I was sitting in the office today, when Malik walks in from Elementary School and tosses a gift snack at me that he apparently got from one of the teachers there. I’m going to be honest with you, this snack was goddamn tasty! It was like a little poundcake-type biscuit with some kind of sweet-bean paste in the middle and it just plain made my mouth happy about being a mouth.
As is the case with any tasty treat, you can’t help but go “mmmmm” while nodding your head, it’s just some kind of evolutionary recation built into the human species to make sure that appreciation is shown so you don’t look like an ungrateful dickhead and get beat to death (I’ll bet you never knew that was such a big problem that it warranted an evolutionary response, did you? See, Hair Flap, dude! You stick with me and I’ll teach you all kinds of things you never knew!).
Instantly upon taking part in the oishi-ness, I desired to know more about this taste-extravaganza so that I might perhaps aquire more of said oishi-ness sometime in the near future. Thus, I took a look at the wrapper… and found a nice soliliquy describing the divine influence of “okashi”(snacks/sweets) on the heart of humanity and how they are virtually indispensable to the yearnings for romance and happiness.
After our oft-recited mantra of “Dude, what the fuck?” was offered in chorus by myself and Malik, we immediately started discussing the possible reasons for not only writing such tripe on a snack wrapper, but for writing such tripe in English. Honestly, who, in the course of developing this product, thought that it would be a good idea to proclaim such attributes in a language that so few of it’s customers would understand?!?
Seriously, if I’m a Japanese person visiting a shrine trying to decide between two snacks in front of me, you’d better believe I’m going to choose the one that values tradition and living in the times, because living snacks are just way too cool not to get, right!? RIGHT!? But I’m not going to get that deal-sealing bit of info unless it’s in my native language, so instead I go with the snack next to it that turns into a robot, because that’s a kind of coolness that just goes beyond words.
Anyways, we were still puzzled about the English thing so we thought we’d try to ask some of our resident Japanese people what they thought about their snacks speaking more English than they did.
Me: Mori-san, can you understand the English on this wrapper here?
Mori-san: Oh my god! I don’t know. This writing is really small! Is it talking about the taste and stuff? Yeah, uhh I can’t read this.
Me: Why do you suppose this is in English?
Mori-san: (laughing) Maybe because it’s omiyage(souvenir) and it would be given to foreigners?
Malik: (incredulous) Hmmmm, an interesting theory, but…
Next up was the pretty young thing that sits next to Mori-san, the deliciously adorable Shiraishi-san (who isn’t married, but also happens to be my supervisor. Yeah, you can eat a fat dick, Fate, did I mention that?)
Me: Okay, let’s try Shiraishi-san.
Me: So first try and read this silly wrapper. Can you understand it?
Shiraishi-san: Chichai!(“small”, referring to the writing) Hmmmm, I have no idea. It’s too small to read.
At this point I’m starting to wonder if “too small” is a colloquial Japanese phrase that means, “I’ll be damned if I’m admitting to you that I don’t know what this says, you fat weener-head.”
Me: So why do you think such an amazing dissertation is on this snack wrapper?
Shiraishi-san: I don’t know. Japanese people like lengthy explanations sometimes.
Me: Ah maybe, ne. But I guess what I’m getting at is that there’s so much there. For example, the Coca-Cola slogan is in English too, but it’s just two words, “No Reason.” So maybe in that case, some people can understand that English and grab on to it. But this? What do you think about so much English being written on a snack wrapper?
Shiraishi-san: It’s wierd. I think most Japaense people think it’s strange too.
So once again, I keep asking and asking and get NO closer to the truth. The mystery of Engrish will have to be solved another day. Move along, nothing to see here. 🙁