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Anyone read Japanese here?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by RichSnyder, May 15, 2006.

  1. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    This is a shirt from NormStockton.com. Supposedly, it says "Bass" in Japanese. I was considering getting it as a tattoo, but I wanted to get a second opinion that it really means "Bass" and that I wouldn't be doing the Japanese equivalent of some of the things you see on Engrish.com


  2. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Canuck Amateur


    Above is "bass" entered into Babelfish. So far only more questions, maybe it thought I was talking about a fish.
  3. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    Exactly. The last thing I want is a tattoo of bass clef next to the word "fish". Need some research before commiting to the ink. ;)
  4. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    There's no true Japanese equivalent for Bass, because there is no Japanese equivelent. What you have is a phonetic sounding out of an english word. It literally reads "be--su". The important part is that it doesn't say "white devil" or "dirty gaijin donkey merchant".
  5. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    LOL! Much appreciated. Also found out the Norm Stockton is Japanese, so that lends credibility. You can't be too cautious with a tattoo. Thanks!
  6. Actually, I would pay top dollar for a tshirt that said that in Japanese. Priceless.
  7. Keeaumoku


    Dec 29, 2004
    :D :D :D Me, too!! :D :D :D
  8. 低音 【ていおん】= (n) low tone; bass; low voice

    Shown above is the English language definition of the Japanese characters mentioned by Hawkeye. This word would look great on a t-shirt. The pronunciation sounds like "tay-ohn" with a long sounding "O". This is the Japanese pronunciation of the word but the characters used to construct the word come from the Chinese character set which was adopted by the Japanese centuries ago. The first character 低 means "low" and the second character 音 means sound or note. The second set of characters, located in the brackets in the definition, are syllables that denote the sounds of the Chinese characters.

    As ElMon noted, the characters on the t-shirt are the syllables for "be-su" or the English language word for the musical instrument called "bass." The same word (i.e. bass) is used in Japanese. Check this great website for translation of characters and such:

  9. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    So, a Japanese person would see the characters on the t-shirt above and know what it means -- as in bass?

    I did some goolging of Japanese sites and think I found that "be" means lute and "su" means master. So, I didn't want to end up with "Master of the Lute".

  10. There are a lot of homonyms in Japanese so sounds can have multiple meanings that need to be interpreted in context. In the case of the t-shirt, the characters used to construct "besu" or "bass" are a special set (called katakana) that is used for non-Japanese words that are adopted in the Japanese language. So a Japanese speaker reading the t-shirt would know the word is not originally Japanese and interpret it accordingly as "bass" and not "besu", master of the lute. There are many non-Japanese words used in everyday life in Japan. The word "doa" is "door" and the word "pasucon" is a contraction of "personal computer". These words would be written with the katakana character set.

    Being a master of the lute, or a master of a stringed instrument, by the way, wouldn't be so bad for a bass player.
  11. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    There are many songs that seem like one string only on bass. ;)

    Thanks for the info, very much appreciated. In my searches I found out that Japanese is far more complicated than I originally imagined. And yet, I have complained in the past that we have upper and lower case letters, why not just one? I guess I'll no longer complain about 52 letters versus 26.

    Thanks again!

  12. pjwolf


    Feb 20, 2006
    Ventura, Ca.
    I sent the t-shirt pic to a friend in Japan....she said it says "bass/base".....I talked to her on the phone a minute ago & asked "could that refer to a bass guitar?" she said yes....home base, base of operations, bass guitar.....depending on how you use it.
  13. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    How many japanese speaking people do you know? Obvioulsy not too many if you have to ask for a meaning on the internet. So why don't you just get some japenese like scribble on your arm and make up a meaning that depends on what mood your in for those who ask.
  14. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    That's bass as in low voice, low tone. The writing on the t-shirt means bass as in bass guitar or upright bass.
    Beaten, I guess.
  15. ee-san is on the money...being a bass player and Japanese (American born, but my dad's from Japan and I can read katakana) I immediately knew what it was. However, a non-bassplayer (is there such a word?) may not know the meaning, as pjwolf said, it could mean "base" as well.
  16. Akami

    Akami Four on the floor

    Mar 6, 2005
    This is exactly why unless you want to have meaningless gibberish on your t-shirt or arm you should always talk to at very least one native speaker and better yet 5 or 10.

    Either putting just simply ベース or 低音 on something and expecting it to make much sense to a native speaker doesn't make much sense to me.

    As I've said before you're probably going to have a better chance of getting something that sounds cool to a Japanese speaker if you don't start off thinking in English.
    In other words, ask a native speaker how they would word something, rather than putting the words in their mouth.
    Japanese are very likely to give an answer based on what they think you want to hear and will oftentimes say that, sure, it'll work, when actuallly it doesn't.

    Want to have a t-shirt made up; have a phrase put on instead of just a singular word.

    Not necessarily a suggestion but for example making a play on a set of words that most Japanese would recognize from a radio show in which people talk about things they shouldn't do (often in a wink, wink fashion) but can't stop could be;
    わかっちゃるけど、只今ベースが好きだ! which if translated directly to English would sound fairly pathetic, but if delivered properly could sound quite hilarious within the context of a Japanese conversation.

    My ability with both spoken and written Japanese is not as good possibly as some others here but one thing I'm most often complimented on is my natural use of the language and sense of word usage, especially pertaining to making jokes.

    Still I would talk to at least a few of my friends who know how much I hate poor translations and ones that don't come close to saying what the speaker wanted to say before I would put something in writing.

    Last year I made up a sign that said 立入り禁止 because I've seen it so much in Japan where they don't want anyone to come in.
    Three Japanese looked at it and said it was perfect before I asked second time to the one I trusted most and he admitted it seemed overly harsh, especially since we deal with tourists.
    What he ended up editing for me was this 関係者以外は御遠慮下さい, which basically says "Unless you've got business in here please don't enter" compared to the first ones "Stay Out".
  17. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    Except I do run into people from all over and didn't want a tattoo that says "crack whore" or worse yet "bunny slippers". But good idea on changing the meaning whenever I feel like it. Hot chick asks what it means ==> "We were meant to be together". Boss asks ==> "Hard work deserves increased compensation". Stranger at bar after a few drinks ==> "It was given to me during martial arts training by a great master that is no longer among us". Irishman asks ==> "I think it means beer." ;)

    Thanks again to all for the confirmation and the Japanese lessons. No wonder my coworkers that were in Tokyo had key phrases written for them on the backs of business cards.
  18. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Katakana!!! I meant to add that in my explanation, but unfortunately watashiwa baka desu!!!

    Might I add that IMHO the Japanese are some of the warmest, polite, and hard-partying people in the Eastern Hemisphere!!!!
  19. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    These made me think of a commercial for some sitcom this season or last. A twentysomething guy is on a bus. He has a kanji tattoo. An older chinese man is looking at it. The old man asks "Do you know what your arm says?" or something like that. The guy replies something stupid, "It's Strength and fire." or something like that. And then the part I do remember. The old man says "No. It says of two men who love each other, you are the girl."

    DON'T get a tattoo in any language you can't personally read like a native.

    Here. Read this.


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