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I had three books I wished to present as a gift to a VIP Japanese friend. I intended to give them as is without any formal wrapping paper to cover them, but my Japanese secretary suggested that they be wrapped together in a bundle with decorative wrapping paper. The secretary had only a couple minutes for the job and it looked rather haphazardly done. “Just tell her you did it!” my secretary suggested.

Japanese people always make allowances for foreigners, and especially for Americans (including Canadians.)

I replied, “Well, I don’t want to lie and say I wrapped the gift when I didn’t actually wrap it myself!” But then it dawned on me that I could tell my VIP Japanese friend (who is conversant in English) the same thing using the Japanese language and yet not be lying!

You may ask, “How is this possible?” It’s because the Japanese language has no verb conjugation according to person or number as does most Indo-European languages. Not only it has no verb conjugation, Japanese also drops the sentence subject (who is speaking) when it’s supposedly understood! This means I could say in Japanese, “Isoide tsutsumimashita” (was wrapped quickly) which would be interpreted that I wrapped it in a hurry when it could also mean, “he”, “she”, even “they”, wrapped it in a hurry!

Politicians in the West often make what sounds to be statements of fact and yet are not saying anything truly meaningful at all. Using a language with no verb conjugation that also drops the sentence subject because it’s already assumed to be understood, think how much easier it is for a Japanese politician to do the same!

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About James Arendt

Born in 1950 and raised in Chicago Illinois, USA.
Served in the USAF from 1970 in San Antonio, Texas, Biloxi Mississippi, Sacramento California and Asaka, Japan and honorably discharged in 1974.
Became a full time missionary for Christ and served in Russia, China and Japan for 44 years and counting.
Lives by faith in God's supply with no fixed job or income.
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