Sunday 13th May was a pretty epic day for English football. Sometimes living so far away from home means I can become a bit disconnected from English culture, that is not the case with the Premier League though. You can watch it anywhere and with the invention of the internet you can discuss it with people worldwide on services like Twitter or even stream BBC radio coverage. It was truly wonderful to listen to that last day of the 2011/12 season, I won’t go into the details but I feel that it is best summed up by this tweet from the phenomenon that is Danny Baker.
Football. Fucking football. Imagine not being into it. Those poor, poor half-alive bastards.
What I had missed out on was actually watching Sergio Aguero’s winning goal. Imagine my delight when a friend sent me a YouTube link to it with commentary that sounded very familiar.
The man you can hear there, making an amazing moment even more sensational, is Juan Manuel Pons. El Bambino, as he is known, is an Argentinian football commentator who works on FOX Sports’ Latin American Premier League coverage. He has built up quite the reputation because of the unusual way he calls goals.
Not content with simply yelling out “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL” like so many of his Latin contemporaries he often sings a little song too. These odes are pretty amazing and he goes to some lengths to bring them to the public, for the regular goalscorers he will even bring records to sing along to. Although if an unexpected player grabs a goal he does have to think quickly to come up with something.
I remember the first time I watched the Premiership in Colombia. It was a game between Arsenal and Southampton that had a rather unexpected result, Rory Delap had managed to score twice. The first goal was greeted in a normal fashion but by the time Delap had bagged the second El Bambino had thought of something. He repeatedly said “Ro-ry-De-lap” while rubbing the microphone. As you would expect, this grabbed my attention. For the rest of that highlights package I gleefully awaited each goal, if only to see what he would do.
Until I watched the clip above I had half forgotten about that commentator and as a fan of odd goal commentary I was so glad to find him again. I have searched YouTube high and low for examples of his work and I hope you enjoy this playlist as much as I do.
もぉてんDETHグーッと! mooten DETH guuddo! modern, death, goooood!
A’ha A’ha 虹を越えて A’ha A’ha niji wo koete A’ha A’ha Cross the raindow,
A’ha A’ha 夜を越えて A’ha A’ha yoru wo koete A’ha A’ha Cross the night,
A’ha A’ha 時差を越えて ボケテ ネボケテ A’ha A’ha jisa wo koete hokete nebokete A’ha A’ha Cross the time zones, you will be befuddled and only half awake.
GET’S YOU! MAN
『ワタシニデンワシテクダサイ watashi ni denwa shitekudasai Please phone me
デカケルトキハワスレズニ…』 dekakeru toki wa wasurezu ni when I go out I won’t forget!
A’ha A’ha 空を越えて A’ha A’ha sora wo koete A’ha A’ha Cross the sky,
A’ha A’ha 海を越えて A’ha A’ha umi wo koete A’ha A’ha cross the sea,
A’ha A’ha 丘を越えて行けばガイジン A’ha A’ha oka wo koete ikeba gaijin A’ha A’ha cross the hills and if you go you will be a foreigner.
GET’S YOU! GET’S YOU! MAN
With regards to the translation, the first thing that stuck out for me when I copied the lyrics from a well known Japanese lyric website was that the English bits were written in Hiragana (mostly) and the Japanese bits were written in Katakana, which is the opposite of how things are usually written. I thought that was (kind of) clever. The next thing is that I guess this is supposed to be sang as though it is a foreigner singing so there is a lot of random English words in there and not only that, they are doing some funky things with Japanese as well.
Sometimes there are adding a random さん(san) to adverbs. In Japanese using san as a suffix basically means “Mr”, for example “Tanaka-san” means “Mr Tanaka”. I’ve no idea why they were adding it to the end of adverbs. Also, on occasion, they say “death” seemingly randomly. I think they did this because “death” sounds very similar to です(desu) which means “It is” and often used at the end of sentences. Their little joke is pretty impossible to translate.
I had trouble making out what they were saying in the line “mooten DETH guuddo!”. Going by the fact it is in Hiragana, I think they are trying to say an English word but I have no idea what it is. As a result that entire line makes no sense. What do you think they are saying there? Please let me know.
A new piece of grammar for me was the 〜ず(~zu) ending for verbs. After a bit of internet digging I found that using “-zu ni” makes it a ‘without’ kind of negative, someone did something without doing something else prior. For example:
牛乳を飲まずに給食を食べる。 gyunyu wo nomazu ni kyushoku wo taberu. I eat school lunch without drinking milk.
So in the song he goes out without forgetting to call.
This may be a very silly song but I feel that they are spot on. They are trying to say the things that non-Japanese discuss when they think of Japan. In the song they mention stuff like samurai, geisha, harakiri and kamakazi. In my experience these are exactly the kind of things that people talk about when I tell them I live in Japan. I spent much of this summer back in England and Colombia and when Japan was brought up they would often make some kind of weak joke about this stuff.
In fact, in Colombia such talk was often accompanied by this pose, which was disappointing.
Anyway, I discovered this song from an internet show which goes by the name of You Can Play This. The fellow on there shows us some video games which were only released in Japan but lets us know that, with a little bit of effort, we can all play them. This song really is a perfect fit for the show’s theme tune and I encourage you to check them out if you like video games at all.
In other news, I can’t wait to sing this song at karaoke. It’s another to add to my Karaoke Hit List.
One thing I noticed about being in Colombia was just how much yellow, blue and red there is lying about the place. It is because these are the colours of the Colombian flag and they are everywhere, in houses, on churches, in car show rooms, sculptures and even on top of flag poles too. I’m not sure of the reason for this but it is nice that people take a bit of pride in their national colours unlike in the UK where the flag has been hijacked in the past by horrible racist organisations and even now is still struggling to get over it.
The colours of the flag are not only on inanimate objects but on people’s wrists too. For a very long time it has been popular to wear various bracelets depicting the Colombian tricolour, I first became aware of it when my Mum returned from a trip and gave me one. It remains on my wrist too, after many years, because it is one of the few things I have to remind me of her. For a cheap little bracelet it’s stood the test of time well, although I did need to get it restrung while there last time.
The name for these bracelets is Manilla Colombiana which straightforwardly enough means Colombian Bracelet in English and they are worn by just about everyone over there. The bracelets are made out of just about anything, I’ve seen them made from beads, metals, wood and all sorts of other stuff.
However I was shocked when, while eating lunch with some of the kids I teach in Japan, one of them pointed at the bracelet on my wrist and asked me why I was wearing a ‘misanga’. Not knowing what the little fellow was talking about I tried to explain as best I could about the manilla but he just looked at me confused.
It was only when I returned home that I discovered that in Japan they have manilla of their very own called, as the little kid had told me, a Misanga (or ミサンガ). To the Japanese though the little bracelets are not an expression of national identity like in Colombia but a simple good luck charm. Apparently when the misanga fails off your wrist by itself your wish gets granted. Generally these things are plaited and can come in just about any colour. The word comes from Portuguese and although it does refer to bracelets there too, in Portugal and Brazil these bracelets always have beads.
During the 90s when the J League was just getting off the ground it became popular to wear misanga of your team’s colours to support them, this has since extended to include baseball teams and athletes. It is mostly JHS and High School kids who wear them.
Both manilla and misanga remind me of the friendship bracelets that I remember the girls used to wear at school during my youth, the difference being though that those were simple plastic hoops, the only thing that made them interesting was that girls used to wear tens of different colours at once.
In Japanese there are lots of set phrases, I don’t mean like set phrases in English such as “take a bath” or “make a promise”. I mean that in certain situations people always say the same thing. I guess they are a kind of tradition.
There are examples everywhere, when it is time to eat a meal people will say いただきます (itadakimasu) and upon finishing will utter ごちそうさまでした (gochisousama deshita). The translations for these expressions are hard to pin down, if you do it literally they are “I humbly receive” and “It was a feast” respectively but that does not make too much sense in English.
Usually when I come across them on TV shows they are translated to “Let’s eat” and “Thanks for the food”. I’m not sure if this sums up their meaning exactly (especially with the first) but it’s close enough for me, especially as they aren’t really any English equivalents, unless you count saying Grace.
Such phrases are also used when leaving or entering the home. When someone leaves to nip to the shops or go to work they will say いってきます (ittekimasu) and whoever is left says いってらっしゃい (itterasshai). When returning to the house people will say ただいま (tadaima), which is responded with a おかえりなさい (okaerinasai) by the people within.
Again when you translate the phrases literally they some a bit strange. The Leaving the House Set become “I’ll go and come back” and “Please go and come back”, while the Returning Set are “Just now” and “You have returned”.
Like with the eating phrases there are no set expressions that the English say in these situations, so you have to be a bit creative when translating them properly. I guess it is best to go for “I’m off” / “Have a good time” when going and “I’m back” / “Welcome home” when returning.
The reason that I am telling you about these now is that living in my flat in Japan, with two friends, I have never had any compulsion to say these things. And why should I? I’m English after all, as are they (kinda), and we should pride ourselves on being able to come up with suitable different greetings depending on the situation.
However now that I’m spending a month on holiday, staying with my family in both England and Colombia, I’ve suddenly found myself saying these things when leaving and entering the home. In a family environment it just feels right for me to say them. To tell you the truth it is freaking me out a bit. No one else in my family knows any Japanese, I think my Dad knows “Arigatou” but I’m not actually sure he knows what it means, so it is a bit weird that I have the desire to say them.
It is strange that this piece of Japanese culture, one that I’m not overly familiar with as I don’t live in Japanese family homes very often, has seeped into me. I wonder if I will continue to say it once I’m back in Japan and also what other Japanese mannerisms have flowed into me, just waiting for their moment to surface.
One of the first things that British Japanese language learners go through is working out how to say and write their own country of origin. Is it イギリス(igirisu) or 英国(eikoku)? Which is best? Does one mean England and the other United Kingdom? Is their actually a difference?
Due to the fact that most people not from the British Isles (and many from within it too) do not understand the make up of the countries in it, everyone just thinks of the UK as ‘England’. The Japanese people are no different and the two words I wrote at the top of this article basically mean England but is used to refer to anywhere in the UK. The only difference between them is that one uses katakana and the other uses kanji when written down.
In Japanese katakana is generally used for words of foreign origin and kanji is used for words which came from Japan or China. Not only does each kanji have a phonetic value but also meaning. These days most countries are simply written phonetically in katakana. However a long time ago, probably around the time our grandfathers were born, kanji was used. Because many kanji have the same reading this lead to the situation where you had loads of different spellings for each country. I guess that is why this practice was discontinued.
So all of the countries of the world have various spellings in kanji and because each kanji has meaning, I was wondering if the kanji showed up and stereotypes of that country. Does the kanji for England mean ‘Nation of tea drinkers’, is Greece the ‘Land of plate smashers’?
Lets find out.
The kanji used for England is 英国 (eikoku). This means ‘Superior Country’. That’ll do me.
It’s also worth pointing out another spelling 大不列頓 which was once used to refer to Great Britain (ooburehitan???) means ‘Nothing but big bad lines’. As a member of the nation that invented a whole new verb just for queuing I must protest.
Colombia’s kanji is 哥倫比亜 (coronbia??), that could mean ‘big brother ethics ratio next rank’. Also possible is 考老比亜 (coronbia??) which I guess is ‘aged thinking ethics ratio next rank’. Both are impossible to put in coherent sentences so I’m not sure what they were trying to tell us but there must be a lot of wise old people there.
米国 (beikoku) is America’s kanji, it means ‘Rice Country’. Is there a lot of rice in America? Surely Japan has more right to be called this. Another version is 弥利堅(america), the kanji means ‘Increasingly advantage armour’, is that a reference to America’s large military presence around the world?
独逸 (doitsu) is the order of the day here. That means ‘Single Idleness’. I personally thought the Germans were a proactive group of people. Also used is 独乙 (doitsu) according to my dictionary that means ‘Single Witty’, I’d wager that whoever thought that one up had never met a German person.
The Spanish kanji is 西班牙(supein). That means ‘West group tusk’, which has absolutely nothing to do with sleeping in the middle of the day.
As a result of this little experiment I can safely say that there is no correlation between the kanji used in the names and the countries, which is a shame. I should also point out that while I said that the kanji is no longer used, it is often used in abbreviations. For example 英 is used for Britain, 米 for USA, 西 for Spain, etc.