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THE TRIUMPH OF JAPANESE ENGLISH - story Japanese English fiction Japanese English fictional account Japanese English stories Japanese English fictions Japanese English narrative Japanese English shortstory Japanese English contemporary fiction Japanese English storey Japanese English stori Japanese English short story Japanese English



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The Triumph of Japanese English

        Keiko was puzzled by the speech that Gavin had written for her. Of course, he was a native speaker of English, so his conversational skills were strong. But, because Japanese people study English grammar very thoroughly, they often understand it better than native speakers. Many native speakers of English, for example, cannot reliably choose between "who" and "whom", something Keiko could do perfectly. With that in mind, Keiko set to work, aiming to remedy the defects of the text which Gavin had produced.
        "Not only will we strive to improve product quality, but we will also work to cut delivery time."
        Now what exactly did that mean?
        Plainly, there were two sentences here, joined by the word "but". One was a negative sentence, starting with the unambiguously negative word "not". The other was a positive sentence, using the contrastive word "but". However, the syntax seemed oddly distorted, blurring the intended meaning, and the confusion was made worse by a couple of unnecessary words apparently thrown in at random - "only" and "also".
        Keiko recalled a maxim drummed into her on her last writing course:-
        "Written English should be clear, direct and simple. Avoid vagueness at all costs. Do your best to edit your writing for precision and concision."
        Of course, when one edits, one must also bear in mind the fact that formal situations require formal language. From that point of view, some of the words Gavin had chosen were a little bit casual ....
        With those principles in mind, Keiko rectified Gavin's English, redacting it so it read thus:-
        "We will not try to improve the quality of our products. But we will endeavor to adjust limitations on delivery time."
        Undoubtedly, when she went to New York to give her presentation, everyone was going to be properly impressed.
        To go right through Gavin's speech took Keiko all of eight hours and involved the use of seven different dictionaries, three grammar books and the Internet. But at last she was finished, and was proud to find herself so exhausted that she could no longer see straight. (In Japan it is considered virtuous to exhaust yourself, effort being favored over results.) She went to sleep, happily, and dreamt that she was teaching Bill Gates and Woody Allen how to speak proper Japanese English.

The End

This story, "The Triumph of Japanese English", made its first appearance when posted online by Hugh Cook on 2003 July 21 Monday.



THE TRIUMPH OF JAPANESE ENGLISH - story Japanese English fiction Japanese English fictional account Japanese English stories Japanese English fictions Japanese English narrative Japanese English shortstory Japanese English contemporary fiction Japanese English storey Japanese English stori Japanese English short story Japanese English








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