three dialogues come from two separate projects that were used as part
of a program to teach English as a second language. In each case,
I composed longer narratives than are shown here. The first two dialogues
are for beginning level and the third is for more advanced students. When
reading these keep in mind that they were written in order to teach English.
Carla and Masao
(This story concerns an American woman
and a Japanese man who meet at a special summer program offered by a university
in the U.S. In these scenes they are visiting the woman's aunt.)
The visit at Auntie Lou's begins well.
She tells Masao that his name is too hard for her to pronounce so she'll
call him "Massey" instead. Masao takes to her quickly, compliments
her cooking and eats heartily. Carla is beginning to relax and enjoy
herself as well when the conversation goes in a new direction.
Auntie Lou: So, tell me Massey,
do you have any marriage plans?
Carla: Auntie Lou! Why are you asking him that?!
Masao: It's O.K., Carla. No, Auntie Lou, I have no plans.
Auntie Lou: Have you ever thought
about marrying an American woman?
Masao: I just want to marry the right woman--of any nationality.
Auntie Lou: Do you have anyone
Carla: Auntie, this has gone far enough. You're embarrassing
Auntie Lou: I'm sorry sweetie.
Maybe it's time for dessert.
After dinner Auntie Lou shows Masao
a book about the history of Atlanta that is filled with striking photography.
He is fascinated with it and while he looks at the book, Carla helps Auntie
Lou wash the dishes in the kitchen. This gives Carla an opportunity
to complain to her aunt about the conversation at dinner.
Carla: Why do you always have to embarrass me like that?
Auntie Lou: You do like him, though,
don't you, hon?
Carla: Maybe I do, but that doesn't excuse your behavior.
Auntie Lou: You take me too seriously.
Now tell me why you like him.
Carla: He's different from any other guys I've known.
Auntie Lou: In what way?
Carla: He's so respectful and kind. He's also smart and funny.
Auntie Lou: Funny?
Carla: Yes, once you get to know him.
(The third dialogue comes from a story
concerning business between a Japanese company and an American company.
In this scene two Americans are discussing the progress of negotiations.)
Despite Shoji’s assurances, Ellen
is still upset and worried about the outcome of her trip. She doesn’t
understand why Shoji didn’t warn her about the nature of the meetings.
At her hotel that evening, she tells Howard about her experiences.
night I told Shoji that I hoped we could dispense with
formalities and get started on specific
issues. Yet, today was
nothing but formalities.
Howard: It is surprising
that he didn’t warn you. Maybe he doesn’t think
of formalities in the same way that
Ellen: He should
have warned me. I wouldn’t have reacted warmly to
the news, but I would have agreed
to attend the meetings. And I
wouldn’t have been so surprised by the way
Howard: Well, Ellen, you really
shouldn’t be so surprised, anyway. In my
opinion, this just seems to fit the
the pattern? What do you mean by that? Fit what pattern?
Howard: The pattern described
in the book about Japanese business
practices. I don’t remember
everything it said, but I think it
talked about this in the second chapter.
well….I’m not sure.
Howard: Ellen, you did read that
book, didn’t you? It’s got a lot of useful
information. It could save
you a lot of anguish.
I had been meaning to start it this week, but then
Shoji called on Monday, and
I’ve been so busy every day since.
So, what does it say about formalities?
Howard: It says that formalities
can be very important to the Japanese.
They don’t see it as such a waste
of time as you do.
don’t see it as a waste of time? How do they view it, then?
What do they see it as?
Howard: They see formalities as
an investment in the relationship. It’s a
way for them to see if you share
some of their values.
narrators admired your dialogues for being natural and realistic.
Your writing talent and creativity are excellent.”
—Tsuyoshi Yoshida, Nullarbor