am in my native language. I guess this is just something I will have to cope with. BTW Japanese is my second language (born in Japan, and grew up partly there), I’ve watched your video where you talk in Japanese. You are doing an amazing job! Especially everytime when you say そう、そう, sounds really native to my ears! I hope you and Ryosuke all the best.

  29. I don’t know what genki means either! Cute? Demanding? What? The suspense is killing me!

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