As Japanese is a phonetic language, a lot of words sound very similar, and are easy to mix up. Also, whereas in English if you were to say gingar instead of ginger, it would be pretty obvious what you were talking about; if in your best Japanese you were to ask for some ‘geri’, instead of ‘gari’ (sliced pieces of ginger), then you might well be ejected from the premises, and with good reason, as ‘geri’ is Japanese for diarrhea. As a result, ginger has certainly been featuring far less in my diet than it did when I was in the UK.
Another feature of Japanese is the ridiculous amount of ‘onomatopoeic’ words that it contains. I say ‘onomatopoeic’, because in my opinion most of these are labored at best: ‘pon’ is hardly the sound that is made by the throwing of a small object, and when I smirk I most certainly do not do so with an accompanying ‘nita nita’ sound effect. Of course when you consider the shear volume of these pseudo-onomatopoeic words, and the ease with which they can be mispronounced, one has to be very careful. Grinning with a ‘niko niko’ (normal smile) when you should actually be using ‘niya niya’ is no doubt an almost unforgivable social faux pas. However, I went one better in today’s homework, expressing that I liked people with a nice ‘niku niku’, AKA a nice ‘meat meat’. Suffice to say, my teacher was not exactly waku waku (thrilled).