One Saturday morning a few months ago, my doorbell rang. A well-dressed couple stood on my steps and apologised profusely for the intrusion, with plenty of bowing. And then they gave me this:
If you don’t already recognise it from the style, one of the only sentences in English on the back page might give a clue:
2008 Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
Yep. Jehovah’s Witnesses. In Japan. They’re everywhere!
I used my standard technique for dealing with door-to-door types – pleading absolutely no knowledge of Japanese, and broadening my accent to make it even less understandable. The JWs were polite, but after getting nowhere, they backed off.
Until last week. Apparently having marked me down as a worthy challenge, another well-dressed Japanese couple turned up, only this time they spoke excellent English. Even though I’m always up for a bit of theological argy-bargy, they seemed like nice people, so I fell back on the tried and true “Sorry, I’ve already got one”, but not before they left me with an English translation of the pamphlet and a promise to return.
At the very least, I now have professionally translated English and Japanese versions of the pamplet to study – always handy for studying how to naturally express complicated ideas in another language.