Ishihara’s French Kiss-Off: Follow-Up

Pierre over at Loser’s Guide has expressed some puzzlement over Ishihara’s remarks about French being a “language which cannot count numbers.” Near as I can tell, Ishihara was referring to the fact that numbers in French can be complicated: the number 94, for example, translates as “four twenties and fourteen.” Of course this is only a problem for people who don’t know the language, and can’t really compare to the numerous quirks of the Japanese counting systems (yeah, there are several systems). One million, in Japanese, translates as “a hundred ten thousands”; different words are used depending on what is being counted (people, things, etc); Japanese uses both kanji and arabic numerals to express numbers; etc…

Angua wonders “[w]as the minister kicked by a guy in a beret? Forced to eat snails? Hit upside the head with a baguette?” My own fantasy is that some French prostitute must have laughed at him while he was on a school trip to Paris, but the reality is this: Mr. Ishihara is an ultra-nationalist bigot and world class xenophobe who really doesn’t have much nice to say about anybody. Over the years he’s dropped some zingers. In 1995, he claimed that the Nanjing Massacre was an invention of the Chinese. In 1999, he worried publicly about foreigners rioting in the streets in the event of an earthquake. He refers to Chinese and Koreans as “third world poeple”(sangokujin). Commenting on a bomb that had been placed at the private residence of a deputy foreign minister, he said “[a] bomb was planted there. I think it was deserved.”
But, as Angua suggested, “inquiring minds want to know”. Why insult the French (heh, as if…, no, I won’t say it…)? The following quote, while perhaps inconclusive, may at least offer a clue: “I’m an existentialist–freedom and passion are the most important things to me. I was horribly disappointed when I learned that Sartre was a Communist.”

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One Response to “Ishihara’s French Kiss-Off: Follow-Up”

  1. Pierre Says:

    In re: numbers.
    Oddly enough I have an interesting book here about scientific terminology for Chinese among others. In 1953 Mao called for the Sinisation of science, regarding scientists who used western languages for their papers as being guilty of “serious semi-colonial thought”.
    There is an interesting book apparently: Shobutsu iko meiso, about botany based on Chinese source matrerial.–>

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