Call me Naive

If you’re studying Japanese you will know that there are many Katakana words which are based on words in English.

For example, the Japanese word for “TV” is テレビ(terebi). The word for “Coke” is コカコーラ (coca-cola). The word for truck is トラック(torakku).

Usually these words are close enough in pronunciation that a student of Japanese (or not even) can imagine what the words mean.

However, sometimes this can be misleading.

For example, the word ナイーブ in Japanese means the English world “naive”. However when used to describe a persons personality in Japanese the nuance has an important difference when compared to “naive” in English.

In Japanese the word ナイーブ refers to someone in a positive way. Someone who of good nature, and not polluted by the negative aspects of the real world. The phrase ナイーブ is rarely used in Japanese in a negative sense as it is in English.

On another random note, in Japanese you can say エネルギッシュ (enerugissyu) to refer to someone who is a bundle of energy and rarely gets tired. This word comes from the German word “energisch”.


– Harvey

Black People ToothPaste

This “Black People Toothpaste” commercial is actually from Thailand, however the same brand of toothpaste is sold in Taiwan, and I assume other places in Asia.

You gotta watch this. You won’t regret it.

There is this stereotype in China, Taiwan, Thailand, and I have ever heard it in Japan, that some how black people’s teeth are whiter than those of Asians or Caucasians. Of course, they may appear to be whiter because they stand out in contrast to our dark skin… Of course… But can you believe that this is

Also you’ll notice in the commercial that we’re also pretty good at quickly scaling poles of tremendous height.

– Harvey

Neta – Tane

Some interesting language trivia.

The word ネタ (neta) can have a meaning of “material” for jokes, or stories. For example, you can say…


Ramenz use interesting joke material so they’re really funny.

また明日も作文を書かなきゃ行けないけど、ネタ切れで何について書いてよいかわからないI have to write another essay tomorrow, but I have run out of topic ideas and can’t get started.

The interesting part is, the word ネタ、actually is the reverse phonetic pronunciation of the word 種(たね) which means “seed”. You can imagine that “seed” could be used metaphorically to mean “source”.

There ya go.

Apparently there are other words like this as well. Anyone know any?

– Harvey

The Sound of Testing

I heard from a ex-JET friend that one thing he noticed is that the sound of test taking in Japan is very different than that in the US.

The reason for this is that when writing Kanji, it is necessary to lift the pencil off the page and make many quick strokes. This causes a “gata gata gata” sound.

However, when writing in English we tend to use cursive with continuous long strokes. This gives the test taking sound move of a sliding sound with occastional thunks for periods and punctuation and such.

I have never proctored a test in Japan, has anyone here done so? Would you agree with this observation?

– Harvey

Kanji Study Tip – Recycle

Anyone studying Kanji will feel like an environmentally insensitive clod every now and then after going through so much paper while practicing…

One of my friends at school has a technique that allows her to use the same piece of scratch paper for days however.

The trick is, to write small, and use a different colored pen for each study session…

Apparently… This will let you practice writing the Kanji even when they begin to overlap like crazy… And you… Won’t get… confused…

Or so the theory goes.

Save a tree.

– Harvey

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