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  • Japan Times May 1, 2012 JBC “Microaggression” column now translated into Taiwanese Chinese.

    Posted by arudou debito on May 17th, 2012

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    Hi Blog. Someone in Taiwan named “Chopsticks Master” said they got a lot out of my most recent Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column on “Microaggressions”, and kindly translated it into Taiwanese Chinese. Thanks very much!

    I can’t read the Chinese myself, but FYI, pass it around if you like. Any more languages out there people want to translate it into?  (If someone wants to put it into Japanese, go ahead; I haven’t the time, sorry.) Again, thanks a lot. Arudou Debito

    (PS: Comments to Debito.org regarding mistranslations are welcome, but since I can’t read Chinese, I won’t be able to approve comments here regarding the article itself in Chinese. Feel free to copy-paste this onto your discussion site and critique it in Chinese there.)

    微侵略 (microaggressions)
    by Chopsticks Master on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 3:29am ·

    Courtesy https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=104031829735215

    這是一篇很引人省思的文章,描述居住在日本的外國人(特別是膚色不同的人),即使已在日本住了好幾年,能說一口流利的日文,也很了解當地的文化習俗。但仍然常常遭遇到“友善”的對待。我覺得這些現象也發生在台灣及其它國家,值得引人深思,所以我將它翻譯成中文,希望能讓更多人了解即使只是小小的言語舉止,對居住在當地的外國人可能會造成不少的心理影響。

    以下文章的作者是一位居住在日本多年,並已入籍日本國的 有道 出人 先生 (Arudou Debito)。
    “我會使用筷子:每天都會發生的”微侵略“(microaggressions) 一直在折磨我們”
    你是否曾經注意過,人際關係的互動很像是一連串會發生在”快速約會”裡的問答題?
    譬如說: 有些計程車司機總是很好奇你來自哪個國家,你是否已經結婚,你多喜歡日本,你覺得日文有多難…等等。
    在酒吧裡,吧台的工作人員及客人會試著要將你融入某些特定民俗風情,告訴你哪些能吃, 哪些不能吃。當大家越來越醉時,他們甚至會問你是否喜歡和日本伴侶的私生活?

    你的鄰居對於你有著高度好奇心,總是問你如何教養小孩,你跟你的伴侶在吵什麼,你多喜歡日本(雖然你已經在日本住了好幾年)

    一開始,你可以視這些對話/行為只是一種尷尬的友善,因為大家不知道要用什麼樣的方式接近你。而且對於正在學習新語言的外國人來說,是一種練習的好機會。

    但相同的對話/行為重覆發生好幾年,你開始厭煩並且了解2件事,1)大部份的對話你可以輕而易舉的回答,並且可以猜中下一個問題是什麼. 2)如果你認真的參與談話,你會發現存在一個更大的問題 – “社會控制” (意指談話者一直在無意識的提醒你,你不是屬於這個社會的人) 在心理學裡又稱為 “microaggressions” (這裡翻譯為微侵略)

    這裡談的微侵略,是特別針對不同種族間做為討論。根據Dr. Derald Wing Sue表示,不同種族間的微侵略是指當地主要的種族居民在無意識之下,每天將短暫並微小帶有污辱的行為舉止、 言語傳遞給外國人(特別是膚色不同的人),並且完全不知道這些行為及言語背後原來藏有污辱的意思。

    例如,
    1. 口頭上的暗示: 大部份的人總是會說, 你的日文說的真好, 雖然你可能只講了一兩句話;或是大家會問你在日本住了多久,雖然你可能一輩子都住在日本。
    2. 非口頭的暗示: 當有些人看到外國人,會用餘光注視外國人,然後抓緊包包保護自己。或是在火車上寧願站著也不願坐在外國人旁邊的空位。
    3. 環境的暗示: 媒體在報章雜誌上使用誇張的高鼻子及明顯的皮膚顏色表示外國人的樣子。

    人們通常認為這些言語及行為是正常的,在做之前,他們並沒有經過特別的思考。沒有人”故意”要讓你覺得被排擠。
    微侵略的行為讓當地主要種族居民無意識的將外國人視為”觀光客” 或是 “客人”, 認為自己是”主人”,有責任讓你了解日本文化。

    微侵略是一個非常實用的分析工具。現在我們終於有一個名詞可以解釋為什麼你會感到不舒服,當別人問你你是否可以使用筷子時。或是問你你是否敢吃納豆、你什麼時候要回家(意指日本只是短暫停留的地方,你不屬於這裡). 這也很容易解釋為什麼長期住在日本的外國人很難在公司裡變成前輩,因為外國人的次級地位每日一直不斷的被重覆提醒。

    現在我們可以了解微侵略所帶來的影響。Dr. Sue 的研究報告裡指出,微污辱及微打壓可能比刻意的種族歧視來的更有傷害性。因為當地主要種族居民的無意識會造成外國人的心理困擾。
    舉例來說, 你表達了你不喜歡這樣被對待, 但當地主要種族居民卻無法了解你的意思,因為他們認為自己是友善的, 你的反抗代表你太過敏感, 你無法適應這個地方. 反抗及解釋反而造成更大的負面影響。

    如果你什麼都不做,研究指出,你會開始感到無力感,因為你長期都在質疑自己的地位,並且花很多精力去應付隨時都可能會發生的微侵略。除了外國人之外,似乎沒有人可以了解你。你開始只跟比較熟的朋友打交道(通常都是外國人),或是變的孤僻,不與其它人打交道。但是這只能是暫時性的策略,你終究還是需要搭計程車,去餐廳吃飯,跟其它人說話。然後,你可能變得更宅,變得害怕與外面的世界接觸。

    微侵略有如此強大的影響力,因為他們是不可見的,而且他們會讓當地主要種族的居民只看見另一種族的表面價值。如果你反抗,那些侵略者更不可能意識到他們的所做所造成的不良影響。

    就因為微侵略是無形又強大的力量,若沒有發生在你的身上,你就無法深刻體會它所帶來的痛苦。

    我會反抗比較明顯的事情,例如,某些注明”只有日本人”的標示及法律、政府對於外國人犯罪的警告標語。我也會反抗微侵略,例如,帶有種族歧視的字眼,在台灣為”老外”、”阿豆仔”。因為我知道這些代表當地主要種族居民認為外國人的地位比較次級。

    但是我的這些反抗讓我看起來像是大驚小怪的人、行為激烈的反對派份子。在英文裡終於有一個字 (microaggressions)可以代表這些現象,希望有一天在日文裡也能看到這個字;社會學家也能更清楚的量化這個現象。

    有一天我們可能可以找到適當的方法避免微侵略的發生及影響,也能更尊敬那些有勇氣對抗微侵略的人,希望至少每天相同的問題越來越少發生。

    =======================================================
    以下是國外論壇裡針對這篇文章的回覆,我挑了3個做為翻譯,
    1. 我們是否也要大聲讚美當地人慬得如何使用叉子及刀子? 我已在亞洲住了十年,沒有見過任何一個外國人不慬得如何使用筷子。所以對於外國人慬得如何使用筷子表示很驚訝是一種污辱。就像是你對一個信奉穆斯林的人說,我很驚訝你沒有在這個大樓放炸彈。這些言語行為通常來自於刻板印象,很多人非常的粗俗及不文明,他們會想, “她來自雲南,她一定會在你的食物裡下蠱並且毒害你” ; “四川來的人很低俗”; “上海人很市劊”…等等

    2. 基本上我現在不和當地人打交道除非有必要,我也不會回應別人說”你的中文講的真好”, 我最多只會給予一個禮貌性的微笑。我知道當地人認為我有時太冒犯他們,但我必需停止在乎他們怎麼想,因為這些微侵略的行為實在讓我感到很無力。

    3. 問陌生人私人問題是一件不友善的行為。你絕對不會在牛肉麵店裡接近另一個正在吃麵的陌生人,問他們私人問題,如果他們跟你是同膚色、同國家的人;你絕對不會強迫一個陌生人回覆你的問題,並且嘲笑他們的答案、假裝看不出來他們很不好意思、對待他們像是對待”不是人類”一樣,如果他們跟你是同膚色、同國家的人。
    試想這個狀況,如果你正在吃麵,有一個人突然問你,你是台北人嗎? 你多久回家一次看你的家人? 你在這裡一個月賺多少錢? 你結婚了嗎?
    就算是你認識的朋友、大學同學,你也不會問這種私人問題。為何你的行為標準在對待不同膚色、不同國家的人時會有不同?

    13 Responses to “Japan Times May 1, 2012 JBC “Microaggression” column now translated into Taiwanese Chinese.”

    1. Charuzu Says:

      Many places have such phenomena and would benefit from such a translation.

    2. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Well Debito, I’ll pass this on to my Chinese students and see what they think. Should be interesting. Maybe Chinese people don’t get asked the ‘can you use chopsticks’ question, I don’t know.

      – I would presume they don’t.

    3. Johnny Says:

      The Chinese friends I had when I was living in regional Japan told me the main question they got was ‘Are you an only child?’. A Kenyan friend got the ‘Are you from a big family?’ question a lot, in addition to the chopsticks nonsense.

    4. DeBourca Says:

      I don’t know about the chopsticks thing, but the vitriol from quite a few of my Japanese students and friends (of all ages) when talking about Chinese tourists in Japan is something else. They consider them rude and boorish. One memorable complaint came because a few of them were having a snowball fight in a park. Also, laughing and showing affection to their kids in public seems to be particularly offensive.

      There’s a running joke among some of my eikaiwa friends: If you’ve finished the lesson and there’s still fifteen minutes to go on the clock, ask your students about the Chinese tourists and watch ‘em go!

      – Oooh, wish I had that outlet Back in the Day…

    5. TJJ Says:

      “Maybe Chinese people don’t get asked the ‘can you use chopsticks’ question, I don’t know.”

      At a Japanese firm I used to work for, the owner (Japanese) remarked with surprise to a Chinese co-worker how well he used chopsticks. Hilarious, or sad, depending on your viewpoint.

      – I vote sad.

    6. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @Debito

      Preliminary feedback is in!
      They don’t get asked ‘can you use chopsticks’ (surprise, surprise), but a number have been told that they don’t use chopsticks properly, since Chinese use the pointed ends to stab food to pick it up, whereas Japanese do not. This usually leads to the Chinese saying something along the lines of ‘We invented eating with chopsticks!’

    7. Jiong Says:

      @ DeBourca: Get almost any Chinese guy drunk, ask him what he thinks of 小日本 (as is a common name for Japan, here), sit back and let the vitriol flow.

      Having said that, the Chinese have massively conflicting views of the Japanese. On one hand they look up to Japan for her advances and a society they view as much more orderly than China’s. On the other…well, I’m sure you guys know they rest…along the lines of “Those damn Japanese imperialist, damn them and their amazing porn!”

      I sometimes look at the Japanese students here in Beijing and wonder what extreme levels of abuse, micro and otherwise they must suffer on a daily basis.

    8. debito Says:

      Debito here. Bloggers in Taiwan comment. Courtesy of amarbaines:

      http://www.forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=109694

    9. Andrew in Saitama Says:

      I hope this doesn’t lead to thread drift, but the constant ranting about China and the Chinese annoys me. Usually followed up by how “then they all come over here to buy our superior Japanese clothes and rice cookers”.
      …which are made in China…

    10. giantpanda Says:

      @Jiong, but it’s different isn’t it, when your looks don’t actually advertise to one and all that you are “not from around here”. My Chinese husband doesn’t find it nearly as tiresome as I do in Japan, because all he has to do is keep his mouth shut and he can “pass”, so doesn’t have to put up with the constant scrutiny. Sure he gets the micro-agressions as well, but much much less than I do, because he’d actually have to open his mouth and let on that he’s not Japanese for that to happen. Likewise, my Japanese friends in China could keep their heads down and get about their daily lives pretty much un-noticed unless they were particularly extravagant dressers.

      It’s one of those things that you hardly notice until it’s no longer there, and then you walk down the street in another country and realise that you are practically invisible because no-one is giving you second looks, backward glances, double takes, mutterings under the breath when you pass or calling out to you in Engrish and you feel like a massive weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

    11. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @Jiong #7

      ‘I sometimes look at the Japanese students here in Beijing and wonder what extreme levels of abuse, micro and otherwise they must suffer on a daily basis.’
      Well, the Chinese still haven’t forgiven Japan for the war, so I imagine the abuse is frequent and occaisionally extreme. What is interesting is that despite being the victims of racial abuse and ‘othering’ in China, J-students and workers don’t come back to Japan and contemplate how much they ‘other’ NJ, do they?

      – Probably not. The “Japanese as perpetual victim” narrative is pretty strong, and often used to justify discrimination toward NJ. I’ve heard plenty of times, “So what if you got refused entry into an onsen? I was overseas and got seated next to the toilet in a restaurant because I was Asian. So you see, discrimination is everywhere, shikata ga nai,” trope.

    12. Jiong Says:

      @Giantpanda: Except that of course Non-Chinese people in China stand out like a sore thumb in China – Chinese people can spot Korean and Japanese people (especially students) a mile away, mainly because they are on the look out in certain students parts of town.

      A foreign guy (supposedly British) was film allegedly raping a Chinese girl and getting beaten-up by Chinese bystanders. This has prompted the Beijing police to incite a campaign to report illegal foreigners – guess where the main target areas are? Yep, Wudaokou and Wangjing – areas known for their Korean population – not really very ‘visible’ by your definition.

      Remember, visibility does not simply go by skin colour. People judge other people everywhere by fashion, accent, body language etc. This is used to ‘other’ people among one’s own nationality as well as to distinguish people within one’s own ethnicity, as in ‘may look Asian but is not Chinese’.

      When I see a white 40+ year-old man wearing baseball cap, white socks with trainers and shorts, I think to myself: “American”, as I know no self respecting white person not of the yankee persuasion would wear white socks, and no one outside of the USA over the age of maybe 38.8 years would wear a baseball cap in public.

      – We’re getting off topic. Bring it back please.

    13. Jiong Says:

      @ Debito: The whole perpetual victim thing is very interesting – the Chinese have their own ideology of China as the constant victim of external aggression.

      @ JDG: Just don’t tell a Chinese person how many modern Chinese words: 电话、共产党、便当、社会主义 come from Japanese and the Meiji reforms, it can cause a lot of pain – just as it does when one points out that most of China’s great thinkers and politicians from the early 20th century loved Japan.

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