Wednesday, 28 April 2010

PostHeaderIcon The Death of a Mosquito

The little bastard.  I woke up this morning at 6:30am to hear my town siren rattling out some sort of warning.  I was still half asleep and couldn't understand what was being said.  The Japanese started to morph into whatever it sounded similar to in English.  My initial analysis revealed that there had been a disaster in Italy and that I should be careful.  I assumed that this was in reference to a massive tsunami heading my way... from... the Mediterranean Sea.  This moment of rational thinking was replaced with a fear that a volcano had erupted and that the sun was about to be blacked out forever.  Then I heard the sound of the rain lashing against my window and I realised it was another warning about the floodgates in the mountain being opened.

I briefly enjoyed the relaxing smugness of knowing that I had another hour in bed.  Yet, this was soon replaced with the agonising realisation that I was awake for the day. I decided to get up and watch some football highlights from the weekend.  I made some breakfast and sat down on my lovely sofa.  As usual, I let my cup of tea cool down too much and ended up having to make a fresh cup.  I had a few initial gulps of my new brew and started to pack my bag for the day.  I returned to finish off my essential mug of the Queen's finest to find this devil's spawn attempting the breastroke.  One was not pleased.

Mosquitoes in Japan are one of the most frustrating things that I have to endure during the warmer months.  However, my problems with them are not confined to their bacteria ridden, love bites of hell.  The first problem arises when you try to use mosquito in a Japanese sentence.  The kanji for it is this: 蚊.  That is useful if you remember it and are using it to read or write.  The reading for it is ka which just so happens to be one of the most common syllables in the Japanese language.  It's almost impossible to refer to it unless you know the full sentence perfectly or you resort to pointing at the red lumps all over you.  The second irk I have is with a possible solution to this problem.  The popular use of English has recently elevated the dreaded mosquito to a common loan word.  However, it is pronounced rather differently.  There is nothing wrong with this and many words are altered to fit easier into the mouths of the poor, tongue tied Japanese.  For example, bus becomes ba-su.  Shopping becomes sho-peen-gu.  Beer becomes bee-ru.  I altered them a tad to help you read them correctly yourself.  You get the general idea though.  

A lot of English words have to adapt in order to work.  It's hard to tell the difference sometimes unless something obvious like the last letter becomes another syllable.  My name (Craig) should end with a strong ig sound but in Japanese it becomes gu.  The majority of English words end in this horrific extra consonant/vowel marriage because there is no other way to deal with it as the Japanese language is set in stone and incapable of divorce  That is until... you get a word like mosquito.  A word that ends with to and is actually pronounced exactly the same.  For some unknown and ridiculous reason they say MOSKEET.  I can't help but stand there shouting in my head for them to say to whilst they continue babble on about the mosukit mosukit.  I just can't believe it happens.  I have been left perplexed on other occasions when the words tomato and Toronto have appeared in a previously, innocent conversation.  The latter appeared in a second grade class after words like cat and what had been taught as caTOE and whaTOE.  "Let's all go to Toront and feedo tomat to thato cato."  I don't get it at all.

In conclusion, mosquitoes annoy me in many ways.  The ones in Japan are very fat and slow so there is a certain degree of joy in killing them like Mr. Miyagi.  Indeed, they actually share many characteristics with Japanese people.  That being that they cunningly hide until darkness and then stab you when you're asleep in your foxhole... oh wait.  Nevertheless, their existence can't be ignored and it is now time to spend thousands of yen on sprays for my little mushroom protector.  They cost a fortune but it is worth it not to hear those little gobshites smashing off my ear drum every night.  Sadly... it doesn't protect my morning tea.  I now know what Vietnam must have felt like.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Someone we know keeps dropping the "o" at the end of "manifesto". She's talkiing about manifestos all the time because she was so in love with your UK election eikaiwa.

Anonymous said...

Quit whining, bloke. Any language is a fluid, flexible substance with an exception for every rule, as you should definitely know as a teacher.

Lt. Columbo said...

I say dont stop whining and keep reveling in the anger of those loan words.

as for mosquitos, i developed a paranoia a few years ago where if i hear one when im trying to sleep i have to kill it. it usialy leads to me flying around the room at 3 in the morning, in my pants, aimlesly trying to kill the little shits while thinking about how tired ill be in the morning...

Reikalein said...

One thing's for sure: mosquitoes (zanzare) are alot worse to deal with in Italy. There are no mosquito nets on the windows and there is no airconditioning; there is no escape unless you plan on steaming yourself to death in your own home. My Dad used to hoover them off the ceiling...fun times.

Ahoy hoy said...

To second anonymous. I know what you're trying to say but I disagree. My argument is that this goes against the usual rule. There is absolutely no reason why they should occasionally omit an 'o' sound when it is actually present in the English pronunciation. It makes absolutely no sense.

I killed about ten mosquitoes the other night before bed. The spray I got manages to kill them good. In Scotland there are little bastards called midges. They're not as bad as mosquitoes but if you go outside at dusk they will swarm your body.

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About Me

I am a 24 year old Scotsman currently teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. I live in a small town on the east coast of Kochi prefecture.

Shashins