Friday, January 16, 2009

Don't say that!

In our cul-de-sac, we are fortunate to have so many kids that go to Japanese Yochien with Rowen. One of the girls, Susanna is 5 years old. She has been attending Seika for 2 years and she speaks fluent Japanese. Most of the time she speaks English, but when she hangs out with her friends that speak Japanese, she does too! I've asked her mom Shelly if it's weird that she doesn't know what Susanna's talking about and Shelly said "yeah, sometimes but it's really helpful when we go out in town. It really comes in handy when we're ordering at a restaurant..."!!

Rowen was just starting Seika when I had this coversation with Shelly so I started thinking, "what if Rowen starts speaking Japanese and I don't know what he's saying?? What am I going to do??" Well....Rowen has been st Seika for 2.5 months now and he definitely knows some everyday Japanese words. Obviously, he' not fluent, but every now and then I do catch him singing Japanese songs and counting to 5 in Japanese. It's kinda fun listening to him and I sometimes understand what he's saying but there will come a time the other night, Rowen was saying something, and we totally thought it was something else!

We're at the grocery store and Rowen and Arjun kept picking at each other (as usual). Rowen kept saying what sounded like "dammit"...over and over again. Tim was scolding him NOT to say that word, it's not very nice!! But he kept saying it and then I chimed in, "Rowen, that's not nice, don't say that to your brother!" Of course, then I'm asking Tim..."when do you and I say that, do we talk like that often? Where is he getting this language from?!?" Just as we're leaving the grocery store, Rowen says phonetically "dammit", again. Just as Tim is telling Rowen, "don't say that!", an older Japanese man standing outside speaks up. He says to us, "Oh, he's not saying dammit, he speaking Japanese. He is saying dame (pronounced dah-meh). It means "don't do that, or no, stop!"

Tim and I are still laughing about this one...of course he knows how to say 'dame', how many times do you think he hears 'don't do that!' at school from his teachers?? A lot, I'm sure....


  1. Hee hee. Yes, when I first got to Japan, I couldn't figure out why nice young mothers were yelling Damnit at their toddlers. However, I wouldn't have questioned it if it had been harried middle-aged mothers saying it to their teenagers...

  2. That is funny! That reminds me of when Sydney first learned to say "arigato gozaimus" when she was about 2. It sounded like "thank you dumb a--!" We couldn't imagine where she'd learned THAT, but walking out of a tea house we'd just eaten at, she'd just heard us say it and kept repeating it over and over and we finally made the connection she was saying "arigato gozaimus"!