Irony 3


Doing a search of the old blog’s recovery files (soon to appear here) I noticed my use of the words ‘irony’ and ‘ironic’ were quite excessive. Japanese people are almost never taught the difference between ‘irony’, ‘sarcasm’, and ‘dark humor’. One pointed comment on my old blog suggested Japanese people can’t recognize irony because they are constantly surrounded by it. (Much like Americans can’t recognize haste or aggressiveness.)

This week there was a news story that really drove home this point. Three children were injured at a traffic safety event run by the police. Two poles were erected with a cable between them and a dummy was suspended beneath the cable. An officer drove a vehicle down the course and struck the dummy to show the kids what could happen to them if they were hit by a car. (Perhaps a bit graphic for small children anyhow.) One pull was thrown into the crowd of children.

Fortunately the children’s injuries are apparently minor. The news story never mentioned the irony of injuring children with their attempts to help them avoid injury.


5 Responses to “Irony 3”

  1. kevenker Says:

    That IS ironic. It’s also funny!!

  2. びっくり Says:

    Studying for my upcoming tests last night, I came across hiniku (皮肉) in my dictionary again. The dictionary shows three possible words: sarcasm, irony, satire. Japanese people are taught not to question an official source of instruction, this is one of the sources of confusion.

    Foreigners in Japan are almost never considered ‘real’ teachers, putting us below a children’s dictionary on the list of authorities. Many times I have tried to explain to Japanese adults that if they show a kabocha (南瓜) to an American and ask, “What is this?”, they will reply “A squash.”

    Every time I say this I hear the response, “Oh really?”, followed by rummaging for a dictionary or the additional comment: “But my dictionary says ‘pumpkin’!” Sometimes when I am tired out by three rounds of this, I actually slip out an “I don’t care what the dictionary says.”

  3. kevenker Says:

    Hence the term “book smart.” The critical problem is that a pumpkin a type of squash, but a squash is not a type of pumpkin. As I’m sure you’re aware!! 🙂

  4. Sunkissd1 Says:

    You really should just refer back to the children’s dictionary…that may give you some added credibility. Ü

  5. びっくり Says:

    The squash-pumpkin debate is actually a rather vigorous one. Some people insist that squash, pumpkin, and cucumber are all different foods, while others insist that pumkin is just one type of squash. Most state fairs include yellow, green, and gray skin in the squash category, but insist that orange skinned gourds are not squash.

    A couple years ago, while researching about pumpkins, I was shocked at how insistent adherents to each philosophy were.

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