Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Language: Ne!

Even if you don't know any Japanese, you can start picking out the word "ne" pretty quickly in anime, movies, or real-life conversations. "Ne" usually appears at the end of sentences and gives the feeling of agreement (ne. ne!) or seeking agreement (ne?).

It's a wonderful short-cut, and once you learn it you may find yourself using it even when you're speaking English (I do with a couple of my fellow Japan ex-pats randomly).

"This is tasty, --isn't it?--" = "Kore wa oishii desu --ne--."

"X, isn't it?" = "X, ne?"
"X, are you?" = "X, ne?"
"X, would he?" = "X, ne?"

You get the idea. All of those cases and others like them in English become "ne" in Japanese. You can even answer with a ne in super casual situations.

"Atsui ne." (It's hot, isn't it?)
"Ne." (Yeah.)

Another easy-to-find example is what I call the "sou desu ne" girls on TV talk shows. "Sou desu ne." (soh des neh) means  "That's so, isn't it?", and these girls, usually young and pretty, sit next to older male hosts and seem to spend most of their time nodding and saying "sou desu ne" in response to whatever the male host is saying (Man: "Our next guest is very talented." Girl: "Sou desu ne."). It can be a bit grating on American eyes and ears, but culturally it fits well within Japanese media expectations.

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