Japanese 051 (because some people were never meant to take 101)

By Bejiin

Suatte kudasai.
Tabun kyo wa nehongo o benkyoushimashyou!
Minna san? Wakarimasuka? Ne minna san?

So!! How many people are lost right now? Raise your hands and give the class a wave. Donít be shy! Raise your hands. Six years ago I too would have raised my hand!

You see that lovely stuff up there? Itís called romanji. While itís not really Japanese, itís about as close as our non-Japanese computers allow us to get. Now . . . that doesnít really help any of you does it? I mean you have no clue what the hell I was saying.

*Bejiin smirks *

And thatís what I want. I mean why on earth would I want anyone to understand what I was saying? I live for being misunderstood . . .

Oh wait, no thatís not what I was going to talk about, is it? I was going to talk about the Japanese language and you . . .ermm . . . your fanfics.

So youíre a fanfic writer. Perhaps you write for Sailor Moon, maybe not . . . whatever the lucky genre, it happens to be a Japanese anime and you feel the need to use the language. Why? Well . . . poor Bej is a little lost when it comes to the why part. I guess people think theyíre showing superior knowledge or maybe they think that theyíre showing the Japanese language respect by horribly misusing it? Well today weíre going to clear away all of those misconceptions. Letís start with a simple sentence and go from there.

Bejiinís happy sentence of ambivalence: Bejiin wa suie ga daisukikute kakkoii to omoimasu. Bejiinís happy translation: Bejiin (particle) swimming (possessive particle) big like and cool (particle meaning and) thinks.

Does anyone see a relationship between the Japanese version and the exact translation?

The correct translation would be Bejiin really likes swimming and thinks itís cool. Now is anyone confused?

*Bejiin chuckles*

You poor misguided souls! The thing is that Japanese and English are not compatible languages. One of the first things a teacher tells you in Japanese 101 is to forget English. So . . . why are all of these fic writers using Japanese words over and over in their English fics?

. . . The world may never know. -.-;; [The Bitch: Much like the amount of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.]

On a side ramble (get used to these . . . I ramble): Iíd like all of you fic writers who use foreign words in your fics to know something. I speak two languages, (bad) English and Japanese. So . . . any use of French, German, Spanish, Latin, Greek, or Italian (not to mention the other 200 languages Iím not listing for times sake) is wasted on me. Iím not impressed by your use of these languages nor does it make me think youíre a better writer. Things that I donít understand generally annoy me. If your fic captivates me even with a garble of unrecognizable words then good for you, otherwise . . . your fic sucks cause Iím missing the main point. (It was in German and the grammar was incorrect anyways . . . try writing in your first language?!? -.-;;)

Back to the point! Why do people use a language that they donít comprehend? My first suggestion is that maybe they think it looks cool. Lets take Joe Shmoe fanfic author. They use words like minna, kawaii, arigatou, konnichiwa, demo, and maybe kakkoii. I will admit minna and arigatou are commonly used in the Japanese language, but . . . kakkoii?

*Bejiin snickers*

During my trip to Kyoto, Tokyo, and Nagoya I used words like kakkoii and people just laughed at me.

Know why?

Cool, while being a highly overused word in America, is not used in Japan. Furthermore a literal translation of cool is temperature related and would therefore be the Japanese word hiyaritoshita while kakkoii actually means good looking or attractive. ^^;;

Sure you can use Japanese in your fic, but do so responsibly. Use words that your character would use and that everyone reading will understand.

This is beginning to make sense?

Another example: When asking where the bathroom is . . . donít recite Shakespeare.

Fanfic writers often use the polite forms of Japanese words. While itís nice that you all want to be so polite, I might remind you that no one uses the Queenís English anymore so why is everyone trying to speak the Emperorís Japanese? Both languages are outdated and someone on the street is going to give you a funny look when you ask them: please sir if it is not too much trouble reveal unto me where art thine yonder bath house?

*Bejiin sighs* . . . NEXT!

Not everyone using Japanese in a fic wants to look cool. There are some people (not to name names) who use their superior knowledge of a language they donít truly comprehend to belittle the lesser people. Well being a lesser person that speaks Japanese I say itís time to stand up and be counted for! Start using big words you have no clue what mean! A couple of suggestions.

1. Merriam Webster has put a dictionary and a thesaurus online. (http://www.merriam-webster.com ) If at any time you have a nice basic word like chaos (in honor of our great lady) and you decide it needs some extra zing . . . go use the thesaurus! Youíll come up with something ridiculous like *drum rolls* anarchy. Now that you have your new fancy word . . . go to
2. Jefferyís Japanese/English dictionary (http://linear.mv.com/cgi-bin/j-e/dict) put in your fabulous word (anarchy if you forgot) and youíll get museifu!
3. Using your wonderful internet skills you will now create the new and improved evil in Sailor Stars: museifu (a human cousin of Mufasa from the Lion King) . . . because we all know that chaos just didnít cut it as a major villain in the stars season.

Now you too can smite everyone with your superior and wrongfully gained knowledge. Dazzle the great minds and puzzle the great puzzlers . . . Donít bend the spoon . . . let the spoon bend you!

But seriously, anyone can do that. It doesnít make you look cool or superior. Before I had much linguistic knowledge I translated whole songs using that dictionary. Weíre not impressed . . . no one is impressed . . . and seeing as how the readers are English speaking people . . . they donít even know what museifu is (unless you tell them at the bottom of the fic). If youíd just said Chaos to begin with everyone would have known what you were talking about. ^^;;

Bayjeinís Cawaee siad knowt: Speelling is a must, even in Japanese! Itís arigatou (extra u) and itís kawaii . . . unless of course you have a noun to go with it in which case the extra I is dropped. Iím not sure how people misspell words they donít even understand. Oh wait . . . people do that all the time, even in English. NEWayz learn how to speel korrektly or the patron saint of spelling will come after you with a ruler. ^^;;

Another side note. If youíre going to go to the trouble of misusing the Japanese language, might I suggest you study Japanese culture as well? Things work very differently in Japan. Take this from the exchange student who said she liked trying new things and was therefore taken to a new five star restaurant every night of her two week stay in Kyoto. Japanese culture is very very very VERY VERY different from American culture. Donít think you can write an authentic Japanese story without doing a little bit of research first. I mean I did research before I went to Japan and I still managed to make at least five major social blunders. No, we wonít go in to them . . . lord knows Iím humiliated enough admitting that I made a stupid American mistake. ^^í Besides . . . Iím still humiliated that I told the artist who draws all the posters of Sailor Moon (Tsunoda Koichi) yokudekimashita [a compliment a teacher would give their student]. ^^;; We wonít even get into the things I accidentally told Yuu Watase.

A word on titles . . . Now Iím sure most people are familiar with the titles Chan, San, Kun, and Sama. Just in case you donít weíll review.

1. Chan- A term used for people significantly younger than you. Can also be used as a term of endearment.
2. San- A term used for people on your level. This is a term of respect, however respect is automatic in Japan.
3. Kun- A term used for boys on your level. After all boys get all the fun things in life . . . *Bejiin scowls *
4. Sama- A term of extreme respect deifying the recipient

All right. Now that we have these lovely titles I feel I must explain to you how they are used. Some people have been misusing them. The thing about Japanese titles is that you canít call yourself a title. Itís considered very rude and if you were to do this in Japan, people would give you pitying looks understanding that you are obviously brain-dead. Now while Iím happy that you respect yourself (thatís really important after all) I must remind you that it just makes you look dumb and lord knows you people already look dumb enough without doing something that stupid. (Just kidding!)

Now for those of you who have been deifying yourselves . . . I suggest counseling (I have a few good names in the Atlanta area if youíre really interested . . . ). Hubris always proved fatal for the Greeks, so I donít know why you think youíre immune, after all if you can bring Japanese into this I can certainly drag a good old dose of mythology in as well. And PLEASE . . . if you ever go to Japan . . . itís going to be hard but restrain yourself! You are not a sama there, nor should you call anyone "sama" unless of course they really are a god and *coughs * if you ever meet one . . . please donít tell me. ^^;;

*Bejiin chuckles with her superior knowledge*

So, lets review what weíve learned

1. We all speak English. (You read this and tried to understand it. That means you probably didnít think it was in Swahili.)
2. Japanese and English are not similar.
3. Using Japanese in a fic doesnít make YOU look any cooler or more intelligent.
4. If you're going to use a word that *YOU* had to translate . . . don't use it!
5. If youíre interested in the authenticity of your fic, consider doing research. Culture is a good place to start.
6. No matter what anyone tells you, youíre probably not a deity so stop calling yourself one. Even a Japanese deity would have the good manners not to refer to themselves as Ďsama.í

*Sobs in frustration*

Well I hope this lesson has been useful to all of you. On your way out, please feel free to sign up for Japanese 101 although I must warn you of the hefty feeís Iím charging this year.

*Bejiin grins evilly *

But by all means, donít let that discourage you . . .

Class dismissed!

P.S. Flames look pretty on my barren dorm room walls . . . so by all means: Bejiin@aol.com.


Finally! Some validation on that "sama" thing! 'Bout dang time... Ė The Bitch