Monday, May 16, 2011

The Trials and Tribulations of Learning Japanese.

Japanese is filled with English words said with a Japanese accent.
teburu (table)
ko-hi (coffee)
bah nah nah (banana)
takushi (taxi)
hanbah-gah- (hamburger)
Oren jee juu suu (orange juice)

And there are so many more. More times than I care to count, I have asked what to call something in Japanese and was told an English word. I've come to the conclusion, that if I can't think of the word in Japanese, I should just say it in English with an accent.

This love of English words does have it's downside though. When I try to order a caramel macchiato at Starbucks, I get blank stares unless I say "kya me ru ma ki ah to. " Even though the menu is written in English over the barista's head.
Or if when talking about our English class, I mention the text book and no one can seem to figure out what I am talking about. But then some light bulb goes off and some one says, "Ohh, the tekisuto." and now, miraculously everyone knows EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

This past week, Japanese English kicked my butt again.

At church last week, Sunday, the pastor was saying something about Tohoku, and our church going to "BorAntia."

Hmm, Borantia must be the city in Tohoku where they are serving.

But 3 days later, a non-church member was talking to me about BorAntia Japanese classes. And how I should take one. And how a mutual friend went to BorAntia in Tohoku.

Huh, is BorAntia a university, or an organization that does both Japanese classes and tsunami relief? Just nod and smile.

The next day, I was asked by a church member if Stephen and I were going to BorAntia in Tohoku.

It wasn't until Friday that I figured out that people were not saying the name of some city of organization. They were saying "BorAntia" the Japanese way to pronounce "Volunteer".

Our church went to volunteer in Tohoku, and my friend was suggesting volunteer Japanese classes that were held at a community center.

So, this week I have learned that in order to learn Japanese, I must relearn English.

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