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Hello Teachers

I'm seeking a good expression (without using a relative clause) to mean "a Japanese person who cannot speak English well". "A nearly non English speaking Japanese", "A poor English speaking Japanese", "A Japanese with limited English skills", "A Japanese with poor English skills"... which would be most natural? Or are there any good expressions?

Thanks

paco
Comments  
In my opinion, your initial description ("a Japanese person who cannot speak English well") is probably the most straight-forward and concise manner in which you could have expressed that idea. Your other examples do not work for the simple reason that "Japanese" cannot be used as a singular noun. Other than that though, the last two options sound fine to my ears. Still, if you want other possibilities then you could use:

"a Japanese person with basic English skills"

"an English beginner from Japan"

"a Japanese person still learning English"
Hello YoungCal

Thank you for the quick reply. I see! I was thaught in school that "Nihon-jin" was a Japanese. It's bad I can't still get rid of this wrong usage. Anyway I understand I'd better say "A Japanese person with poor/limited/basic English skills". The last choice (basic) sounds most inoffensive to me.

paco
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If it were up to me, I would choose "basic" as well. That word choice implies that the person can communicate in English at a fundamental level, but is still in the process of learning the language.
Paco - I would particularly avoid one of your suggestions, "a poor English speaking Japanese." To me, it sounds like an impoverished Englishman who is speaking Japanese. (Although we don't really use either "English" or "Japanese" as a noun to refer to a single person.)
KhoffPaco - I would particularly avoid one of your suggestions, "a poor English speaking Japanese." To me, it sounds like an impoverished Englishman who is speaking Japanese.
Indeed! Thank you for the advice, Khoff.

paco
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Interesting, the American Heritage Dictionary says "Japanese" can also be used as a noun (with its plural form written the same way).

http://yahooligans.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/Japanese

Cheers!
I took a look at that entry for "Japanese", César, and I think that you may have misinterpreted their meaning. It seems that their definition for "Japanese" as a noun is indeed limited to a plural form. By writing "pl." under the noun entry, they are not indicating that the singular and plural forms are the same, but that the noun is only a plural noun. Look up a nationality such as "Russian" or "Italian", and you will see the the author of the definition does not include the "pl." designation underneath, nor do they include any abbreviation to signify that the noun is singular and that "Russians" or "Italian" would be the plural noun. This suggests that such a distinction is made just when the noun is only a plural noun. Still, I must admit that I am confused why the first definitions for "Japanese" as noun treat it as though it were singular.

Regardless, if you refer to a person from Japan as "a Japanese", a person from France as "a French", a person from England as "an English", or a person from China as "a Chinese", you will get a funny look from any native speaker of English.