Friday, November 8, 2013

English Language Pictures

As I was leaving HPAC today, one of the horn players asked for my help with some English homework.  He's taking English just as a hobby- sugoi!  I'm not really sure how well I know English, but it's a little better than Japanese.

He presented to me a page of pictures of English.  His task was to determine where each little photo might be seen.  "For External Use Only."  Hmmmm, yeah, meaning the 'externality' of the body.  In other words, don't eat it.  What a weird way to say that.  "Coats and articles will be left at owner's risk."  In trying to explain this one, I realized that the concept of coat check is a little foreign in Japan.  I also realized that this sort of disclaimer is probably seldom needed in Japan, firstly because people rarely steal things, and secondly because people are always willing to take responsibility for the things you leave with them.  There were also clothing labels, signs for baggage claim, and warning labels.

It highlighted some of the additional difficulties that come with language.  The little cultural assumptions about the way we live and the language needed to supplement it.  In Japan, it is the key that locks, not the door.  Not sure how that works, but add it to the list.  Happy to help in the quest for understanding.

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