Monday, 23 April 2007

The trouble with Chewbacca

To a lot of people Chewbacca is a fictional character in the Star Wars universe. To the Japanese it's something quite different. Let me explain...

A colleague of mine was teaching a very low level Japanese woman over the weekend. The lesson they were doing was about contact details - addresses, phone, email etc.

My colleague, who we will refer to as Nigel, used an imaginary email address of

The word "chewbacca" when translated to English from Japanese has the same meaning as dumb-arse, retard, dickhead, very thick, etc... It's a very powerful and rude word in Japan.

The student is up in arms over it now. She thinks Nigel was making fun of her and her inability to learn English. Yes, granted, she's not the best student we've got - in fact she's at home on the floor of the lower quartile.

Nigel doesn't know much Japanese and was completely unaware of the offence he was causing. Now some of the powers of the company are in damage control mode because the woman has mentioned quiting over it!

If this woman doesn't pull her head in, accept and understand the explanations by the company, then as far as I'm concerned she's chewbacca all the way!


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