Aidzuchi 相づち : the Art of “Back-channeling” – Yasuke! Adventures in Japanese

One important thing about listening in Japanese is responding to, or repeating back, a portion of what the person said. 

In Japanese there is even a word for this “相づち” (あいづち).

Let’s learn more…

What is it?

To show that you are actively listening in Japanese it is good to repeat back part of what the person says, and maybe adding something – like a “ですね” – at the end. 

For example, if someone gave you street directions like “go left at the light, right at the bank, then it’s straight ahead” then you could answer “left, right, straight ですね”  

The Chart below gives some common aidzuqi.

SpeakerListener
そう
、 うん。 はい
説明 ・ 答えなるほど。・ そうなんだ。

When a speaker makes a statement (this type of sentence often ending with ), an aidzuqi response might be そう? (is that the case?)

、and 、are often used during the “set up” of a conversation in Japanese. In other words, while the speaker is giving you the setting of the situation (the context). For example: they may say 昨日さ (“You know, Yesterday…”), you would answer “うん” to show you are listening, and then they would tell the next part of the story.

If you ask a person a question and they start to answer and explain something. When they explain you can say things like そうなんだ or なるほど.

A component of natural conversation

Like most people, Japanese people like confirmation and commendation.

A lot of aidzuchi is used to praise the other person, respond to the juicy gossip they have just revealed to you, or otherwise show you are interested in them and their story. The following video is a good explanation of that.

There is probably some aidzuchi in every single Japanese native conversation.

So it is a critical skill to pickup to have more natural conversations.

To help you with that, here are two more good resources to practice with:

– a guide to keeping conversation engaged

– tofugu article of Aizuchi

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