Saturday, July 19, 2008


How the mighty are fallen

Thanks to Karate Kid (Best Kid to those of us who live in a country where Karate is no laughing matter), the Japanese suffix -san is known to all and sundry. Naturally, I heard no shortage of "Daniel-san" at secondary school and I can even boast a Coventry City shirt with the same printed on the back, courtesy of the SBA.

Less well known in the west are the other suffixes. Whilst -san is a nice generic marker (Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms: delete as applicable), it would be the height of bad form to call someone a -san when their social rank demands otherwise. I caught Machida-sensei referring to me as Dan-san in front of the students once and I gave him A Look. After that, it was Dan-sensei all the way.

Not that I consider myself a sensei, but the "give an inch, take a mile" rule is poignantly applicable in the case of junior high students, and it's a short step from the teachers calling me Dan-san to the third years calling me Dan-kun and owning me in the toilets.

At elementary school, I sidestepped the whole tortuous business by insisting that everyone just call me Dan.

Anyway, for those who can't resist a bit of schadenfraude, here's a nice few examples of suffixes relating to AVON'S erstwhile president Nozom Sahashi:

Sahashi-company-president: used in the newspapers until about November last year.

Sahashi-ex-company-president, used after AVON's collapse, then followed by...

Sahashi-suspect (lit: "suspicious person"), which really brightened up my day the first time I read it in the newspaper, but has since escalated to:


I look forward to the day when I can open up the Mainichi and see the kanji for Sahashi-jailbird.

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