November 21, 2012

日本語のあっそうはドイツ語でアッゾウ(但し丁寧):German says 'ach so' when Japanese says 'a so'

Even now, I sometimes say "ach so" instead of Japanese "a so" and crack myself up (only in my mind).  It's my personal joke no one else understands.

Long long time ago, when I was in Italy,  I met a multilingual girl from German.  One day, chatting over a cup of cappucio, we suddenly came to realize that Japanese 'a so' and German 'ach so' are used in exactly the same context.

I:     a so?
She:  ach so?
I:      a so.
She : ach so.
I&She:   LOL

God, that was the defining ah-hah moment (or ah-so moment).  My joke is the remain of that fond memory.

Funny thing is that she couldn't pronounce Japanese 'a so' as is.  I mean, I tried to let her repeat after me, but every time I say "a so" she goes "a zo" with z sound, claiming "I'm just saying what you said."  After repeating this about five times, I drew my own conclusion that German people probably can't distinguish Japanese 's' sound from 'z' sound.  Maybe I'm wrong. She was just making a joke... I dunno.

After the long years,  I finally checked the web.   I learned that there's another word we have in common; Nanu!?   Wow, I use it all the time!

Just in case you're wondering, neither Aso nor Nanu are listed in Japanese words coming from German.  So, it seems to be just a coincidence.

BTW, if you're coming from Germany, beware that Japanese 'a so' is used only among friends, not like German 'ach so' that you can use in a formal way.  Well, this is small but big problem.  Depending on how you use it, you can be really friendly or outright rude ("whatever" sort of).

For example, I came across this story about a poor German girl in Japan.  She quit her job because she was tired of her Japanese boss getting mad every time she says 'a so.'   She was just saying 'ach so.'





私「違う違う… あ、そう」

このやりとりを5回ぐらい繰り返して、そうか、「そ」と「ぞ」が聞き分けられないんだなって気づいたのだ。同じに聞こえるみたいよ? それとも私がそう思ってるだけで違うのかな…と不確かなままウン十年。


*但しドイツ語の「あぞう」は日本語の「あそう」ほどゾンザイではなく目上の人にも使われる。ドイツ語のノリで日本語の「あっそう」を日本の社長に連発して怒鳴られ意味不明なまま辞めちゃった可哀想なドイツの子の話が載ってた…怒るなよ…(-_-;) みなさまも機会があったら「ドイツ人のあっそうは別に悪気ないんです」と広めてあげてね。


Anonymous said...

That's quite amazing, but too bad this girl got her boss mad.

satomi said...

I know, such a narrow mind.

Emperor Hirohito used to say 'a so' a lot to show he's actually a down to earth guy, not 'Arahitogami.'

As you can see here (Emperor Hirohito greeting Judo's Yasuhiro Yamashita. 'a so' moment at 2'08", 2'26"), it can loosen up a formal atmosphere and everyone suddenly felt 'hey, he's just like one of us!' Whoever came up with that idea is genius.

Anonymous said...

You know what's really funny? You can also use "ne" in German (like in そうですね). That, however, is pretty colloquial and shouldn't be used in more formal situations. :D

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