Friday, December 3, 2010

Honorable Hand Washing

O-tearai is the Japanese word for toilet. A fellow gaijin much like Lester Hollingsworth in American Fuji informed me that it derived from the English word "toilet" with the honorific prefix O to add respect. I didn't think he was right because English words are written in katakana, the syllabic alphabet invented for foreign words. Also, every culture has toilets! They would not need to borrow a word from another language for that.

I followed the Japanese syllabic meaning, instead. Te means hand (think of karate "from hand") and arai means to wash. So, really, it's not Honorable Toilet, but Honorable Hand Washing. This makes more sense, as water clean enough to wash hands is something to honor.

The floating lint collector I placed in my old-fashioned washing machine showed a picture of a blue raccoon. The brand name was araiguma. Kuma means bear, so raccoon translates into "washing bear" due to its habit of washing the food it eats.

1 comment:

SapphireSavvy said...

Nice that the Japanese value cleanliness. One trip to Europe will horrify anyone who values a gerem-free quality of life.