I am interested in doing a linguistics project in which I compare differences in perception between native speakers of two radically different languages. Does anybody know of any somewhat bizarre languages that have very different representations of abstract concepts as compared to English?
In Japanese, there are no pronouns such as we know them in English. The word watashi, the most commonly-used word for “I”, actually is a noun meaning “private”. Other words for “I” include boku (used almost exclusively by men and boys), meaning “your slave” or “your servant”, and uchi (used mostly by women and young girls), which is related to the word for “inside”. If you’re a manly-man you can call yourself ore (“us”), but only among other manly-men, and preferably while riding a motorcycle, drinking beer or smoking cigarettes.
Second-person pronouns (“you”) are more varied, and depend on the status of the speaker compared to the person being addressed. To a child or one’s social inferior, one may say kimi, meaning (counter-intuitively), “my lord”.
A friend or drinking buddy you might address as omae “person in front of me”, but unless you want to start a fight, don’t call someone kisama, which literally means “noble lord”, but figuratively means “you” as in “you son of a bitch!”
You might be safe addressing someone as anata (person over there) for “you”, unless you are speaking to someone older or socially better than you (your boss, for example). These people are addressed by title, as in “How is Doctor (Teacher, President, Section Chief, etc.) today?”
Yes, it can be annoying at first. You get used to it.