Thursday, 22 July 2010

Currently watching: Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo

British people of a certain age will remember a sitcom called Mind Your Language, set in an English As A Foreign Language class, full of ethnic minorities recently arrived on the shores of the UK. Given the same premise, this show ("Japanese Words that the Japanese Don't Know", more or less) could bring back some odd memories of racial stereotypes from the 1970s, a time when saying things like "I tolerate coloured people" was considered the height of sophisticated multiculturalism. It's an unfortunate connection and perhaps a little unfair, but it's one I can't shake.

On the other hand, watching it did also bring back memories of when I was an English teacher, and being stumped when someone asked why a particular phrase is worded in such a way. Also, the idea that foreigners can't wash up properly reminded me of when my Italian ex-girlfriend explained how odd it looked to her when we English don't rinse our plates after washing, and just leave them on the draining board covered in soap-suds.

So, clearly, this show is well-observed and it struck a chord with me. But despite that, I found myself waiting for it to get better. I didn't really like any of the characters and some of the acting is a bit wobbly. I'll watch a couple, just to see if it just needs a while to get going but as it stands, this is pretty missable.


  1. But this is so funny! Naka Riisa reminded me of a younger Asami Mizukawa in this one, and you know... it's always nice to learn something. I found it particularly enlightening when talking about Maguro. And racial stereotyping happen for a reason... that's why u you get lists like "you know you're Peruvian when" LOL

    For instance, every time my mother sees a Japanese kanji which doesn't really mean what it's supposed to mean, she is happy to let me know that in Chinese doesn't mean the same - very much like the Chinese guy in Shiranai... whose name I think was Wang/Wong. Which also reminds me someone saying "You know, not all of us Asians have a grandma Wong" but I do. LOL Lucky for me I have 2 of the most common Chinese last names... Chan and Wong. And luckily for me, I'm Latin American so I use both usually to avoid other Amy Wongs xD

  2. I did notice that the Chinese people tend to ask questions about why Japanese isn't more like Chinese, which I guess probably happens all the time. Like I said, I'll give it a couple more episodes, just to see if I can stop seeing it as a 70's throwback.

    Plus, I'm interested to see if each student gets an episode, and if so what does the English guy ask about...