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现在, something completely different

December 1, 2008

Sorry, guys, but I could not resist. This entry will have utterly nothing to do with anything else ever posted on Irresistible (Dis)grace. In fact, you can skip this day if you’d like and return to your normal programming soon (tomorrow?).

In America there has been this puzzling phenomenon called Japanophilia. A Japanophile is an American who seems to appreciate Japanese culture…or parts thereof…more than American culture.

How can you tell if you know a japanophile? Here are some tell-tale signs I will give referring to the basic “he” (but japanophiles can also be women)

  1. He watches anime or reads manga to the exclusion of American cartoons, TV shows, or comic books
  2. Not only does he read manga or watch anime, but he reads or watches in the original Japanese to hear the authentic seiyuus, refusing to listen to inferior dubbed copies or read reversed left-to-right manga.
  3. When he talks about Japanese concepts, he refuses to translate certain things to English. For example, he will say “seiyuu” instead of “voice actor” or “keikaku” instead of “plan.”
    Whats the use of a translators note then?

    ARGH: What's the use of a translator's note then?

    Mr.’s become -sans, -kuns, -chans, -samas, and whatever honorific I forgot. Oh yeah, and desu and desu ka. Those are iconic.

  4. He learns Japanese. But not really. He learns Japanese based on the anime, often learning a terribly stilted form of the language that will make anyone who’s really Japanese laugh or be offended (imagine if people talked like American cartoon character talked). So, the Japanophile will know how to say kawaii, honto, baka, the most used honorifics, and…maybe a few curses. And he will intersperse these throughout day-to-day conversation
  5. He claims to have an interest in Japanese culture, but only the fun parts. For example, he will get his Japanese history from anime (which is often fantasized or legendized) or from appealing parts of history, but not pay attention to the nuanced parts. He may try to impress Japanese people of his knowledge and vocabulary.

OK, so, what’s wrong with Japanophiles? Aren’t they harmless? Misguided…but harmless, right? I dunno…what drives people to admire a foreign culture more than their own? I guess it’s better than xenophobia…so maybe I shouldn’t be so critical.

I guess I had never imagined what it would be like to be Japanese and hear or see an American who was trying so hard to be legitimate, but ended up being just hilarious.

Until today. Youtube is a great place for people to publicize themselves, for bad or for good, and today, I found the youtube of a Chinese girl who was showcasing her English skills. It’s not too bad, but I can’t help but…laugh. I’m a bad person, maybe.

This one starts out with an innocent enough premise

But this next one…about her super power…is just charming…the video itself is fun…but some of her comments make it golden…this is why I had to make a new entry dedicated to it.

One commenter says:

I bet, the Company for Animal Rights will bring a sue aganist you, for making a harrowing experience to your hamster… We want Freedom for Hamsters! Stop putting them into cages, make their offers for job the same for everyone! And of course their sexual equality is obvious.
…and let’s burn all the witches .)

Her response is priceless:

life is unfair ,kid…get over it ..there is no animal rights or even human rights in this country

Hahahahahahahahaha. The end.

*Oh, wait; I almost forgot! Translator’s Note: 现在 means “Now” in Mandarin. And as a commenter notes, it seems to also have a parallel, yet somewhat different meaning in Japanese. Small world after all!

DISCLAIMER: I don’t mean to denigrate anyone who is serious about studying the Japanese culture or language. But even you should laugh or cry at people like this.

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6 Comments
  1. 现在 is simplified Chinese, actually. In Japanese it’s 現在, and it means more like “nowadays” or “currently,” so you wouldn’t use it in that context. But good post otherwise.

  2. kuri, thanks for the comment.

    I was being quite spastic with this entry, because at first I talked about Japanophilia…and then halfway through I switched to talking about someone who is Chinese who is learning English…and then I never made the connection to the title.

    I meant the simplified Chinese version; I failed to remember how kanji and hanzi share so many similarities! In Mandarin, 现在 can be used pretty much like that, so it’s interesting to see that going to Japanese changes the usage so slightly.

  3. I guess there’s a lot of cases where the meaning changes between hanzi and kanji. Like 手紙 is “letter” in Japanese and “toilet paper” in Chinese. Quite a big change. 😉

  4. Haha! I wonder how that came to be; it kinda makes me want to study linguistics sometime.

  5. If you served you mission in Japan, does that insulate you from charges of geekdom when you find yourself watching 5 hours straight of Escaflowne on YouTube over the weekend?

  6. It is allowable in just this one instance 🙂

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