language

Flipping the kanji for “husband” upside-down reveals slightly worrying double meaning

The common stereotype about women among sexually frustrated, mostly parents’ basement-dwelling, men is that girls only go for attractive, rich guys, and never the nice, tender guys with warm hearts and chic fedoras.

Well, when it comes to one of those observations, anyway, there appears to be at least one cultural precedent of a diabolical hidden message that seemingly proves the stereotype right in one of the very words that defines men and women’s relationship in Japan…

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Smartphone games turns mushrooms into cute anime girls, still gives foreigners wacky accents

There aren’t many foods I hate more than mushrooms. I’ve got issues with both their taste and texture, and, to my eyes, they just look kind of gross, no matter which variety we’re talking about.

But while I don’t think I’ll ever completely come around on the idea of eating fungi, it’s nice to at least have a different visual image for them, thanks to a new smartphone game that’s turned a half-dozen types of mushrooms into cute anime girls.

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We desperately want to hire these adorable Indian freelance “idols”

We’ve already seen a lot of “boyfriend for hire” stuff around Asia, which seems to be really into the idea of paying for romantic encounters, but until now we’ve never seen someone offering their boyish good looks and charming company for free.

Meet Dev and San, two kindhearted Indian models working as freelance “idols” – a popular term in Asia for models you can hire for a variety of situations – for the low, low price of absolutely nothing.

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Famous Japanese television personality mimics what foreign languages sound like to non-speakers

Kazuyoshi Morita – better known as Tamori-san, the pet name that a loving Japanese public has addressed him by for decades – is one of the longest-running comedians to appear on Japanese TV. He’s been around so long, we assume he got his start doing stand-up before TVs were even invented.

In addition to being the longest-running host of a live television program, having hosted the widely beloved morning variety show Waratteii Tomou, Tamori-san is also famous for his talent in mono mane (doing impressions). While this is common knowledge in Japan, it apparently took a decade-or-so-old clip of a (still very old-looking) younger Tamori-chan doing spot-on impressions of what foreign languages sound like to non-speakers to wake the rest of the world up to his unique skill set.

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Japanese dictionary removes heteronormative definitions of love and sex

One of Japan’s leading dictionaries has made a significant (and arguably long overdue) step towards acknowledging and normalizing homosexuality by revising the entries for words relating to love and sex. They have removed restrictive references to these feelings existing only between a man and a woman, opening up the definition of love to everyone — gay, straight, or otherwise.

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Cat got your tongue? 10 unusual Japanese phrases that use the word ‘cat’

Cats. Where to begin? They’re cute, cunning, easily offended, happy with or without us and we could never imagine our lives without them. They are rich in mystery and surprise and it’s no wonder the Internet is flooded with pictures and videos of them.

Japan also has a long history of interactions with cats, from believing they can foresee natural disasters to being creatures of vengeance, out to kill humans. Because of this, there are some great Japanese words that use “neko” (猫), the word for “cat,” in combination with another character. Learn some Japanese, and fall even more in love with cats through our list of 10 “catty” Japanese words.

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Lonely diners discover an easy way to get handwritten confessions of love from Yoshinoya staff

Anyone who has watched even a handful of episodes of Japanese anime will have heard the words “suki” or “daisuki” at some point. Literally meaning “like” and “like very much” (daisuki is, after all, written with the characters 大 “big” and 好き “like”), these two words are used not just when describing one’s preference for a particular pokémon or pizza topping, but when declaring deep, “more-than-friends” feelings for someone.

It would seem, however, that staff at Japanese fast food chain Yoshinoya have recently been unwittingly handing declarations of love to especially peckish patrons following the arrival of a popular seasonal dish, with these handwritten love letters becoming the subject of great amusement online.

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18 Japanese words understood around the world

If you’re an enthusiastic linguaphile like myself, you probably spend a good part of each day A) Thinking up ways to make your friends groan yet again with all your linguistic knowledge (e.g. dressing up as a “dead language” for Halloween), and B) Getting super excited whenever you discover the etymology of a new word (also, C) Debating which flavor of ice cream to buy based solely on how witty its name is).

One of my favorite linguistically related topics to contemplate is the constant borrowing of words and shifts in meaning that takes place among the world’s languages. Students of Japanese are often surprised to discover the huge inventory of ‘loan words’ in Japanese that were borrowed from English which have often either changed drastically from their original pronunciations or are combined in different ways to create new, Japanese-made English terms.

But how about the flip side of that–Japanese words that have been imported into other languages? Join us after the jump for a look at some of them!

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New app helps you translate Japanese and Chinese offline using smartphone camera

With their complex writing systems, getting around in Japan or China can be stressful for even the most seasoned of tourists. Sure, you could carry a travel dictionary in your pocket while you go sightseeing, but how are you supposed to look up all those funny looking sticks and squiggles when you don’t even know how to pronounce them? Often the locals try to be helpful by providing an English translation, but there are reasons why that doesn’t always work out. If only there was a way to just wave your magic smartphone over some unintelligible text and have it provide a reliable translation on the spot. Well, as we discovered over at Shanghai Listthere’s an app for that.

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At least a few of these packaging “fails” from around the world had to be intentional

It turns out that when you put a bunch of mostly teens and 20-somethings in a largely unsupervised warehouse setting, then pay them minimum wage or so to engage in mindless physical labor like stuffing things into boxes and cans, you’re going to get the odd bit of mischief. And it turns out this may be a global phenomenon!

Case in point, these packaging “fails” found around the world. Sure, at first glance, some of them seem like bad translations or factory mix-ups, but you can tell at least a few are obviously the result of bored factory workers or store stockers:

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Nose songs, bug teeth and dirt sticks: 10 Japanese words translated way too literally

As anyone who has studied Japanese for any length of time will tell you, leaning lists of vocabulary can be tough. On some occasions, the very first time you’ll meet a word will be on paper; some abstract or complex term that’s almost impossible to remember as it’s so rarely used in the real world. Other times, you’ll have heard–or perhaps even used a word yourself–in conversation, but when encountering it on paper for the first time it may appear completely alien due to the characters with which it’s written.

Thankfully, though, since kanji characters are based on meaning rather than speech sounds, it can be easy to decipher a written word even if you’re still not sure how to pronounce it. But sometimes, translating a word too literally can land you in all kinds of trouble, or at the very least leave you chuckling to yourself while native Japanese speakers are left wondering what’s so funny…

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English fail or win? Japanese actress loves gardening, hates bullshit (according to her T-shirt)

Japanese TV personality Yuko Ito has been working in the entertainment industry for almost 20 years now. Having been at turns a swimsuit model, actress, and pitchwoman for Sapporo Beer, Nissan, and telecommunications provider NTT, we imagine she’s run into more than a few disingenuous showbiz types while paying her dues and building a career for herself.

Now, it looks like she’s done putting up with their two-faced double-talk, assuming she can actually understand the English on the T-shirt she wore during a recent TV appearance, which implored those watching, “Protect me from all your bullshit.”

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Japanese actor’s unfortunate choice of t-shirt has net users amused, doubting his English ability

Osamu Mukai is a well-known drama and commercial actor in Japan, best known for playing heart-throb types on prime time TV. He also apparently does not speak English or pay much attention to his fashion choices, as a recent appearance on what seems to be a typical Japanese evening talk show proves.

While the majority of the Japanese audience probably had no idea what the English on the actor’s drab green T-shirt meant, one eagle-eyed Twitter user seems to have noticed, and thus immortalized, Mukai’s unfortunate fashion choice for the world to see.

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Seven “frogging” adorable kids belting out the F word!【Videos】

When was the first time you uttered a “bad word”? We all probably grew up with adults telling us not to say certain words, and that there were words that only adults could speak of. As a kid, blurting one of those “forbidden words” felt like something cool and thrilling, but now that I’m well beyond that age, such words have lost their significance as a big taboo.

Some kids, however, seem to be blurting out the F-word even before they’ve reached the age to be told that it’s an “adult word”. Of course, they’re not saying it on purpose, and that’s exactly what makes it so amusing and adorable! Frog it, we’re going straight to the videos after the break!

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To sit or not to sit? Linguistic and societal debate on Japanese train seats for the elderly

With how crowded trains get during rush hour in Japan, finding an open seat can be like discovering an oasis in the desert, or a cold can of Ebisu beer in the fridge nestled behind a group of lesser brews. Oftentimes, though, you’ll step into the train and find every seat occupied.

While no one really likes standing for a 30- or 60-minute ride, for some elderly, pregnant, infant-accompanying, or handicapped passengers, that’s not just an unpleasant situation, but a painful, or even impossible, task. Those groups of people still have as much need for mobility as anyone else, though, so rail companies put up signs directing those passengers to special seats for them along the corner benches of each car.

It seems that able-bodied passengers in different parts of Japan react differently to these suggestions, though. Not only that, not everyone believes keeping those seats open is the right thing to do, and a lot of it has to deal with a subtle difference in the wording used in Tokyo and Sapporo.

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Speak like a samurai with these four antiquated words

The age of the samurai makes one of the best thematic settings for any Japanese movie or TV show. There are so many great historical figures to profile, and even more fictional characters to imagine ourselves as! We might have the look, but how did they talk? What words did they use?

The Japanese language has a word for this “samurai language” called monofu-go. An accidental de gozaru (samurai for “to be”) and a parting katajikenai (samurai for “grateful” or “indebted”) is only the beginning of being “old school” cool. Well fear not, RocketNews24 brings you level two! Here are four more phrases and words that were used back in the day that will help you expand your monofu-go vocabulary!

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Geopolitical dictionary: Japanese net users turn countries into verbs

You know how in English you can take pretty much any noun and make it a verbderivation for the cunning linguists out thereby adding to to the front? For example, how the search engine Google has become to google, as in, “Why the hell are you asking me? Go google it, you twit!”

Well, you can do the same thing in Japanese by adding -ru or a handful of other suffixes to the end of a word, and some Japanese net users recently had some fun with this by turning country names into some very non-PC verbs.

Have a look at our geopolitical dictionary and see how your country fared.

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Learn English with Assassination Classroom

Kunugigaoka Junior High School, and particularly CLASS 3-E’s amazing artificial lifeform teacher Koro-sensei is known for his innovative and unique tactics of teaching his students. From making songs about math based off of anime opening themes, to moving at Mach 20 just to create “after image tutor copies,” Koro-sensei will stop at nothing to make sure that his students learn their lesson.

Now it seems that he’s turned his immense smile in another direction to bring the same one on one quality teaching to the hands of students everywhere, with the official Assassination Classroom English Textbook!

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Do you use these “Philippine English” words and phrases?

Here at RocketNews24, we spend a lot of time talking about language–particularly Japanese and English in Japan. It’s no secret that English is a difficult language to learn, and not just for folks from Japan. Part of the reason for the difficulty arises from the numerous variations English has–from American to Australian to Singaporean. But one country in particular that stands out is the Philippines, which the BBC recently called “the world’s budget English teacher.” While it’s not exactly the most complimentary title, it certainly is true that the country takes English as one of its official languages (along with Filipino, which is basically a standardized form of Tagalog). Of course, in a country with around 170 living languages, it should be expected that Philippine English is quite a bit different from English in the US or the UK.

But just how different is it?

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Darth Vader to Japanese dictionary released, selling like Tusken bread

In Japan, learning English is a valuable tool in the business world. Being able to negotiate deals and win customers overseas would make you an attractive asset to any corporation. To truly get ahead, however, you’re going to want to speak like a titan of industry, and there’s perhaps no better titan to emulate than Darth Vader.

No one has ever moved up the corporate ladder faster, and talk about falling upwards! Darth Vader fell limbless into a pit of lava and landed right in a cushy gig as Lord of the Galactic Empire. Clearly this is a guy who gets what he wants.

Now Japanese and English learners can acquire his galaxy controlling gift of gab with the new Star Wars dictionary and phrase book. Let’s take a look at some sample pages.

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