Monday, January 01, 2007

A Handful

I quote the following from Jack Seward's Outrageous Japanese: Slang, Curses and Epithets:
When then President Ronald Reagan visited Japan and addressed the Diet, he essayed a short sentence in Japanese. My guess is that he intended to say, Nichibei no yūkō wa eien desu 日米の友好は永遠です, or "Japanese-American friendship is forever."

I was listening to the speetch on sattelite television with several native speakers of Japanese, including the incumbent Mrs. Seward, who thought that what Reagan had said in his poorly enunciated Japanese was, Nichibei no yuna wa taihen desu 日米の湯女は大変です, which would have meant something like, "Japanese-American bathhhouse prostitutes are a real handful."

My wife, being of a literal turn of mind, immediately sang out, "I wonder how he found out so quickly. He's only been in Japan two days."
The book is available here on, and its ISBN is 978-4-8053-0848-6 if you want to find it elsewhere.