Abley highlights the enthusiasm of Japanese youths for new words based on English. Among these fashionable yuusu, milk is known as "miruku" because the Anglicism seems more hygienic than the old word, "gyuunyuu", literally "cow breast".
Meanwhile a four o'clock rendezvous at McDonald's - "a postmodern tea ceremony" - is simply an "M4".
Lashings of irony are in evidence: a voguish way of saying "nothing important" is "zenbei ga naita" (literally, "the entire United States wept"); to visit Disneyland Tokyo is "to flog the mouse".
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Henry Hitchings on Mark Abley's The Prodigal Tongue: Dispatches from the Future of English: