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Saturday, June 2, 2001
The missing link in your linguistic skills
By AMY CHAVEZ
Sometimes you just can't find the right word to describe something uniquely Japanese. Thus, I have created the following words for the first Japan Lite Dictionary for foreigners in Japan.
Pedabrell: Riding your bicycle in pouring rain while holding an umbrella.
Engaway: The gradual erosion of native-English speaking ability proportionate to the time spent in Japan. Speech becomes slower, words more deliberate and repeating entire sentences is common.
Tonkinery: Cute machinery such as mini-forklifts painted purple and singing garbage trucks.
Gomioke: Singing along with the garbage truck.
Keitoke: Singing along with other people's cell-phone melodies.
Godzillions: Monstrous, unstoppable, insanely expensive public-works projects.
Nerprise: The expression on the face of a Japanese salesperson, accompanied by a slight trembling, when a foreigner approaches. The facial expression reads, "Eck! A foreigner! What if he can't speak Japanese?!"
Whoosheng: Flushing of toilets in public restrooms to cover up any sounds of urination.
Lethargologist: Professionals who stand around the workplace doing nothing.
Obatalliaphobia: Fear of old women who cut in line and rush onto trains.
Wakaramama: When you say "wakarimashita" even when you have no idea what the person just said.
Denshoot: That split second when you realize you've gotten on the wrong train.
Enlinetening: Lining up your coins in the money tray when paying for something.
Snapjack: M The way clerks raise their hands in the air and snap the bills between their fingers while counting your change.
Kanji bait and switch: Foiled again! When you've bought a pint of yogurt drink instead of a pint of milk.
Opplish: A Japanese language phenomenon that happens during those fuzzy changeovers hours of morning to afternoon and afternoon to evening. Opplish happens when you greet someone with "Ohayo gozaimasu" and are countered with "Konnichiwa," or you greet them with "Konbanwa" and they reply "Konnichiwa."
Zenzistence: When you're there but you're not really there. The indirect Japanese approach of talking about a third party as if they weren't present.
Longening: The gradual lengthening of shirt sleeves due to the brutality of Japanese washing machines.
Escaparela: A woman who can deftly escape drunk men on the train.
Myroomu: The invisible dressing rooms women use for personal grooming on public transportation.
Bagollection: Your enormous personal collection of plastic and paper bags.
Bevlexia: When you push the wrong button on the vending machine and get a hot drink when you wanted a cold drink and vice versa.
Gridheel: The shaved off leather around high heels created by stepping into the ubiquitous grids in the streets.
Discoutre: The flashing lights used around construction sites and on street surfaces to warn you of potential hazards.
Blapcappa: The sound of your neighbor beating the futon with a futon-beater.
Beerjin: People who drink only beer and not the Japanese-style whiskey and water.
Patellage: The way women press their knees together when riding a bicycle in a skirt.
Binesia: When you can't remember where you parked your bicycle.
Ideanot: The initial curiosity in Japanese arts, such as "ikebana" and tea ceremony, that passes as soon as you realize it requires a huge time-commitment to learn it.
Snail gating: When you're on your bicycle on the sidewalk and get stuck behind a pedestrian you can't pass. You're force to slow down and follow too close, nearly treading on their heels.
Auralectitis: A temporary condition that prompts you to suddenly not understand Japanese, even when you do.
Volunteach: English conversations with Japanese people who accost you on the train or in public places begging you to let them practice their English.
Chucklegrunt: The nervous laugh foreigners use when they pretend to understand someone's English.
Visit the Japan Lite home page at www.amychavez.com or e-mail comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org