Thursday, November 23, 2006

spare me my life!

throughout japan's protracted economic recession, crime rates remained low by international standards. as a visiting american criminologist, my japanese friends would often ask questions that seemed to presume scarface-level crime rates all over america. for example, a middle school student in osaka asked me whether my (middle-school-aged) children brought guns to school, to little league games, and other venues (they also asked about illicit drugs, but that's another post). i guess one can blame american cultural products, which tend to feature lots of violence. plus, by any measure, we really do have a lot of guns in this country.

perhaps all this explains the disturbing content and peculiar selection of commonly used english phrases in the video above. never in my forays into spanish, french, japanese, and norwegian language instruction, do i recall learning the phrase, spare me my life.* maybe i did learn it, but just can't remember because there wasn't a video featuring george castanza with half a brassiere on his head and a catchy dance number to accompany the lesson. as for the other bizarre features in the clip (is this thing for real? what's with the zoom into the shoulder? the marching and smiling?), you're on your own.

*sadly, i failed miserably at all but norwegian, in which i failed semi-respectably. i have tremendous respect for folks with real language skills. let's see, i think they started me off with food ("pass me the butter") in intro norsk, and we spent a lot of time on monsieur thibaut's hat in french. i came across some interesting phrases involving etiquette in japanese public baths, but nothing life-threatening.

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