What to think when Japanese people say your Japanese is good

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How to think about getting Nihongo Jozued

This used to really piss me off.

I have the highest qualification in the Japanese language proficiency test, and I’ve even interpreted for gold-medal winning athletes, international magazines, not to mention translated a whole lot of stuff too. So when someone compliments a friend or family’s Japanese as ‘Jozu’ (to be good or adept at something), despite them just being in the country for less than a week and only saying ‘arigato’ or ‘konnichiwa’, it can get a bit annoying.

I say used to, because it doesn’t anymore. I’ve since realised that the term isn’t talking about a person’s level of ability. Well, it is in that if you can even say these simple words, it’s more than what Japanese people expect. They aren’t telling you that you’re good at Japanese. They’re simply telling you that they’re surprised you have any ability. They’re telling you Nihongo Jozu just to show their surprise at you using the language.

Get over yourself. Of course they’re not saying someone who speaks but one word of a language is a master at that language. They’re not that naive, or whatever it is you’re thinking.

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