Disclaimer: unlike this post’s inspiration, “Overheard in Osaka” is not meant to denigrate or mock anybody quoted herein. I am well aware that an entire site could probably be made about the mistakes I myself make in Japanese.
That said, here is a collection of some of the things my students have said this week which delighted me; meant only to share what I thought were fun examples of East meets West.
Overheard in Osaka
Fun Then, Fun Now
English teacher: What are you going to do this weekend?
Young sarari man: Eto … I am going to go to drink at bar with … high school students.
Young manicurist: Eeehhhh????
Young sarari man: Yes. No! Friends when high school student days. How do you say?
English teacher: Ah. “Friends from high school.”
Young sarari man: So! So!
Young manicurist: Ah, so so so!!! [giggling] High school student – is very dangerous!
Young sarari man: I am sorry.
North America’s Real Contribution to Japanese Culture
English teacher: Okay, everyone – please open your books!
7 year-old boy: Oh my GOD! Oh my GOD! Oh my GOD!
Eats, Craps, and Leaves
Young father: My baby … he is so cute.
English teacher: What is he like?
Young father: Now he is get fat. He try to sit. Sometimes he laugh and crap.
English teacher: Pardon?
Young father: Sometimes he … laughs and craps?
English teacher: He does this? [clapping hands]
Young father: Yes, he do … does!
English teacher: Cute!
You Think it’s Bad Now …
English teacher: What is your biggest responsibility?
Newlywed sarari man: Once, it was my work. My biggest responsibility now is to go home.
English teacher: What do you mean?
Newlywed sarari man: My wife. She is now always there.
Big is the New Green
English teacher: (holding a large square of green paper) BIG! (holding up a small square of white paper) Little! (holding up the green square again) BIG!
Two year-old girl: (in Japanese, to her mother) Wrong! That’s “green.”
But Do They Give Stamps for Brutal Honesty?
English teacher: What do you usually do on your day off?
Middle-aged woman: I usually go to temples and collect stamps. When you go to a temple you wear a vest. You collect stamps from the temple and you put them on the vest. It is to prepare you for death.
English teacher: Cool!
Middle-aged woman: Yes. I go because my parents are in their 80s and they are therefore near the dying time.
You Know, They Eat Turkeys Where I Come From, Son
English Teacher: (pointing to cartoon drawings of her family which she has drawn – poorly – on the white board to help teach the English names of family members) What’s this?
10 year-old students: Family!
English Teacher: Good! (pointing to the drawing of her mustachioed father) Who’s this?
10 year-old boy: Salesman!
English Teacher: No, it’s father! (pointing to drawing of her muscle bound brother) Who’s this?
10 year-old boy: Macho!
English Teacher: Brother! (pointing to cartoon of herself) Okay, now, who’s this?
10 year-old boy: Mother!
English Teacher: What??? Mother!?!?
Other 10 year-old boy: Ribu! It’s Ribu!
English Teacher: Yes, it’s Liv! (pause) Man, you guys are … turkeys!
10 year-old boy: Ta-kee! Chicken! Ha ha ha ha ha ….
English Teacher: (showing her 6 year-old students the photograph of her family which she has brought in to aid the “My Family” lesson) See? Here’s my family.
6 year-old students: Ehhh!?!?!?!?!
English Teacher: (pointing to her mother) Who’s this?
6 year-old girl: … Mother?
English Teacher: Good!
6 year-old students: Ehhhh?!?!??!!?
English Teacher: (pointing to her brother) Who’s this?
6 year-old girl: Brother?
English Teacher: Good, Keiko!
6 year-old students: Ehhhh?!?!?!?!?!?
English Teacher: (pointing to herself) Who’s this? (silence) Who’s this? (silence) Guys, it’s me!!!
6 year-old students: Ehhhhhhhhh?!?!?!?!?!?!??!!?!??