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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Manko And The Art Of Communication

What we have here, is a failure to communicate. Except maybe not for people like me.

The Japanese word in the headline—manko—is indeed a very naughty word… a word used in a slang manner to describe a female body part that rhymes with mulva.

The p-word. The c-word. Manko.

Manko (まんこ) is pronounced mahn-ko.;

Is it a naughty word or a vulgar word? It depends on when it’s used and how it’s used and why it’s used.

It is obviously not used in polite company, or even in most impolite companies. I’ve known about it, and even during sexy romps with girlfriends have never had just cause to use the term.

i don’t have a problem with the word, I just never found a use for it.

It’s just a word. Word’s only have power (both positive and negative) because we (people) give it that power. Actually. The words have no power. It’s just that’s we perceive them to have power.

I first learned the word from a class of junior high school boys who were interested in learning naughty English words in exchange for them teaching me naught Japanese words.

This brings up a very interesting conundrum.

Should you, as the so-called responsible adult in the situation, refrain from teaching your youthful charges such language?

I did.

A part of me questioned my role in this 26 years ago, and again a few years ago when I wrote about it in this blog.

Here’s my reasoning as to WHY I did not hold back.

Before arriving in Japan, I made up my mind that if any Japanese person asked me a question in English—no matter how personally embarrassing—I would give them an honest answer.

My reasons for this were simple.

As the essentially second wave of JETs (Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme) applicants to go to Japan in 1990, one of our core missions was to promote internationalization and to help the Japanese youth speak better English and to encourage their learning of the language.

I had eight kids begging me—in English—to teach them naughty English words. That covers all three things, including “internationalization.”

Most people don’t know what internationalization is.

For most, it involves teaching the Japanese that they aren’t JUST Japanese, but are part of a larger international community—global, if you will.

The way I understood it, and went about promoting internationalization, was to show that despite skin color, language differences, the way or societies work, gender differences… that we were all the same underneath.

Just people.

We love, we hate, we laugh, we cry, we eat, sing, dance, play and work. We might do it differently, but we all do it. Hells, everybody poops. If you prick me, do I not leak? Just like good editing, that’s prickless. Thanks, Vinnie! You know why!

These teenagers came up to me and asked me in English - broken that it was - if I could teach them English words.

They wanted to learn English.

In much the same way that every teenager since 1972 who picks up a musical instrument first learns to play Deep Purple’s Smoke On The Water opening baseline, so too do the majority of kids want to learn all the naughty words of whatever language they are forced to learn—every teenager around the world… or maybe just every teenage boy around the world is that way.

Hells… I wanted to learn all the naughty Japanese words in case I was out drinking with the local men (At that time in late 1990, likely) or having sex with the local women (at that time in late 1990, not all that likely).

With the guys—and this is an important way to melt away the international heaviness that exists when you first arrive in Japan—sharing or bonding over a drink while having a laugh and teaching everyone swear words—holy crap… you are in like Flint. In Like Flint is a 1967 sequel spy flick where our man Flint takes on a cabal of women plotting to rule the world.

The Urban Dictionary, however says I’m stoopid, because the original term is “In Like Flynn” and comes from sexy movie star Errol Flynn - a notorious ladies man.

However… since I know all about the movie, I ain’t that stoopid.

As far as those kids go, when they asked me if I liked “shakuhachi”, I assumed they meant the clarinet… or straight Japanese wooden flute. Sure, I said.

They all laughed and pounded each other on the back. Okay… so whatever I thought it meant, I was correct, but obviously there was an alternative, slang meaning.

Because of it’s shape, and because of how one blows on the top of it, one pantomimed description later I realized it was a term for fellatio… er, that’s the polite term, of course.

I realized I would have to give up playing the clarinet… the old black licorice stick.

I can honestly say that I had a great time talking with those students of the English language.

And I know they had a great time talking to me.

There were no internationalization fears. I was just one of the guys. We shared, we laughed, we even learned.

I helped promote internationalization, helped the Japanese youth speak better English, and even encouraged their learning of the language.

Maybe they couldn’t order food at McDonald’s in New York, but I made them enjoy English.

I’m not wunderkind when it comes to language. I barely know a noun from a verb, and I certainly do not posses any skills in picking up more than a few words in a dozen languages.

Is it any wonder that the words I do know relate to sex or me hitting on a woman?

Stick to your strengths, and learn what might help you. I did, and I did many times. Sometimes in the same evening. LOL!

Now… this will be extremely sexist of me, but thank Buddha I never had a female teenage student ask me anything like that.

They would ask me if I had a girlfriend—already knowing the answer because they would see Ashley with me all the time, and I mean all the time.  

While Ashley preferred to keep such things private, I had no such qualms. Ashley came off looking lady-like, me cool, because I had no problem in being open. At least that’s MY view of things. Ashley probably thought I was a complete a$$, though I never told her that’s what I was doing. I only learned of her viewpoint afterwards, when she complained about all of the personal question she got when she taught at the Ohtawara (city) Girl’s High School on occasion. Her usual gig was the Boy’s High School.

I always figured that kids talk - big brothers and sisters chat… or they can see how we interacted with each other… they knew we were a couple.

To me, being open—which is how I try to be here in this blog—is the crux of how we learn… as well as how we can learn from our mistakes.

Too much information? Maybe… I’ve never had an issue with that phrase… but I think that term depends on how the information is presented.

Andrew Joseph
PS: At the top is an album cover from the Ohio, U.S rock group Mom's Apple Pie (self-titled), featuring what has been described a s lurid album cover, rendered by artist Nick Caruso in a Norman Rockwell-like fashion.
The album artwork features exactly what you think it features.
Strangely, although having admired the album art many a time when shopping at the used records store The Vinyl Museum back in the late 1970s-1980s, I never bought a copy. Probably because it was expensive then, and I had never heard of the group. Unfortunately, up until yesterday (and YouTube), I had never listened to their music. It's kindda acid, rock jazz... not bad, actually... and the singer is most excellent.

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