Murder Is Bad

murder-meme1Peas and Cougars is one of my favorite blogs and the woman who writes it, Rae, pointed out that I would be a bad person and bad things would happen to me if I didn’t share this meme. Just to be safe, I decided it deserved a whole blog post. Allow me to explain.

It’s true that English, especially American English, greedily gobbles up words from other languages, generally mangling the original pronunciation in the process. Excellent examples include kimono, karate and karaoke. I learned the latter here, so the first time I heard it in the States, I had no idea what the person was talking about.

American friend: The place has carry-okie on Thursdays.

Me: Oh, is that some kind of ethnic food?

The other day, we were recording some English lessons for sixth graders and part of one lesson was, ‘I want to be…’ We had ‘I want to be a doctor.’ ‘I want to be a farmer.’ ‘I want to be a patissier.’ The narrator pronounced that last word American style with a hard R at the end. I told the client the correct pronunciation, pointing out that since it was not an English word, we should probably use the proper French pronunciation. Better yet, we could use the perfectly good English equivalent, ‘baker’.

Client: Oh, no. We can’t change the word and we have to use the American pronunciation.

Me: But it’s not an English word. There isn’t an ‘American’ pronunciation. If you say that word to the average American, they won’t know what you’re talking about.

Client: That’s OK. Japanese understand it.

Me: (Carp face.) Uh…OK.

There was a time when such an exchange would send me into a murderous rage, causing my head to explode and raining sticky bits of brain onto the client and anyone else unfortunate enough to be sitting nearby.

But that didn’t happen. I shrugged. I sighed. I let it go.

Meditation Cat says…

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Yoga is good. Meditation is good. Not murdering anyone is very good.

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6 thoughts on “Murder Is Bad”

  1. Aw, thanks!

    And see, if you had murdered that person, you wouldn’t have been able to share that meme and we would have never heard this story!

    Btw, there’s totally an American pronunciation – we like to butcher everything. 😉

  2. Glad you didn’t murder anyone, I too enjoy reading your blogs! Mediation Cat is really working for you and they must have finally fed you! 😉

  3. Arg, that “It’s OK – Japanese people will understand it” is the only explanation I’ve been able to come up with to explain how obviously wrong Engrish gets immortalized on signs and the like. I used to think sheesh, could they not take five seconds and look that word up in the dictionary before making it a permanent thing? but then I realized they don’t care, as long as other Japanese know what they’re talking about. It’s a strange lapse, where the urge to do things 100% correctly is trumped by the inability to see that there’s any world outside Japan. That viewpoint must be especially maddening to encounter in a student, because it so depressingly reveals how many people are studying English for reasons that have nothing to do with actually wanting to learn it. (><)

    1. Yep, yep, and yep. Learning English has nothing to do with communication.

      There were three reps of the client there and they said almost with pride that although their company produces English learning materials, almost nobody actually speaks it. It can be so frustrating for me; why am I there if nobody believes me when I tell them they’re wrong?

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