Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena
double_dear

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By way of explanation

So yesterday I posted about how I don't like Japanese interjections into English sentences. It certainly didn't do anything to discredit our reputation of being snobs.

In fact, we're actually rather entertained by some Japanglish. Like one time, we were getting ready for the Asian Festival at BYU, and a girl said, "We're gonna go renshuu over there for like gofun, okay?" And then another time, we were talking about curry with our Japanese 444 class. I think it was at the curry party, when we tried it and decided we don't really like it, and one of our classmates said, "So karee's dame, huh?" It took me about ten minutes to finally figure out what he said, but then I thought it was funny.

Like I said before, annoyance lever depends greatly on my mood at the time. Anyone who's been reading our journal would probably have noticed that last week, we weren't really in the best of moods, and while that was going on, there seemed to be a rash of misuse of the interjection "mou." This is not a good interjection to use improperly to someone who knows what it means and is in a bad mood, especially because, while I could tell myself, "It's okay; they just don't know exactly what it means," I usually then follow that with, "So why are they trying to sound smart by using Japanese!?"

And so, since people like to use what Japanese they know, and it's not my place to stop them, it's a better idea to make sure they use it right.


"Mou," as defined by the Japanese language dictionary at Infoseek, is an interjection

1)used when someone feels very strongly about something
e.g. "Mou, saikou da wa (Oohh, it's the best)," "Mou, kanashikute, kanashikute (Oh, it was so very very sad)," "Mou, honto ni sugoi n da (Oohh, it really is incredible)."

2)said with feelings of criticism or reprimand
e.g. "Mou, nando itte mo kikanai n dakara (oh, you never listen, no matter how many times I say it)," "Hidoi n dakara, mou (You're so mean, ugh)"

Lately, it seems that people are using it as a normal, "Oh," like to get someone's attention (Oh, did you get the thing?), or like "Oh I wonder," or some such, or maybe in the place of "ano..." (which, contrary to popular belief, is usually not spelled with a U). They seem to be using it when their emotions are pretty neutral, or low-tension, and that makes it easy to mistake it for the second "mou."

It's possible that some translations are to blame for this misuse, including some of our own. For a long time, the best we could come up with for "mou" was "oh" with varying numbers of O's and H's. I have lamented on more than one occasion that it's hard to get the intonation right in text, and we hoped that the pictures and context would do the trick. Recently, we've come up with "ugh" as a possible translation, and that works a lot of the time, but not all the time. And it's a recent enough development that it wouldn't have caught on. Not that enough people are reading only our translations that we would be making a difference.

Still, even if people are reading, say, Fruits Basket, then it's hard to imagine that enough people would be reading both the English and the Japanese versions to know what we're translating to what. My current theory is that some fans who had caught on to the "mou=oh" connection started using it on their websites or in their fanfiction, possibly even correctly, and then it caught on incorrectly. Kind of like the game Telephone. But that's just a theory, and the truth remains unknown.



So hopefully that was helpful without being too annoying. Sorry about all the ranting and stuff.

Today I'm thankful for getting work orders, long envelopes, peanut butter sandwiches, times when we're not confused, and the hope that confusion will go away.
Tags: japanese stuff, verbal rampage
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  • Doin' stuff

    The video gaming started earlier than expected today when we got a phone call not too long after lunch. I was surprised because I figured the nephews…

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