Even though I know English is widely spoken in Japan, I have often pointed out the importance of letting the locals know that I bothered to learn something of their language before traveling there. I usually memorize a few essential phrases and courtesies and then pull out my trusty crash-course language pamphlet to shamelessly plow ahead. I have butchered many a “thank you” and salutation as a result. Fortunately, what I lack in language skills, I make up for in polite sheepishness and hopeful confusion, peppered with my joy of traveling. Most people find my attempts endearing, or don’t mind because it’s obvious that I am really trying. Still, language is not my forte.
Over the years, I have amassed a tall pile of foreign language dictionaries and quickie guides: Easy German, French in 20 Easy Lessons, Instant Swahili… I have them all. So when I saw Dirty Japanese, I couldn’t resist the prospect of, well, dirty Japanese. While my days of speaking outrageously have naturally curbed over the years, my curiosity for it may never leave.
Ah, Japan. I need to go back! The author, Matt Fargo, has a Master’s in Japanese Lit, so he knows his stuff. I am not sure what he was thinking when he applied for grad school (seems like an impossible subject), but his book is a lot of fun, and more importantly, there is a lot more here than just ‘Dirty Japanese.’
While I can’t really fathom diving into this book and practicing the time-honored tradition of learning only the dirty words of any language for its own sake, I can attest that the commentary by Fargo is both entertaining and worth perusal. Moreover, I have a few Japanese friends that will be the lucky recipients of my new language “essentials.”
In terms of practice, this book would truly only benefit a reader with more than a minimal understanding of Japanese. It really would be best for someone who not only knows the basics but also has close Japanese friends with a sense of humor (as to not offend). Perhaps a warning to one’s friends prior to use would also be prudent to keep said friendships intact. Wisely, the author deftly covers these topics.