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  5. "外国人ですか?"

"外国人ですか?"

Translation:Are you a foreigner?

June 17, 2017

65 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/testmoogle

"Nobody in Japan would say 外国人 , except a school teacher. Foreigners are simply 外人. Though technically 外人 could mean anyone from far away, and not necessarily from a foreign country."

Long story short: Japanese kid said 外国人 rather than 外人 when speaking to herself about me, even though she didn't think I'd know what she was saying anyway. ^^

—Long version—
When I went travelling in Japan for a month, the only time I heard either was when I was walking down a random street. It was a main road not all that far from tourist areas, but far enough that tourists would almost certainly catch a bus rather than be walking there, and there weren't many pedestrians about.

There was a Japanese elementary school kid walking on her own the opposite way to me on the same side of the street. I had barely even noticed she was there and was just plodding along minding my own business. As we got near she suddenly noticed me, slowed down slightly and started staring at me, and then said「がいこくじん」in a soft but very clear voice.

She said it from only about 8 feet away, at regular speaking volume, and with her head still turned completely towards me when she said it. Her expression was as though she had just encountered something very unexpected and rare. It seemed she was simply speaking to herself out loud, to express her amazement to herself. It was clear she hadn't even considered that there could be any possibility I might know the word she was saying (or, more likely, even of any chance I'd know any Japanese whatsoever).

I think she was expecting I'd continue on walking straight past her—that I'd completely ignore having heard anything since she was speaking in Japanese. However, I responded by turning my face towards her and giving a gentle smile whilst carrying on walking.

She then went a little red with embarrassment, maybe at having spoken to herself loud enough that it got a response, or maybe for having said such an odd thing towards someone whom she assumed had then smiled politely back not understanding that she'd said such a thing. She then quickly scurried on after that. Was pretty amusing. ^^

———
I originally posted this a year ago. But the person I replied to has now deleted their comment, resulting in my comment vanishing along with it. As my tale apparently received a lot of likes, I'm un-vanishing it by copy-pasting it from the hidden realm of deleted post data back into this new comment. ^^


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TyrantRC

But the person I replied to has now deleted their comment, resulting in my comment vanishing along with it

I really hate it when people do that, thanks for reposting it, was a sweet read.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-idonthavethink-

Wow, that's an interesting story..


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NataliaSko

That's really sweet :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/xstof

Really nice story :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Oliver747900

"copy-pasting it from the hidden realm of deleted post data"

How did you gain access to such a wondrous realm?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Freyr456924

Going through the millions of messages duo sends to your email maybe


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/testmoogle

The problem with that theory is that you don't have any email notifications for the comments that existed in the discussion before you started following it, and you don't receive email notifications for any of your own comments in that discussion either...

I only started following this sentence discussion by replying to that other person's comment...

Therefore I don't have emails either for my own comment or for the person's comment I replied to...

And yet I was still able to copy-paste both comments back from this other realm I mentioned. :P

However, I don't think it would be a good idea to explain how to access something like that, especially not on here. It's got nothing to do with hacking or anything devious though. In fact these deleted posts are even automatically sent to everyone's browsers each time they come to this discussion, but this stuff is just not displayed on the page. Even now, two and a half years after it got deleted, people who look in that hidden place can still view the deleted original comment, my reply, and each of the five replies I got. ^^


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TokyoAng3l

Nice story but you're wrong when you say nobody says gaikokujin. I've lived in Tokyo for over a year and if you're ever doing anything with the government, jobs or any other official type things in city hall, hospitals, banks, whatever, they almost all exclusively use 外国人 (gaikokujin). Also, foreigners are exotic creatures to them lol and many young Japanese like teens or young adults will use gaijin san instead of just gaijin. Gaijin is pretty common though and not necessarily an insult but definitely informal.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/testmoogle

Nice story but you're wrong when you say nobody says gaikokujin.

The point of my story was exactly what you've said. ^^

It wasn't me who said "nobody says gaikokujin". It was what the user who I replied to had said. He deleted his comment several months afterwards, and when a person deletes their comment it deletes all its replies along with it. So my reply which contained my story got deleted too.

The quoted paragraph at the top of my comment is a full copy-paste of that user's deleted comment. All the text underneath that is a full copy-paste of my reply to him (except I also added that footnote in grey coloured text at the bottom).

So the very point I was making to that user by posting that story of my experience was that he was wrong when he said "nobody says gaikokujin".

In regards the rest of your reply, I already share the same understanding and I agree with everything you said. Although I've not lived in Japan, I have been learning Japanese for a very very long time. But that is still nice interesting information to have in this discussion for people newer to Japanese anyway. Thanks for adding it. ^^


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TokyoAng3l

Oh ok I see now, yeah, that makes a lot more sense that you pasted his comment because I didn't understand why you were saying nobody says it but then said a little girl said it


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Midrajne

More than once I had Japanese teenagers and kids stopping suddenly on the street and staring at me when they see me... It is like they saw a polar bear on the street


[deactivated user]

    This is the most condescending, smugly trite, stereotypically "Tourist Westerner" nonsense I have heard in a very long time.

    The level of assumptive filler in your story is astounding! LOL


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/testmoogle

    Haha, I'm genuinely surprised more people didn't actually misinterpret my post the way you did to be honest. My original reply posting of my story in Sept 2017 somehow reached a vote score of +134, before the person it was in reply to deleted his comment along with mine, and that only got one critical reply too (it just said simply "/r/thatactuallyhappened", lol, which wasn't really interesting enough to write a response).

    Especially with how my story appears now, where, although at the top I've quoted the full deleted post of the person I had replied to, I think it has lost some context behind why I originally posted this story. I found my original post data in the deleted post ether realm along with the person's that I replied to, and then copy-pasted the content back here, but I had to put it all in a stand-alone comment which I don't think comes across the same way.

    It's difficult when writing on forums to find unambiguous words that won't come across the wrong way to the reader, since there is no tone of voice or facial expressions or anything.

    The "assumptive filler" part makes sense to a certain degree. I think most of it was more speculative ("seems", "maybe", "I think",...)? But I can see there are a some descriptive words I could have consulted a thesaurus for, to get words less likely to come across wrong. "Amazement" might be one of these, where all I actually meant was nothing more grandiose than "surprise" or "shock". I wasn't trying to make any groundless assumptions. I think there's a fairly reasonable logic behind any assumptions I did make.

    A "smugly trite" feel is going to be an unavoidable consequence of what I mentioned in the grey text at the bottom of my post. Much of the context behind why I originally posted my exeperience has been lost, so it might easily sound more like a trite old random story posted for no real reason now. ^^;

    I like the "stereotypically 'Tourist Westerner' nonsense" part. I've only been abroad that one time in my whole life (unless Wales counts as abroad from England). I went on my own and without using any tours or travel agencies or anything. I obviously visited tonnes of tourist places, but I did a lot of very unstereotypical tourist stuff too. (Unless tourists on holiday in Japan typically go to nearby Japanese churches on Sunday mornings, go to the cinema to watch a film that's completely in Japanese, etc.) I do get that you simply mean in terms of me telling this story, but still.

    "Condescending"? Here is where I think you've assumed something completely different about what my own thoughts were, both my thoughts at the time of the event and my thoughts when I was writing my story. I have tried hard to find the condescending part, even checking a dictionary to make sure there weren't other meanings of the word "condescending" that I'm not aware of.

    What angle are you looking at it from? I don't believe there was anything "condescending" about my story. Am I mistaken?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jiro243840

    All that Testmoogle was trying to get across was a sense of what it was like to be a foreigner in Japan. If we, as "westerners" were to enter a culture without bothering to understand how it functions or not learning the language, you would have every right to call out someone who is abusing another nation for one's own gain. The comment, by Testmoogle, was made by someone who learned and is continuing to learn the language (this is a Japanese language learning forum after all). Testmoogle also acted with decorum, as it would have been easy to humiliate her by saying something to the effect of "aaa, Nihonjin desu yo!". Instead, Testmoogle gave a nod and a smile, walking away. As for the "assumptive filler" - The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald; and A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini, are excellent at taking advantage of 'assumptive filler'.

    I see that you have a fire under your belly that can move mountains if you were to put your mind to it. So please don't waste this gift by picking fights on Duolingo.

    I hope you are feeling better. sincerely, Jiro.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bluesmcgroove

    So what is the difference here between がいじん and がいごくじん?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobbPorter

    がいじん means foreign looking and can be mildly offensive, がいごくじん means a genuine foreign person and is safer to use by the Japanese natives. If you are a foreigner you can use either to describe yourself.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobbPorter

    Sorry, i put unnecessary " on the こ.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/David679450

    I was always told that がいじん meant outsider and since Japanese society and language places a lot of importance on social status and groups it's a big insult almost like saying "you don't belong in this country." But it can be a slur against foreigners or maybe just a more vulgar way of speaking if you're only talking among Japanese people. 外国人 however is totally normal. It sometimes becomes 外国人さん if they're being extra polite.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JDorama

    I personally hate both words, but i believe that がいじん is casual, while the other is "polite" grammatically speaking. But they both seem like slurs to me.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Brandon252327

    Being called a foreigner is not derogatory by itself, its the context behind it that truly matters.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hE4S2

    がいじん is the more discriminating form. がいこくじん is the more standard version. The diplomatically correct form.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Abtahi4

    Well I mean, youre quite literally a foreigner


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ernesto813220

    We are foreigners in all countries except in the one(s) we have a nationality.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TinyPancake221

    Agreed. My mother's family grew up getting called both versions.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohaoMikae

    外。look like a guy with a back pack... Like a foreigner


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Apophis519

    This is how i like to remember kanji too! "Tokyo" reminds me of two little tourists holding maps


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mik.santoro

    Is it pronunced gaikokujin or gaigokujin?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KeithWong9

    The former one - がいこくじん


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tryptid

    The kanji 国 meaning country has a pronunciation こく(koku), but in some cases the initial consonant can be softened to ご depending what comes before it. It's still the same word and you'd even say it's still the same reading of the kanji (most of them have several entirely different readings, also based on context), it's more of a quirk of pronunciation as the words flow more naturally one way or the other.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JeanneCenNi

    Ah that explains the gaikoku (foreigner) and chuugoku (China)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/udt123

    I think gaikoku would mean something like "foreign land". "Foreigner" would be gaikokujin :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2mhnkzrc

    Apparently, it can't be "Am I a foreigner?"
    All of the sarcasm that I've heard in anime has been nothing but lies.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StudentZombie

    はい,外国人です~


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JaeHolt

    Similar to "haole" in Hawaii. It is used to describe a white person (although it's true meaning is any foreigner): "We met the haole store owner (not the Japanese one)." But it can be explicitly derogatory: "That haole tourist (who jumped in the water right in front of you while catching an awesome shore break on your bodyboard)." It's all in the context.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OphirNt

    What about ihoujin?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aki-kun

    異邦人(いほうじん)sounds rather old-fashioned and has the image of being opposite to 邦人(ほうじん), referring to a Japanese person. It also seems to be used in Christianity and Judaism to refer to someone, who is not a believer in said religion but a "wrong/bad religion".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ASleepingRock

    In Christianity/Judaism, it would translate into more of the word "gentile". But thats the bible in Japanese.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ApfelLiebe

    Whether it's simple 外人, or standard 外国人, or elaborate 外国人の方, I find neither of them offensive. I am a person from outside = 外人 and I will never ever even closely look like Japanese, neither I would really try to look one, or try to fit it by say, dyeing my hair black or deep brown, or doing the whole Japanese etiquette thing. I mean, I don't do rude things, just like I don't do them at home, but I don't follow special dinner etiquette rules and i. e. don't eat that piece of cake with a special desert fork. So I will hardly follow such Japanese etiquette of holding a teacup properly either. It's not a foreigner thing, it's not being rude at all either, it's just being me. I value individuality much more than collectiveness, if collectiveness leads to things like every one having to look the same (like a student was forced to dye her naturally brown hair to black, every four days they made her dye it... so she looks same as the rest of her class). I'm an individual and proud to be one, 外人 pride lol because the word is not rude at all, c'mon, smile and don't be offended


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Siih31

    Exactly i dont find any of the terms offensive. I really dont care what people use unless they are trying tonbe offen. However being married to Japanese i do follow Japanese culture and etiquette, mostly bc i like it. Ive never felt like an outside person either, im just obviously different from Japanese bc im not.


    [deactivated user]

      Depending on the situation, could 外国人 refer to a Japanese person (like if a Japanese guy is in a different country) or is there a different word that should be used? アメリカに私が外国人です


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PALewis88

      Does Japanese have a word to describe non-ethnic Japanese citizens.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KeithWong9

      ○○系日本人

      e.g. アメリカ系日本人、中国系日本人


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ERN1919

      Is this rude?

      Using the noun "foreigner" in English usually involves xenophobic sentiments. Is that the same for gaigokujin?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KeithWong9

      外国人 is not at all.rude. But if you want a more polite version, 外国の方(かた)


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dan449095

      gaijin is the rude one


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AyumiUK

      It's a case of values dissonances. The word itself isn't a slur, but then again, everything considered...


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dankubuntu

      "Foreigner" is slightly derogatory if you ask me. I prefer "from another country."

      外人 is offensive. The 漢字 means "outside person," whereas 外国人 is polite and means "outside country person."


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chris542688

      From who's perspective is it offensive? From a Japanese perspective "外国人" or because they used the English word "foreign"?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dankubuntu

      At least use multiple methods of learning Japanese. Duolingo by itself, grand as it is, does not help much with "everyday Japanese." Are you even familiar with dictionary form? For example,ですis actually だ。あります=ある。


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dankubuntu

      To those who gave me a "thumbs down": Have you ever lived in Japan? If not, please be quiet.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LimYu

      外 —— "outside"
      国 —— "country"
      人 —— "human/people"

      Therefore 外国人 means "people outside (your) country" or just "foreigner".

      But the word 外人 is translated to "outside people" which means "outsider" and it can sound rude sometimes.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Oliver747900

      It's funny to come across all these sentences talking about "foreigners".

      In British English, at least, the word "foreigner" has pretty much been phased out. It would be considered rude to refer to someone as a "foreigner". You might call someone an "immigrant", or - if they were just here on holiday - a "tourist" or perhaps an "overseas visitor".

      I would be interested in hearing whether the perception of the word is different in other English-speaking countries.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ShenziNaGig

      I put "Are you from overseas?" and it was rejected. Where I come from saying foreigner can sound a little bit offensive. Would this be accepted?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chris542688

      No because it's not grammatically correct. Language does not care about political correctness.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bowserking11

      Should, "Are you a foreign country person?" also be correct? It rejects it as an answer. I was under the impression that was the more literal translation.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BOOOOAISHIBA

      I've never heard foreign country person before so I don't think so


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tia201620

      Why is 外 not pronounced そと here?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Swisidniak

      Almost all kanji have at least two different readings depending on the context it is used in.
      Kun-yomi (meaning-readings) are native Japanese pronunciations attached to a kanji. You will see these most often when a kanji is by itself (and when part of a person's name). The kun-yomi for 外 is そと and is the noun "outside".
      On-yomi (sound-readings) are Sino-Japanese pronunciations; readings based on their original adopted Chinese sounds. You will see these often when a kanji is in a compound word such as 外国人, がい is the on-yomi reading for 外

      The other kanji in that word also have different readings
      国 is read くに meaning "country" when by itself, and has the on-yomi こく
      人 is read ひと meaning "person" by itself, and has a few different on-yomi, the one being used here is じん used to describe nationality


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chris542688

      If you come from a different place, doesn't that mean you're a foreigner?! How is that offensive. You censor your own language, now you want to censor other languages?!


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BMGX4H

      "おい... お前は外人が?" _some random yanki

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