I was having a conversation the other day with someone about the wide and occasionally insane varieties of Japanese speech. Most languages have this, to one degree to another; while Japanese does draw some of the lines in places we recognize (formal/informal, close friends/distant social contacts), some of the lines strike English-speakers as weird, and one of the big ones is that males and females speak differently. There are different verb constructions, speech tags, and the big obvious one, different sets of pronouns for I/you.

The person I was talking to commented that they'd find that a horrible minefield of confusion, because they were agender and the prospect of having to sift through that sounded awful. I cheerfully assured them that they could just use 'watashi' and 'anata', which is the gender-neutral set they teach foreigners, so we can't fuck it up.

It occurred to me quite a bit later that this is probably one of those conversations that other people don't have. Unusual Things People Say To Me, Volume... hell, I forget.

One, I run in circles where people are generally aware that 'agender', 'asexual', and 'aromantic' are things that one can potentially be. The very concepts are not widely known. Even people who have managed to get their heads around the idea of gay people and bisexual people and transgender people and even polyamorous people sometimes have issues grasping the idea of people who don't want any of that, and don't want that fixed. I can't pretend to be one of them, but I did decide quite a while ago I had absolutely none of the interest in marriage or children that society expected me to, so I know at least a little bit about how hard it is to explain that sort of thing to people who thought it was a fundamental part of humanity and are annoyed to be told they're wrong.

Two, I run in circles where people can comment that they're agender in the middle of an only tangentially-related conversation and expect that it will just be a comment, and not end up a spontaneous exercise in public education. That's nice, I like that -- people expect me to know what words goddamn mean. Even if I didn't already know about AVEN and all that, me English real good. I can figure this out.

Two and a half, apparently I don't react to any of this. Stuff goes in my ear and lands in the internal Rolodex and there's not really a lot that gets pitched through any kind of judgement filter first. Unless someone is already setting off alarms, it's not really worth spending the energy. I can always run an assessment later if I need to figure out what the information looks like to other people. I don't actually know if this is unusual anymore. It's not unusual for me, but I'm informed that I am not normal.

Three, other people will put up with me when I babble about accents! Sometimes they will even ask for help. I can't really give it to them, I've been intentionally ignoring their accents in rehearsal. If we're striving for accuracy then we're all failing, me included -- a month of muttering to myself is not enough practice to fool an actual Yorkie, which would be my standard for success. The important part is that our director is happy with how everyone sounds, which she seems to be. The second important part is that I'm allowed to rephrase things that sound wrong grammatically, which will prevent me from going insane.

Then I went back in a few days later and mentioned that I got on the bus that afternoon and spent most of Watertown having to listen to a girl complaining, in Japanese, about how her boyfriend showed up late for something without a box he was supposed to have. He promised to bring it next week. She was very indignant. I was politely informed that the banality of conversations in random foreign languages was a problem specific to me. Oh well.

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