"working on my faults and cracks..."

10.01.2006

This close to the unthinkable

The Japanese language is pretty interesting. And I think from an outside perspective, it's mysterious and difficult looking, and sounds something like a hyper thirteen year-old girl at the mall, recorded, played backwards, then run over with a lawn mower. So yeah, it's hard, whatever. But honestly, is it really that hard? Thinking about studying Japanese? You're an idiot for thinking you'll get anywhere with it, but that's not the point I'm trying to make. Where was I...
Oh yeah, so you're thinking about studying Japanese? Let me offer some encouragement--due to the language's complete lack of variety, with just a few simple words, you're capable of accessing a highly varied selection of contexts. Take for example, the word "ganbaru (gahn-bah-roo)." In English, depending on the context at hand, you'd probably use a different variation. Like "good luck," "do your best," "don't get your ass kicked," "work hard," "don't kill yourself," "you'll be fine," etc. In Japanese? Just ganbaru. And if you're not sure, it'll probably fit. Boss bending you over his mahogany desk every night with TPS reports? You'll prolly want to ganbaru. Home invasion and you can't remember where you keep your handgun? Time to ganbaru. Watching your screaming finance getting dragged by her legs into a bear cave because you thought it was ok to feed it sandwiches? I suggest you tell her to ganbaru. See? I've already equipped you with three viable contexts where this useful vocabulary can be put to good use. Or what about the weather? Here, we joke about the weather as a stereotypical conversation-starter or awkward moment avoider. Example:

Guy A: "So B, I heard you were at Fantasyland last night? How'd it go?"
Guy B: "Yeah, somebody told me your sister was a dancer there and..."
Guy A: "..."
Guy B: "Uh yeah...so...dang this crappy weather huh?"

But in Japan, they bitch or comment on the weather as though it's this great legitimate topic worth wasting breath on. Regardless of temperature, I swear to god it's always "atsui." Even when it's "samui," it's still atsui because the Japanese forgot to insert any semblance of variety in their little hybrid language. Look up "variety" in a Japanese dictionary--you'll be shocked to find it's notably absent. Instead, in the gaping linguistic hole sits a laughing rabbit that says "gomen ne! baraechi ha mou nakunatyatta!" The bitch is so incredibly "kawaii" that I'm expected to not care anymore. Apparently they don't care either. Kawaii is the only reason the Japanese can get away with anything. Oh, I know my kid just broke an Asahi bottle over your head, but he's got those squeaky shoes that make him so irrisistably cute! Sorry! Kawaii desyou? Even if it's ugly, it's cute. If it's dead sexy, it's still cute. If it's violent, it can still be cute. If it's fat, skinny, fuzzy, spikey, toothless, bald, or impotent, it's still probably kawaii in some pretense or another. Which really strikes a chord with a lot of American English teachers who are fat, toothless, bald, and impotent, and living in Tokyo--because those dumb bastards can still be rockstars as long as they're somehow kawaii. Grease that beer belly enough to squeeze into a Pooh t-shirt and your kawaii ass is good to go. And by "to go," I mean, it's hot to trot. And by "to trot," I mean get your **** ****** by a ***-****** in some ***** for like 10,000 ***. Words cannot begin to comprehend how maddening all of this is. Someday though, words will finally comprehend it. Your eyes and virgin ears have been warned.
Anyway, congratulations, I've managed to condense three years of Japanese studies into three paragraphs.
You j-holes owe me thirty grand.

Don't agree with me? Get bent. Or ganbaru. Whichever, I don't really care.

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