Takahashi sensei asked the class, ” …And who knows when we use “an” before a noun?”
As has become the norm, the hands of my two new favorite first-year students shot up. They remind me of my former, now graduated favorites, the Onanii Brothers. Ones chubby, the other slim. (Is this how it always is with comedy teams???) But, with this duo, there is no straight guy. I’ve decided to call them Laurel & Hardy.
She called on Hardy. Laurel was about to blurt out the answer when Hardy, seated directly behind him, slapped him on the head!
“She called on me, you creep!” he shouted.
“I’m sorry,” Laurel cried, rubbing his head, and added, innocently, “I thought you were still busy jerking off under your desk…”
The class laughed. Even Takahashi guffawed.
Hardy cuffed his hand over Laurel’s mouth.
“I told you that was a secret,” he said in a stage whisper, looking around like he was checking to see if anyone had heard.
He released Laurel’s mouth.
“You did, didn’t you? I’m really sorry…” Laurel said, with mock humility, bowing and what not. “Can I have my picture of Scandal back, now?”
Hardy smacked him upside the head, again. The class roared with laughter.
“Are you going to answer the question,” Laurel said, rubbing his head again and kinda ducking away from another blow.
Laurel nodded at Takahashi. Hardy looked around…noticed Takahashi, red in the face from laughing, watching him. “Oh! That question…Sorry, actually, I have no idea!”
The class screamed. I had to put my head down.
“I know, I know,” Laurel blurted out, throwing his hand up again.
“Yes?” Takahashi said.
“We use…” and he stopped and glanced around at Hardy, weary of another blow. “Is it ok?”
“Be my guest,” Hardy replied.
“Well, we use “an” before words that begin with Boing.”
“Boing?” I laughed, cuz I thought it was a joke. No one else was laughing, though, except me. Then I made the “boing boing” sound that something bouncing makes in a cartoon, and the class laughed.
“Chigau!” (That’s wrong) Hardy laughed. “Boing boing janakute boin da yo.” (Not boing boing! Boin.“)
“What is a “boin”?” I asked Takahashi and she wrote the following kanji characters on the board for me:
I knew the kanji characters were for mother 母 and sound 音, and using the kanji logic I’ve acquired over the years it kinda made sense. Kinda.
“Mother Sounds?” I asked a little puzzled. But since the class was watching this exchange I decided to leave it for later. But Takahashi never lets an opportunity to teach me something slip by.
She wrote on the board: 子音
“Hmmm, let me guess,” I said, being a smart ass. I knew the kanji for child: 子 “Koin. It means “child sounds.”
The class laughed, Takahashi right along with them.
“It’s Shiin” she said through her giggles.
So, that’s how I learned, today, the Japanese words for vowel and consonant. Learning Japanese can be a humiliating experience. Sometimes you gotta take a few on the chin.