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May. 25th, 2014

Kaiju vs. Bakemono

My brother is out of town with his friends for the Memorial Day weekend, and I wasn't expecting to hear from him until Tuesday, when he gets back. What kind of teenager wants to talk to his strange, basement-dwelling elder sister when he's with his friends, anyway? But apparently they went to go see Godzilla while they were on vacation and they got into an argument.

Apparently, it went something like this:

Kid 1: So they called Godzilla a kaiju, but I saw in some anime I was watching that the Japanese word for monster is “bakemono.” Wouldn't Godzilla be a bakemono?

Kid 2: No, dumbass, there was that other movie where the giant monsters were called “kaiju” too!

Kid 1: But I swear to god the Japanese word is “bakemono.”

Kid 3: Hey, Kaboom's Brother, your sister speaks Japanese, right? Call her and ask her!

So that's how I ended up on speakerphone with a bunch of teenage boys last night at like 11:30, giving an impromptu Japanese lesson. Because this is apparently a fairly common confusion, I decided to repeat it for the blog.

Technically, both kids are right. Both 化け物 (ばけもの、 bakemono) and 怪獣 (かいじゅう、 kaiju) can be translated as “monster,” but there's a bit of a different in the connotations. “Bakemono” usually refers to something like a ghost or spirit (the yuki-onna, for example, is considered a bakemono) while “kaiju” usually refers to a Western-style monster or a giant creature of some sort. Godzilla, therefore, is a kaiju. Mothra is a kaiju, as are the critters in Pacific Rim (and those are actually called Kaiju in the movie itself). Traditional Japanese spirits like the namahage or the yuki-onna are usually referred to as bakemono. For Western mythological monsters, it tends to depend on the creature, and it depends on the translation. Don't take this as Absolutely The Way It Is Done, because my Japanese really isn't perfect, and I certianly haven't seen every movie ever in Japanese, but from what I can tell, vampires tend to be referred to as bakemono, while werewolves seem to be kaiju, at least when they are in their werewolf form.

But if you have any more questions you should probably ask someone whose first language is Japanese. It's quite possible I'm missing some nuances, but in case you were wondering about Godzilla, he's kaiju. :)

英語で"化け物”と”怪獣”は違いがありません。あの言葉は”monster”です。幽霊は”ghost”です。ゴジラはとても有名な怪獣です、でも、アメリカで、”怪獣”は一般的に知られていないです。アメリカ人はゴジラが知ります、でも、別なモンスターはあまり知りません。私たちは怪獣の映画を見ません。ここで、怪獣の映画一般的ではありません。

Feb. 14th, 2014

Congratulations, Japan and Russia!

English: My mother and I have been watching the Olympic figure skating in Sochi. She knows a lot more about ice skating than I do, she can tell when someone does well and when someone doesn't do as well (whereas everything I see looks impossibly complicated to me). Team Russia won gold in the team figure skating, and Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan won the gold in men's single figure skating today.

I have to say, though, it was really sad to see Evgeni Plushenko have to leave his final Olympics because of his injuries. He's only nine years older than I am, and he already has terrible back pain caused by sports injuries. However, he was a legend, and hopefully his future will be as fruitful as his career in skating was.

日本語: おめでとございます、チーム日本!母と私はオリンピックを見ています。母はフィギュアスケート について多くのことをしていますけど、私はあまり知りません。羽生結弦様はとても上手です!

エブゲに プルしぇんコ様の退職はとても悲しかったです。彼は伝説の人です。しかし、痛みはよくありませんでした。米来へ、がんばってくださいませんか!