Submitted by Nervous-Result-7836 t3_1266ot6 in tifu

I have a friend in a couple of classes. He's Japanese, and his last name is Okami. He told me it meant something like "looking at the hill," but that's beside the point.

One day, I was sitting next to him while working, and we were talking about our names, and I ended up asking him, "Isn't your last name... Okama or something?"

Here's where I fucked up. I didn't know that Okama was a slang term for a homosexual and/or effeminate man. When I said that, he just stared at me like a disappointed parent would at their child.

Silently, he opened up a tab, looked up the definition of it, and just showed me his screen. My heart stopped for a good second.

I was profusely apologizing, but he said it was alright. I couldn't tell if he was being honest or not, and I'm afraid I strained our friendship. I'm going to have to ask him later.

TLDR: I have a Japanese friend, I mispronounce his name, I accidentally say a slang for a gay and/or feminine man, he tells me, and I realize what I said.

Update, copied from comments: Later, I asked him if I actually made him mad. He said that he wasn't mad, more anxious because he'd been called that before on purpose, and he was sorry if he came off like that. We talked a bit, and I agreed to make an effort to, just, not do that again. We're cool now. Woohoo.



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ItsMedaveT t1_je7tmmo wrote

So, do you speak Japanese? Does your friend think you know Japanese? If either or both of those answers are no, I'm thinking you're over thinking it... And if your friend is actually offended.... You might want to look into a new friend. And you didn't f. up.


Nervous-Result-7836 OP t1_je7ufda wrote

No to both. And, you may be right, I'm pretty bad at reading people's tone.

I'll still try to ask him later about what happened.


No_Tamanegi t1_je802p3 wrote

Honestly, his reaction seems a little fucked up. It's not like you intended to offend him or upset him. You may have tapped into something where he was bullied used that term against him when he was younger, and I'm sure that could still sting, but he should be able to recognize the difference.

Also, it's fundamentally messed up that being feminized is a blanket insult.


Flossthief t1_je8b11m wrote

As far as I understand the concept of okama isn't a very pretty picture of homosexuality

Okama is based on the flawed concept that gay men would want to convert people into their sexuality


burned_artichoke t1_je8vywe wrote

There's a lot of history to 'okama', originally it was referring to effeminate men who were often (but iirc not always) prostitutes. It wasn't necessarily pejorative, more like a profession or a descriptor. Then you know time progressed, religious morality came in, and it became a Bad Thing, and a slur.

Nowadays there are people who have reclaimed it in the LGBT sphere, and it's usage in gay bars is similar to 'femme' (or maybe even 'twink'), but obviously that is not gonna be the case with a bunch of teenagers or anyone remotely homophobic.

I can dig out some references if anyone wants them.


Nervous-Result-7836 OP t1_je84wrq wrote

Huh. That could be a possibility.

And true. I hate this world.


No_Tamanegi t1_je86qs9 wrote

I know it's popular to say that intention doesn't matter when you hurt someone, but honestly, it feels a lot worse to me when someone hurts me out of intention than out of misunderstanding. The fact that he had to explain the insult excuses you of insulting him with intent.

Apologize to him, and assure him that it won't happen again- and make sure you don't. If he's still rude to you afterwards, that's on him.


twohedwlf t1_je7vrwm wrote

Meh, it's a slight mispronunciation. On par with someone getting upset if you called them Jack instead of Jake. Pretty much everything is slang for gay or some kind of sex term.


Yodiddlyyo t1_je7twzt wrote

It's one letter difference, it's a very obvious and easy mistake, you don't know the language, and I'm sure you're not the first person to make this mistake. If he's actually mad about that, he's probably not someone you want to be friends with anyway.


Nervous-Result-7836 OP t1_je7ulle wrote

Hm. I guess so.

I don't know if he's actually mad yet. Will ask later.


bricarp t1_je88gmk wrote

He's not.

Unless you've led him to believe that you speak Japanese, he'd be clinically insane to be actually mad.


Nervous-Result-7836 OP t1_je84ks4 wrote

Update, sent a message to him. I think he's asleep by now, so hopefully I can update again by morning.


Nervous-Result-7836 OP t1_jeaokcb wrote

Update update, So I asked him if I actually made him mad. He said that he wasn't mad, more anxious because he'd been called that before on purpose, and he was sorry if he came off like that.

We talked a bit, and I agreed to make an effort to, just, not do that again. We're cool now. Woohoo.


Falconflyer75 t1_je89b92 wrote

I’m pretty sure any reasonable person would call that an honest mistake


CaffeinatedHBIC t1_je7wyrj wrote

As someone with a... unique name, this sounds like my reaction to hearing my name mispronounced in a way that has previously been used as an insult. It's likely you just accidentally struck a nerve.

It's less awkward if you don't continuously probe him and apologize again and again. Just make a very deliberate effort to never make that mistake again. Make an effort to perhaps invite him out to lunch at a place where you will not be invited to make an ass of yourself (i.e. don't invite him to a Japanese steakhouse owned by white people and try to pronounce the menu items).


Nervous-Result-7836 OP t1_je856tx wrote

This is pretty different from other responses I'm getting. Still pretty good advice. I'll remember.


DevilsMasseuse t1_je80sdm wrote

It’s like what if your friend said something like „Isn’t your name…asshole?“ At first, you may think he’s making a bad joke, until you realize he just doesn’t speak English very well.

But then in the back of your mind, you’re thinking „maybe he knows a little English and he’s putting me on“ You can imagine his feelings might be a little fucked up at first, a mix of confusion and paranoia. Just give him time. You will both eventually realize what an absurd situation this is.


Wanderlustchaser t1_je8gefr wrote

Seems uptight if he was really mad. If it was me on the receiving end I would've lol-ed. Not fair to blame you if you don't know japanese


buttface48 t1_je88cnj wrote

Nah, you made an honest mistake. It was his FU by not laughing his ass off


jonfitt t1_je8bi8w wrote

It’s like you called him Homo instead of Homer.


DaNatrixx t1_je8d996 wrote

No fuck up. You should not have to walk on eggshells around your friends. I know I got a true friend if they pick on me a little. It's all good fun. You apologized already that's enough. If it's a huge deal probably not worth pursuing as a friend.


LouSanous t1_je8irah wrote

People say fucked up shit when they're having sex. One time I called this girl mom.


weissmanhyperion t1_jecgs1j wrote

Do not say some random shit when it comes to someone's name. All you had to do was ask hey what is your last name? It's not rocket science.


No_Love_1353 t1_je7zgxk wrote

I highly doubt his last name is Wolf…


_preschool-dropout t1_je844pc wrote

the name the guy has, okami (岡見, i'm pretty sure) is different from the word for wolf, which is ookami. (狼) ookami has the longer o vowel.

there's actually a hundred people or so in japan with the last name ookami. (source: myoji yurai)

also the meaning of the guys name was in the first paragraph lol.


NerdyDan t1_je8454f wrote

Okami actually isn’t wolf. Ookami is. Okami could refer to literally prefix+god


DeProgrammer99 t1_jeb13ck wrote

This is why I can't get behind the most popular method of Romanizing Japanese. It makes an already homophone-intense language even more ambiguous by removing important letters (Toukyou, Kyouto, Koube / Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe)... I assumed they meant "Ookami" for a second, too. :P