Actively learning to be more passive
For many reasons, I don't feel I've adapted to speaking Japanese again as easily as I did on previous trips. A lot of my work's still in English, and Osaka's strangely a lot kinder to tourists than Tokyo is/was. It's frustrating - I want to improve, but I feel like I'm going backwards.
Compounding that, I've discovered a language barrier that might be unique to copywriters.
Japanese is frequently spoken and written in the passive voice. Things don't happen directly to you, they happen via other people or things. Your bag wasn't stolen, someone stole it from you. The wind didn't blow, you were blown by it.
In the copywriting world, that's a cardinal sin. You have to be active!
Not so. There's no need to be sharp, concise and punchy here. Why use 4 syllables when 40 will do? I've made that observation before. The minute-long Japanese announcement before you reach the next train station and our British 'mind the gap' are worlds apart.
Sentence construction in Japanese is also 'backwards' compared to English, typically with the verb at the end. That switches many phrases from active to passive almost by default.
(An aside: I first wrote the above as 'the construction of sentences' rather than 'sentence construction'. Maybe I am slightly adapting to the Japanese way...)
I taught myself to steer away from the passive voice in order to be a better writer. When it comes to Japanese, that mindset's making me worse. It doubles the difficulty. Not only do I have to switch languages, I have to switch between passive and active at the same time.
This one aspect, I think, is what I'm having the most trouble with. Verb conjugation is hard enough without the extra 'ra's and 're's needed for the passive voice. I'm still at the stage of translating what I want to say in my head before speaking.
To get better, I need to be more active in using the passive voice.
The passive voice needs to be more actively used by me.
There, that's much better.