Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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False Friends
a) There is a superficial similarity between The Onion's brain-dead teen and the hikikomori of Japan, but is it the same phenomenon, explained in different ways according to the differing cultural schemata of the USA and Japan, or two very different things that happen to flourish in the same teenage hedgerow?

b) The teen in the Onion clip says, "I don't even..." - a phrase I've only ever seen written before, and which I've always understood (correctly?) to mean "This is beyond my powers of expression to describe" rather than "I can't be bothered to finish this sentence". Does it depend on context?

c) In neither case does it have much in common with my favourite Japanese phrase - or rather non-phrase - of today, which is the way of expressing one's dislike of something by saying "[whatever] wa chotto" - i.e. "[whatever]'s a bit..." Here, the unfinished sentence suggests polite reticence and a reluctance to vocalize criticism - something to which I can certainly relate as an English person (and which further convinces me of the deep subterranean affinity between our nations), but heard the wrong way could sound quite snotty and supercilious.

d) And speaking of supercilious, is there any culture where raising one's eyebrow and looking to heaven is seen as a deeply respectful gesture? I find it easy to imagine, but have never heard of one.

That Onion clip is well funny!

"I can't even" is the phrase I see for "I can't describe this adequately" - I think "I don't even" would be something different.

Yes, you're right. I'm even more confused now.


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