Do Japanese people tend to be vague even when talking about people their listeners know?

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I've noticed that a couple of my Japanese friends, when talking about their plans, might say something like 「友達に会う」, "I'm meeting a friend", even though the unnamed "friend" is someone we both know. It's a little jarring when I know from another conversation exactly who they're meeting, or if I find out later who they were meeting, and it's a mutual friend.

What I expect from my own experience as an American is, for example, for them to say something like 「ゆかちゃんに会う」, "I'm meeting Yuka", because to me "friend" or 「友達」 sounds like someone I'm not expected to know.

The effect is that it ends up feeling like the people they're meeting is being deliberately kept secret for some reason I can't fathom. But, is it simply normal to leave out the names even of mutual friends as unnecessary information?

Nick Overacker

Posted 2016-06-18T09:00:39.817

Reputation: 506

It sounds a little weird. It could be the case. – user4092 – 2016-06-19T01:59:50.143

2知ってる人なら普通は名前を言うと思います。少なくとも私なら言います。 – Chocolate – 2016-06-19T06:14:01.783

2逆に僕はいわないこともあるかも,と思いました.特に「だからその日は予定が合わせられない」というような文脈の時には,単に「友達と」あるいは「ひとと」,と言ってしまうことがあります. – Yosh – 2016-06-19T10:32:02.647

ありがとうございます!最初に冷たいと思いましたが、最近文化の違いかどうか考えていました。 – Nick Overacker – 2016-06-19T23:03:49.790

Answers

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It's not uncommon for the Japanese to use the following in the regular conversation. Mostly they habituated not discussing about their personal things in more detail with others
用事があるから早く帰ります。 I will leave early because I have things to do.
予定/約束があります。 I have appointment/meeting (It can be any type of meeting)
体調が悪い。Ill/Sick (Does not talk about what kind of ill)

Jove

Posted 2016-06-18T09:00:39.817

Reputation: 171

Thanks! It's one of many misunderstandings that causes has caused some worry in the past. – Nick Overacker – 2016-06-29T04:09:02.310

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It depends on who your friends are. I don't think avoiding mention of the name of person whom we are meeting is not a general trait nor habbit of Japanese.

As Chocolate said, I don't have any problem in mentioning the name of the person I have an appointment with to you, if both of I and you know him or her well, unless it should involve any speciffic demerit by revealing the name, and we usually tell his or her name to you.

If I'm going to meet a person you don't know, I say "ちょっと、人と約束があって - I've an appointment with somebody."

However, in case of telling the purpose of your meeting or appointment, you usually say "ちょっと用事があって - I have something to do," because it's bothersome to explain what you're going to do to others, or sometimes is a "none-of-your-business matter."

Yoichi Oishi

Posted 2016-06-18T09:00:39.817

Reputation: 10 035

Thanks for the other perspective! That's definitely closer to what I am used to. So it depends a lot on the person, then. – Nick Overacker – 2016-06-29T07:36:39.300

1That's right. It wholly depends on the character of the person you meet. Hope you have a lot of open-minded friends. – Yoichi Oishi – 2016-06-29T09:14:13.007