The master of illuuuuusion

Submitted for your approval: Metafilter thread about a magic trick performed in Japan by a guy (apparently named Cyril Takayama) who speaks English and Japanese. I've seen him on TV before; he appears pretty regularly.

Someone asks:

Wow... does conversational Japanese really have this much English in it? They don't use their own words for "what's your name" and "salt"??!

D'oh! Fortunately, someone replies:

There're all kinds of "foreign" words in Japanese, but after you've rendered them into katakana, they don't sound like "salt" or "watch". Someone noted above that he's Japanese-American, and he definitely sounds like it compared to the native speakers (I'm guessing he learned English first)--that would explain the fall-back to English for extemporaneous, one-word commands.

Closer, but still wrong. He's not "falling back" on anything; his Japanese is clearly at a level where he knows the words for "watch" and "salt". Come on, folks, he's a magician! Every part of his act, including his patter, is carefully pre-planned and kept under control.

The real reason he uses English at the times he does is to establish and maintain a slightly exotic, mysterious image -- only slightly, because everyone can understand "What's your name?", so he never becomes so exotic that people pull away -- and also, of course, to distract the audience with one more thing to think about.

Apparently, he's so good at this that he can even lead people who don't speak the main language of his act into misinterpreting what's going on.

(This should really have been a comment, but I don't want anything to do with Paypal so I can't pay Metafilter five bucks to sign up.)

Popularity factor: 2


OK, I posted it for you. Don't say I never gave you anything.



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