*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Language Errors

At 'Goodandbadjapan's Blog', there is a very funny discussion of errors made by non-Japanese speaking Japanese, with two-cents of my own.  
My favourite errors:
“Is there shit in these buns?”: ‘anko’ (red bean)/’unko’ confusion.
“Does this have human in it?”: ‘ninjin’ (carrot)/’ningen’.
I am still proud of this error to a bar-maid:
“You’re a pretty virgin!”: ‘shojo’ (girl)/’shojjo’.
I have not yet confused ‘omanju’ (red-bean bun) and another one of my very favourite things that sounds much the same, but I live in fear of doing so.
The problem is, as my wife brings home omanju (red-bean buns) several times a week, it gives me so much opportunity to screw up. This wouldn’t be a problem with the Japanese c-word (she is my wife, after all), except she is always serving these when we have guests: making sure I always have c— on my mind, in a sense.
I forgot to add that I had a habit of mixing up the words for 'unique' (koseiteki) and 'sexual' (seikouteki) when talking up the OL at the public junior school where I worked, but that's your average Freudian slip.


  1. oh fuck, the o-manju one is mine....

  2. Yes indeed. A very funny story yelling at the horrified Japanese lady! I have not yet made the error: just had it on my mind too much - to avoid saying, that is.

  3. My daughter used to sing "chinko, chinko little star" at playgroup, but I think she was just working the crowd.

  4. Ha. Thank you for reminding me of one of the best South Park episodes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeoB1voCit4&feature=related

  5. A similar bit of silliness in this vein. A co-worker had his students in stitches serenading them with "O Susanna" and a recitation of "The Three Little Pigs."

    "And I come from Alabama with a o-benjo on my knee." Of course you do; you're from Alabama.

  6. Had an ALT friend in Saitama named 'Ben'...