Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Japanese

Before you begin, important Cultural Slang: Penis = bird (in Mandarin in Taiwan)

Last week was my final week teaching my class of high schoolers from 3:40 - 6:30 pm on Saturday. Kojen is slowly phasing me out of the work force. I have been asking to dump this class for months. 3 hours + 15-yr-olds + overbearing parents forcing their children to study English + Saturday = FUN TIMES! I took this class over when I came to Taiwan. It took the students exactly 8 months and 3 weeks to warm up to me. We were just finding our flow when Kelly, my boss, told me that she was going to give the class to the new teacher. Poor girl, but I was/am not exactly sad that a) I get off at 3:20 on Saturday now b) don't have to spend 3 hours jumping around like a damn monkey trying to ascertain whether or not there is life in room 523.

The final class I taught was on adjective order. Opinion, size, age, color, shape, origin, material, purpose, etc, etc (there still seems to be some debate as to what the adj order really is, but I digress). As native speakers, we naturally put adjectives in the right order, but SLLs do not. As I was soliciting examples of each category from the class, one of my students tells me that Japanese women are the most beautiful, and then proceeds to crack up like he has just told the funniest joke in the world. We were going over the lesson and every time I would say Japanese the whole class would giggle. I was, as usual, clueless as to what was so humorous, so my student, said, "Teacher, you want to know why so funny?" "Sure, why's it so funny?" "You know English name for man bird?" "Ok, Brandon, we can talk about birds after class." The class had a good chuckle over bird, and then we returned to class.

At the end of class, Brandon explained what was so funny about Japanese. "Panese", he said sounded the same as, you guessed it, "penis". In Taiwanese, not Mandarin, Taiwanese, "ja" means "to eat", so Japanese, in the minds of trilingual Taiwanese 15-yr-olds, means "eat penis".

Ok, so maybe I will miss that class just a little bit.

2 comments:

Jason said...

Please tell me you've told Michiko about this...

Alliya said...

I haven't. I should.