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Last week’s topic was quite difficult, so I decided to do a more light-hearted (and slightly easier!) one this week. The other day, a friend of mine bought a bento in a convenience store. She was very surprised at the question the assistant asked her as she put the food into a bag.

She said, 「名前をお付けしますか?」

My friend couldn’t understand what she was asking, so she asked her to say it again.

The girl repeated, 「名前をお付けしますか?」

My friend is Japanese, so it wasn’t a language problem, but she couldn’t figure out what the girl was asking her. Eventually, after about three or four repetitions, my friend realized that the girl was talking about おしぼり, and she was actually asking 「何枚お付けしますか?」

When my friend told me about this, it made me laugh, and I was wondering whether any of you have had a similar experience, either in English or in Japanese.

Look forward to hearing your stories.

このブログは英語学習者のためのものです。レベルの高い人もいれば、初心者もいますので、自分のレベルや学習経験を気にする必要はありません。「いつもコメントを書いている人は仲間みたいだから参加しにくい」と思う方もいるかもしれませんが、勇気を出してコメントを書いてみてください。必ず温かく迎えてもらえます。多くのコメントは英語で書かれていますが、もちろん日本語もOKですし、英語と日本語を混ぜて書いても大丈夫です。言いたいことが言えないときは、How do you say 「〜」in English? と聞けば、きっとだれかが教えてくれると思います。私のエントリー、または他のメンバーのコメントの中に分からないところがあったら、「”…”はどういう意味ですか?」と遠慮なく聞いてください。このブログで使われているフレーズや表現をたくさん吸収すると、より自然な英語に近づけることができますよ!

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29 Comments

  1. Mika on 2013年05月27日 at 19:57

    Hi David and everyone,

    How are you?

    I remember a story that I heard from one of my friends. It was about a couple, a Japanese wife and an American husband.
    One day, the couple got into quarrel and the wife’s irritation reached a peak and their little quarrel quickly seemed to turn into a really big fight. Up until that time they were quarreling in English, but the wife finally shouted loudly in Japanese. “Ahontare!!”
    Her husband shrank in surprise from her unexpected loud voice, and they stared at each other as though time had momentarily stopped. Quickly the wife regretted using Japanese slang, Ahontare. On the other hand, he went crazy trying to understand the meaning and never expected his wife to shout in Japanese, and unfortunately he didn’t know that it was Japanese.
    A few seconds later, he held his wife tightly. Why? In what he thought was his wife’s broken English, he thought he heard, “Are you holding me?” which to him meant that she wanted to be held by him so that they could make up.
    Anyway, all’s well that ends well.



  2. Fumie on 2013年05月28日 at 05:49

    Hi David and everyone,

    I often have misunderstandings triggered by mishearings but I don’t remember them.
    I just remembered one story. Several years ago, one day, one of teachers called me and said “BoyI, who is a very naughty boy, put soy-sauce and tabaco in tea and brought to school. And he fed the tea to my middle son and youngest son. But they just drank a bit because the tea was very hot and your sons seem oaky. I just want to inform you about that.” I was very shocked to hear that and also I wondered why the teacher was so calm since my sons drank tea with tabaco. I worried that they might need to have gastric lavage.” So I asked the teacher “Are they really okay?” She said “Yes. They are fine.” I wasn’t satisfied with her answer so I said “Well, I am furious. I think tea with tabaco is very bad for health.” And the teacher laughed and said “No, not tabaco, tabasco. BoyI tried to play trick on some kids in school and both of your sons were fooled by him.” I said “Oh, it’s just tabasco and laughed too.”



  3. b on 2013年05月28日 at 09:05

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the funny stories, Mika and Fumie:) I wonder how I should say “Are you holding me?” to sound like “Ahontare!” As you can imagine, I’m mumbling the sentence in front of my computer.

    I’m quite sure that I’m mishearing things all the time, but I can’t remember any at the moment, so I’d like to share some of my students’. There not actually mishearings, but they’re just too good at imitating the sounds they hear and relating it to things they already know.

    “Have some cookies.” ⇒”Handsome cookies!”
    “I’ll show you how.” ⇒”O-shoyu(soy-sauce), ha!”

    This was my younger son’s mishearing. It’s a line from the TV commercial for Chanel no.5. Brad Pitt was saying:
    “It’s not a journey.” ⇒”Chihara(千原) junior”



  4. Biwa on 2013年05月28日 at 10:47

    The comment above was from me, Biwa. It was a typo, but I don’t know why my name and email address don’t appear automatically as before.

    I also misspelled “they’re”:
    “There not actually mishearings” should be “They’re not actually mishearings”.



  5. David on 2013年05月28日 at 12:02

    I just remembered an interesting story. An Australian friend of mine in Sapporo used to think that Japanese people come out of their houses to give politicians ¥5000 when they come around in those cars and vans making a lot of noise. Can you guess why he thought that?

    As for me, I only found out a couple of years ago that the correct expression for a person who causes a problem is 問題児. I always thought it was 問題人!



  6. YU on 2013年05月28日 at 14:29

    Hi David,

    Because they actually said “ご声援お願いします/ご声援ありがとうございます”, but your friend thought that they said “¥5000お願いします/¥5000ありがとうございます”???



  7. David on 2013年05月28日 at 16:32

    Well done!



  8. Biwa on 2013年05月29日 at 09:05

    Hi everyone,

    I know this is not a place for riddles, but just for fun. (It’s something related to “hearing”, though!)

    I guess you all know the cartoon “Anpan-man”. One day, “食パンマン” and “メロンパンナちゃん” was walking along the street. A car came from behind, and “メロンパンナちゃん” got run over by the car, but “食パンマン” didn’t. Can you figure out why?



  9. YU on 2013年05月29日 at 13:03

    Hi Biwa,

    Only 食パンマン heard the car coming from behind because he had ears/the crust(パンの耳), but メロンパンナちゃん didn’t?



  10. Anne on 2013年05月29日 at 14:05

    Hi David and everyone,

    Thanks for sharing interesting stories.
    I tried murmuring “Ahontare” like Biwa!
    Sorry to say, nothing comes to mind concerning “mishearing story” , so can I share examples of mispronunciation, instead? I’m not sure if these could be the case of mishearing or not.
    These are the ones from a textbook I’m reading at the moment,and are examples that Japanese learners tend to pronounce mistakenly.

    1. 昨年の巡業でお会いしました。(中国語話者)〈 巡業〉

    2.昆虫は大学へ行きません。 (英語話者)〈昆虫〉

    3.このパンフレット1,000部ください。(スペイン語話者)〈1,000部〉

    4.大学院でサリンの研究をしています。(韓国語話者)〈サリン〉

    Well,what do you think did actually each speaker intend to say? Can you figure out? I listened to the tape, and they were reading those ways!



  11. Mika on 2013年05月29日 at 14:47

    Hi Anne,

    I tried to figure out from 1 to 4, but only two.
    Anyway, here is my guess.
    2 Maybe the English speaker said, “This week I will not go to the university.”
    今週→昆虫
    3  Maybe the Spanish speaker said, “Please give me this pamphlet all.”
                                        全部→千部



  12. Biwa on 2013年05月29日 at 15:03

    Hi YU,

    Bingo!

    Hi Anne,

    1. 授業 2. 今週 3. 全部??
    I can’t figue out the forth one! Maybe 車輪??

    By the way, I sometimes notice that the length of a word is pretty important. For example, “dog” is pronounced twice as long as “dot.” In Japanese, “のど(throat)” and “農道(farm road)” are completely different words.



  13. Biwa on 2013年05月29日 at 15:38

    Hi Anne,

    Sorry for my terrible misspellings!
    I wanted to say “I can’t figure out the fourth one.”



  14. YU on 2013年05月29日 at 16:28

    Hi Anne and everyone,

    > Sorry to say, nothing comes to mind concerning “mishearing story”

    Me,neither!

    This is not a mishearing story, but it’s a misreading story.

    Long time ago, I was watching the weather forcastig on TV with my husband, and he asked me which prefecture モモコ was in. So, I said, “What?Momoko?!” He actually meant “銚子(市)”(not 桃子!) in Chiba prefecture!
    For a while since then, I called him “モモコ”.

    By the way, your quiz reminded me of my husband’s weak point in Japanese pronounciation. It seems to be very difficult for Indonesian people to pronounce “つ”.

    He used to learn Japanese from an older Japanese man. He told me that his name was “すずき”. He often talked about him to me like “すずき先生が~”.

    One day I had a chance to meet his “すずき先生”. すずきせ先生 gave me a business card, but it was written “つづき(都築)” on the card! He wasn’t “鈴木先生, but he was 都築先生!!

    As for the quiz, I don’t understand No.4, either.



  15. Tomo on 2013年05月29日 at 19:09

    Hi David and everyone,

    It’s been a while since I last commented. I couldn’t make a comment, but I keep reading the blog and am still enjoying it as a reader. I hope you are all well.

    I said before that I was having a tough time at work because they didn’t have enough workers, but I’m happy to report that things are finally better. We got new people in April and May, and they are getting used to the job. Also, I have some other good news. My son passed the entrance exam for a national university, and he is studying to be a teacher like David’s students.(not an English teacher but a science teacher, though.) I finished my correspondence course to be a medical clerk last month, and I just got a “gokaku tsuchi” for the final test of the course today. I need to take another test to get a qualification in July, but that’s a big relief.

    As for the topic, let me share my story.

    A while ago, when I was talking on the phone with a friend of mine, he said something like “… you buy a computer?” I was puzzled by his question because he knew I had a computer, and I was not planning to buy a new one. I asked him, “Sorry??”, and he asked me the same question again, but I still didn’t get what he meant. I caught the first part, and his question started with “are”, but it just confused me more. A few seconds later, I realized that he didn’t say “buy” but “by”, and he asked me, “Are you by your computer?” It was very simple English. I was a bit embarrassed by my silly mistake. Even junior high school students know both of the words and the grammar…

    Hi Mika,

    I loved your story. Your friend’s husband’s reaction made me smile. He is very nice:-)

    See you soon,

    Tomo



  16. YU on 2013年05月29日 at 20:05

    Hi Tomo,

    I’m glad to see your comment here again! 🙂

    Your son passed the exam for a ‘national’ university? He is such a kind son!
    And congratulations on passing your exam, I knew you would pass!
    I’ve been thinking of taking correspondence course to be a pharmacy clerk(調剤薬局事務) someday in the near future, too. Apparently, it is the second most popular course for housewives next to 医療事務 course!
    Anyway, it seems like everything is going well with you now. I’m happy for you!

    See you soon!



  17. Tomo on 2013年05月29日 at 23:48

    Thanks YU:-) This past six months, I was feeling like I was having a weight hanging around my neck. I will be very happy when it is truly finished.

    By the way, are you thinking of becoming a pharmacy clerk in the future? That’s nice! Go for it!!
    One of the good things about working in a medical field is that you can learn about medicine and diseases. It helps when your family members are sick.

    Good night,

    Tomo



  18. Mika on 2013年05月30日 at 00:33

    Hi Tomo,

    Congratulations ! You must have studied very hard.
    One of my cousins passed the same test you had and now she works in a drug store as a pharmacy clerk.
    Her major was home economics, but three years ago she decided to get the test.
    When I heard it, I was very impressed by her effort.

    I’m glad to hear your nice story!



  19. Kattie on 2013年05月30日 at 01:57

    Hi Tomo,

    Congratulations on passing your exam – it must have been really hard juggling work, family and study and also congratulations to your son.



  20. Fumie on 2013年05月30日 at 04:29

    Hi Anne,

    I still can’t get the answer of your question NO.4. I’ve been thinking of it for few days but I couldn’t. What is the answer?

    Hi Tomo,

    I’m glad to see your comment again. It seems everything turned out okay. I’m happy for you!



  21. Anne on 2013年05月30日 at 05:17

    Hi Tomo,

    Glad to see your comment here again. Also glad to hear that everything turned out okay^^)

    Congratulations on passing on your exam and to your son!

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for thinking about my questions.
    Your answers are correct. No.4 is supposed to be “山林。”

    1. I met you at the class (x a provincial tour) last year. (○ jugyou/ x jungyou)

    2.I will go to the university this week.
    X An insect will go to the university.
    (○ konshuu / x konchuu)

    3. Please give me this pamphlet all(x a thounsand copy of pamplet).
    (○ zenbu / x senbu)

    4. I research on mountains and forests( x sarin).
    (○ sanrin/ x sarin)

    These ones remind me of world English.

    Hi YU,
    I laughed at your story! Be nice to your husband^^)



  22. Biwa on 2013年05月30日 at 05:29

    Hi Tomo,

    Great to hear from you again! (^^)/
    Congratulations to you and your son♪♪ I really admire you that you did all that when you were really busy.



  23. amo on 2013年05月30日 at 08:24

    Hi David and everyone,

    I am back! I got back yesterday from the USA. I am on my way to work so I will write a comment tonight. Bye for now,
    amo



  24. Tomo on 2013年05月30日 at 17:23

    Thank you for all your kind messages, Mika, Kattie, Fumie, Anne, and Biwa:-)
    It’s really hard to juggle work, family and study(I admire you all!), but life will be easier when I have finished everything. I’m looking forward to that!

    Hi amo,

    Glad to hear you are back safely:-)



  25. David on 2013年05月30日 at 18:09

    Hi Tomo,

    Great to hear from you again. I’m glad to hear that things are getting easier at work, and congratulations to your son on his success.



  26. Tomo on 2013年05月30日 at 20:37

    Thanks David:-) Now he is enjoying himself like other university students. Which means, he is busy with hanging out with his friends, club activities, parties… I won’t complain about that, for a little while lol.



  27. amo on 2013年05月31日 at 00:42

    Hi David and everyone,

    About the topic, the first thing came to mind is a story from my sister. Actually, it wasn’t her who had misheard the word but one of her friends. I think that one of the pet phrases of MCs of TV shopping programmes is “特別価格” so nobody mishears this words but her friend did. she used to mishear “特別高く” so she always thought that nobody wanted to buy things particularly high prices.

    As I mentioned, I went to America to visit my younger sister. Some of you may remember but she has three children(one boy and two girls) and I really looked forward to seeing them again. Her youngest daughter is three and she is so funny. She’s full of beans so she asked me to play with her all the time. I also went on a three-day trip to Las Vegas with my sister. Just two of us. She asked her husband to take care of the kids during our trip. We watched “Criss Angel’s Believe” at the first night. He is a magician and illusionist. To tell the truth, I hadn’t heard of him till then at all, but I enjoyed his show very much. The second day, we hung around the hotels and did some shopping. You know, every hotel is a huge so we sometimes got lost. Anyway, I had a good time.

    Hi Tomo,

    Glad to hear from you again and happy for you that your situation is much much better now:)

    Bye for now,
    amo



  28. Anne on 2013年05月31日 at 07:13

    Hi amo,

    Welcome back!
    You seem to have had a great time in there! I’m happy for you^^)

    >I also went on a three-day trip to Las Vegas with my sister—Wow! Lucky you!



  29. YU on 2013年05月31日 at 08:41

    Hi amo,

    Glad to hear that you seem to have had a great time there!
    I wish I had sisters, too!



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