Bookslut | An Interview with Minae Mizumura

This may sound like a terrible generalization but the Japanese language has taught me that a person’s understanding of the world need not be so well articulated — so rationally articulated — the way it tends to be in Western languages. The Japanese language has the full potential to be logical and analytical, but it seems to me that it isn’t its real business to be that way. At least, not the Japanese language we still use today. You can mix the present and the past tense. You don’t have to specify whether something is singular or plural. You aren’t always looking for a cogent progression of sentences; conjunctions such as “but,” “and,” and “so” are hence not all that important. Many Japanese people used to criticize their language for inhibiting rational thought. It was quite liberating to me when I realized that we can understand the world in different ways depending on the language we use. There isn’t a right way or a wrong way.