Friday, November 28, 2008

Japan's LIST - Little Insulting Stupid Toys

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, here's to hoping that you had a good Thursday. Now, onto Japan! (That is possibly the worst segway ever.) It seems that in Japan, a great deal of people who are under 25 have taken to a way of expressing themselves that involves yellow cards printed with "acronyms". The cards are produced by one of the top toy companies in Japan and are becoming quite popular with the under-25 crowd and are causing what will likely been seen as unnecessary concern and worry among the over-25 crowd, according to the Times Online.

(I've placed "acronyms" in quotes because what the Japanese are calling an "acronym" I am simply calling "initials" because the majority contain only two letters. I think of acronyms as needing to have at least three letters. Some (like the US Government) prefer their acronyms to have many letters. Then again, the US Government prefers just about everything that they do to have a catchy little acronym. Everything.) And really, I'm being kind of lenient by just going with "initials", as a more accurate title for them could be "stupid". Or "ridiculous". Or "trendy and inane".)

According to those Times Online folks, Japan is "...no longer the land of harmony and politeness but a grim new world of acrimony by acronym." (Ooohh...grimness and acrimony. Sounds sinister.) The example that is given of "acrimony by acronym" is "She thinks he's too bloody KY by far, and he's sick to death of being treated like an NTT - and if things get much more MM, he's going to MK5 and she's going to jolly well flounce off to HR. " Uh-huh. I see. Well, allow me to provide an acronym of my own to express my opinion of that. WTF?

Some toy company has produced these acronym cards. (Oh, great. Cards. The Japanese love things with cads. That's the only explanation as to why we're still stuck with that damn Pokemon thing!) "...46 of the most common new acronyms have been published as a series of “yellow cards” to be waved in the faces of victims." Are they serious? If those are the basics of this "acrimony by acronym", then the Japanese have a lot to learn about expressing their opinions to others. For starters, you don't need a card! I don't care what color it is! What? They can't insult people or tell them what they think in the form of an acronym without a card? Sure you can! Try driving on a California freeway during rush hour. We simply use hand gestures instead of cards to express one of the more colorful acronyms: "FU".

And they wave the card in the other person's face? That's OK? But just telling someone you think they're a jerk is not? It's like some testy (and psychotic) soccer referee always waving the yellow card in your face. And that's not necessary, is it? I don't think it is. What is it that is so difficult for them to come out and just say that they need to do so with some "Insulting Flash Cards"?

Well, let's look at the above example. There's the "bloody KY" (I'm refraining from any sort of product-genre joke here. And there are plenty that come to mind, but I think all of them would be in extremely poor taste, even for me.), which sounds as if they're trying to infuse a bit of British lingo into their insults. KY stands for "kuki yomenai" and it would seem to mean "clueless". "NTT" stand for "nimotsu tantosha" and the example of that meaning that is given is "He is furious because as an NTT, he has had to lug her bags round the shops like a packhorse." So....husband? MM stands for "maji mukatsu" and means "they are both utterly disgusted with each other." (Huh. So, maybe I was right about the husband part if this is how they both feel! Sounds about right.) MK5 means "maji kireru 5 byo mae." (Since when do word definitions contain numbers? Was there a rule change I wasn't informed about?) It "...suggests that he is going to blow his lid in five seconds." (Why 5 seconds is what I want to know? If he ponders all of the lid blowing, does it become MK10?) And if that happens and "she's going to jolly well flounce off to HR" (See? Again with the British!), then you should know that HR stands for "hitori ranchi", which means she's going to show him by "going off to eat on her own!" Good Lord....

Another example of how this seems to be occurring is if "...someone hogs the stage at karaoke, he might suddenly find himself confronted by a flurry of cards bearing the letters “MB” - maiku ga betobeto, or “sticky microphone”. Huh. Again, and I know it's a cultural thing, but "sticky microphone" could have an entirely different meaning here in the US. Yellow card or not (probably not). But a flurry? I realize the Japanese take their karaoke seriously, but enough to flurry with the yellow cards and all? I had no idea. (And I liked it better that way!)

The concern is (apparently) because the acceptance of the acronym usage as a medium for insulting others or expressing anger seems to have "...made it socially acceptable for Japanese to speak their minds and, disturbingly, uncorked a latent need to insult." Not just to insult, but to insult with brightly colored yellow cards nonetheless!

I will give them this: Some of their acronyms are hilarious, thus, they kind of make you wonder how many have been keeping a lid on their anger for how long. Especially when it's directed specifically at one target. The article surmises that "Perhaps most dreadful of all would be the husband hearing himself called an ATM by his wife - “ahona teishu mo iranai”, or “the idiot man I don't need in my life anymore." (I was thinking that most men already feel like an ATM for their wife, but I was thinking in terms of money, not idiots.) The most dreadful, eh? Once again, the glaring differences between the US culture and the Japanese culture are distinctly illustrated!

Want more examples?! Good! Behold! Japanese acronyms which stand for insults that they would rather convey to you via yellow card than just to cowboy up and say something! Behold!

  • AB: Amai mono wa betsubara - The kind of woman who has a separate stomach for puddings (What the heck does that mean? Like a cow has five stomachs? Japanese women have a separate stomach for pudding? I like pudding, but I don't want another stomach for it.)

  • GM: Gyudon no hou ga mashi - Even gyudon (very cheap fast food) is better than this muck (Yeah, that's going to go over real well at the dinner table when you whip out your cute little card and flip it at the person responsible for the "muck". Sure. Let me know how that turns out.)

  • FK: Fande koi - Someone who trowels on the make-up (Huh. So FK in this weird Japanese card lingo means "whore". Interesting.)

  • ND: Ningen to shite douyo - What the hell kind of person is this? (The exact question I'm asking about whoever it was that came up with this "system" of venting. That's all it is, you know? It's just venting! You don't need to pay money for a card to vent! Sorry, Hallmark.)

  • OBM: Okubyoumono - A man too chicken to ask a girl on a date (They don't have a card for this? That's an untapped market right there. Oooohh...yeah, pun intended.)

  • DD: Daredemo daisuki - The kind of person who falls for anyone (See above.)

  • NS: Noryoku yori seikaku - Someone promoted way beyond his competence (And after Barack Obama is sworn in, the United States' own NS will finally be out of office.)

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