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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Nihon-go wakarimasen

At times, I feel like Bill Murray's character, Bob Harris, in the movie "Lost in Translation". English or ae-go is not that widely spoken here in Japan. Although awareness on English has increased, not many Japanese are fluent in the language. With the exception of hotel and airport staff, I have yet to meet others who are confident enough to use the language.

On the other hand, my grasp on the Japanese language (nihon-go) is rudimentary at best. I know only basic words and simple phrases. Sometimes I regret for not having the time to follow the nihon-go classes held at my office some time back.

I am fortunate that a colleague from the office, Ahmad Zaki, is accompanying me on this trip. He was a student in Japan and therefore, pretty comfortable with nihon-go. As such, I leave him to do most of the talking in this country.

In Tokyo at least, major places like hotels, train stations, shops and roads already have English translations. I give the Japanese credit for taking such an effort because it helps for gaikokujin like me. Having said that, I do find some errors made (small though they may be) to be quite amusing.

At a florist shop in a Tokyo hotel, the word "florist" is spelt "frolist".

At the same hotel in Tokyo, at its restaurant the word "water" is spelt "watter".

In a Kyoto hotel meanwhile, at the hotel's restaurant the word "pumpkin" is spelt "pimpkin".

But perhaps the next one takes the cake. I was browsing through the Internet to search for English bookshops around Tokyo. In one of the websites, the phrase "public speaking" is written as "pubic speaking".

Amusing, but the mistakes and mis-spelling are understandable. English language is not part of Japan's history and culture. So, at this infancy stage, such errors are acceptable. Instead, I think they should be lauded for being brave enough to use a totally foreign language to them.

Nevertheless, their English are definitely better than my Japanese.


Anonymous said...

Salam kelana,
Re d last line in dis post,"their English ARE definitely better than my Japanese".. hehehe... :-P

Anonymous said...

Sir, i think Kyoto Hotel is Pimpin' the Pumpkin...hehe