Saturday 10 July 2010


Is something that I usually find quite amusing living in Japan. It is mostly harmless and unnoticed by the majority of people here, both Japanese and foreign (if you've lived here long enough.) I mean come on, a bakery called "Poo," a hair salon called "oops" and they're only a few of the little gems that are close to my joint!
When I first came to Japan, so many pictures of bizarre/weird/wrong/obscene Engrish were taken, it worked well as souvenirs for family who also found it amusing. But as the years of living here roll on, I find it less interesting and more as the norm.

Hell, I even find myself twisting my once articulate and well-formed sentences into awkward, easy-to-understand clumps of words out of sheer habit.
I'm often told by Japanese people that my English is quite easy to understand, and it is. But only because I speak at a slow motion moron speed with the vocabulary of a fucking 5 year old! (And a 5 year old moron at that!)
I'm running an English school with the appeal of a native teacher, yet my English is more dumbed down than the local pissed salary man spewing out English (among other things).
But hey, the common masses don't know the difference, and if they can at least communicate with an 'alien' without shitting themselves then I guess my work is done.
I actually feel that by using English everyday at the school of late and blogging everyday, my English may actually be getting closer to its original University educated form, although the amount of beer consumed between then and now will also put me behind in the brain cell count...

Anyway, what has got me thinking about this, is the discovery I made yesterday when going through some flashcards at the school. Telling time is a bitch to learn in English, with all the quarter to and half-past action that goes on, but flashcards are a great teaching tool and one I use a lot at the school. So thinking about doing a lesson on time telling, I dragged out some cards I got from the 100 yen store. Now I know, I know, anything from the 100 yen store shouldn't be trusted, but I was still a little bit shocked when I saw this-

Now please please please, if my English has deteriorated THAT much that I'm the one who's getting this wrong, don't hesitate to call me out and I will personally give myself an Osaka comedian inspired slap upside the head, but as far as I know, we never say "eight-quarter" when referring to 8:15. Right!? Eight-fifteen, yes. Quarter past eight, OK. But "eight-quarter"!? What is wrong with this company, seriously!? They make learning flashcards and they don't check that the content is actually correct!? What the fuck is going on here?? Is there not some skinny red-headed gaijin SOMEWHERE in that company picking his nose that could have checked the English before they put them to print!? Employ me fuckers, I'll check that shit quite happily!
I was really astounded by this and almost got inspired to write the company a letter, but had I written it in English they wouldn't have understood it anyway.

And I'm sorry, but I've never said "thirty to six" either. No??

There is a whole group of kids with cheap parents floating around saying "Hey it's "eight quarter" let's go to shopping!" And it will never get any better as long as this shit is around, perhaps I should just quit while I'm ahead and open a hostess bar instead...


  1. I'll ditch the kids and come work at your hostess bar.

  2. Stuff like this makes me worry about the stuff I'm using to learn Japanese!

  3. hehehe!

    Do you have a laminator?? I used some stuff off the net for time telling before and just laminated all the cards.

    My English is shit too. And, my husband understands more English now than he did when we met and I can speak to him in English and 70% of the time he understands what I am saying (compared to the 2% of the time when we met)- but my mum always says to me "no wonder he understand you, you speak like an idiot" so yeah, it hasn`t helped much I guess as he can barely understand native speakers when we are ACTUALLY in Australia.

  4. omg .. Laura me too!!!

    I recently spoke to one of my "havent spoken to you in fucking forever" friends from school on skype and half way through she stopped and asked me, "fi, is everything okay? Why are you speaking like that?"

    Clearly she thought I was sending subliminal messages or something.

    Lets open a gaijin mummy hostess bar... one of us can be on babysitting duties every night while the rest of us sleaze up to salarymen.

    As for the flashcards, I wonder why it is 30 TO 6 and not 30 Past 5?

  5. OK my favourite was the hairdresser I passed everyday when living in Ukraine. It was called Willy Barber. too funny.