I encountered a delicious etymological treat this week. Emojis! 😋I did not know that “emoji” is a Japanese word. I thought it was the internet’s way of taking the word “emotion” and shortening it or combining it with something, as the internet loves to do. It was a light bulb moment. 💡 Ah, ha! This is why there are so many Japanese kanji and Japanese cultural items in the emoji library!
Life has come full circle. There is a completeness, and the story now has a happy ending.
Allow me to set the context:
An American student of mine, dutifully gave me a gift as his mother had told him to do. As it is no secret that I love plants (as they adorn my classroom, and I cultivate the edible garden outside the cafeteria) I am assuming that this gift was a thoughtful way of encouraging this passion of mine.
I was teaching a Mommy and Me English as a Second Language class to a lovely young mother and her two-year-old son. The lesson’s topic was body parts. Not wanting to use Japanese to explain the meaning, I would touch the location of the vocabulary word and then move such anatomy in a goofy way. This game was quite popular with the two-year-old, and I was feeling on fire as a teacher, for we were in that beautiful intersection of learning, engagement, and genuine joy.
I said, “Touch your chin,” and proceeded to place my finger on my mentum; however, Japanese-toddler logic mandated not the mentum as modeled, but what he very knew to be his chin. You see, “chin-chin” (ちんちん) is the Japanese kid word for penis.
At this year’s Christmas party, my 92-year-old grandfather in law said: “When foreigners eat sushi, it really is peace, isn’t it.” Well, actually he said: 「外国人が寿司を食べる時、本当に平和だね。
(Our family eats sushi in our Christmas spread, and the traditional KFC, Japanese Christmas cake as well as mash potatoes, turkey, and pizza. [We have a large extended international family, and everybody brings something they want to eat, potluck style, and all benefit deliciously.])
This was contemplating on how to work in a nap (I have a newborn.) without being rude when Ji-Chan (Japanese for Grandpa), who only says something when it needs saying, made the aforementioned comment. Three things happened at once.