Friday, October 30, 2009

Japan PM’s Reading Blunder

Reading Japanese isn’t easy – even for the Japanese.
Take Prime Minister Taro Aso. He’s made so many public blunders that an opposition lawmaker tried to give him a reading test during a televised session of parliament.

Makes me think of that Guinness beer commercial that has the tag line that is “Brilliant”

The Japanese leader bungled the word for “frequent,” calling Japan-China exchanges “cumbersome” instead. Another time, he misread the word “toshu” (follow), saying “fushu” – or stench – and sounded as if he were saying government policy “stinks.”
While the media and Aso’s political rivals have been quick to heap ridicule, many Japanese have seen a bit more of themselves in Aso’s goofs than they would like to admit. Since his missteps, books designed to improve reading ability have become all the rage.
Aso’s nemesis is his mother tongue’s notoriously tricky mishmash of Chinese characters and its two sets of indigenous syllabaries.
Here is what he – and all Japanese – are up against.

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