is the Japanese
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...
term for frequent interjection
In grammar, an interjection or exclamation is a word used to express an emotion or sentiment on the part of the speaker . Filled pauses such as uh, er, um are also considered interjections...
s during a conversation that indicate the listener is paying attention and understanding the speaker. In linguistic terms, these are a form of phatic
In linguistics, a phatic expression is one whose only function is to perform a social task, as opposed to conveying information.-History:The term was coined by anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski in the early 1900s from Greek phanein: to show oneself, appear.-Understanding:The utterance of a...
expression. Aizuchi are considered reassuring to the speaker, indicating that the listener is active and involved in the discussion.
Aizuchi are frequently misinterpreted by non-native speakers as agreement on the part of the listener, because common aizuchi include:
- "hai", "ee", or "un" (yes, with varying degrees of formality)
- "sō desu ne" (that's how it is, I think)
- "sō desu ka" (is that so?)
- "hontō", "honto", "hontō ni" or "honma" (really)
- "naruhodo" (I see, that's right)
These can be compared to English "yeah, yeah", "yeah, ok", "got it", "yep", "uhuh" or "go on", but are more pronounced and important in Japanese.
Business relations in particular can be hampered by non-native speakers assuming that their Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...
ese counterparts have been agreeing to their suggestions all along, when in reality the Japanese have only been saying that they understand the suggestions – "got it", not "agreed".
Aizuchi can also take the form of so-called echo questions, which consist of a noun plus "desu ka". After Speaker A asks a question, Speaker B may repeat a key noun followed by "desu ka" to confirm what Speaker A was talking about or simply to keep communication open while Speaker B thinks of an answer. A rough English analog would be "A ..., you say?", as in: "So I bought this new car"; reply: "A car, you say?".