国籍に冠詞は必要か?|’A Japanese’ or ‘Japanese’?

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Okay, so, I’m a Japanese. A Japanese? What is a Japanese. It sounds strange when people say I’m a Japanese. I mean, it’s not correct. I mean it’s not incorrect, grammatically. I know you may want to say something equivalent to “I’m an American”. But when you say “a Japanese,” it kind of sounds like you’re Japanese food. Or a Japanese game or a Japanese drink. Or a Japanese person I guess, that’s fair. But I prefer saying “I’m an American,” excuse me, “I’m American.” Because if you say, “I’m an American,” it makes me feel like an object. And the only place I know you can find “an American” is where all you know, a Starbucks. Ha ha ha. So do you like American?


[日本語訳へ]

Are you “a Japanese”?

A Japanese what? Video game? Helicopter?

Could you please elaborate?

In these ever expanding global times it seems quite odd to identify people as “an American” or “a Canadian.” Whenever my students or other Japanese people refer to themselves in that manner, it always rubbed me the wrong way。

I wondered for such a long time, “why?”

When you call yourself “a Japanese” it feels like how you would refer to some other object, for example a breed of dog like a toy poodle or a bulldog. Like the Japanese kind of human.

For animal breeds this is appropriate because their physical make ups are completely different.

Which this quickly brings me back to another point, not all Japanese look Japanese.
What do Americans look like? Or a South African by that manner? Nowadays it can be hard to tell.

The reality is that birthplace and cultural upbringing are starting to define the people of the world, more than their ethic makeup.

Now, many years ago, I believe it was appropriate to use “a + nationality”, because there were huge distinctions in people’s looks and lifestyle before traveling was readily available.

Although you may think the differences are gigantic now, but trust me, 150 years ago they were astronomical.

Now that I’ve made my case about human distinction, let me tell you what is natural. Because when you say you’re a Japanese, I’m always waiting for an ending like “a Japanese TV show” or “a Japanese ramen shop”. If you want to say “a Japanese” you should say:

  • “I’m a Japanese person.”

Even more natural would be:

  • “I’m Japanese.”

Just the same as people from Brazil would say

  • “I’m Brazilian.”

Pop quiz!! Could you tell me what a Brazilian looks like?

Exactly. It’s hard to tell unless you see their behavior or hear them speak.

Moral of the story:
We are all people, unless some of you are aliens living among us, then the title “a Japanese” may be right to use!

[日本語訳へ]

 

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