• 21 . 12 . 05
  • Much is often made of how foreigners mangle English in a variety of amusing ways, so it was funny to find Japanese people attempting to bridge the gap between the languages in some small way. This week, my teacher introduced me to ほったいもいじるな (Hottaimoijiruna), a site (mostly in Japanese) which seems like some kind of […]

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Hottaimoijiruna

Much is often made of how foreigners mangle English in a variety of amusing ways, so it was funny to find Japanese people attempting to bridge the gap between the languages in some small way. This week, my teacher introduced me to ほったいもいじるな (Hottaimoijiruna), a site (mostly in Japanese) which seems like some kind of English pronunciation guide for Japanese haiku.

Hottaimoijiruna itself is what some Japanese people think foreigners say when they ask “What time is it now?” (Say it out loud and you’ll understand). I can’t exactly remember what it means in Japanese, but suffice to say, you’re not going to be able to catch a bus based on the answer.

For each of the haiku, there is a random sentence in English that sounds like nonsense, but if you say it in a ‘Japanese way’ (that is, with some ‘r’ to ‘l’, ‘v’ to ‘b’ and extra vowels trickery), it’s a pretty good approximation for the real thing. I can’t work out whether it’s to help English speakers to remember haiku (something it’s quite effective for actually), or for Japanese speakers to pronounce like native speakers. I have a suspicion that it might just be a parody or a pisstake, but in any case I think it’s pretty funny. It would probably make a good line of ironic T-shirts for those in the know. Some people take haiku very seriously and view non-Japanese attempts as poor imitations, so it’s nice to see a lighter approach.

Now the geeky bit (Mum, you can stop reading now!). This discovery coincided with the restructuring of the site’s backend I’ve been doing for the last few days (which hopefully you shouldn’t have noticed!), and especially the conversion of some site components to use AJAX for updating pages asynchronously. One of these components was the clock that displays on the About page. It continuously refreshes with the time in my part of the world, in the hope that I don’t get email to my phone at 4am. And still it comes…

Anyhow, in the course of converting it, I took the extra step and turned it into a WordPress plugin just in case anyone else wants it. It’s a pretty simple thing, making use of WordPress 2.0’s builtin AJAX goodness. You could probably also make it work on 1.5 if you had SACK toolkit installed. Inspired by the intrepid haiku converters, I named it Hottaimoijiruna. More information and a download are available on the hottaimoijiruna plugin page. Feel free to leave comments and feedback in the plugin comment section.