"Pronounce my name wrong, and I'll beat ya up! AHHHHH!"
Kim Jong Il? Xiao Lin? Murakami Haruki? Tsing Tao? Pho Bai? Phad Kee Mao?
People here in America have the hardest time with foreign names. I remember watching a Red Sox game, when Daisuke Matsuzaka was a rookie. The geezer of an announcer called him “Die-soo-kee Ma-tsoo-za-kee. WTF? I don’t see no ‘i’ at the end of his name. Same thing happens to my wife. Her name ends in ‘ko’ like many Japanese women, like Yoko, Shoko, Takako, etc… And yet they so often want to end it with ‘ki’. ???? And, a name like Kyoto, they like to say Kee-yoo-toe. I don’t see a vowel between the ‘k’ and ‘y’, do you? Look, Japanese is very easy. Pronounce every ‘a’ like in ‘ha’. Pronounce every ‘e’ like in ‘bed’. Pronounce every ‘o’ like in ‘toe’. Pronounce every ‘u’ like ‘tune’ or ‘oo”. Pronounce every ‘i’ like ‘ee’ or ‘key’. If you see two vowels in a row, like “Mei”, pronounce both vowels. (Sounds like May) That simple. They don’t have multiple sounds for each vowel like in English.
I wasn’t given an English first name though I was born in the states. My Japanese parents decided to give me a name from my homeland since at the time I think they weren’t planning on staying for so long. It’s not a very hard name to pronounce at all, but it’s been slaughtered in many different ways, especially on the first day of school. True, when I was younger, I Anglicized the name by pronouncing the vowel like an American, so my friends from pre-college all pronounce my name wrong. In college, when I found my roots, I started pronouncing it like a Japanese boy should. It’s not a hard name at all. Heck, it’s one syllable, damn it! So why can’t everyone get it right? Continue reading
1958 - 2009
I know some have said they are sick of the over-coverage of the passing of MJ. But I think as everyone bids farewell for the final send off to MJ today at his memorial service, I wanted to express a few things about MJ and his impact. As a nerdy, little Asian kid growing up in the 80′s, MJ had a profound impact on me. I remember when ‘Thriller’ first came out and I listened to that cassette tape on my boombox until the tape got ruined. They say he represented the broad cross-over and for me, he was just that. I can’t remmeber what kind of music I listened to (except classical) before MJ. And after MJ’s ‘Thriller’, that’s when I started to listen to other black artists and just other types of music in general. During this time, I was taking classical piano lessons learning from Chopin to Bach and then I discovered ‘Billie Jean’. I wanted to learn this song so bad that I begged my classical piano teacher to teach me how to play ‘Billie Jean’ on the piano. Hence, the cross-over from classical into pop music. Before I was exposed to the Beatles, before Depeche Mode, and before U2, it was all MJ and I’ll never forget the impact he had on me. He was testament to how much influence he had on music, pop culture, and even race. At the height of his popularity, he was loved by people around the globe.
Today will be the final send off to MJ. I think it’s truly fitting for the world to gather for just a moment and pay respects to a person who was so gifted, talented, and special. Icons like MJ only come once in a lifetime. MJ’s life is a story of triumph, of celebration, and of tragedy. Life goes on and time never stops. But at least for a few minutes, we can reminesce about his music and his legacy.
"Why do most Americans treat the elders like crap?"
Typically, in Asian culture, respect for the elders (senior citizens), such as grandmothers and grandfathers, is very important. In Korean, we change the entire way of speaking when talking and addressing to an elder. It consists of a more formalized language that’s indicative of respect. When I was in Korea, you give up your seat in the subway when an elder is present. You bow and never call them out by saying “hey!” You open doors and never smoke in their presence. When you are drinking beer, you turn to the right and then drink. You should pour the drink for them with both hands. You definitely don’t curse or utter profanities in front of them. You don’t talk over them or talk to them as if they are beneath you.
But in American culture, it seems the older generations get treated like shit sometimes. There seems to be no respect. They are sometimes viewed as a nuisance because they are slow drivers on the road. It seems they are forgotten and turned away by society. I’ve seen people yell, scream, and curse in front of their grandparents. If you’re Asian, you have to agree with me that the idea of respect for the elders is more prevalent and important amongst Asians than the general American population. The “oldies” in America, such as the aging baby boomers, are considered old fashion and passé. They are not viewed as wise and full of life with lots of fascinating stories. What do you think?