Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Banzai, Bonza, Bonsai? ... But not Bonzai!

Shock and horror reigned amongst the local natives here yesterday afternoon, when two upstart Japanese horses were first past the winning post in the fabulous Melbourne Cup (Melbourne's and Australia's premier horse race, run on the first Tuesday in November each year). This "race that stops a nation" is the peak event of Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne, and rightly deserves its place as one of the main thoroughbred racing events worldwide.

I was highly amused to see the souvenir cover page of this morning's edition of the local Herald Sun newspaper. It has a huge photograph of the two horses (winner Delta Blues and runner-up Pop Rock) with a top banner proclaiming "Japanese raiders go 1-2 in The Cup" and emblazoned across the centre of the page in bold type the headline BONZAI!

See the report Blues brothers steal our Cup in the Herald Sun (articles like this typically have a short lifespan, so don't be surprised if the link fails).

Truly a case of "They stole our Cup" mentality, but that's not what tickled my fancy.

Now, I just might be totally wrong about this, but I'm pretty sure there's no such word as BONZAI.

Being quite interested in spoken languages, I decided to carry out a little bit of research, with the following outcome...

  • Bonsai - the Japanese art of growing tiny trees and other plants.

  • Bonza - an Australian slang word -- not used much these days -- meaning excellent, attractive, pleasing, etc. Apparently also a variety of apple (and don't miss the definition of "Bondi cigar" nearby)!

  • Banzai - of ancient Chinese derivation, and literally meaning "ten thousand years" signifying "have a long life" (typically when lauding one's emperor, used at the start of a battle charge).

  • Bonzai - No such word (Google asks "Did you mean Bonsai?")
Therefore I reckon that (rather than Bonzai!) they didn't do a bonza job at the Herald Sun, and should have used the headline TORA! TORA! TORA! to signify a surprise attack -- on our horse racing fraternity, in this case.

1 comment:

  1. For king and country! Banzaaaaaaiii!!!

    http://japanese.about.com/blqow41.htm

    ReplyDelete