When you speak Japanese with your Japanese friends you can’t avoid this question: “What Japanese do you like most?” or as they say it 好きな日本語はなんですか？ (Suki na nihongo wa nan desu ka?)
I am always at a loss. What do they want me to say? There are different dialects in the Japanese language, there are different idioms, different characters, onomatopoeia, polite speech, not very polite speech – it all qualifies as Japanese. So how exactly should I answer this tricky question?
I’ve asked my Japanese friends and here is what I found out:
The answers may contain but are not limited by
- a word or phrase with a pleasant meaning
- some Japanese cute suffixes that don’t change a meaning of a word but add this cute sparkle into your speech. It called AGEPOYO in Japanese and as the name suggests is used to “raise poyo”. Some Japanese websites say that these suffixes as “pon”, “poyo” etc. are mainly used by hight scholars so it is very questionable wether I should raise this one as my favorite Japanese at my gentle age.
- an idiom
- and last but not least a word from your language that has entered Japanese. For example, if you are Portuguese your answer is “castella”, if you are Chinese then maybe “panda”, if you are Italian then definitely “pizza” and so on.
Honestly speaking, neither I, nor my friends have no idea what they want to know by asking this question. My Japanese friends told me that it is polite to ask this question and some answers may serve as conversation starters.
So long as it is a conversation starter, I suggest a smart solution – make it a joke. Jokes are the best icebreakers. How about saying something like this:
- What Japanese do you like?
- Oh, I don't know, there are so many options. What will you recommend?
- 好きな日本語はなんですか？(Suki na nihongo ha nan desu ka?)
- そうですね。おすすめはなんですか？(Soudesune. Osusume ha nan desu ka?)
Pleasant conversations with your Japanese friends!