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Once a year, Japan’s Fuji TV broadcasts a marathon program called FNS 27-Hour TV. A huge team of A-list comedians, musicians, and media personalities make appearances during the show, and since its beginning in 1997 it’s been a ratings hit for the network.

But as the younger generation increasingly looks to the Internet for entertainment content, this year Fuji TV wanted to remind viewers that TV is still relevant and worth watching. Oh, and also apparently that they should sleep with white people, if you take the program’s T-shirts at face value.

Fuji TV seems to have realized that it can’t match online rivals in terms of convenience, and that if it’s going to draw attention back to broadcast TV, it needs to put in the effort to provide the highest-quality programming it can. That’s why the theme of this year’s 27-Hour TV was “We’ve gotta get serious!”

The Japanese word for “serious” that 27-Hour TV chose to use is written in kanji as 本気. There are a couple of different systems for writing out Japanese words using the Roman alphabet, but pretty much all of them. including by far the most commonly used protocol, agree that in this case 本気 should be written as honki.

It looks like one of the program’s producers has some very unorthodox linguistic ideas, though, or maybe just decided to get a little too clever in rendering the word in English, because this was the result:

Ordinarily, we’d be scratching our heads over the strange syntax of “No fun, no TV,” since it seems like “No TV, no fun” does a better job of conveying the cause-and-effect relationship Fuji TV is trying to emphasize. But the real star of this garbled mess is the sudden order to “Do honky.”

In the broadcaster’s defense, the Japanese word for “serious” and the English derogatory term for “white person” are pronounced almost identically. This also isn’t the first time the same sounds have produced wildly different meanings in the minds of Japanese and English native speakers, or that Japanese celebrities have appeared on television with eyebrow-raising slogans emblazoned on their shirts.

Still, it’s an impressive bit of linguistic contortionism that Fuji TV went through to stick its foot in its mouth.

▼ OK, Fuji TV, you’re the boss. One question, though: Are we supposed to leave the TV on during?

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Source: Hachima Kiko
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