Thursday, September 08, 2005

Drunk Talk

Last Saturday night I was out at a bar with four other friends: two Canadians, a Brit, and a Japanese. As usual, I was the only one not drinking, and the only sober one listening into all the drunk talk.

The Brit was talking about his car, and referred to the storage space at the back of it as “the boot.” This then caused a debate as to whether the correct term was “the boot” or “the trunk.” The Brit found himself outnumbered by 3 North Americans, so he changed the subject.

“Do you know what’s interesting?” he asked. “If say ‘car boot’ to a Japanese person, they haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about because they’ve adopted the American English, and they call it a trunk. But, if I’m talking about the front of the car, the Japanese understand ‘bonnet’ perfectly, because for the front of the car they use British English, for the back of the car they use American English. Isn’t that strange?”

“The Japanese use British English for a lot of things,” someone else commented. “For instance, they use the word ‘pants’ in the British sense, meaning underpants. For actual pants they use the French word ‘zubon’.”
(Oh, man, the number of times the failure to remember that distinction has gotten me into embarrassing situations here in Japan….)

“Do you say ‘pants’?” someone asked the Brit. “I thought you used ‘knickers’ for undergarments.”

“Yeah, it can mean that. Although usually when I use the worded ‘nick’, it means steal.”

“Like, ‘nicking knickers’ I said.”

“Um…Yeah, I suppose you could say that.”

“Or you could say, ‘Nick was nicking knickers,” I continued.

“Oh, but come to think of it,” the Brit went on, “the word ‘nick’ can also mean ‘be arrested’. Like, ‘he was nicked by the cops’.”

“Or….” I said, “‘Nick was nicked while nicking knickers’.”

“What about ‘nippers’?” asked the Brit. “Do you say that back in North America?”

“Well, in Canada ‘Nip’ is actually a derogatory term for the Japanese.”

“Wait! I’ve got it now. ‘Nick the Nip got nicked….’”

“No, not ‘Nip’. ‘Nippers’. Like children. Like, ‘All the little nippers running around’”.

“Nick the Nip got nicked while nicking knickers from nippers,” I blurted out. “Or Nick the Nip got nicked while nicking nippers’ knickers.”

Now, aside from:
1). the fact that I don’t usually approve of using racially derogatory terms and…
2). There aren’t that many Japanese people named Nick (although you could argue this second point is nit-picking). I suppose you could fix this by just switching Nip and nippers around. “Nick the nipper got nicked while nicking knickers from Nips.”

Aside from that, I think this little poem is sheer genius.

Link of the Day
You've got to love the Japan Times for their eye for the more bizarre aspects of Japan. Like this article on the new industry renting out sex dolls.

1 comment:

English in China said...

Joel, I live in a new place in Shanghai now. My landlords lived in Japan for years and their subscription to Japanese satellite televison has been given to us for free. I watch it a lot, especially for the news tidbits we dont see here in China. I have some questions that maybe you can answer on your blog:

1) Dont Japanese news programs often just translate news reports from other stations, including ABC and BBC?

2) Do the Japanese enjoy watching fireballs or people riding objects go flying down large hills?

3) Do you often see people playing with that toy that has 1 ball with a hole in it, 2 cups and a stick? Some guy was using TV as a teaching medium on how to land the ball on the toy better.