Last updated 6/18/09

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Japanese people say the darndest things

[Edit 4:28 PM (JST - Japanese Standard Time)]

You've probably seen examples of the often funny things that Japanese people say or write (don't get me wrong, this isn't limited to Japanese people).  Well, of course I've heard and read some off-color remarks in my time here.  I'm always on the lookout for signs/shirts/etc, but they're not always as easy to find as one might think.  Either that or I'm becoming dangerously used to bad English.  Anyway, I just wanted to quickly share a few of my recent favorites.

The other day I was talking with one of the JTEs about clean-up at the school.  Japanese schools don't have custodians - the students are expected to clean, with teachers supervising.  She mentioned that it's tiring to manage them, especially when there are too many students and not enough jobs.  I told her that it's probably better to be a manager than a worker, least managers have power.  At that she laughed kind of maniacally and replied "Yes, yes - I need power!"

For my first lesson, I assigned all my first-year students a homework assignment.  They had to write a short self introduction.  Many of them have been the same kind of thing so far: 
My name is so-and-so. I like (sport,food,etc). I am (age) years old. 
But some of them have stood out.  Here are a few excerpts I kind of liked:

"Please teach me intelligible English class."

"I like fruits pain apple."

"I don't like English because I like English but I like English."

"I don't play the game."

First off - don't worry, I won't teach you intelligible English class.  I don't think that it is physically possible.  Second, the girl obviously meant that she likes pineapple, which is a fruit, but damn...pain apple sounds really badass.  Maybe a good band name?  Pain Apple.  Third sentence, I have no idea, so I won't even try.  Fourth - I really have to appreciate that one.  We need more people who "don't play the game."

[Edit] Just remembered another one I liked.  During one of my classes, the students had to give oral presentations about different aspects of Japanese culture.  One girl was talking about games and activities at Japanese festivals, and trying to give a simple description of each.  For example, there was this game kind of like horseshoes, where people try to throw a ring onto a little stand.  My favorite game/explanation, however, was "scooping goldfish."  She had a little cutout of a fish in a bowl and another of a little net.  While demonstrating with the cutouts, she explained.  "Scooping goldfish is...scooping goldfish."  I love these kids. 

Not everything is amusing, though.  Every so often I'll hear or see something quite moving, often because of an earnest attempt to convey a simple but important idea in another language.  There's a boy in one of my classes who is deaf.  He's really bright, though - he's in one of the upper level English courses.  One of the first lines in his self-intro was, "I can't hear the noise."  Damn.  I don't know, something about that just really gets me.

On that note, I'll end for now.  I don't really want to take away from that with something light or silly.


Anonymous said...

"Yes, yes - I need power!"
"I don't play the game." Those two quotes are things that people should say every morning they wake up and every night they go to sleep.


Anonymous said...

On another note, if your having trouble managing your pikmin err... I mean students just press the x button on your controller and they should all form up again.