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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Nihongo o benkyoushimashou!

One of my lesser known talents is that I can speak conversational Japanese.  Post-school but pre-children (in that lovely interlude where I could do anything I liked), a friend asked if I would enrol on a Japanese GCSE course to keep them company.  And, in their words: "because you will make sure I don't jack in the course early, because you're such a swot.  You know, like Monica in that episode of Friends when they go on a reading course".
(Scroll forward to 4.40 and that's me in class apparently)

Since I was in my 20s with boundless energy and plenty of time, and because I am a swot, of course I said yes.  And it was really quite fun.

The Japanese writing system has 3 layers - 2 phonetic alphabets plus 1 pictorial system called Kanji (essentially nicked from Chinese characters and bastardised a bit).  Today I am going to introduce you to some Kanji:

Tree: ki
Wood: hayashi
Forest: mori

And now here's my sewing version:


Unfortunately I can't quite remember how to say "I can't wait until this &*@%£*$ Christmas Fair is over" in Japanese.

However, if asked at the Christmas Fair whether I will do it again, I will reply "chotto....".  We should have this expression in English.  It literally means "a bit", but in reply to a question it can mean "No, and I am not going to give you a reason why, and you can't ask me the reason why either because that would be unacceptably rude of you".

We were taught this in the context of how to say no to being asked on a date or something.  How much easier would it be to say "chotto" than to think of rubbish excuses like washing your hair or visiting your Great Aunt in Cheltenham?  Although now that I am old and grumpy (and in no danger of being asked on a date), I am perfectly happy to just say "no".

G x


  1. you actually made me laugh out loud. A genuine LOL. Thanks!

  2. where did you find that photo of me?! I'd use Google translate to get the japanese for that sentence. I had a japanese fling once - he didn't teach me many words ;) Great mori, by the way. doe tashemashte (どういたしまして)

  3. Oh you clever woman. You can speak Japanese and sew! I am in awe. Di x

  4. Love your sewn versions of the Japanese and isn't that a handy word to know!

  5. I love the trees and blimey Japanese!!

  6. I love your sweet little trees! And I think I might just start using chotto, even though its not English - I think it would be a very handy response whenever the children ask me anything ;)

  7. Crikey, Japanese!

    Is there no end to your talent?

    F x

  8. Hehehehe! You did make me laugh! So the next time I get asked on a date I don't want to go on all I need to say is chotto! Not that I've been asked on a date in the last 25 years, but you never know when these things might come in useful!!

  9. Thanks for the lesson. I love anime and have picked up a bit of Japanese from it. Bacca, bacca bacca!!! is my fav. Cute ornaments!

  10. I've been having fun reading back through your blog and laughing. Love your writing and your quilts!

  11. I love the story behind your was a fun read!

  12. Love the trees and chotto has been added to my vocabulary - cheers!