I would like to conclude 2022 with a story. Since there are some moving parts, the following keywords may be useful: luxury liner, celebrity judge, wrong identity, Japanese grammar.
Part 1: The World
My wife Ayumi is in the cruise industry. She works in the Kanazawa Port Promotion Office, representing the city of Kanazawa as a port of call and assisting with logistics when cruise ships arrive.
She spends a lot of time in contact with cruise companies around the world trying to attract their ships to our city. So you can imagine what the coup was like when they finally landed in the world.
For non-billionaires who might be reading this, The World is the most amazing cruise ship floating today.
In The World, you buy and own what are called “Residences”. This is such a gorgeous ocean condo that they don’t list prices on their website. Through my connections with the cruise business (my wife), I learned that housing ranges from her $2 million to her $15 million.
Some worlders live on ships all year round, while others fly where ships happen to be and board and disembark wherever their hearts desire.
This is how Judy Sheindlin, better known as Judge Judy, ended up in Kanazawa, Japan.
Part 2: Judge
The news arrived at the Kanazawa Port Promotion Office that there will be a super celebrity soon. “Who?” they asked. “Judge Judy” was the reply. “Who?” they asked again.
Japan does not have the concept of real-life courtroom television. It’s an American thing. (Did you know that we actually have a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Legal/Courtroom Programs because we knew so many? It was big enough to keep the prize.)
My wife has spent so much time in our high drama arbitration culture that she is the only one of her colleagues who is familiar with not only Judge Judy, but the entire genre of television she reigns as queen. After a long explanation, Ayumi convinced the office that Judy was really famous.
Ayumi’s office was tasked with keeping Judy’s visit a secret. Port was instructed to keep things quiet, as The World didn’t want cameramen swarming prominent residents every time they called.
On the day The World arrived in Kanazawa, Ayumi and her colleagues were at the port to facilitate disembarkation. The scene was relatively quiet in turn of the gag. The world was at a standstill, but as promised, her four-time Daytime American Emmy Award for Outstanding Law/Court Program winner showed up and took her husband down the slopes.
My wife warned her colleague. “There’s Judy! There’s Judy!” They all stopped and stared in the direction of her honor. Judy and her husband made their way through the port facilities, got into a taxi, and disappeared as soon as they arrived. It was thrilling.
Part 3: Wrong ID
Later that day, my wife and her colleagues were back in the office talking about the encounter. “And she had fun meeting her husband, too.”
Confused faces all over the office. “husband?”
“Yes, it was Judy’s husband who was with her.”
“You mean Judy’s wife?”
“No, no… Judy is a woman.”
Ayumi’s entire office was centered on Mr. Judy, Judge Jerry Sheindlin, and was largely oblivious to the TV royalty on his side.
Part 4: Language
After all the discussion until Judge Judy arrived, how could there be this confusion?
First, all bets are off when it comes to identifying first/last and male/female naming conventions across cultural boundaries. For example, does the Japanese name “Akari” fit first or last? And if it’s your first time, is it generally for girls or boys?
For Ayumi’s colleagues, “Judy” was equally confusing.
(Akari is a girl’s name, just in case.)
Second, and more importantly, Japanese does not require speakers to use so many sentence subjects and personal pronouns.
To describe Judge Judy in English: she is a millionaire She made a huge profit through her courtroom TV show. ” Note how often English indicates gender.
The same description in Japanese sounds roughly like this: Millionaire. Earned huge numbers on courtroom television shows. “
Despite the tendency to avoid subjects and pronouns, Japanese still plays a communicative role. That is, it leaves a little more to the listener’s reasoning than the English.
This almost always works fine. But in Judge Judy’s case, that window of reasoning was just big enough for Jerry Sheindlin to walk through.
But the day in port was not a total loss. Jerry Sheindlin was also a television judge, and from 1999 he presided over ‘The People’s Court’ until 2001.
That’s how Judge Judy came to our city. May your 2023 be less misunderstood. And if they inevitably occur, may we meet a celebrity judge anyway.
Justin Whittinghill is from Owensboro and works as an Assistant Professor of English at Kanazawa Institute of Technology in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan. His column is published in Lifestyle on the last Saturday of the month. His contact is email@example.com.