Sunday, March 6, 2011

English As She Is Spoke

Back in January, Kim went off to San Francisco for a conference.

To make up for the fact that the rest of us had to stay here in Wisconsin, even before the current time of troubles, when she returned Kim brought us Goodies. Among them were two Japanese-style soup bowls that we have come to call “Ponyo bowls,” after the movie in which we first saw them.

They’re beige earthenware bowls about eight inches across and maybe a couple inches deep, with flanges so you can carry them without burning your fingers. They also come with a dome-shaped lid that fits nicely onto the edge of the bowl and has an indentation for chopsticks, should you be inclined to eat soup with chopsticks.

So perhaps it is not surprising that these bowls came with instruction sheets.

Instruction sheets that were clearly written originally in Japanese and then translated into English by someone who regarded the English language as an enemy to be outwitted rather than an ally to be pressed into service.

“The earthen pot is brittleness, please be more carefully when you carry.”

And isn’t that the truth?

I think this is good advice in general, actually.

Soup bowls are not the only things that can be more brittle than they appear, that are subject to fracture when treated without respect.

Public trust, for example.

Republics. Democracies.

All sorts of things.

You take your life lessons where you find them, and sometimes you find them in just the oddest of places.

1 comment:

Beatrice Desper said...

These bowls remind me of the stickers on our video stores' DVDs: fragile, handle with care.