More than just books

The New York Public Library lets you check out more than just books. You can also borrow neckties, briefcases and bags to help you dress appropriately for job interviews. The program is to help students and other people who may not be able to afford such things.

“Time to Dress Up: Introducing the NYPL Grow Up Work Fashion Library”

To write about and discuss:

Do you think this service would be popular in Japan? Would you use it? What kinds of other things do you think students in Japan would like to borrow? Would you donate?

The name of this program is called “Grow Up”. One commenter suggested this wasn’t a great name. Can you think of a better name?

Another commenter says that neckties should no longer be part of a job interview “uniform”. What do you think about that? What is the “uniform” for job interviews in Japan? Do you think the customary wardrobe (and undyed hair) should change?

 

 

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A different kind of translation

This topic may seem a little far from the lives of Japanese college students, but it’s a chance to learn a little more about an important part of world history.

Zora Neale Hurston was a famous American author (students: talk to me if you want to learn more about her, or try researching her on your own) and in the early 20th century, she interviewed a man named Cudjo Lewis in order to write a book about him. Why? Because he was the last survivor of the last slave ship that arrived in America. Lewis’ birth name was Oluale Kossula, and he was born in Benin and kidnapped and sold into slavery when he was 19 years old. Hurston spent 3 months interviewing him.

The book was never published in her lifetime (she died in 1960). She wrote most of the book using Kossula’s dialect, and publishers didn’t think the book would sell well. But it has recently been published and I’m excited to read it. It’s also available on audio, and for a book like this, I’ll probably do both.

Here’s an article about this from Vulture. And it includes an excerpt from the book. A translation challenge for you is to see if you can intepret the dialect. It may help to try reading aloud.

Here’s an example:

Original:

“De war commences but we doan know ’bout it when it start. Den somebody tell me de folkses way up in de North make de war so dey free us. I lak hear dat. But we wait and wait, we heard de guns shootee sometime but nobody don’t come tell us we free. So we think maybe dey fight ’bout something else.”

Translation:

The war (the Civil War) started but we didn’t know about it. Then somebody told me that people in the North started the war to free us (the slaves). I was happy to hear that. But we waited and waited, and we heard gunshots sometimes. But nobody came to tell us that we were free. So we though they were probably fighting about something else.”

Mixing kawaii and grotesque

Comedian Naomi Watanabe may be “the Japanese Beyonce” (also here) and people have for years been saying that Hayao Miyazaki is “the Japanese Walt Disney” (see this and this and this for example). Now this article from the BBC asks, “Is Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Japan’s Lady Gaga?” (it’s mostly an interview with the eccentric Japanese singer and fashion icon).

Some highlights:

  • Her image is called a combination of “kawaii and grotesque”. (That’s similar to Gaga.)
  • She likes Starbucks but doesn’t like coffee. (Maybe not so uncommon these days?)
  • Her private look is not as colorful as her public persona. (Makes sense.)
  • She doeesn’t mind being compared to Gaga, but they are both evolving, she says.

Summary task: Continue reading the interview and summarize your own “highlights”.