Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Nuanced" English

I was looking back through old photos tonight and found some hilarious pictures I took two years ago and meant to blog about but never did. They're from a book meant to teach English slang and colloquial language to Japanese speakers. My Japanese teacher picked this up and loaned it to me to see what I thought of it. Once I started thumbing through the pages I knew I had a gem on my hands. Not only was some of the slang flat-out wrong or inappropriate, but the thought of a Japanese person trying to whip out one of these phrases in the company of foreign friends seemed totally absurd. Exhibit A: (Click any of the following pictures to see larger versions.)

To teach the word "Awesome!":
  • Boy: I'm stiff. I got something for you.
  • Girl: Wow. Awesome!
Below that, to teach the phrase "be a hero":
  • Boy: Even I could give a gift.
  • Girl: Don't be a hero. Show it to me. Quick.

To teach the phrase "Way-out!" (I guess they probably meant "Far out"?):

Guy 1: By the way, my dad will get hitched for the seventh time.
Guy 2 (wearing dog ears and mask for unknown reasons): Way-out! Awesome!

To teach use of the phrase "or something":
  • "I'm starving. Let's munch pizza or something."
Below that, to teach usage of "send...over":
  • Boy 1: If you drop by my crib, I'll send my bro over.
  • Boy 2: Don't worry. We're coming by the store.

To teach the supposed use of the slang "dented":
  • "I don't want to hear the story. It gets me dented."

To teach the exclamation "You bold-faced.":
  • "Don't play it so snotty. You bold-faced."
Below that, to teach the insult "jerk":
  • "You're a same old jerk."
Same old jerk?? OUCH!

To teach the word "lippy":
  • "Yell as much as you like. You lippy asshole."

To teach the word "crap":
  • One guy golfing tells the other guy, "Don't rap the crap and strike it now."

To teach the exclamation "How loud-mouthed you are!":
  • "How loud-mouthed you are! You can say one thing but you can't say the other."
Awfully polite way to confront the offending party, don't you think?

Below that, to teach the word "sassy":
  • "Don't talk sassy. You greenie, you."
What does that even mean?! Haha!

To teach the expression "go wild":
  • Smoking toddler warns, "If you talk strict, I will go wild."
Below that, to teach the word "glued":
  • "Chocolates are glued to your shirt again."
And last, the precious illustration at the back of the book:

My favorite is the panda that says "Alley-oop!"

Perhaps some of this is British or Australian slang I'm not familiar with. Or more likely it's just a really crappily translated book. The funny thing is that Joe has a similar type of book for learning Japanese slang, but when he showed it to a Japanese person he learned that a lot of the slang was really old or had fallen out of use. Lesson learned: Beware of learning slang in a second language. It's a mine field.


sarah said...

These are hilarious! I have a feeling it would be the same the other way around, too. Now I understand why the translations of some of my favorite anime series are so....weird.

Anonymous said...

these are soooo funny! it remeinds me of the time my friend and i were traveling, we met an international student along the way. he used a weird phrase or two like that even though he was still learning basic english... then we found his guidebook. so funny! unfortunately the guidebook (in his home lang.) also had some derogatory misinformation about traveling in the u.s.

Al said...

It's not as much the fact that it is slang as it is the author. Rule #1 in foreign language books is to never buy one on English written by a Japanese or one on Japanese written by a native English speaker.

Fun blog entry though...

Gerry Gomez Pearlberg said...