Today’s Random Thing

So a kid walks into the teacher’s room when I happen to be the only one there. He just kind of stares around looking for someone instead of announcing he’s there. So, eventually I ask him what he needs. He replies by saying he wants 2 “nemo”.

Now, as far as I know “nemo” isn’t a Japanese word. Of course, it also occurs to me he might be talking about something specific in the office or for class. There are many words I don’t know. So, I ask him again. “Nemo”, he says.

At this point I’m confused. Is he trying to say he’s sleepy in some kind of weird kid dialect? (The word for sleepy shortened for effect is “nemu-“). So I ask him “what is a nemo?” He responds by repeating it. I’ve now given up so I find the office lady. I ask her what a “nemo” is and she replies “here. A memo”.

This is not what the kid said. Had I wanted a “memo” I would have asked for a “memo”. Anyway, I take the memo back to the kid and he says “no. Nemo”. I ask him again “what is a nemo?” This time he responds by pronouncing it slowly: “nemu o” (more rounded on the E. Like a long a).

For those of you who know Japanese you might be laughing at this point.

I didn’t realize at the time because I was thoroughly confused by all of this. It dawned on me a few seconds later the kid essentially just said “2 names, please”.

You already have one, kid.

Of course, “nemu” isn’t a word Japanese people use for name. The word in Japanese is “namae” (with a short a), which explains why I at this point still had no idea what the heck this kid was talking about.

So, I go back to the office lady and repeat the kid’s “nemuo”. Now she’s confused as well. She walks out, asks the kid, and he says, “nemu” to her.

She replies, “huh?”

Finally, the kid says “nafda”, which is the Japanese word for “name tag”.

The office lady turns around and says to me “nemu. nemu. English ok?”

No, it’s not ok. “nemu” isn’t a word. I don’t know what the heck anyone is saying. The word is “name tag” in English. This only makes her shrivel her face up since it’s seemingly a difficult word.

The kid gets his two name tags and goes on his way.

Now, that the kid didn’t just ask me for 2 “nafda” in the first place is frustrating. I appreciate the effort to try to use English; however, it was not done in a “let’s use English” sort of way. It was done in a typical Japanese “if I don’t speak English to the foreigner there’s no way he can possibly understand me” way.

Just use Japanese.

Further upsetting is this is a larger role of the kids acting like I just took a dump on the floor every time a single word of Japanese escapes my lips. Yes, I’ve spoken to some of you somewhat extensively in Japanese. I’ve been here 2 years. It shouldn’t be a shock at this point.

What upsets me about this mostly is that this will only be used as further “evidence” that the foreigner at school can’t understand Japanese so we must use English that doesn’t make sense at all times with him.