Feb 6, 2018

“Please send a radish to collect me”: Travel related Japanese language blunders to avoid!

 "Please send a radish to collect me", "Please kill" and “Please put my luggage in my bum”, these are just some of the classics I have come out with over the years. I suppose it is inevitable when we are learning any new language that we make many errors along the way, but I think the Japanese people are much kinder in how they let you know of your mistakes. To the point though that I ordered a radish as a mode of transport home for quite a number of years! 

In relation to transport when traveling, the examples that still make me cringe and make my husband laugh are:

"Please send a radish to collect me"

“Please send a radish to collect me”: Travel related Japanese language blunders to avoid! photo

Image from Google commons wikimedia, credit Chris 73

Radish in Japanese is daikon. Daiko is what I was trying to order. Daiko is a very handy service available in Japan. It is like a taxi service for both you and your car! There are two ways I have seen it work.

One is when two drivers come out to your location. One drives you home, the other drives your car home. We have open insurance on our car and there is often more than one of us out, so this is the service we use most often.

The other daiko taxi service involves the daiko driver, coming out to your location on the coolest little fold up bike. The driver folds up the bike and puts it in the boot of your car, then he drives you home. I have somewhere in my photo files a photo of this bike in the boot of my car, but I can't for the life of me find it. If I ever do, I will add it to this article! 

"Please kill me"

“Please send a radish to collect me”: Travel related Japanese language blunders to avoid! photo

"Please kill me" initially came out of my mouth in error, but I won't lie I have used it to my advantage on purpose since. Please let me explain! Oroshite kudasai is a sort of passive aggressive way to get people to make way for you to get off a packed train. I would only use it when sumimasen, shitsurei shimasu and orimasu haven't worked. And when even the more demanding oroshite kudasai doesn't work, you can pop a "k" in front of it for a more effective result.  "Koroshite kudasai" means "please kill {me}".

I initially committed this faux pas, because I was thinking of how a friend had purposefully used it and it slipped out, but I was suitably impressed by how efficient it was. If you shout this out on a crowded train the previously unwavering crowds will swiftly make a nice entrance for you to get off the train. Only to be used in times of desperation!

While staying in hotels and / or travelling around Japan I have made many other language blunders. However, Murphy's Law: I can only think of one solid example. This is another to avoid where at all possible!

"Please put my luggage in my bum "

“Please send a radish to collect me”: Travel related Japanese language blunders to avoid! photo

In Japan, the words for "wardrobe" and "bum" are dangerously similar. It has been the root of many a funny comment made by foreigners in Japan. A wardrobe is Oshiire and your posterior is Oshiri. To Japanese these two words are nowhere near alike, but to many a foreigner they are enough alike to cause hysterical exclamations. Like me asking the bell boy to put my luggage in my rear end, rather than the wardrobe! There have been variations of this too: "Where can I find the futon...are they in my bum?" "Do I need to put the futon away in my posterior when we were are finished with them?" The limitations are endless, but these are embarrassing mistakes I have actually made myself. 

The great thing about funny language errors, is that in the long run they do indeed strengthen our language ability.  I think most people find it easier to correct a language blunder when they realize the humor behind their error, such as saying bum instead of wardrobe. Similarly, when the mistake has a significant impact: like realizing you've been asking people to kill you rather than let you off the train! Then there are the gaffes you willfully recall to give other language learners and native speakers a laugh at your expense: such as requesting a radish to come collect you!



Level 8 LocalGuide with Google. Blogging about life in Japan as an Irish WAHM to 4 kids on insaitama.com.