Don't say MAN TO MAN!

An ad for an English school in Japan
An ad for a "man to man" English school in Japan.

All languages borrow words from other languages. The Japanese language uses a lot of phrases and words from English and other languages. Many times they are changed in their meaning or usage. That means that when you use these words in English, you should be careful. One of these kinds of phrases is 「マンツーマン」. It comes from “man to man”.

In English, the meaning of “man to man” is  quite different from 「一対一」.  “Man to man” is used to describe a very open and frank talk between two people who are men. It means that differences in age and rank are forgotten so that two men can speak honestly and freely with each other. It might describe a discussion between a father and son, a boss and member of staff, or a general and soldier (as long as both parties are men).

For example:

Son, let’s talk man to man.

Most often, you see the phrase 「マンツーマン」 in advertising for English lessons, like the ad above.

It’s regrettable. "Man to man" is a strange way to talk about an English class. Why? Because I think women would like to learn English too!

I think English schools have a duty to lead by example. I think that English schools should teach good habits to people, and avoid words and expressions (even if they are good Japanese) that confuse the people they are trying to teach. It would be far better to use “one on one” or “one to one”.

What do you think? Do you think it is OK for English schools to say 「マンツーマン」 in Japanese?