Sunday, July 20, 2008

 

Still . . .

Sam wanted to go to his grandparents house. I was walking him over, passed Obaachan on the way. She said, "Oh, there is some fish for you at the house, ask Ojiichan about it." We get to the house, go inside, I try to ask Ojiichan about the fish, but he moves on to something else, okay, maybe he didn't hear me. I return to our house. Fifteen minutes later, the doorbell rings. Ojiichan is at the door, he shoves some fish at me and says, "hiMONO jaa na ku te, HImono . . . FISH." I apologize and say thank you . . . two things I must do about 15,000 times a day in Japan. Frankly, I am still not sure which is which, but it seems I was talking about thread instead of fish because of my poor intonation. Still. Eight years in and counting and I am still unable to communicate effectively.

On the train home from school, Mina's friend was telling her mother that so-and-so had "American Jelly" in her lunch box and she wanted to have "American Jelly" too and could they please go to the store and buy some "American Jelly" today. Finally, I had to ask her mother, what the heck is "American Jelly?!?!?!" AMERICAN JELLY, you know, "sakuranbo?" OH!!!! CHERRIES!!! For the life of me I could not hear "cherry" from their pronunciation. Then of course the mother was embarrassed by her poor pronunciation and I had to fall all over myself insisting that is was my bad ears!

I still cannot hear the difference, let alone utter the difference, between "obaachan" (which is grandmother) and "obachan" (which is aunt). This may not seem like a big deal, but it can be tricky because I could unknowingly offend someone if they think I am trying to say something about their age!

So, Ojiichan heard me, he just couldn't understand what the heck his crazy, foreign daughter-in-law was talking about. Maybe he should start a blog.

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