What does this T-shirt say?
February 27, 2012 3:55 PM   Subscribe

What on earth does my girlfriend's t-shirt say? Japanese edition...

Can any cunning mefite translate what my gf's Japanese-looking tshirt text says? She's loves the shirt, but is a bit paranoid as to what the caption might read!
posted by prentiz to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by zachawry at 4:00 PM on February 27, 2012

Best answer: It says "Mother?" as in "are you my mother?"
posted by xmts at 4:17 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: okasama


I'd translate that as "So it's you, Mother" since it has no question mark. If it had a question mark, it would mean "Mother, is that you?" It doesn't make much sense either way, really, but it's nothing offensive if you're worried about that.
posted by misozaki at 4:28 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "Are you my mother?" is a... thing. It gets co-opted in pop culture frequently. I have no idea who the character on your girlfriend's shirt is but I can totally imagine it asking "are you my mommy?"

(I am assuming this is not a Dr. Who reference...)
posted by DarlingBri at 5:10 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Misozaki is wrong in saying that a question mark is required for it to be a question. The ka IS the question mark. Most questions in Japanese do not utilize the question mark, which is a new-fangled western invention.
posted by zachawry at 5:46 PM on February 27, 2012

DarlingBri probably has the right idea and I don't want to get in to an argument about a kawaii t-shirt, but we're just picking apart the equivalent of Engrish here.

What I meant by the question mark was that it would have made the phrase clearer, because otherwise it could be taken either way. If I had wanted to say "Are you my mother?" in Japanese, I would have written お母さんですか? (okasan desuka). In that case, no question mark would be necessary because it's pretty clear. But the shirt just uses "ka," which could mean the same as the "ka" in something like カレーか (curry ka). This could mean "Is this curry?" or just "Oh, curry" depending on the context and tone it's said.

Anyway, I'll duck out of this thread now. Either way, the phrase is innocuous.
posted by misozaki at 6:39 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

No idea where the shirt is from (it looks vaguely like something the artist behind Cat and Girl would do) but the summary of the story is that it's Godzilla about to affectionately rub his face on Tokyo because he thinks it's his mommy. Awwwww.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:49 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone- superstars all!
posted by prentiz at 12:02 AM on February 28, 2012

Best answer: The possible interpretations have been hashed out above, but I just wanted to note that your girlfriend has a breast on her breast, as the character 母 (meaning mother as noted above) originated as a stylized pictogram of a seated woman, and the hash marks are, yes, breasts.
posted by planetkyoto at 5:49 AM on February 28, 2012

« Older it doesn't look like it'll kill us. i think.   |   Can gastric cancer be present without GI bleeding? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.