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The above is hardly advertising at its best. But the value of this particular example lies in what it reveals about Japanese workforce’s mastery of the English language, as well as foreign staff–both are missing. Yet a blind infatuation with the exotic, foreign–read English–cool persists. The combination of the above lack of English and grasping attempts to harness its cachet precipitate the very definition of SNAFU, and the above harlequinade provides just a single example from a multitude. Rest assured this is the normal situation in Japan.
Also note that the store in question was in Osaka, the second-largest metropolis in Japan after the Tokyo-Yokohama megasprawl (Gibson fans may include Chiba). A similar display may be forgiven in Boonie-mura, Inakaville (pop. 1 man). Granted this Galerie store appears to be in Shinsaibashi, on Osaka’s southside, which has a bit of an edge. But this is s till a howler.
This is, of course, not a rare instance of inadvertent use of offensive English. The article might have mentioned a certain chain restaurant called First Kitchen, or fa-suto kicchin, which, contracted, went the way of Brad Pitt (Burapi) and the non-Osaka McDonald’s (makudo). Nothing like walking down the street and overhearing:
A: “Hey what you want to do?”
B: “Let’s go fakkin!“
Though the kitchen affair is at least an honest mistake. Not that the sale sign is really outrageous; Japanese people by and large have trouble comprehending expletives fully on a conceptual level, so even for that I could lift some of the blame. But this bit of news does tell us about foreign staff in Japanese companies the same thing the iPad told us about female staff at Apple. If there was an English speaker on staff (or German, Swedish, hell, French would do), the Daily Mail would have been a story short. Unless of course that English speaker was chef Ron Silver.
Maybe they could have picked on the Colbert Report (Jan. 11, 2012), when its editors chose to illustrate the discussion of the risk posed to New York, London, and Tokyo by earthbound debris of a Russian satellite with photos of the Empire State Building (New York), Big Ben (London), and Kinkakuji (Kyoto). Oh, that there were only anyone on staff with some knowledge of Japan, or a Wikipedia connection.
Add this one to the kannuki files.
辻 (つじ) tsuji “crossroads”
Another wonderful kanji that looks exactly like what it means.
The image at right is the Japanese traffic signal for a crossroads. If we simply append to it the radical for “walk/road” (shinnyū/shinnyō 辶) [found in “way” 道, “advance” 進, etc.], we get: “the roads in 十-shape.”
How great is that?
Dedicated to Narihira:
arifureta kusa ni okitaru shiratsuyu de
Written by Kamo no Chōmei 鴨長明, a snubbed aristocrat, in the early 13th c., Hōjōki 方丈(often translated as Record of a Ten Foot Square Hut since a hōjō is roughly 10 sq. ft.) occupies a revered place on the NKBZ shelf, and rightly so, because it is fantastic, as I hope to demonstrate below. Let us examine the original and attempt a translation of the first (行く河) section. I have mostly followed the NKBZ.
I’m in love. I just discovered my new favorite kanji. The simplicity, the straightforwardness, the sheer pictorial common sense beats those unconvincing explanations about how 目 really does look like an eye, 日 like the sun, and 木 like a tree, and 女 like a woman (ok, they may be on to something with the last one). And this miracle kanji is kannuki 閂 (かんぬき), meaning a “bolt” or “latch” (Also refers to a 2-on-1 wrist-hold technique in some martial arts). Brilliant.
See the resemblance?
Well, I’ll never forget how to say this now.
I don’t know if the accompanying hand-motions are part of some international sign-language, but if they are not, perhaps they should be. Originally produced by Fuji TV, if you can believe that.
So I haven’t been good about updating this, but so it goes. At any rate, here is an expression not to be forgotten:
恩着せがましい (おんきせがましい) = Unfortunately no neat, one-word definition exists for this term (though some dictionaries list “patronizing”). It is used to describe someone (critically) who says things in a way that lets you know he is expecting you to know that he is doing you a favor.
So the next time your mother goes on about the troubles she endure to bear and raise you, you can respond with おんきせがましい！With the added benefit of her not knowing what you said.
Neat article in the Japan Times on aphorisms, saying, etc. Well worth a read:
おままごとをする – to play house
Here’s a good one:
新興成金（shinkōnarikin）= “nouveau riche”
Those that can read the kanji for their meaning will get it right away, it’s fairly literal:
興: by itself means “entertain” or “revive” or “interest,” but in combination with the above graph, “developing/emergent”