What’s in a name?

Learning a second language can be difficult, but the key to success lies in how much fun you are having with it.  When I was taking my Japanese II final I called ふみせんせい (Fumi Sensei) a pool.  Now my intent was to ask how often she swam in a pool, but rather I asked her often she was a pool.

The choice for anyone learning a second language is to have a great big belly laugh about the missteps or become mortified to the point you won’t open your mouth again.

My most recent misstep had to do with how I asked a friend to address me.

  • Sonia, ともだちはジェンです!I like helping in anyway that I can and I would love to have you help me. 🙂
  • ともだちは「ジェン」と呼んでいます。You wrote ‘My friends call me’Jenn’. ですか? ’Jen’ ’Jenn’

It is a subtle difference for sure, but to a native speaker it makes a big difference.  Sonia used vocabulary that I have not learned yet, but what better way to learn new vocabulary.

In essence I wrote, “Friends Jen I am.”  Sounds a lot like Dr. Seuss and “Sam I am.”   With my limited vocabulary I worked with what I had.  It was enough for my friend to understand, and help me with the missing word.

In this case the verb です or I am was just not quite enough.  So the new verb is my vocabulary, 呼んでいます, helps me tell friends that they may “call” me Jen.

The other issue with learning another language lies in the difference between what a textbook tells you and what you learn from a native speaker.

For those that are learning English as a second language one person may tell them to say, “Please call me Jen.”  While another person would teach them, “I like to be called Jen.”  While both of these sentences mean the same thing there are subtle differences in politeness.

Japanese is the same way, while I learned a new way to to ask friends to call me Jen, there are many statements that will mean the same thing, just with a slight change in tone or politeness.

What would you say?  Leave a comment below!


3 Responses to “What’s in a name?”

  1. Sonia June 18, 2011 at 7:59 am #

    こんにちは、そにあです。(Hello,I’m Sonia.)

    記事(きじ)に のせていただいて ありがとうございます。
    (Thank you for that you wrote this story about me.

    I’m really glad to you study and you’re interested in Japanese.

    Because Japanese is one of the most of difficult language to lean.

    But,It’s difficult sentence for me.(very long sentences and difficult grammar.
    I couldn’t understand all of that.(Maybe you are writing about Japanese.)

    So, I can tell you about Japanese only here.

    おおくの日本人が、「My friend is Jen.」と思うでしょう。

    I suggest that almost Japanese will think ‘You tell me’My friend is Jen’,
    if you write「ともだちはジェンです」


    tea ceremonies=(さどう,sadou)sa-do-u

    practice of martial arts = (ぶどう, budou).bu-do-u

    tea ceremonies (ちゃど, chado), as well as is the practice of martial arts (ぶど, budo).

    Your friend,Sonia.

    • jen June 19, 2011 at 8:33 pm #


      コメントはとてもすごうですね。ありがとうございます。(Thank you for the wonderful comment!)

      きょうわたしはふみせんせいいっしょにをべんきょします。(Today I studied with Fumi Sensei)

      We talked about how I wrote,「ともだちはジェンです」and had a good laugh! (ははは)

      Thank you for the help. I will fix my errors!

      I will try to make my English readable by both audiences (English and Japanese) next time!!!


    • Coralyn June 26, 2011 at 7:55 am #

      Knocked my socks off with konwlegde!

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