It all started when my school installed a new projector and AV mixer in the Language Lab. I love the new equipment, but there’s just one little thing: for some reason, I can’t set the external display’s wallpaper independent of my desktop’s wallpaper anymore. With the old projectors I could just right click on the external display and set its wallpaper, but now when I try to do that, it changes the wallpaper for both my laptop’s screen and the external display. I don’t have dirty pictures set as wallpapers so it really doesn’t matter; I’ve so far just let it go. Which is why one fateful day 3 Japanese Teachers of English were introduced to the world of LOLCats and other internet memes.
First one teacher and some students saw Catnarok as the wallpaper on the external display. Then another teacher who had a little bit of free time strolled over for a chat just as I had finished writing the midterm test and was taking a break with Philosoraptor. Later the JTE who sits next to me wondered why I was failing at stifling my laughter and she learned about Advice God. These last two JTEs, who got a more in-depth explanation of the source of all this insanity, ended the conversation with “you should make some.”
Can’t say no to that now can I?
If you don’t get some of the ones that don’t have an explanation, you might get a helpful hint by hovering your cursor over the image.
Bad Pun Racoon
Around 2009 through about 2011, there seemed to be a booming trend among the young women in Fukuoka City of walking in high heels as if they didn’t know how to walk in high heels (e.g. knees constantly bent, feet pigeon toed, taking flat-footed steps, and often wearing shoes a size too big, or too small in the case of high-heeled sandals). A fellow ALT told me that a Japanese girl had told him that walking that way makes them look vulnerable and therefore cute. To him, the walk reminded him of velociraptors in movies. His label stuck.
Rage Comic Troll
There are several ways to romanize Japanese, that is, write Japanese using the Roman alphabet. While some Japanese characters are written the same way across all systems, others differ depending on whether you’re using Hepburn style romanization, or something else. For example, にんじゃ would be written as ninja in Hepburn romanization, but as ninjya in another common system, kunrei-shiki.
文部省 (Monbusho) is the Ministry of Education. While every other ministry of the Japanese government uses Hepburn romanization as the standard, the Ministry of Education has both Hepburn and kunrei-shiki as standard, so students learn both ways to romanize their language, but aren’t told what the features (and therefore potential uses) of each system are.
Hepburn makes it easy for English speakers (and, I dare say, speakers of other languages that use the Roman alphabet) to pronounce Japanese words correctly because it’s based on English phonetics. For example, the Japanese phonetic characters た、ち、つ、て、と are written as “ta, chi, tsu, te, to” in Hepburn style. (Notice the chi and tsu.) Kunrei-shiki focuses instead on regularity and Japanese phonetics. So those same characters get written as “ta, ti, tu, te, to.” This of course wouldn’t be a problem if Japanese were the only ones looking at romanized Japanese. But if you’re gonna have kids studying English, presumably so that they can communicate with English speakers, isn’t it worth mentioning that to English speakers, “ti” makes a different sound than “chi”?
二日市 is a place name. In Hepburn it’s written as “Futsukaichi.” In kunrei-shiki, it’s written as “Hutukaiti.” That’s a huge difference.
You can read another misadventure in romanization in this post, under the section labeled “Kaizen.”
For the record, I don’t think Japanese people are being intentionally condescending when they say “Your Japanese is so good!” when all you’ve given them to go on is a heavily accented “konnichi wa.” While increasing numbers of people with no ties to Japan are studying Japanese, it’s true that there’s still very few foreigners around, and many of them aren’t fluent, so I can understand if the utterance just slips out of people’s mouths out of sheer surprise. The desire to be hospitable and say something nice is probably also a factor. But whether you’re a beginner and you know that you are so totally not jouzu, or you’re so jouzu you made Level 1 of the Nihongo Kentei beg you for mercy, the comment probably rubs you the wrong way every 20th time or so.
I know that my L-R jokes could themselves be seen as condescending, but the Success Kid memes are jabs at myself. I think it’s okay as long as we all FAIL together, as one world in love & harmony. ^o^/♡