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Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Spot the Odd One Out

Which of the three (view larger), the rabbit, the fish, or the butterfly is the odd one out?

There is no right answer. I am hoping that Anglophones will have a stronger tendency to feel that the butterfly is the odd one out, for one if many reasons such as: the fish and the rabbit are edible where as the butterfly is not, the fish and the rabbit were in black and white so the colourful butterfly is the odd one out, the fish and rabbit both have eyeballs, hearts, and tails; they are closer on the evolutionary tree.

The clue to the cultural difference is in the animation, or rather the movement. In Japanese there is only one word for both "jump" and "fly," tobu. So both the rabbit and the butterfly are from a Japanophone perspective, 'tobu-ing' (tonndeiru) across the screen, so Japanese may see a greater connection between the rabbit and the butterfly. As mentioned on a previous post, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is making a resurgence thanks to recent cross cultural research on the affect of language upon thought(Boroditsky, 2001; Imai & Masuda, in press). If the "tobu" factor that which links the rabbit and butterfly together, then one would predict that less similarity would be perceived in static photography rather than an animation like that above.

Additionally as is well documented (Yomota, 1006), the Japanese have a passion for cute things, and consider fish consummately un-cute (so much so that they are happy to eat them alive and wriggling). Since the butterfly and the rabbit are both fairly cute, that may be another reason why Japanese may see the fish as the odd one out. Please ask your Japanese friends.

Fish image From from the 1881 book A Voyage in the Sunbeam, by Annie Allnut Brassey scanned by zorger.com public domain images.
Rabbit image is Rabbit Conejo (original) by Marcos Telias.
Butterfly image is in the public domain and isolated and provided as a Bug image with transparent backgrounds by gif-favicon.com.

Boroditsky, L. (2001). Does language shape thought?: Mandarin and English speakers’ conceptions of time. Cognitive psychology, 43(1), 1–22.
Imai, M., & Masuda, T. (in press). The Role of Language and Culture in Universality and Diversity of Human Concepts. Retrieved from http://www.ualberta.ca/~tmasuda/ImaMasudaAdvancesCulturePsychology2012FINAL.pdf
Yomota, I. 四方田犬彦. (2006). 「かわいい」論. 筑摩書房.

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No point in publishing this, but your puzzle reminds me of the lines quoted in the second ghost in the shell (innocence) movie about feeling pity for creatures that we can hear cry.. Apparently a famous quote. See also U. Eco for the voice of god, the voice of animals arguements from the middle ages..
Thank you!

Your comment seems to relate more to my most recent post about Japanese public announcements, and speaking vending machines towards which Westerns, Nakajima and I feel sympathy or empathy because they cry or rather speak. And crying is different from speaking. I could to an experiment on that. I will also look into Umberto Eco too.

Found something that references "the voice of god," "the voice of animals" and Umberto Eco which looks interesting.

I will also try and see Innocence.

I know you wont be getting a follow up because you posted anonymously but I have published because it is a model comment and in case you read this - please comment again.
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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.