Ever since I got here, there’s been this somewhat cocky kid (from sports day? “Number one cool”) who says things to me in English which, from a native speaker, would be clear trespass in the world of appropriate. He started with “My favorite food is lemon because it is your name!” So I pretended to think that comments like “You are delicious” and “I’d rather eat you than lunch” were innocent plays on words performed by an inexpert speaker of English.
Excellent. You can turn a perfectly innocent eye to many things.
Today, I saw him in the hall, and he said “I like you!”
Em: “I like you too! Let’s be friends.”
Him: “Friends..?” (gesturing a step up from that) “Friends.. ijou!” [More than friends!]
Em: “No, no, no, no; muri, muri muri!” [Impossible!]
I heard him telling his friends about it later and yelled up the stairwell, “I can hear you, you know! Don’t you be gossiping about me!”
EDIT: I talk to my students sometimes in a very conversational tone, as though they were understanding every word. I know they aren’t and half the time I’m counting on that. I dressed up in a skirt and my Emma Pillsbury sweater for my last class with the 3rd years, and I caught number-one-cool checking me out in the stairway mirror. I turned to the girls I was with and told them “That was so obvious, and so many kinds of not okay.” I heard The Maker of Spreadsheets in my voice, when I said it, and missed GHP.
Second thing: Gender Specific Title Bending
The three English teachers at my school are all male. This is normally completely insignificant, but the students are taught to call them “Mr.” when addressing them in English class. Most people will simply do a direct translation, and since sensei means ‘teacher,’ they’ll turn Mikan-sensei into “Mikan teacher.” But our English teachers are wise to the fact that we don’t say it that way in English-speakin’ countries.
So early on, the kids had a funny moment of greeting me in the start of class.
Ex: “Good morning everyone.”
“Good morning Mistaa Kermit.”
“Good morning class!”
“Good morning Mis..taa.? Emily.”
Some of them got it right, some of them didn’t but I laughed and told them for me it should be “miss” or just plain ol’ “Emily.”
Later on, one of my most energetic (noisiest, but sharp) first year boys (let’s call him Ryou) accidentally (?) called me “Mistaa” out of habit. This got a laugh so he started doing it more regularly, but not in class, mostly just in the hallways. He would wave to me and say “Hello mistaa Emily!” and sometimes dart into a nearby classroom to evade my wrath.
My wrath instead takes linguistic form. Whenever (and only when, because sometimes he doesn’t) I reply “Hello, Ryou-chan!”
Boys normally get the title “-kun” attached to the end of their names, is they are of the same rank or lower, that is. I’ve noticed the teachers often call the boys “kun.” They often call girls with either “-san,” or “-chan.” I think it depends largely on the personality of the girl. “Chan” is what they put on the end of Hello-Kitty’s name.
So it’s the cute-little-girl denotation. Hello Ryou-chan!
The most fun part for me is the reaction his classmates provide. They might laugh a little when he calls me “Mister Emily,” but they lose their damn minds when they hear me greet him brightly as Ryou-chan.
He hasn’t done it in a while.