No, I’ve not gone crazy, nor are these the words to a Shiina Ringo song. These are the words that the Opta statistician man ends his tweets with. Opta is the organisation that tracks the stats of football competitions around the world. They have a number a twitter accounts, each serving a different league, which tweet random topical stats about things going on in the world of football. I’m not sure about the others but @OptaJoe, the account for the English Premier League, always ends his posts with a random word at the end.
For example, he may tweet:
31 – Fernando Torres’ 2nd goal v Wolves last weekend saw the most passes in the lead up to a PL goal this season.
and will then append “Teamwork” to the end of that.
Another example is that he once put “Bulldog” on the end of:
25% – A quarter of all goals scored in the Premier League this season have been scored by English players.
I love it. Every time I read one of his posts, I imagine it read in the style of Terry-Thomas trying to chat up a girl.
Recently one of my friends got an iPhone app uploaded to the app store and these Opta tweets have given me an idea for an app of my own. It would have a database of all of @optajoe’s tweets with that magical final word removed. The user would then have to guess what word he used from a multiple choice of 4.
A mock-up of my app. It could be called Opta Prose.
I’m sure you will agree with me when I say it will definitely sell like hot cakes.
I woke up the other day to be shocked by the news that one of my favourite British TV shows, QI, has caused quite a brouhaha here in Japan. It was from a section of the program were they discussed a double atomic bomb survivor who they introduced as ‘the unluckiest man on earth’.
The offending clip is here:
I, probably like most British people watching, giggled a bit and then got on with the rest of my life. This clip though made the Japanese embassy in London complain to the BBC. The Japanese news agencies have since got hold of this story and it has become big news here. Most of the news reports are filled with words like ‘disgraceful’, ‘disgusting’ and ‘despicable’.
I have tried to talk about it with a number of Japanese people and there seems to be widespread disbelief that people would make a joke about such a thing as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It seems that the problem is that old chestnut, the cultural misunderstanding. This is also the first time such a thing has really had such a big effect on me too as I laughed at the show myself. In Japan all talk, or at least jokes, about the atomic bomb attacks are pretty big taboos. Such jokes make people here very uncomfortable and cause great offence. I feel if the BBC (or the British in general) had known this they wouldn’t have included it in the show.
However as a British person I think the cultural misunderstanding goes both ways. For a start most Japanese think that the BBC is just a respectable news channel much like NHK. The main problem though is a misunderstanding of British humour. In particular black humour, in which topics and events that are usually treated seriously are treated in a humorous or satirical manner. Maybe this could be called ‘telling things like they are’. Most of the jokes in that clip are about how bad British railways are anyway, the self deprecating part of British humour that only puts down the person them self (or at least the country the person is from).
The Japanese aren’t the only ones to have had these problems though, given the reaction to Ricky Gervais’ hosting of the Golden Globes.
While the BBC should be more careful about Japanese sensibilities and maybe they will not make the same mistake again, could this also be a great opportunity to teach the Japanese about British culture? It will go begging though. The news channels here are just spreading disdain and other words beginning with ‘D’ rather than having an intelligent conversation on the subject.
Personally I’ve learnt a lot from this incident but I’m not sure who else has.
Note: The title of this post is a pun that requires a little knowledge of Japanese, Katakana and the English translations of Shiina Ringo CD titles. Please ignore it.
One of the best things about Twitter is the way that there isn’t really a wrong way to use it (maybe morally wrong ways but that’s not what I’m getting at). People use it to keep in touch, learn and practice a language, find information and check the news. My favourite Twitter story was that a bakery started tweeting when their bread had just been baked, so people could time their food runs to get the freshest cakes. As a direct result of Twitter I also have given more money to charity than I would have otherwise, something I never would have expected to happen.
In Japan people seem to have developed a way of using Twitter different to their western (English speaking) counterparts. Due to the fact that Japanese is so succinct a lot more information can be squeezed into 140 characters than in English. This has lead to a different use of RTs. Rather than regarding them as retweets people consider that it stands for Reply Tweet and will quote the entire message they are responding to rather than just using an @ reply.
Another thing to consider is how Japanese txt speak has been incorporated. In Japan people love to use emoticons in their texts, to an almost obscene degree, that does not seem to have translated to Twitter. Although the terrible Japanese mobile Twitter site now supports them they still haven’t caught on. I guess that is because most Twitter apps don’t show them properly. I may just be following the wrong people though.
I also love what the Japanese equivalent for LOL is. Obviously an English abbreviation would not make much sense in Japanese so they just use the kanji for laugh, 笑. It caused me a bit of confusion when I first saw that popping up at the end of sentences.
Something else that pops up at the end of sentences that I was quite surprised about was another example of how the Japanese language so enjoys assimilating foreign languages into itself. Rather than use the standard Japanese for ‘now’ they will simply add ‘nau’ onto the end of their sentences.
For example, ‘I’m in Tokyo now’ in standard Japanese is:
今、東京にいる。 (Ima, Tokyo ni iru)
On Twitter that may appear as:
Thus making the tweets even more concise than they would have been before.
I do find it interesting how the same things are used differently by various nationalities or cultures. Does anyone know any other countries that use Twitter differently from the norm (what ever that may be)? Correct me if I’m wrong but I think that Japan is the only country with a dedicated mobile site and maybe that has something to do with it.
Part 1 of this story. The reason I liked Puyo Puyo so much wasn’t just the fun gameplay but also the fact that just about everything in it was completely crazy. I know that puzzle games don’t really need stories but the plot to one of these games is that you have to make the world’s best curry for Satan, your best friend. How could that not pique a person’s interest?
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you will know that I love a good bad pun and Puyo Puyo is just full of them. The second game in the series was called Puyo Puyo Tsuu, which makes fun of the way Japanese non-English speakers will pronounce ‘two’. When the rule set from this game has been selectable in other games they have used the kanji ‘通’ for the ‘tsuu’ which means ‘connoisseur’. I guess that makes sense, as it is the best game in the series anyway.
The next game was called Puyo Puyo Sun, again making fun of English pronunciation. San in Japanese means ‘three’ and when people try to say sun in this country, it often sounds like they are saying san instead.
Finally, for the forth game they used my favourite pun of all, they simply called it Puyo Puyo~n. Yon being four in Japanese. It took me a long time to work this one out. There have now been 7 main Puyo Puyo games but since the forth game Compile, the original developers, have gone bankrupt and the rights were bought by Sega.
Sega’s Sonic Team now write the games and because they have no imagination there are no longer any puns in the titles.
Being a competitive game there are many different things that you encounter and play against, all of them are downright bizarre. Things really is the correct way to describe them. Characters include daft stuff like a dancing fish, a harpy that can’t sing, banshees that make cat noises and skeletons that drink tea despite having no stomach.
Other highlights include a mermaid who desperately wants friends but believes that everybody will try to eat her, she thinks eating mermaid flesh gives you eternal youth (it doesn’t of course, who would possibly think it did?) and the previously mentioned Satan, who just wants to be loved and enjoys the ukulele.
While looking for pictures to use in this article I found out that Compile made a few anime shorts featuring the weirdos from these games. For me they are a joy, for you they might just be confusing.
Sega’s Sonic Team now write the games and because they have no imagination the most interesting character in the current games is a skeleton in a top hat.
Maybe Sega have always had something against Puyo Puyo. Back during the Megadrive days when releasing Puyo Puyo outside Japan they chose to rename the game to Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. They replaced all the oddballs hanging out in the game with characters from the terrible Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon. I guess they thought the originals would not appeal to westerners, I think this blog goes some way to disprove that. Then again, I am unusual.
As the gaming world looked on aghast at what Sega had done, Nintendo thought “What a good idea!” and promptly did the same with their Kirby character, releasing Kirby’s Ghost Trap a year later.
So Sonic Team ruined the game’s narrative in various ways but they also changed how the game is played, introducing ‘fever mode‘ into the game. Whether you think it is a good addition or not is down to interpretation but I wasn’t too fond of it, mainly because it made my beloved Nohoho Technique less useful. Perhaps that is my fault for sticking to such a cheap tactic though.
Thankfully they have since made that mode optional. I also should give Sega a little kudos at this point and say that they have reintroduced a few of the older characters back into their more recent attempts at the game too.
Perhaps stories aren’t necessary in puzzle games but the one that Compile created for Puyo Puyo really appealed to me and when it was removed my willingness to embrace new game modes and stick with things disappeared. Perhaps style is important after all, it can turn a thing that is simply fun into something loved, remembered and treasured.