Pronunciation is Everything #1


Have you ever had an out-of-body experience? Me, neither. But I’ve had several out-of-WORLD experiences, in which my body has been lifted high above the WORLD (aka America) and been transported to places far, far away. Oddly, just as in out-of-body experiences, along the way I have been probed by aliens with blank stares, large hands, and wands (aka TSA).

Some of these experiences lasted a long time. Not the probing, the being in places far away. Places where people do not speak English, like Japan. At first, to make myself understood, I tried speaking English slowly. People did not understand me, so I put on my American thinking cap and started shouting in English. LIKE THIS! Finally, in desperation and because I really needed to find a toilet, I learned the language.

Now I can irritate people with puns and wordplay in two languages.

Once upon a time in that land far, far away, some people who publish a small bilingual magazine in Tokyo were filled with desperation over how to fill the back pages of their magazine. I appeared and offered them six cartoons, which they published. Nothing happened after that. And none of us lived happily ever after; they still had back pages to fill, and I continued on my lonely quest to find desperate publishers.

The cartoon below is a play on the English word man. If you use the Roman alphabet, you can write the Japanese word for Y10,000 as man.  The “a”  is pronounced like “ah.” (Ten thousand yen is currently about $128.)

This is my attempt to fill the back pages of my blog.

7 thoughts on “Pronunciation is Everything #1

  1. I envy your ability to speak Japanese. My grandmother refused to teach her daughters the language as they were to be “Americans”, and so I know only two phrases. I have never been to Japan, but many of my family have with my grandmother’s company. It would have proved helpful if she would have just taught everyone the language. As it is now, she’s a nun in a convent in Alabama (insert joke here) and can no longer accompany anyone to her native country. Sad.

  2. It is sad that your grandmother refused to teach her daughters Japanese, but I think that was true for most people of that generation. It was important to be American, and in the process, so much of the other culture was lost. Now there seems to be more awareness about the importance of passing on the culture and the language.

    About yelling to make ourselves understood – it seems so natural. We are funny creatures, aren’t we?

  3. I only wish that immigrants today, were as interested in learning the language of the country that they have voluntarily moved to, as much as they were in the past, and still maintain an identity with their country of origin. It’s been done before…(humor to follow) ie. Italian restaurants, French bistros, Greek sub shops, Mexican tacos, Swedish pancakes…The list goes on and on. How could I forget Japanese Sushi? ha ha.

    • The immigrants that I teach are all eager to learn English, and most want their children to be bilingual (sometimes even trilingual). I admire them. And we would have a pretty limited diet without all those delicious foods you mentioned.

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