30 April 2012

How Nihongo has given birth to new languages, and the case of the missing Beef Misono, Chicken Teriyaki, and Torikatsu

Read this interesting article from Tofugu, entitled "How Japanese gives birth to new languages," via this (ad-supported) link: http://j.gs/uxx. That article reminded me of the most popular "Japanese" fast-food chain in the Philippines, Tokyo Tokyo, and their Beef Misono (and now, even Tuna Misono).

I asked a Japanese colleague where can I find Beef Misono here in Japan. He said, there is no such thing! Indeed, if you google Beef Misono, all you'll find are blogs talking about and posting pictures of Tokyo Tokyo's Beef Misono, as well as recipes by Filipino cooks attempting to re-create one of Tokyo Tokyo's bestsellers. After some wikipeding (yeah, I just invented that word, because while many might call this research, it is not, contrary to popular belief), I found that Misono is the name of a rather popular Japanese steak restaurant that originated from Kobe (and now has 5 branches around Japan). Perhaps that was the intention of Tokyo Tokyo, to bring that rather posh Japanese restaurant's specialty to the masses. But it has become a whole new word that most Filipinos might think is an authentic Japanese dish. In any case, we can just simply say Beef Misono is part of Filipino language and culture, and obviously of Japanese influence. A borrowed term, yeah, much like how the Tagalog word bundok is now a word (boondocks) in the English vocabulary. At this point, I remember how eating at Yoshinoya in the Philippines isn't at all like eating at Yoshinoya here in Japan. Oh well.

From the article I mentioned, they also mentioned things like Spam Musubi. And of course, things like California Maki is not at all invented in Japan. I also asked my Japanese friend about Chicken Teriyaki and "Torikatsu." I told him that I noticed that torikatsu is never called torikatsu here; instead it is called "chikin katsu." But of course, people here would probably understand what torikatsu might be. I also told him that I noticed that "chicken teriyaki" as a term is not quite that often used here for things that clearly resemble the chicken teriyaki we usually have outside of Japan; heck, it is not even that much common a type of food here. By the way. I love Spam Musubi. :9

I should add here that before coming here, I thought "Katsu" is a Japanese word that is Japanese in origin. I found out that it is actually "borrowed" from the English language: "cuts" or "cutlets." So a chikin katsu dish actually contains chicken cutlets, tonkatsu for pork cutlets, hamukatsu for ham cutlets, and so on. But that's more or less all the usual katsu dishes here. Otherwise, they would call other similarly deep fried, breaded dishes as "kurokku," i.e. croquettes.

Speaking of the relationship between the language people in Hawaii speak and Nihongo... Some 30-year old babies who've lived in their houses with no doors and windows to the world, upon coming here and hearing of the place called "Hawaii," the very first thing they ask is, "Is that a part of Japan?" Well, aren't they so kawaii?

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