Hello everybody. I’ve been using WaniKani for a while, although I am not very far along with it. I take it very slowly. But I do find it very helpful and have learned so much. I’m in Japan right now. It’s my second trip here and I can read a lot more things than I could during my first trip, thanks to WK!
I’m also not much of a message board person (here or elsewhere) so I have never posted here before. But I figured I should try!
While I am in Japan, I met a local Japanese person. He has been willing to talk some Japanese with me even though my ability is extremely elementary. I don’t know many Japanese people and this is the first time I’ve met someone willing to talk about the language with me.
Anyway, I’ve been trying to write simple things to go with photos on Instagram as a way to practice. I showed this person something new I wrote and asked if it was correct. While he wouldn’t immediately give me a direct answer (of course), he did finally tell me he knew what I was saying, but it was not natural. And that you can’t just literally translate things from English. Which I know, of course. But it’s so much more difficult to put “thinking” in Japanese into practice… I mean, how do you even learn that? Is it even possible unless maybe you live here?
I also used a word which I got from the dictionary that he said was a very rude word. But the dictionary didn’t say that! I found that really frustrating.
This is what I wrote to describe a photo of three stone statues I saw at a Buddhist temple:
What I was trying to say, in English, is:
There are three. Who are they? They look peaceful.
First, he told me あいつら is rude and should not be used. I had chose this word over かれら because in the dictionary かれら said it usually refers to male only, and I was looking for a less gendered word.
My friend also also said you shouldn’t say “who” to describe three statues because they are not living, so you would say “what” instead. I do know a little about the animate/inanimate distinction in Japanese, which is why I used “あります” in the first sentence. It never occurred to me, though, that I also should not say ‘who’ to describe something like three statutes, especially as I was trying to be poetic. But I suppose it does make sense.
After that, we didn’t discuss this any more. The person I asked is only a casual friend and didn’t want to keep pressing with questions. So… that’s why I decided to come here. I figured that many of you are much more experienced and might have some useful feedback. And maybe others can learn from my question as well.
Can anyone comment on my example and how to more naturally convey in Japanese what I am trying to say? I want to learn from my mistakes! Also, can anyone comment on the use of あいつら and why the dictionary didn’t warn me this was a rude word? How can I avoid unknowingly using rude words if the dictionary doesn’t define a word as such?