Silver tongues and golden ears

(Hanashi jouzu wa kiki jouzu; “A good talker is a good listener”)


The people who are truly skilled at speaking are those who listen well to others before saying their own piece. Good listening is an integral component of being good at conversing.


We begin with the verb 話す (hanasu), “to speak,” in conjunctive form, which allows it to act as a noun – “the act of speaking.” It’s followed by adjectival noun 上手 (jouzu), “skillful.” The whole phrase is marked with the particle は (wa) as the topic being commented on, and the comment is a parallel phrase comprising the verb 聞く (kiku), “to listen,” again in conjunctive form and another 上手.


There exists an exact opposite saying, 話し上手の聞き下手 (hanashi jouzu no kiki heta), which criticizes those who are so enamored of their own oratory that they talk and talk and talk and never listen. In contrast, today’s kotowaza stresses that skillful conversing is more than just talking.

Example sentence:


(Hanashi jouzu wa kiki jouzu, to ojisan wa itta. Sore kara, “Ore wa sa, gakusei no toki, sensei ni hanashi jouzu to iwareta nda” to tsudzukete itteita. “Koukou ichinensei ni natte, nihongo dake ja nakute eigo no supuuchi konkuuru ni sanka shite……” to ojisan wa kuchi wo yasumeru koto naku hanashita. Ojisan wa moshikashitara, ima de wa hanashi jouzu ja naku natta kamoshirenai.)

[The guy said, “Good talkers are good listeners.” Then he went on, “And me, see, when I was a student, the teachers told me that I was good at talking.” Then, on and on without pause, “When I got into high school, I participated in speaching competitions, not only in Japanese but in English as well…”

I suspected that he was no longer a good talker.]

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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