It’s Valentine’s Day, the day when women give chocolates to men in Japan. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about. This is what I see right now.
This is Shonandai Station. The rain is heavily beating on the roof of the station. It’s a downpour. It’s currently 18 degrees Celsius, which is highly unusual for winter here. Today is expected to be sunny in the afternoon, very windy, and 23 degrees.
What’s going on? Is it climate change? No, a strong low pressure system has taken root over the Sea of Japan, and it’s pulling up warm tropical air from the Taiwan region. It’ll be a beautiful afternoon.
It won’t last, though. Tomorrow, it’s expected to snow in the evening. Sudden change, isn’t it? Well, Friday’s forecast is for 19 degrees now. Up and down. It’s too springlike.
How’s your weather?
Teaching English in Japan, I find some interesting differences in how certain words are used between English and Japanese. The words may translate directly, but they may not have the same connotation.
For example, the weather has been unusually warm this week, reaching 21 degrees Celsius yesterday. Usually, it’s in the low teens at this time of year. Numerous people have told me it’s hot. I always responded by acting surprised and saying I actually felt quite comfortable with this temperature. I said it felt warm, and that hot meant it was uncomfortable, causing me to sweat. That’s normally in the high 20s or above.
While hot may mean the same thing between Japanese and English, the Japanese may use it as a more relative term. Hot could merely mean it’s warmer than normal. In English, we usually mean it’s uncomfortably warm. 21 degrees is certainly not hot. It is warm and very nice. I think hot in English is more absolute.
Of course, what’s hot could be different between people from different countries. In Canada, I often thought 28 degrees was hot. After spending ten summers in Japan, 28 is actually not so hot, especially after a hot summer of two straight months of 30-plus temperatures. It suddenly feels merely warm to me.
Language is fascinating, isn’t it?