Monday, July 11, 2005

Gamer Shirt

From reader Sarah:

"Hi. Been watching for a while now, and as a Japanese education major must admit that I have giggled uncontrollably on more than one account.

Anyway, just thought I'd pass on this beauty my boyfriend sent my way. The actual website has 先週 listed as meaning "gamer". Even my ex-roommate, who only took a craptacular Japanese class for two years, had to giggle and comment on how 'close' 先週 is to "gamer" (can you feel the sarcasm just leaking from that?).


I have seen "gamer" been translated as ゲーマー in Japanese but never 先週.

[せんしゅう] last week/the week before


  1. I can't help but wonder if they were going for "professional" (選手), which is せんしゅ, while 先週 is せんしゅう.

    I highly doubt it, but that's the first thing that popped in my head as a tried to rationalized the stupidity.

    It's probably just unjustifiable idiocy -_-;;;

  2. Haha! You read this site too, Kyle? That's awesome!

    Is 先週 directly translated to last week in Japanese? Because while it directly translates to last week in Chinese, 上星期 is a much closer translation.

  3. I'd like to add my two cents if you don't mind. 上(個)星期 or 上(個)禮拜 are generally spoken or informal forms. 上周 is usually found in, for example, newspapers. Neither is a "closer" translation for "last week." 週 and 周 are apparently historically interchangeable, to some extent, so it would be interesting to know the history of Japanese 先週.

  4. "Senshu" (選手) can mean a participant in a game (athletes are called "senshu"). It's probably a bad translation via a romaji translator since "senshu" and "senshuu" are near homonyms.

  5. Interesting. I've only seen and heard 上(個)星期 in daily conversations and online. It's also the form that was taught in my university's curriculum. I have never seen 上周 before. Could it be a regional thing?

  6. The 選手 vs. 先週 theory sounds plausible, but even if they did mean 選手 that's a terrible translation of "gamer" in this context.

  7. Colloquially, 週, 星期, and 禮拜 can and are used interchangeably, which term is used more often depends on the speaker's own preference. I personally have observed 星期 as being commonly used the most, with 禮拜 in a close second.

    I belive "週" is the more traditional term for "week," as the term for "weekend" is "週末" but never "星期末" or "禮拜末."

  8. There are definitely regional preferences. In Taipei, I found 禮拜 more common when I lived there in 97-98, including teachers at the Mandarin Training Centre there. But in my year in Tianjin I can't recall ever hearing 禮拜; everyone said 星期. My first year text, published in Taiwan by MTC, teaches both. Another e.g. of regional preference is 水平 (China) and 水準 (Taiwan).

    It may be that 禮拜 was discouraged by the Communists, because I do know for a fact that 禮拜, "weekly obeisance," is originally a Christian term.

    周 regularly appears in newspapers, in whichever combination. But I don't recall seeing 週 used for it. I meant *historically* interchangeable, hence the possible Japanese connection, but as far as I know, they are not now. So, are you sure about that Glenn? I think you must mean 周末, not 週末.

  9. Well, I should have done this before, but I just checked some dictionaries: The Far East (Taiwan)doesn't use 周 as "week" at all, only 週, and I see the latter is used in Mandarin written in Taiwan. Two recent, common mainland dictionaries use 周, but still give 週 as a synonym, so apparently it's still "official" to some extent. One gives it as a traditional form, and it is marked as a variant in the other book.
    I'll try not to speak too soon next time.

    I was thinking of newspapers like 明報 and 星島日報, but I'm just going by memory, and these are Cantonese papers. Can any Cantonese reader step in and confirm or deny their use of 周 or 週?

  10. But what does it actually say?

  11. To the last Anon:

    Are you fucking kidding me? Are you fucking blind or just doesn't like to read?

    For the last fucking time: The characters on the bloody shirt does not mean "gamer" as it was advertised, the phrase means "last week".

    what a god damn fuck tard.

  12. Judging by the old Atari joystick, I can help but wonder if they were going for some kind of "retro" or "old school" type of reference with Last Week.

  13. 先週 ("Last week") on a t-shirt with a picture of a clear-retro joystick? Mistranslated, maybe, but still pretty funny.

  14. While I cannot speak for the history of 先週 vs 先周, the latter would be an expression of "the previous lap", as in a race. 先 is used to mean "earlier" or "previous" and 周 is a counter for laps. It can also mean surroundings, but not in a compound with 先. I did a Google for 先週 with 語源 (etymology/origin) and couldn't find any good history about it. However, it is most definitely Chinese origin, as the pronunciation is based on Chinese, and doesn't sound like a Japanese-origin word (aside from the fact that 先週 is a Chinese compound).

  15. FWIW -- the shirt does say "GAMER" between the picture of the joystick and the kanji.

  16. Funny.

    a player --> senshu(選手) --> senshu(先週)

    seems to be a good guess.

    Just imagine somebody wearing a T-shirt with the word "last week". Wouldn't it be mystical/surreal?

    I would never wear a T-shrit with rightly written "dream(夢)", "love(愛)" blah, blah... I really don't understand why people wear such a T-shirt. If it were written in your language, you wouldn't wear them, would you?

    BUT, "last week(先週)"!! That's so new and creative.

    In Japanese, only "先週" is used to mean "last week". "周" does not mean week.

    先日: the other day
    先週: last week
    前日(昨日): yesterday
    前年(昨年): last year
    先年: a few years ago

    Hummm. In some cases, 先 means "before" like 前 does while in 先週, 先 means "last". This is inconsistent. Language can be illogical sometimes.

    "周" reminds me of the name of an ancient Chinese dynasty and the meaning revolve/circumference/margin like that.

  17. I would guess that last week may have been what they intended as the images are ones that you would use for old school gamer references.

  18. Going back several comments to respond to Kyle and Allen:-

    In old-fashioned Chinese (before the reduction into simplified characters post-1949) there was a distinction between 周 and 週 - the former basically meaning to encircle, the latter meaning week.

    Now, in Chinese. they are the same character.

    The characters adopted by Japanese were of course the 'classical' forms and meanings. Hence the 週 of 先週.

  19. i think that 禮拜 is a cantonese expression, and now adopted by Mandarin speaker.

  20. I just thought I'd point out that ゲーマー is a japanese transliteration of gamer, not a translation (it would be pronounced like "gay-mah").

  21. According to 広辞苑、週 and 周 are interchangable when the intended meaning has to do with cycles or revolutions, but only 週 is used specifically to mean 'week,' including such compounds as 週末、週刊、毎週、and of course 先週.

    I have to second the theory that they actually meant to type 選手(senshu), as opposed to 先週(senshuu). It's the only explanation that makes any sense. The shirt creater probably doesn't even know enough Japanese to realize that there is a distinction between short and long vowels.

  22. Seems pretty obvious to me that it means something like retro-gamer - "gamer" is in English, and perfectly legible. The joystick etc are old-fashioned as these things go.