Textbook Mishaps, or, “Wiener Coffee.” TV gaijin.

reccaspriteI’ve come across some interesting textbooks in my day. Yep. I’ll save my rants about textbook cover art for another post, though. Today I’m talking about mistakes and odd illustrations and other nifty stuff.

A Japanese book I once had featured a fake sample menu from a cafe. One of the items was something called “Vienna Coffee” which in Japanese is Uinna Koohii ウィンナコーヒー. This Vienna Coffee was on the menu twice, once as hot and once as ice. But a printing mistake had been made….the second time it was mentioned it was written Uinnaa Koohii (Wiener Coffee, or Hot Dog Coffee) ウィンナーコーヒー.  Note that the first one does not have a longer-held “na” while the second one does.

As you can imagine, my teacher and I were collapsing with laughter at this point. “Wiener Coffee! Hahahaha!”

I also clearly remember a hilarious l’il sign I saw while on an exchange student campout-retreat-thing in Okinawa during my high school exchange student times…. Over the hot tray of mini-hotdogs there was a Japanse sign that said “Only take 2 wieners” or something akin to that. So of course, one of my fellow gaijin (foreigner) girls pointed out the sign to me and we cracked up. But that doesn’t relate to textbooks, does it? u_u;;; Maybe I’ll try to write about my exchange experiences another time…

Well, here’s another thing. All the Japanese textbooks (for intermediate and above) that I’ve used are ones from Japan. As such, they all seem to like to use manga-esque drawings of silly gaijin stumbling their way through Japan. No, they’re not offensive. They’re just blond, blue-eyed gaijin who otherwise have very good Japanese on the cassette tape/transcript/whatever. Suspiciously good. Perhaps they’re some weird blond blue-eyed Japanese person, like Usagi Tsukino from Sailor Moon.

One textbook I had to look through once (beginners’ textbook, written in the USA) had some little manga-style conversation comics to make things interesting. One character in it, Son-san, was apparently supposed to be a girl. But I must have overlooked her first name somewhere and got very confused later when Ms. Son talked about going on a shopping spree and buying too many blouses and skirts. Because, you see, she was wearing pants and she was completely flat. I don’t mean modestly-breasted so as not to make a distracting illustration, I mean FLAT. Add to this the fact that many Asian guys (especially ones into anime who might be taking Japanese and therefore showing up in a textbook) have long, straight hair….and yeah, I just thought this Son-san was a dude with long hair.

That textbook also featured some “funny gaijin mistakes” made by the main character when travelling in Japan. HAHA IT’S SO FUNNY…..UNTIL IT HAPPENS TO YOU! Nah, it’s pretty funny, I’m just kidding. One of these situations involved Mr. blond hair gaijin riding in a train and finally finding an empty seat. He asks the woman next to it if he can sit down but instead of saying that (suwatte mo ii desu ka?), he says “can I touch?” (sawatte mo ii desu ka?). Oh No! Although I can’t help but think the woman was surprised only because she was being molested by a gaijin unlike the usual Japanese chikan male.

Whoops, shoulda taken the women’s-only car!!!!

Well, I would have found it offensive if it had been in a Japan-made textbook. Seriously, I can’t stand these TV gaijin spreading negative stereotypes. Like, even if they speak Japanese (like Cyril Takayama the magician), they have to like, throw in a zillion English phrases here and there as if they didn’t really speak Japanese. And act all FOREIGN. Because no foreigner can correctly express themselves in Japanese, right? HA HA HA it’s so funny at first, until you realize these may be the only foreigners some Japanese ever see. And then you wonder why when you go up to some passerby and quickly try to ask them where the train station is, they go into shock and start insisting they don’t speak English, ignoring the fact that you asked them in Japanese.

Damn TV. I’m getting off topic again, I will surely write about this in a later post.

Shout-out to gaijinsmash.net! Ganbatte! Every sorta-bad experience I had in Japan looks like nothing compared to what that guy went through. And yet he stayed! And he blogs about it so that the same will not happen to others! So please go check out his blog!

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4 Responses to “Textbook Mishaps, or, “Wiener Coffee.” TV gaijin.”

  1. Wahahahahahahaha!!!!

    Aww, sorry. You’re right, it is funny. It’s a bit offensive, though. Not sure how I must say about this…

  2. Just found out that the Japanese might be right about the coffee;

    Wiener Coffee

    At a dinner last night, my friend at the table put a scoop of whipped cream on his cup of coffee. I then asked, “That’s called Wiener Coffee, right?” Everyone laughed, but I wasn’t joking. As funny as “wiener” may sound, “Wien” is the proper name for “Vienna”, and “Wiener” the proper adjective for “Viennese”. In fact the word “wiener” to mean a type of sausage came from wienerwurst, “Viennese Sausage”.

    Then someone else at the table said that the word “India” is never used among Indians. The same goes for “Japan” too. The proper name is “Nihon”. It seems that every non-English speaking country has an alternative name that has nothing to do with the original. Why is this? Why are English speakers compelled to ignore the original and invent their own? (Or, perhaps, this has nothing to do with English.)

    The reason why I knew about “Wiener Coffee” is because in Japan, they honor the original names of most countries.

    Posted by dyske | Jul-18-04 8:41AM

  3. How interesting. I always thought the “real” pronunciation of Vienna was something like that. Yes, it’s true, Japan=Nihon. “Japan” comes from 1) Marco Polo’s written “Ji-pon” from Chinese and 2) Malay traders’ name for lacquer from Japan which was “japan.” Hence, Japan, Giapon, Japon, nearly every European language’s name for the country.
    Well, us clumsy English speakers have managed to change many place names in Asia (Peking -> Beijing, Canton -> Guangzhou, Bombay -> Mumbai, Burma -> Myanmar).
    The funny thing is, Japanese approximations of some languages with more *difficult* sounds to transliterate in Japanese come out not so great, especially with Chinese. For example, Beijing is still “Pekin” in Japanese (ペキン) and the French “Versailles” is Berusaiyu. The French “petit” (small) is “puchi” (often used in advertisements and “menu sizes”).
    But why complain, us English speakers have been butchering Japanese, French, all kinds of words since their adoption into our language. “karaoke,” pronounced by most USA people as “care-ree-oh-kee” is “kah-rah-oh-kay” カラオケ and I heard that British people say “caff” to pronounce the French-derived “cafe.”

  4. I’m not sure exactly why but this weblog is loading very slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end? I’ll check back later on and see if the problem
    still exists.

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