#246: Talk like a japanese - 2011-10-17

March 8, 1995

Rafael arrived to the school quite nervously. He was afraid of talking with Rosa, but he couldn't avoid her, as she was looking for him at that moment. Eliana was with her, but when they saw Rafael, Eliana quickly left to her classroom.


- " ... Hi, Rosa. "

- " Hi, Rafael! I missed you a lot! ... What's up? Did something happen to you? "

- " What? Uh... No, nothing, Rosa. I'm fine! "

- " Really? Because I think you look different... like you've changed... "

- " Well... maybe because I'm growing. We're already teens, there are a lot of changes that happen at this age. "

- " Oh... well, maybe it was that. I think you're right... "

Rosa became thoughtful. She knew there was something else she needed to know, but she didn't dare to insist.

- " So, how was Japan? Are they all fine there? "

- " Yeah, nothing happened to my family! Although a lot of people died, and there was destruction everywhere. Kōbe is in ruins? "

- " Ko-o-be? "

- " Yeah! My grandparents live there, I told you already! "

- " No, Rosa. Your accent. You're talking like a Japanese. "

- " Do you really think that? "

- " Yeah. You have a distinct intonation. Do you speak Japanese? "

- " Well, yes. But I don't know... maybe I picked some of the accent from there... "

- " Ok, let's ask someone about it... Li! "

- " What? No, not Li! "

Li came running, pointing Rosa with her finger.

- " You're not going to escape this time, Rosa! I'm recovered now, and ready for revenge! "

- " Buuuh! I told you I didn't want to, and you insisted! "

- " ... Why are you speaking like a Japanese? "

- " Well... because I went for a trip to Japan, to my grandparents', and I spoke Japanese there... "

- " Japan! Wow! ... It was because of the earthquake, right? "

- " Yeah! Everyone is okay there, though! My grandparents didn't lose anything! "

- " That's great! What happened there was a great disaster! "

- " Yeah! Almost the whole city was flattened! "

- " But you're not going to speak like a Japanese all the time, right? "

- " Uh? It's too noticeable? "

- " Let's see... repeat after me, "las lilas y los claveles de la albañila alcohólica"

- " Las rilas y ros craveles de la arbañila alcohórica... "

Rosa blushed. Her voice could barely distinguish the Spanish sounds "r" and "l", and her accent was quite evident. Just so you know, the Japanese "r" is like a blend of Spanish "r" and Spanish "l", a "lateral flap" in phonetic terms. Of course, English has none of these "r" sounds.


- " Hahahaha! "

- " ¡Las lilas y los claveles de la albañila alcohólica! "

- " Oh, now you said it correctly! Notice that I too had to go through it all! They all pestered me saying things like "let the led loses floulish" and other tomfoolery when I was at the other school! Yes, I'm Chinese, but I speak Spanish correctly. "

- " Meh. I guess it's going to pass, because I won't be back in Japan for a long, long time... "

Rosa looks to her side, with a resigned from on her face.

- " Do you like Japan? "

- " Yeah, a little, but it was very good to be with my grandmother. "

- " Well, I guess I must feel lucky. My grandmother moved to Chile with my family. In fact, they arrived this summer. I never saw her before, I was so happy... The bad thing about this is that she doesn't speak a word of Spanish, and to be honest I'm not quite fluent in Chinese. I could barely understand what you said to me that day. "

- " I told you that your uniform was too short. "

- " Oh, yeah, that. Er... can you say something in Chinese? "

Rosa says something in Chinese.

- " Indeed, I could understand very little. It's certainly a language from China, but it's different. Your words are very difficult to pronounce, like you're trying to pronounce differently some words that are pronounced the same or almost the same in Chinese. Although, as I already told you, I lack practice in Chinese, so I could be wrong. Now tell me, where did you learn to speak like that? "

- " ... I wish I knew, maybe when I was very young... I usually can remember those things... "

- " Hah, like you were born a polyglot or something! "

- " No, I don't think so, I learned to speak very late. And, to be honest, I'm not sure if my Japanese, Chinese, anything, is correct. "

As Rosa finished speaking those words, the school bell started sounding. Just at that moment, Li realized that this was the first time she talked with Rosa in a more or less friendly manner.