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2009/5/19

Bad Japanese words were among the first things I learned in that language (primarily a vulgar phrase which shall go unrepeated here). There’s some sort of fascination folks seem to have with foul language in foreign tongues–like knowing it gives you the secret key to getting away with something naughty. I, for example, can say “poop” in languages for which I know precious little useful vocabulary. (Granted, cursing in foreignese may be exceedingly useful if you’re a street-brawling sailor, or Yosemite Sam). My wife has, at times, exhibited an unhealthy interest in proper pronunciation and usage of English curses. (Could be she’s saving up for a future fall-down drag-out marital spat.) My friends (yes, I’m looking at you, Mark) have not helped matters much.

But the real kicker is that, to my experience, bad words in Japanese aren’t really all that bad. I would regularly hear phrases from my elementary school students (back when I was teaching English) that, if translated, would curl the hair of folks back home to hear from a mouth still attached to short pants, but my Japanese co-instructors wouldn’t bat an eye. And the kids learned a lot of it from pre-teen anime. In Japanese, it seems, it’s far worse to address someone using the incorrect politeness level than to discuss with them what comes out of a bull’s rear end.

Which, all in all, left me feeling cheated. I mean, I studied hard to learn that kuso!

Speaking of words good and bad, Odori Park got a few very nice words from the Digital Strips blog this week. Thanks for the kind mention!

:: 3 Comments... ::

  1. Mike

    I must’ve been Japanese in a former life. Jaime gets to hear all the words and he often repeats them. I don’t bat an eye either.

  2. Chris

    The real test would be whether you and Jaime use all those words in Japanese

  3. Mike

    We leave the Mandarin and Japanese to Megan. She is very fluent in Mandarin, we believe.

:: Your Reply... ::

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