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Parlez-vous London?

When reporting on how naive the average Japanese youth is when it comes to matters of global geography, I have a fairly helpful rule of thumb. It's okay to take the piss if the Japanese themselves would clearly agree - which is why I have no problem with mentioning the following excerpt from tonight's TV, a panel show exploring "Japanese people's general knowledge". If it's got Beat Takeshi in a white coat presenting it, it must be scientifically rigorous. That's how things work over here.

A twenty-year-old and her boyfriend are stopped in the street. She is asked, for the benefit of the studio panel, if she'd like to travel abroad and, if so, where she'd like to go. "Disneyland", she answers. Hmm. Next question: "Which country is Disneyland in?" Answer: "The United States of America." No problems so far, apart from the rather obvious one of taste.

Next she is given a map of the world and asked to mark America on it with a pen. "Um... it's very big, isn't it?" She draws a big ring around the entirety of North America, thereby granting US citizenship to an extra 30 million Canadians, 100 million Mexicans, and numerous residents of the Caribbean. Big it may be, but not that big. "Where is Canada, then?" asks her interviewer. "Um, over here somewhere...?" She indicates Siberia, so I guess she could have been further off the mark.

Next, a nineteen-year-old is asked where in the world she'd like to travel. "I hear London and Paris are very beautiful, so I'd like to visit them someday" she replies. Promising. At least she didn't say Disneyland. Again the map - can she correctly pinpoint the two cities?

Can she buggery. Paris is "pinpointed" as being on the southern coast of Ireland. Mind you, at least the continent was correct. No such luck for London, which is summarily re-located to Nova Scotia. The interviewer asks which country London is in. "Er... France?" I bet the Quebecois would be delighted to hear that Canada's newest city of seven million is full of French speakers, but I rather think Ken Livingstone (the Mayor of London) would have something to say about it.

As long as they put London back before I finally head back to the UK, that's all...

Posted by chris at April 27, 2001 12:35 AM | Permalink


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