Chiong. Heng. Gostun. Don’t know these words? Then pay attention to these videos and learn some Singaporean English.
Love Japan? Want to learn Japanese? Check out RocketNews24’s six fundamental top tips for learning Japanese!
Oxford Dictionaries, the online arm of the publisher of the Oxford Dictionary of English, has announced that its 2015 Word of the Year is an emoji. No, not the word “emoji,” but a single, specific emoji.
Speakers of certain languages sometimes get a leg-up when learning Japanese. For example, Japanese includes Chinese characters, which means Chinese speakers can often get the gist of a text even if they don’t understand the grammar. Similarly, Korean speakers might find that Japanese grammar is kinda similar to theirs. And we native English speakers get a huge helping hand from the hundreds of English loan words that have been adopted into modern Japanese.
But sometimes, these loan words aren’t really our friends at all. Instead, they’re what’s known as false friends – words that sound similar in two languages yet have a completely different meaning. In co-opting English words into Japanese, sometimes our crafty Nihonjin pals have assigned our words to things that actually mean something totally different. It’s almost like they’re trying to trick us!
Join us for a quick primer on some Japanese loanwords you might have heard before, and what they really mean!
Yes sir! A much beloved Tuna Roadshow was scheduled to be held at Costco on 7 November according to the English on their advertisement. It would seem that the English was designed to attract foreigners who might not be familiar with the concept of Tuna Roadshows, which we imagine would include…everyone.
I’m guessing it’s a show where people dust off that old fish lying in their attic and take it to tuna experts to see how much money they’re worth. Either that or someone did a half-assed job on the translation.
Yukio Ota is a legendary graphic designer in Japan. As the creator of the green “running man” pictogram that features on the nation’s emergency exit signs which have since spread to Europe, Canada and the Asia-Pacific, Ota is a frontrunner when it comes to developing images that convey a thousand words.
Now the designer of the exit sign is making headlines for his long-term project that aims to have the world using a universal language by 2065. Called the Lovers’ Communication System, or LoCoS, the standardised system based on pictographs has the power to overcome language barriers and revolutionise the world of communication as we know it.
The various related but often unintelligible Chinese language varieties collectively have 1.2 billion first-language speakers. Of those varieties, Mandarin, also known as Standard Chinese or Putonghua, has 848 million native speakers, which is higher than any other language on Earth. It’s no wonder that more and more people around the world are seeing the practicality of learning Chinese as a second language.
However, learning a second language takes time and effort, especially if the intrinsic features of your target language differ significantly from those of your native language. A recent YouTube video titled “Foreigners’ Difficulties of Learning Chinese” explores this exact scenario by asking four Westerners about their own experiences studying the language.
Whether you’ve already dabbled in Chinese yourself or are thinking about it, the short clip makes for an interesting watch for anyone looking to expand their linguistic horizons.
Japan’s National Tourist Organization recently released its statistics on the number of overseas travelers who visited in the country in 2014, and we’re proud to say that 13,413,467 of you came to visit (though we’re also a little hurt that so few of you called us up to get ramen while you were here). That number represents almost a 30-percent increase from the number of foreign tourists Japan received in 2013, and a whopping 60-percent jump compared to 2012.
Still, Japan only ranks 27th globally in its ability to draw travelers from abroad, making it eighth in Asia, behind world-number 22 Korea and number four China.
So what’s holding Japan back from becoming an even more popular international travel destination? RocketNews24’s non-Japanese staff put our heads together, and after getting over the initial pain from our foreheads violently colliding, came up with the following list of areas Japan could do better in that foreign travelers would definitely appreciate.
Have you ever run into someone, on the subway, perhaps, or in line at a Starbucks, and noticed they’d forgotten to close up the zipper on their jeans or had their skirt tucked into their underwear? Inner conflict follows as you weigh the pros and cons of telling them about it. On the one hand, that person is almost certainly going to think you’re a jerk for pointing out their social faux pax, but on the other hand, you’d be saving them the untold awkwardness of interacting with everyone all day with their underwear half sticking out of their open fly.
There may be a good middle-ground solution though, according to one Japanese comedian: Just tell them what you want to say with such a thick accent that it sounds like a totally foreign language. Sure, the person on the receiving end will think you’re a huge weirdo, but at least they won’t think you’re an A-hole, and being confronted with a bunch of unintelligable jibber jabber from some random will probably cause the person to take a quick inventory of their surroundings, hopefully prompting them to realize their zipper is down or underwear on display.
In Japan almost everyone hangs out their laundry to dry rather than using costly, energy-guzzling clothes dryers. Foreigners have no problems complying, but one quickly learns that underwear is special–you don’t hang it out with the rest of your clothes where others might see it (or try to see it). The “smallies” are to be hung up inside. When you think about it, it does make sense. But other things are harder for foreigners to get used to and yet others just don’t make sense at all to us so are harder to incorporate into our lifestyles here.
Pooling responses from expats living here in Japan and the RocketNews24 staff, today we’re sharing the most common things that we just can’t quite embrace like the Japanese do, no matter how hard we try. Join us after the jump as we reveal the secret life of gaijin…but shhhh, don’t tell anyone!
Recently a certain greeting has become popular over Twitter in Japan. According to internet legend these two sentences will cause someone from Osaka to “punch you in the face.”
It sounded like an outrageous claim and yet people seem to be latching onto it. The story goes that by approaching someone from Osaka with “Heee, Kimitte Osaka Hito nanda. Yoroshikudenganamangana” will cause them to lose their minds with rage.
Has this Twitter user stumbled upon an exposed nerve in the fabric of Japanese society, or is this just another drop in the bucket of specious internet claims? We conducted a small experiment to find out.
They say that one of the main reasons so few Japanese people master the English language is because they’re worried about making mistakes or embarrassing themselves. While we do wish more Japanese would break out their English a little more often (get a couple of drinks into your coworkers and you’ll be amazed at how much English they actually know), at the same time we can’t really blame them for being reluctant to speak, because learning a second language as an adult can be tough.
After all, when our words fail us, it can not only result in confusion, but very often shock, laughter, and even anger. Just ask the kind folks who were good enough to share with us their most awkward and memorable mistakes made when speaking – or rather trying to speak – Japanese.
Join us after the jump for 22 tales of language mishaps. Oh, and maybe make some notes while you do so that none of these ever happen to you!
When you start learning another language, like, say, Japanese, it’s common to come across certain words that sound like English words, but aren’t. For example, the Japanese word “hai” which means yes, sounds a lot like the greeting “hi” in English. Another example might be that “ohayou” meaning good morning sounds a lot like the US state of Ohio.
But, naturally, this goes both ways. There are also plenty of examples of Japanese speakers finding “Japanese” meaning in English words that a native English speaker would never think of…
There’s a reason I don’t write for the Washington Post. Actually, there are about a thousand reasons, almost all of which pertain to my own ineptness. Another one these reasons is that I occasionally write some embarrassing joke that gets completely misunderstood and blows up in my face.
So, I can relate on some level to the Washington Post’s writer and Tokyo bureau chief Anna Fifield. Her tweet, which jokingly translated a customer request sign as “Don’t bring your dirty Korean beer in here,” has led to some considerably harsh feedback from Japanese Twitter users.
As a reader of RocketNews24, chances are you already have a pretty big soft spot for Japan. You may even already be living in the Land of the Rising Sun or have plans to fly out just as soon as circumstances allow.
But sometimes, even when we love a place with every fibre of our being, we just can’t stay forever. Family anxiously awaiting our return; work commitments; financial constraints and more mean that, at some point or other, many of us have to wave goodbye to Japan and return to our respective homelands.
Some of the things people miss about Japan will be immediately obvious, but others tend to sink in only a few weeks or months after returning home. Today, we’re taking a look at 21 of the little things, in no particular order, that Japan does so uniquely or so incredibly well that foreigners really start to pine for them once they finally say sayonara and head home.
The JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) is a test of Japanese as a second language knowledge and is held twice a year in Japan and many other countries around the world. Since the test is entirely in Japanese, it can be taken by anyone regardless of English ability.
Even so, the organization decided to put up English translations on bathroom signs at a test location in Japan, and some irritated English-speaking members of the Grammar Police decided to do a little editing work whilst sitting on the potty.
Even when speaking with fellow English speakers, sometimes you realize that the same thing can be called a variety of names. (Try calling soda “pop” in most of the US and enjoy the funny looks you get.) The same is true in Japan, where, thanks to regional dialects, some people have a hard time being understood when they leave their hometowns.
One Twitter user recently brought regional dialect differences to the forefront of the Internet when he surveyed over a thousand people about the word they would use to describe a certain way of sitting. Collecting and plotting the data on a map of Japan, the results have been surprising people from all regions!
Hello, everyone! I’m a Japanese man who’s been studying Korean for three years now. I’ve been doing a language exchange with a South Korean study abroad student in Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo “Koreatown” district, learning about both the Korean language and culture.
During the past few years, I’ve discovered several points of interest regarding Japan and Korea. Today, I’d like to share with you three things that surprised me as a Japanese person studying Korean.
A while back, Japanese politician Ryutaro Nonomura captured the world’s attention after a surreal outburst at a press conference regarding his alleged misuse of taxpayers’ money. No doubt seeing fertile ground for comedy, one creative musician then made Nonomura the stuff of Internet legend by setting the man’s sobs to a guitar track.
Guitarist Felix Martin and his talented collaborators operate under a similar concept, setting guitar, drums, and bass to speeches from North Korean officials, Hugo Chavez, and others. This project isn’t for laughs, though. With an ear for the rhythm and pitch of the spoken word, not to mention masterful heavy metal stylings, Martin and company elevate the aptly named Human Transcription project to the realm of art. Politics and propaganda have never sounded so good.
We’ve talked before about Engrish, the often humorously garbled form of English that peppers products and signage in Japan. The phenomenon isn’t unique to Japan, though, as the expat community in China also often comes across similar blunders, which the local community sometimes refers to as Chinglish.
But are these botched translations a sign of callous disrespect, or the end result of earnest effort coupled with sub-par linguistic skills? That was the question put to users of China Daily’s Internet forum, and here’s what a few had to say.