Respect for other cultures' rituals...

>> Thursday, April 9, 2009

Is just too hard for some people. Because some people are convinced that if Americans can say something one way, then that's automatically the correct way, regardless of whether it's American. Because if you aren't familiar with another culture and decide to appropriate its rituals in your blog post, then that should just be okay regardless of whether you know what you're talking about.

I'm speaking of someone who decided to use "hari kari" in a blog post.

It's hara kiri. It has never been "hari kari," which is often pronounced "Harry Carry" by English speakers (usually Americans), who don't know what the fuck they're talking about.

This particular instance was committed by Ms. Shannyn Moore of Alaska, who decided to refer to the recent resignation of Alaska's Attorney General (Talis Colberg) as "a sort of kamikaze hari kari act to save the Queen."
Did Mr. Colberg die? Is he ill? How the fucking hell is "kamikaze hari kari" a relevant metaphor?

Oh wait, it's not. But Ms. Moore feels it's entirely appropriate to misrepresent Japanese culture and MISSPELL it in her snarky dirge.

I pointed the error out in a comment. Ms. Moore decided an English dictionary was the authority on Japanese culture in her response.

"Hari Kari" doesn't mean anything in Japanese. It's HARA KIRI, i.e. to cut (kiri) the hara (gut).

Amazing how Americans feel the need to mutilate simple words for no reason. And yes, it is a subtle form of racism. Because if you take ballet in the U.S., it's completely acceptable to use French words for the activity such as jeté and plié. But, oh no, if something is from Asia, then it has to be Americanized into words Americans can remember and mock at the same time.

Because that's what "hari kari" (pronounced "Harry Carry") is. Mocking Japanese culture because you don't understand it.

3 comments:

Janel B 10 April, 2009 14:43  

Perhaps this quote from wikipedia would've helped: "Harakiri (or hara-kiri) most often refers to a form of seppuku (or ritual suicide), often miswritten as "harikari"." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harakiri_(film)

Emi,  21 April, 2009 22:18  

I agree with you! It is a subtle form of racism. I'm glad that you wrote this post because we must speak-up. and BE heard. <3 !!

House of Brat 24 April, 2009 22:58  

Yeah, sometimes I think if more people spoke up about it that more people could become aware of what they're saying. Unfortunately it doesn't come up that often.

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