Language and Humor

Quiz: (Song) The Sound of Mind Need Silence

Use the vocabulary below the song to fill in the blanks within this “The Sound of Silence” parody.

The answers are at the bottom of the page.

[IMAGE: parody of Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' (1893) as a samurai; TEXT: IT'S MUnCH TOO LOUD!] The pleasant pluck of the koto (zither), the tender toll of the temple bell, the grating blare of the sound truck for political campaigns, right-wing extremist propaganda, or baked sweet potatoes . . . .

These and more are the sounds of Japan. Sometimes it can be hard to deal with all the noise. This song’s narrator shows that:

The Sound of Mind Need Silence

By Kevin Sullivan, with apologies to “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel (written by Paul Simon, 1965)

Hello, Land of Rising Sun
I’ve come with ( ? ), one
Because I fear my mind’s de-rangin’
People muttering: “Strange ( ? )”
Constant noise here is a rant within my brain
Keep me sane
The sound of mind need silence

On crowded streets can’t walk alone
Roadwork and construction drone
And folks yak on ( ? )
And waiters break out in “( ? )!”
Then my ears are stabbed by the slurping of noodles hot
Is this a plot?
Why can’t I get some silence?

And campaign trucks I do abhor
Ten thousand drive-bys, maybe more
Then I’m cornered by store looped-tapes
Where oh where can I find escape?
No Zen garden peace—tour groups invade like weeds
Is Your creed:
“Disturb his mind, no silence”?

( ? ), do You not know
How to make the volume low?
( ? ) brakes’ shrill screech—whew!
Broadcast school chimes’ extreme reach, too . . .
But my words, the right-wing trucks outyelled
@#$%&!
The voices in his head urge violence

And cicadas din for mates
(Nature sound, just semi-hate)
Horns and engines that sound broken
Losing sleep; they’re ( ? )-n’
And my Knife hates the chant from the trucks that are selling sweet-potato snacks
They’re saying we’ve cracked
By code word “( ? )”

bousouzoku
暴走族: noisy, rowdy motorcycle gangs, especially late at night (literally: violent speed [reckless driving] tribes)
gaijin
外人: foreigner (gaikokujin 外国人 is more polite, gaikoku no kata 外国の方 even more so)
Irasshai
いらっしゃい: call of “Welcome” by waiters and cooks at lively establishments (short for Irasshaimase いらっしゃいませ)
Ishiyakiimo
石焼芋: chant of “Stone-baked sweet potatoes” by their ice-cream-truck-style vendors
keitai
ケイタイ: slang for a cellphone/mobile phone (short for keitai denwa 携帯電話, literally: portable telephone)
mamachari
ママチャリ: slang for “granny” bicycle—riders use squeaky brakes in lieu of bell to warn pedestrians and other cyclists (blend of mama ママ, mama/mommy, and charinko チャリンコ, slang for ‘bicycle’)
onegai
お願い: a request
urusai
うるさい: [it’s] noisy; be quiet!

Answers below

Scoring

  • 6-8: Excellent. Please cheer quietly.
  • 3-5: Not bad.
  • 0-2: The voices in your head gave you the wrong answers.

Answers

The Sound of Mind Need Silence

By Kevin Sullivan, with apologies to “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel (written by Paul Simon, 1965)

Hello, Land of Rising Sun
I’ve come with onegai, one
Because I fear my mind’s de-rangin’
People muttering: “Strange gaijin
Constant noise here is a rant within my brain
Keep me sane
The sound of mind need silence

On crowded streets can’t walk alone
Roadwork and construction drone
And folks yak on ke-i-ta-i
And waiters break out in “I-rash-sha-i!”
Then my ears are stabbed by the slurping of noodles hot
Is this a plot?
Why can’t I get some silence?

And campaign trucks I do abhor
Ten thousand drive-bys, maybe more
Then I’m cornered by store looped-tapes
Where oh where can I find escape?
No Zen garden peace—tour groups invade like weeds
Is Your creed:
“Disturb his mind, no silence”?

Urusai, do You not know
How to make the volume low?
Mamachari brakes’ shrill screech—whew!
Broadcast school chimes’ extreme reach, too . . .
But my words, the right-wing trucks outyelled
@#$%&!
The voices in his head urge violence

And cicadas din for mates
(Nature sound, just semi-hate)
Horns and engines that sound broken
Losing sleep; they’re bousouzoku-n’
And my Knife hates the chant from the trucks that are selling sweet-potato snacks
They’re saying we’ve cracked
By code word “I-shi-ya-ki-i-mo”*

*If you rearrange the syllables, ishiyakiimo is “shiki iya imo”: “Cuckoo, sick of you (I) yam!” Coincidence?!