This highlights the meanings of words:
Zarina Yamaguchi, a friend of a friend, was thinking “pretty damn funny” when she snapped this picture on January 4th. Zarina explains:
Well, a childhood friend of mine and I were strolling along the local street in Shinsaibashi, Osaka. Being around the extra-genki Osaka-jins and salesladies screaming ‘Irashaimasse’ from every direction for the ongoing New Year Sales has never made us feel more at home. On our way to catch up over coffee, I walked into this store to check some things. Truth is, I didn’t even notice the posters. When I looked around, each corner had posters that printed ‘fucking sale’. I didn’t know how to react but what caught me by surprise was that none of the people around me seem to understand the profanity. My friend Sarah and I, both of mixed Japanese descent, both bilingual in Japanese and English, were struck with the comical twist. Pretty sure I would have never seen this elsewhere, I had to snap a shot.
I had a similar thing in Russia. My gf told me to f*** off one evening and then observed my reaction. As I can’t write the word in full, even now, I was mortified by it coming from her, which interested her mightily. She made moves to calm me and then explained that to her, it was just letters making a word. Of course she knew the effect it had and how it was used in western culture, how it was used to punctuate conversation and so on but she herself had no emotional attachment to the word.
She’d just told me to f*** off to see what would happen. Actually, she was disagreeing with me refusing to take her to the shop, I seem to recall.
I had my own turn when I learnt some jargon and said to a Russian I wanted to go away: “Po’shol von”, which literally means “you have gone there”. I couldn’t see the problem. When my mate who was trying to teach me high Russian heard that he went spare, explaining just how bad it was, saying it was fighting talk to a Russian and saying I was lucky to be in one piece.
As my gf had said – it’s just words but then again, it’s more than that. Strange how certain words have such emotional and social connotations. I was taught by a senior Chinese student to say “sao lon pey” and that would shut a couple of unruly students up who were giving a bit of aggro.
It did but whether it was that they were not expecting anything so shocking from me or that I could only have known that from one of their seniors of the mafia type, I don’t know. Another Chinese told me later that it meant “shut the f*** up”. So I should have checked first but what is done is done.
The Japanese clearly don’t see the issue.