高木, 佳美 徳島大学
Proficiency in Japanese language
speaking ability of Japanese
Wenceslau de Moraes
A Portuguese writer Wenceslau de Moraes spent his later life in Japan since 1897; he never left Japan until 1929 when he died. It is said that his speaking ability of Japanese language was not good although he lived in Japan more than thirty years. In this study, we investigated his speaking ability of Japanese based on the written memories of those who had direct discourse with him. The records of his speech were limited to the memories of his neighbors, a Buddhist nun who regularly came to his house, and a newspaper reporter from Osaka who interviewed him.
Except for the words of affirmation or denial, the word that appeared most frequently in his speech was "kawaisou” or “kinodoku” that means “pity” (“piedade” in Portuguese). “Piedade” is the important key word of his masterpiece Ó-Yoné e Ko-Haru. In the preface to the book he quoted the sentence “A litteratura do futuro será a Litteratura da piedade” from Pierre Loti’s work, and he wrote Ó-Yoné e Ko-Haru as a literature of pity. Therefore, his deep sympathy for vulnerable and oppressed existence was the propensity of his character shown in both his works and his real life.
“Kawaii / kawairashii” (lovely) and “shinsetsu” (kind) are also the words he used frequently in his conversation with his neighbors.
As for the grammar of Japanese language, Moraes did not seem to have mastered postpositional particles and conjugation of verbs. Two persons referred to his speaking ability of Japanese as follows: a newspaper reporter who interviewed Moraes wrote that “he speaks in simple Japanese” in his article, and a pastor who sometimes visited Moraes’s house said that “his Japanese was not good, but he spoke familiar Japanese slowly”. The reason why Moraes’s Japanese did not improve is said that he did not want to associate with intellectual people here in Tokushima. On the other hand, he greeted familiarly and often exchanged gifts with his neighbors. He pointed out that Japanese people is a pleasant neighbor in his work Relance da Alma Japoneza, and he also tried to be a good neighbor to those he knew as well. There would have been no need for a formal and complicated conversation for him for that purpose.
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