“Japanese is very simple to speak compared with other languages. There are no articles, no ‘the,’ ‘a,’ or ‘an.’ No verb conjugations or infinitives…Yukimasu means I go, but equally you, he, she, it, we, they go, or will go, or even could have gone. Even plural and singular nouns are the same. Tsuma means wife, or wives. Very simple.”

“Well, how do you tell the difference between I go, yukimasu, and they went, yukimasu?”

“By inflection, Anjin-san, and tone. Listen: yukimasuyukimasu.”

“But these both sounded exactly the same.”

“Ah, Anjin-san, that’s because you’re thinking in your own language. To understand Japanese you have to think Japanese. Don’t forget our language is the language of the infinite. It’s all so simple, Anjin-san.”

Mariko, in James Clavell’s Shōgun

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