Asking About Ferry Accidents

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Dajare (駄洒落) is a Japanese word meaning ‘pun’. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who consider puns the highest form of humor; and those who don’t have any idea what they are talking about. Can you tell which camp I am in? One of the things I love about Japan is that homophones abound. Searching for homophone or pun in my blog will reveal how often I write about this. (And I think about it far more than I write about it.)

Teaching distracted, disinterested, disruptive, ennui-filled junior high students requires special attention-grabbing tactics. One of my approaches is to put a sign on the chalkboard displaying the main lesson title in Japanese. This alone would not get much attention, but the fact that I replace the words with homophones changes everything. Many students will cock their head, stare at the board and mumble under their breath, “What on Earth…?” Others will try to read it out and a few of them will listen to themselves and figure out what it was supposed to be. Those who read ahead in the textbook are most likely to discover the answer.

Some students will then yell out, “Sensei, you screwed up.”; to which I play dumb and say, “Oops! Japanese is so difficult.” You’d think they would catch on that this is not accidental. One time a student was deriding me for being stupid, so I offered her the chalk and asked her to please erudicate me. She started into it and fell short. Of course, I had studied the correct characters along with my search for the best ‘mistaken’ characters, so I was able to correct it myself. She quieted down after that.

Once I have them all thinking about something I put on the board, it is easier to keep them interested as I move on. This week I made a sign that read:

渡しの事故照会

Basically this is sounds like “watashi no jikoshoukai” and means something like “Ferry accident inquiry”; although it is a very odd phrase, it is very readable. Properly, I should have written:

私の自己紹介

“My Self-Introduction”. We were practicing introducing ourselves, but I threw a twist into the works. They chose names from a list, pretended to be those people, and delivered the speeches they wrote. Choices were:

  1. Peter Parker
  2. Ichiro
  3. Avril Lavigne
  4. Harry Potter
  5. Saito Yuki (handkerchief boy)
  6. Akanishi Jin
  7. Horiemon (prison boy)
  8. Koizumi Junichiro
  9. Yama P (aka, Yamashita Tomohisa, Aoki Tomohisa, …)
  10. Oguri Shun
  11. Conan Edogawa
  12. L (hero from Deathnote)
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2 Responses to “Asking About Ferry Accidents”

  1. Keven Says:

    Sounds like fun!

    I honestly think that puns like what you talk about are where we will know for sure that something passes the Turing Test for true intelligence.

  2. びっくり Says:

    Did I pass the Turing Test? Everyday, I strive to be mistaken for a human. It is my greatest hope.

    I didn’t mention that Ichishi Time was canceled which moved the schedule up by ten minutes and I forgot the paper in my rush. Since the fourth, fifth, and sixth period classes were canceled I didn’t get to use my sign. I was hoping to use it today for the learning disability class in fourth period, but it also got canceled for parent-teacher meetings. At least it got a lot of attention from teachers walking by my desk. I left it on top of my closed laptop in the afternoons, so it got noticed.

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