Two reasons I love Japanese, Ne and Yo


One thing I love about English is that you can just slap an ‘isn’t it?’ on the end of pretty much any sentence. For example, ‘it’s cold isn’t it’, or ‘it’s too expensive isn’t it?’, or ‘because otherwise it would be green by now isn’t it?’. These calls for reaffirmation at the end of a sentence bring a conversation to life, and while we are able to do it in our tongue, I’m not sure if there’s a country that’s made this little conversational nuance as much a part of their world, culture, and language, as has Japan.

You gotta use the word ‘ne’. Yeah you use ‘ne’ ne? Just slap a ‘ne’ on the end of any sentence in Japanese and it translates to ‘isn’t it?’, ‘wasn’t it?’, ‘hasn’t it?’, ‘isn’t she?’, ‘aren’t I?’, ‘couldn’t you?’, ‘didn’t he?’, whatever form it would need to take in our language of unnecessarily complicated agreement seeking questions. And you gotta use it all the time isn’t it? In fact, that’s how I first trained my ear to hear if people were talking Japanese when I first set out to find Japanese people to practice with; just listen out for the ‘ne’. I don’t think you can speak Japanese for more than three sentences without saying ‘ne’, and I can’t get enough of asking for people to validate what I’ve said, while then being frequently called upon to affirm the words of others.

But now someone has said ‘innit?’ and now you want to say, ‘yeah, it IS’, and give your friend a bit of declarative responding in reply to a bit of his calling for affirmation. So what do you do yo? Well, the answer was in that very question. You use the word yo, yo. ‘Ii desu ne?’ ‘Hai, ii desu yo!’. To translate that into English we get; ‘it’s good isn’t it’, ‘yeh, it’s good yo!’, where the yo here takes its form from the 90s Fresh Prince of Belair lexicon of usage; ‘Man it was off the chain yo!’. I love saying ‘yo’ like this in English yo. And it’s amazing that it is almost completely transferrable to Japanese and can be used in pretty much the exact same way. Now obviously the Japanese didn’t take ‘yo’ from the Fresh Prince (or so they say at least), and I’m sure (if anyone read this blog) that some more Japanese knowledgable people will be quick to come hate and tell me that the Japanese yo is not the same thing as the Fresh Prince yo, and instead is steeped richly in culture and actuall.. yada yada.. balekfga… Shutup I don’t care. When I receive a text and it says ‘kitteiru yo!’, to me that translates to simply ‘I’m coming yo!’ and there’s a little bit of Will Smith in all my messages,  and no-one can take that way from me.

Anyway the blog has been gone for a bit… what can I say? too much partying, too much fun, you know how it is (/I was reading Kanji books and then got ill with the flu). Also when you don’t write for a while, you feel the need to come back with a big explosion of writing mastery to make up for the wait and anticipation, so then I was sitting around waiting for the inspiration for that, but it never arrived. So instead I chose just to bounce back with pieces of garbage about saying yo, and then at least I can get my foot back in the door again.

But at least now the foot is back in the door isn’t it? Yeah… at least now the foot is back in the door yo.

About Sam

Hi I'm Sam and I write here exclusively at Samuel's Travels. Exclusively as by and large no-one wants me writing anywhere else. Please enjoy yourself while reading.
This entry was posted in Language Learning, Ramblings, Shit I got up to working in sex districts in Japan. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Two reasons I love Japanese, Ne and Yo

  1. bennyoh says:

    Hey Sam, I started following your blog after you did a guest post on Fluentin3months a while ago. I like your writing style and humour, plus you doing the kind of trip that I`d like to do in the future so I was interested.
    I`m actually on exchange in Japan at the moment, I studied Japanese in high school and am in Japan now. So when you started talking about Japan I was pretty excited. Love your posts, man – keep it up. And if you want to check out my blog about my time in Japan let me know.

  2. Pete Brown says:

    Am in Brighton at your Dads home in Chatsworth Rd. Brighton. We met just before you left for Italy. Ne. ( Helens Ingledews main man !!!) Yo ! Just been shown the blog and Video. Very funny and clever. Yo!. Am enjoying your travellers tales and what a great adventure and record of it. Maybe it will find fame in Japanese underculture, maybe in overculture, maybe in a local Sake Bar, but what ever, just enjoy the great trip. Will keep watching it. Have fun. Yo. Pete Brown

    • Hey Pete, yea I remember you yo.

      Thanks a lot for the kind words, though no-one speaks any English here so I doubt the scope of my video here. Maybe the next ones will be in Japanese or with Japanese subtitles…

      It’s fun to begin learning something again I have to say, I’m spending all day watching editing tutorials, and it’s exciting to think that sometime down the road I’ll be a lot better at something than I am now, even if now I can’t quite see how I’m going to get there.

      I hope you’ll watch and enjoy the next video then. Say konnichiwa to all Ingledews for me.

  3. Reiks says:

    ii-ne kono blogu 🙂 yoku kaiteru-yo!


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