Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ace serve

There are some situations that are just going to be awkward. Finding yourself opposite a dozen wide-eyes students who are all clearly anxious about having to speak English to this prospective British faculty member is bound to be one of them. I nodded, smiled encouragingly and wished I could help out by discussing my research in Japanese but ... well, I couldn't.

"What does your favourite character in Harry Potter teach?"

The question wasn't put to me but to a master's student who gulped audibly. The idea was a great one; start a conversation about an incredibly popular British-based franchise to kick off the conversation. The problem was that the professor who poised the question hadn't read the books himself and didn't realise that the answer was unlikely to be in a list of common English vocabulary:

'Apple... chair... book... school... transfiguration...' No, I couldn't see it.

Fortunately, this was an idea I could use but with a small twist.

"I like Japanese anime," I volunteered.

"Ah! Which ones?" came back an enthusiastic question.

"Prince of tennis?" I paused. "Tenisu no Oujisama?"

"Tenisu no Oujisama! Mada mada dane!" The response rang down the table from every student.

Problem solved.
Ore-sama no bigi ni yoi na.

("Mada mada dane" is the catch phrase of the anime series' progenitor, Echizen Ryoma. It obnoxiously means "You still have a long way to go". "Ore-sama no bigi ni yoi na" is said by one of the rival team members, translating to "Be awed at the sight of my prowess".)

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