When Thank You and Sorry mean the same thing

open brown wooden door

It’s interesting how some things are expressed differently in different languages. Take for example in Japanese, when someone opens the door for you, you apologise to them for having inconvenienced them, whereas in English we’d usually thank them. In Japan, it’s all about humility. When you do something, anything, to inconvenience someone, you are sort of at their will. In English, apologising for this can make you seem weak or feeble, or ungrateful.

For the longest time, I’ve been making an effort to be positive in my remarks, for example instead of saying ‘sorry for the wait’, I try and say ‘thanks for your patience’. This is in an effort to keep things positive, to avoid putting a downer on things. In some cases though, this just isn’t possible in Japanese. I mean, it’s possible, but it’s completely unnatural.

A similar instance is that on the phone or at the door when we can’t see the other person talking, we say ‘It’s” and then our name, rather than just saying “I’m”. This sort of thing you don’t really notice until you have to teach it, and there are so many exceptions in English it can be hard to keep track.



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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 


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