KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf
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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It Really Is a Small World

I have a new neighbor who is Japanese and doesn't speak much English. She and I met at the bus stop in our neighborhood where our streets intersect and our sons wait for the school bus. I wanted to help her feel welcome in America by being able to say a few simple things in Japanese to her. But I didn't know which Japanese–English dictionary would be most helpful. I asked my copyeditor colleagues on one of the e-mail lists I subscribe to, who live all over the world.

Several were very helpful, pointing me to good dictionaries and other reference works, some of which I purchased. Others provided advice and several phrases I could use.

After a couple of weeks of talking at the bus stop, my new friend Misao and I had tea at my home this morning. It was delightful, thanks to the help that everyone provided. I was able to offer her a choice of "honorable teas," which is the literal translation of the Japanese word for green teas.

She had her Japanese–English dictionary on hand and I had mine, and when we wanted to say things we didn't know the words for, we looked them up. I found out that she and her husband are living here for only about a year because he is a pediatrician doing postdoc research in microbiology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, which is 5 minutes from my house, has an excellent medical school and affiliated teaching hospital (where both of my sons were born), and is where my daughter is finishing her master's degree in social work. Mishu and her husband met in Japan because she is a nurse by training and she worked at the hospital where he practiced. She hasn't worked as a nurse in about 12 years, though, choosing to stay home with their four sons.

We chatted about where we had traveled, our philosophies about peace and parenting and learning other languages, about fall leaf colors and snow, about our husbands, and about her son and mine who are preadolescents and already becoming a bit moody.

I will be sad when she returns to Japan sometime next year, but thanks to my helpful colleagues, I have a new friend for now. I'll be going to her house next week for tea.



4 comments:

The Fat Lady Sings said...

Japan is a beautiful country. My husband and I lived there for years. Sounds like you've made a good friend. Maybe someday you can go visit her in her native home.

Katharine said...

Yes, I read and enjoyed your wonderful posts about your time there. I'd love to travel to Japan.

Anonymous said...

It's so nice making friends with people from cultures different from our own :)

Anonymous said...

Funny, I'm listening to a song in Japanese as I write this (it's from "Lost in Translation"). That sounds nice. Good for you for being friendly to her despite the language issue.

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