Learning Japanese: the problem with husband and wife

I have a Japanese teacher who comes to the apartment twice a week and I do seem to be making steady if somewhat slow progress with the language. I make at least one very silly mistake each lesson – but that helps me to remember the correct way to say something. Today I managed to confuse the words for beautiful and disliked. I also managed to write my first sentence in Japanese. It was a simple sentence that I’ve been able to say since my second lesson but before I could only write it in a romanised version of Japanese. Now I can write it using hiragana and katakana. My teacher was so thrilled with this that I ended up spending the rest of my lesson translating sentences and writing them in Japanese.

I also learnt today that the word Marty told me meant husband really means master (shujin). My teacher doesn’t think her English is very good so we only had a limited discussion about this word. It’s still used commonly in Japan to mean husband but it’s not favoured by young women and my teacher feels that Marty should never refer to himself as my master – though it’s fine if I want to call him that. I’m going to have to research this word to see what I can find out about its various meanings.

Marty might be using a word for husband that I think we’ll change in future but at least he’s using a word that is accepted in Japan. I, on the other hand, made a really silly mistake when trying to use the word for wife. My teacher and I were role playing and she wanted me to pretend to ring Marty’s office and to say the following – “Hi I’m Marty Pauley’s wife, may I speak to Marty please?” I made a blunder. I used kani instead of kanai and ended up saying – “Hi I’m Marty Pauley’s crab…” I’m not convinced I got to finish the sentence because my teacher was laughing so much and making little pincer movements with her fingers.

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