anthem in engrish.

I don't know why, but I find this awesome:

Japanese who object to being forced to sing their country's national anthem have a secret weapon: the English language. Kiss Me, an English parody of the
Kimigayo, has spread through the internet and was sung by teachers and pupils at recent school entrance and graduation ceremonies, local media reported yesterday.

The song, whose composer remains a mystery, takes the syllables of each word of the Japanese original and turns them into phonetically similar English words, allowing non-conformist singers to escape detection. For example, "Kimigayo wa" becomes "Kiss me girl, your old one".

full story.

Consider the whole 'engrish' phenomenon, or its equivalent in North America. In both cases, language is used incorrectly, causing humourous nonsense. Some cases of 'engrish' are simply elementary mistakes; the use of the language is meant to portray meaning.

More often, however, the meaning of language is drained and the form of language is co-opted for its exoticism. That's not to say that all those Chinese character tattoos that were popular a few years ago didn't have a meaning per se, but the communication of that meaning was purely a secondary concern. Considering how little effort was put into getting these things right, both the form and content communicate little more than artful nonsense. (off-topic: has anyone seen any of these 'permanent' tattoos lately? Did they all dry up? Can all these rich kids afford laser treatment or what?)

You can imagine the howls of protest that might have arisen from the Frankfurt school: capitalism and subjectivized reason, having conquered all comers, having transformed science into the development of new pills, having undermined religion and relegated it to the realm of a 'lifestyle commodity', has razed the final frontier: it has innoculated language against meaning, in order to create a commodity. When our shirts say nonsense, and we communicate only in pop-culture references, what chance does liberation have? In Orwell's 1984, the objective was to manipulate language until there could be no word for 'Freedom.' Without a word, how can freedom be imagined? Our own totalitarian state, once again, has laid bare the primitive nature of the Stalinist authoritarianism... a centralized bureaucracy, manufacturing and actively enforcing a new language is far too inefficient. Not when the masses can be compelled to participate in the destruction of meaning...

But it's not quite so simple as all that... now we have this anthem, which 'blesses the emperor for a thousand years', converted stealthily into nonsense. It's an act of ingenious subversion. Respect for state power, enforced by law and punishment, is reduced to white noise. But wasn't it white noise all along?
I was enrolled in French immersion from Kindergarten up until the end of high school. In grade one, we started learning the anthem... in French. We didn't know what those words meant. We learned them phonetically. It was like a practical joke for us, a game...

English Translation of the French Version of the National Anthem

1. O Canada! Land of our forefathers
Thy brow is wreathed with a glorious garland of flowers.
As in thy arm ready to wield the sword,
So also is it ready to carry the cross.
Thy history is an epic of the most brilliant exploits.

Thy valour steeped in faith
Will protect our homes and our rights
Will protect our homes and our rights.

Without knowing, we were following the example of these Japanese rebels: without changing the form of the sounds emanating from our mouths, we denied them their meaning. This was good enough for bored teachers, and for the state. But now that people are doing it willfully, actively and with awareness, the situation changes-- nonsense becomes a tool of rebellion. Traditionalists cannot bring themselves to admit that all these anthems have been white noise all along, and so there will be howls of protest, and calls to punish those singing 'kiss me' instead of 'kimi.' But how do you tell the difference? Through parody, some enterprising Japanese have illuminated their anthem's true nature. Through nonsense, meaning is created where there was none before...

^^ the anti-irony t-shirt


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