Let's Speak English
April 8, 2015 6:58 AM   Subscribe

Let's Speak English! Cartoonist Mary Cagle's adorable tales of teaching English in Japan.
posted by overeducated_alligator (49 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite
 
This one, about an *off-color* word appearing on a t-shirt made me think of all the much stronger language I've seen on shirts and bags and whatnot, over the years here in Japan. Just the other day I saw a young woman with a baseball cap on, embroidered onto which was, in big bold letters: FUCK SUMMER.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:13 AM on April 8, 2015 [20 favorites]


When I lived in Japan briefly in the late 80s I essentially collected those. I eventually ditched most of them, but held on to the one with the logo for a then-famous tennis company that said, in block caps: "GIVE ME HEAD!"
posted by The Bellman at 7:21 AM on April 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh gosh, these are insanely charming.
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:40 AM on April 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've had several friends/relatives who have gone off to teach English in Japan, and this sounds very much like their stories (only more adorable).

Excellent find!
posted by blurker at 7:56 AM on April 8, 2015


Just the other day I saw a young woman with a baseball cap on, embroidered onto which was, in big bold letters: FUCK SUMMER.

Could I paypal you a bunch of money to send me one?
posted by SharkParty at 8:00 AM on April 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


YOU HAVE JUST STOLEN SOME OF MY MORNING. But I will forgive you, because adorbs.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:05 AM on April 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


in big bold letters: FUCK SUMMER.

Maybe it's a vintage original from 1967.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:06 AM on April 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I saw a young woman with a baseball cap on, embroidered onto which was, in big bold letters: FUCK SUMMER.

Living in Atlanta, I need that.

Also I want more of this comic. MOAR!
posted by Fleebnork at 8:10 AM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


This comic is wonderful and I hope the grumpy tanuki ghost becomes a recurring character.
posted by griphus at 8:11 AM on April 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


These are really good. She's an excellent cartoonist.
posted by doctor_negative at 8:18 AM on April 8, 2015


I saw a young woman with a baseball cap on, embroidered onto which was, in big bold letters: FUCK SUMMER.

My Parents Cometh, part 3: "The surprising hats".
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:21 AM on April 8, 2015


Those are great. Thanks.
posted by yoink at 8:34 AM on April 8, 2015


i love ghost tanuki
posted by leotrotsky at 8:38 AM on April 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Love the art; found some of the strips opaque (which in most cases probably speaks to how much I don't know about Japan) and many of them excellent.
posted by Zed at 9:16 AM on April 8, 2015


> found some of the strips opaque (which in most cases probably speaks to how much I don't know about Japan)

Me too. Fortunately she provides just enough explanation in her notes below each comic.
posted by ardgedee at 9:22 AM on April 8, 2015


This is a friggin' delight. Thanks for sharing!
posted by Kitteh at 9:32 AM on April 8, 2015


I'm surprisingly glad to learn that seeing your teacher in public is a universally weird thing for kids.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:48 AM on April 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh my god, I need this.
posted by halifix at 9:58 AM on April 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Flowers all dying. Children are danger." is also universal. I like these a lot.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:59 AM on April 8, 2015 [2 favorites]




Oh my goodness, this is amazing. I actually have a good friend who spent some time studying in Japan and is now a speech therapist for (American) children. She is also very tall. I'm super excited to send this to her; I'm sure it will make her day.
posted by sciatrix at 10:16 AM on April 8, 2015


When I was in Japan over the winter I saw a couple of people carrying shopping bags from a place called "Rodeo Crowns" (complete with a picture of a crown). I really wanted one of those bags but not enough to track the store down to get one.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:49 AM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


My favorite "Japanese kids say stuff" comment is from emmling here on the Blue

This comic, however, is great.

Ghost Tanuki is the best!
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:50 AM on April 8, 2015


I wish I had written down all the funny things my ESL students have said over the years. Today we were practicing months of the year. I asked, "when does winter end?" They said "never." (We're in Massachusetts.)
posted by chaiminda at 10:53 AM on April 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


Are you sure they weren't trying to say 'November' in the local accent? (You are in Massachusetts.)
posted by benito.strauss at 11:11 AM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I taught English in Japan in the 1990s. One night, in line to get into a club, a group of kids was studying me intently. Then one said very seriously, "your nose is so tall!" Also, I used to get stopped for my autograph every few weeks. I never had any idea what D-list celebrity they thought I might be, or why I'd be wandering around some midsize city in Hyogo Prefecture.
posted by bassomatic at 11:46 AM on April 8, 2015


This is delightful, thank you for posting it.

Some ancient usenet Kibologists may remember "Hello Shawn! This is a pencil!" regarding students repeating their favorite phrases as greetings...
posted by sidereal at 12:25 PM on April 8, 2015


uhh now i really want a "fuck summer" hat and a banana bird
posted by ghostbikes at 1:19 PM on April 8, 2015


It's so adorable and I am sneakily trying to read all of these at work today.
posted by RustyBrooks at 1:23 PM on April 8, 2015


The comments are almost as good as the cartoon itself.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:26 PM on April 8, 2015


And I have achieved success.

Everything is great about these. The drawing is very good, I like the style a lot also. They're very funny while at the same time being about real things that you can see happening in the day to day life of a teacher. The teacher is a big ole nerd in the same way that lots of us are - I especially like the one about her wanting to take her neighbor's trash because it has some book or comic or something she likes.

Really, it's just perfect.
posted by RustyBrooks at 1:30 PM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


http://www.marycagle.com/letsspeakenglish/28-feelin39-fruity

I was in a Japanese supermarket in NYC and they had a Kamen Rider branded cider called "Kamen Cider". Me and my friends all kept laughing like 10 year olds.
posted by I-baLL at 1:42 PM on April 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


> This one, about an *off-color* word appearing on a t-shirt made me think of all the much stronger language I've seen on shirts and bags and whatnot, over the years here in Japan.

South Korea does Japan one better by putting "Fuck" in their business names.
posted by ardgedee at 2:05 PM on April 8, 2015


Lovely artwork and moments. I am curious why some of the dialog is in between square brackets - did anyone else notice these? Is this to signify that it is in Japanese and not in English?
posted by seawallrunner at 3:37 PM on April 8, 2015


I was noticing that too. I'm pretty sure those brackets are manga for "spoken in a different language", but she didn't use it consistently, because sometimes it seemed like it meant "spoken in English" and sometimes it seemed like "spoken in Japanese but I'm telling you what it means in English".

I thought it might mean "spoken in a language other than the dominant one in this conversation", but then there was the time the brackets were around 「これ わ 日本語 です」, which I effortfully managed to translate as "Kore wa nihon go desu", i.e. "This is Japanese language [words being spoken]". So I was able to figure out what she meant in each case, but I'd hate to have to write a computer algorithm to do it.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:06 PM on April 8, 2015


The square brackets are Japanese quotation marks... it seems she uses them to signify spoken Japanese translated to English for the reader.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 4:08 PM on April 8, 2015


Mary Cagle is one of my favorite people in webcomics. She survived a summer apprenticing to PVP's Scott Kurtz, has been doing "Kiwi Blitz" for 6 years (about a spoiled kid in the 'near future' whose tech mogul father builds her a mecha for 'robot games' but she decides to use it to fight crime instead... what could possibly go wrong?) and has just started writing a new comic titled "Sleepless Domain" that threatens to put a new spin on the 'magical girls' trope, and I expect good things there.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:27 PM on April 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


My 'off-color' shirt moment (from Baotou, in the PRC): A girl wearing a shirt that simply said "WENCH" in all caps. There's also a children's wear chain in North China called 'Fresh Baby'. Ghost Tanuki aside, a lot of this stuff tracks pretty universally to the ESL experience.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 4:42 PM on April 8, 2015


Just for the record, This is "Rolling Girl", the song that she mentions liking. This is the vocaloid version, so it presumably sounded a bit different live in concert.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:21 PM on April 8, 2015


I'm in love with this comic!

@JapanTshirts is a great source for weird/profane shirts in Japan. Mostly text, though.
posted by clearlydemon at 5:41 PM on April 8, 2015


I expected to be unimpressed but these were adorable. I love how she's unfazed by the kids' poop and boob attacks and promptly turns them into little learning experiences. And I'm glad she had a good time at the gig.
posted by misozaki at 6:38 PM on April 8, 2015


The art is charming in an old school anime kind of way. (As for new school anime, I tell you, the day everyone's faces became moeified was the day that hell began to bubble up and cover the Earth.)
posted by JHarris at 8:03 PM on April 8, 2015


Made a friend there one visit and she took me out shopping with her in Yokohama. She didn't know why this bag made me laugh. When I explained it to her, she bought it.

So I have to figure, some of the japanglish isn't 100% unintentional either. (Although her favorite shirt, "5 times virgin" still puzzles me and I wish I had asked what she thought it meant.)
posted by ctmf at 8:04 PM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is it rude if I drop a link to Mary Cagle's Patreon right here?

Some fun rewards there, like wallpapers, and livestreams of drawing (if the timezones work out for you).
posted by sixohsix at 1:25 AM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


The banana birds are totally real, in case you thought it was artistic license.
posted by sukeban at 1:53 AM on April 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is amazingly adorable, and makes me miss my little English students in Japan. I wish I'd been better at keeping track of little moments like these, but it turns out spending my day with preschool children was too exhausting for me to manage any chronicling of them in my down time. Plus I was sick a lot, because - kid germs.

I'm so glad Mary Cagle has the stamina and talent to capture the English teaching experience in such a delightful way!
posted by harujion at 4:59 AM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is a rite of passage for any Westerner traveling in East Asia.
posted by absalom at 6:02 AM on April 9, 2015




Mary Cagle is also behind Kiwi Blitz, a really fantastic webcomic about a young woman with a bird mech (among other things)
posted by flatluigi at 4:30 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


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