Life in Seika, Japan

Howdy there! My name is Kai and I am the Coordinator for International Relations in Seika Town, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. Hopefully by reading this blog you all will get a good picture of what life is like in Seika town, and all the great things that happen down here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Old MacDonald マクドナルド祖父ちゃん

This week I went to one of the local elementary schools where I was asked to talk to the kids about American nursery rhymes and songs. Since its been affirmed by almost all of my friends that I have a terrible singing voice I made the easy choice to just bring a CD of children’s songs with me. I was able to find a great website that has free downloads of most of the traditional songs I used to sing as a child ( I went around to all of the four 4th grade classes at the school and I played songs like; Wheels on the Bus, If You’re Happy and You Know It, and Old MacDonald, etc. They have a Japanese version of If You’re Happy and You Know It so the kids were already familiar with that one. They liked Wheels on the Bus because I had them act out all of the actions that are sung about in the song. But the funniest thing was when I played Old MacDonald. I explained that it was a song about a farmer with lots of animals. Most Japanese kids are also familiar with this song too but the only part that they actually know the words is the ‘ee I eei oh’ part from “Old MacDonald had a farm, Ee i ee i oh!” That’s because it sounds almost exactly like saying, “iya iya yo” in Japanese, which basically translates as “that’s disgusting!” Like if you were disgusted with something someone said and you wanted to completely deny it by saying “that’s disgusting!” So when we were singing the song the kids got really into that one part of the song and a few kids started squeezing their noses with one hand while waving the other and singing “iya iya yo.” When I asked them what was so offensive they said that they were saying “that’s disgusting!” because it was so stinky from all of the animals. I thought it was so funny and I was totally cracking up every time we sang it and all 30 of the kids starting holding their noses and waving their hands while singing “that’s disgusting!” Ah, the surprises of cross cultural exchange!

Also, Old MacDonald turned out to be a good little English lesson because of all the animal noises. In Japanese the onomatopoeia for animals is totally from what we use in American English. For instance in Japanese; cows don’t ‘muu’ they ‘moo’ (pronounced like mow in mowing the lawn), and dogs don’t go ‘arrff-arrff’ they “wan-wan”. They thought it was crazy that American pigs sound like ‘oink-oink’ because Japanese pigs sound like ‘bu-bu’. All in all it was really a really funny day and pretty productive as far as international exchange goes.

今週、僕が地域小学校で子供達にアメリカの童謡を教えることになりました。僕は下手糞な歌手ということが殆どの友達に確認されたので、童謡のCDを持って行くことにしました。あるインターネットサイトでたくさんの懐かしい童謡を無料にダウンロードできました(。小学校四年生の4つの教室に回って、色んな曲(Wheels on the Bus, If You’re Happy and You Know It, Old MacDonald等)を聞かせました。If You’re Happy and You Know Itという曲が日本語では「しあわせなら」があるので、子供達もう知っていました。そして、Wheels on the Busはバスのアクションと乗客の運動の真似をさせたので、子供は好きでした。でも、Old MacDonaldを聞かせるのが一番面白かったです。音楽を流す前にマクドナルド祖父ちゃんがたくさんの動物を持っている農業者の話を説明しました。日本人もこの曲が知っているらしいが、歌詞は一つの部分しか知らなかったです。それは“Old MacDonald had a farm, Ee i ee i oh!”の中の“Ee i ee i oh!”です。なぜなら“Ee i ee i oh!”と日本語で言うと「いやいやよ」と聞こえます。この歌詞だけですごく盛り上がり、一緒に歌いながら、2,3人が手で鼻を詰めて、他の手を振っていました。僕が「何がいやだの?」と聞いたときに、子供が「いっぱい動物がいるから臭くて、いやいやよ!」 それは非常に面白くて、30人の生徒が手で鼻を詰めて、他の手を振って、「いやいやよ」を歌っている姿を見たら大笑いしていました。国際交流が面白いなと思っていました。

そして、Old MacDonaldという曲が動物の鳴き声があるので、いい英語の勉強になりました。アメリカの英語と日本語の動物の鳴き声の擬声語が違います。例えば、牛が日本語で「モウ」だけど、英語で「ムウ」で、犬は「ワンワン」じゃなくて、「アルフアルフ」を鳴きます。豚の鳴き声が英語で「オインクオインク」と教えたときに子供達が「ありえない」と言っていました。結局面白い一日で、かなりいい国際交流ができました。

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