No matter how many years I spend in Japan, every new day brings with it the potential for new linguistic misunderstandings. The other day my wife said, “I’m good at chili” — or at least that’s what I thought she said. Considering I was eating a bowl of Hormel Chili that I’d brought back from the U.S. at the time (we eat it over white rice, a dish we call “chili-don“), it seemed a reasonable assumption for my brain to make, but in reality she was telling me that she’s good at chiri, Japanese for “geography,” which opens up the possibility for bad puns about knowing the geography of the nation of Chile. Some other Japanese words that sound like English words include hen which means “strange” in Japanese; “you know me” which is a cup for drinking green tea (yunomi); “safe,” which sounds like the word for “government” (seifu); and the letter “E”, which sounds like the word ii (“ee”), the most common way to express “good”
Yo dawg! Now you can eat chili while you study the geography of Chile.