Ain’t Misbehavin’: Japanese Terms for Rudeness (and Worse)

Source: Gaijin Pot
Ain't Misbehavin': Japanese Terms for Rudeness (and Worse)

One of the things that most distinguishes Japanese culture from others is its constant observance of unspoken rules of manners. For visitors to the country, navigating through the intricacies of these rules of etiquette can feel like traversing your way through a maze where every wrong turn is punished with sideways glances and muttered complaints. However, learning just a few of the words associated with manners in Japan can help make your maze-based quest significantly easier.

When Japanese people talk about manners, they often use the English-derived term マナー (manners) and the Franco-English word エチケット (etiquette). While マナー may seem like a reasonable approximation to the word “manners,” it is unfortunately usually only found in its noun form, whereas there are times you may need a verb or adjective.

For other forms you have to use some of the other synonyms of this word. If you want to talk about a well-mannered young child, for example, the Japanese original word for manners, 礼儀,(れいぎ) is more useful, especially as it can be easily transformed into the adjective 礼儀正(ただ)しい to make the adjective.

Recently, however, Japanese people are complaining that young children are becoming less 礼儀正しい. You may well be wondering what kind of things comprise such bad manners to the Japanese, however, a lot of them are things that other nations may not even consider rude. The recent buzzwords 歩(ある)きスマホ (walking with a smart phone) and, horror-of-horrors, 電車(でんしゃ)で化粧(けしょう) (putting on makeup on the train!) are frequently cited as examples of the young losing their manners — something that may not bother other cultures so much.

You may well be wondering what kind of things comprise such bad manners to the Japanese, however, a lot of them are things that other nations may not even consider rude.

These kinds of gripes are often joined with the common …continue reading