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Nagoya univ. students make how-to video for using 'easy Japanese' with foreigners

This screenshot shows a scene from a YouTube video about "simple Japanese" created by students from Nagoya City University.

NAGOYA -- University students in this central Japan city have created and uploaded a video instructing people how to use easy Japanese with foreigners during natural disasters and other life-threatening situations.

    The video, made by students at Nagoya City University, was made for the city of Nagoya's Naka Ward Office employees, and was also posted on YouTube for the general public to watch. "There are foreign people who get confused or misunderstand information about the coronavirus, too," one of the students said. "We hope many people will make use of the video."

    In "easy Japanese," subjects and predicatives are clarified and simple expressions are used. Difficult words, polite and dialectal expressions should be avoided, and to indicate pronunciation kana phonetic characters should be printed alongside Chinese kanji characters.

    These measures make the language easier to understand for elderly people, individuals with disabilities, and children. Foreigners account for about 10% of Naka Ward's population. As ward employees often communicate with people from many countries, they asked students studying multicultural coexistence in professor Akiyo Yamamoto's seminar to create materials for employee training.

    The video is about 14 minutes, and provides background on "easy Japanese," which was created in part due to the high casualty rate among foreigners in the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake. It also includes a skit in which a Japanese person gives directions to a foreigner, and the video offers clear examples of how to speak using easy language, such as by expressing the idea of "go straight" as "massugu susumu" instead of using the word "chokushin."

    One of the junior students said: "We paid attention to gestures and facial expressions, too, as they're important for conveying information. We'll be glad if the video raises awareness about "simple Japanese" with people who didn't know about it before."

    (Japanese original by Atsuko Ota, Nagoya News Center)

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