May 29, 2012 at 8:57 am (Japanese language, Japanese parents)
Being a (soft) Sapir-Whorfist, I have long thought that it was at least partly due to how easy and reasonable-sounding it is to say to a kid “O-rusu-ban o-negai shimasu” (something like “Please look after the house while I’m out”) as you leave, as it sounds a lot less neglectful than the English “I’ll be back in a couple of minutes” or “Be good while I’m gone”. This nugget of information from East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History that I’ve just come across might also have some relevance though if the habits have long outlasted their roots (as is common in any culture):
“For reasons of etiquette and security, old-style houses had required that someone always be home to greet guests and guard the premises. Western-style front doors made it easy for the housewife to lock the door and go shopping, visit friends or see a movie” (page 480)
Then again, some Japanese parents also seem happy to let their kindergarten-aged kids take the train home without any adult supervision, so maybe it is something more general.
May 14, 2012 at 6:32 am (Japanese English)
Mazaa kon is short for “mother complex” and is the Janglish expression for mama’s boy/ Oedipus complex. As in English, Japanese words spelt with n change to an m sound before p. Unlike English, there is no chance of actually replacing it with an m sound in the spelling as n is the only consonant Japanese syllables can end with and the final consonant in borrowed words that end in m is always followed by a vowel (e.g. chiimu for team). This therefore leaves a rather strange “orphan n” when mazaa kompurekkusu (which would be spelt mazaa konpurekkusu) is shortened to mazaa con with an n sound, as the only other option would be to change the n (pronounced m) in the original to mu.
May 4, 2012 at 6:15 am (Japanese cyclists)
Although this is a lot less true than even a year ago, it’s still quite striking coming from the UK where a male would probably have to cycle through a hail of jeers on the typical Japanese bike. Here’s an explanation I hadn’t come across before:
“It is illegal to ride a bike on which you cannot touch the ground when mounted (this is one of the things that the police check when registering your bike).”
Japan For Kids pg 23