Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Evolution in Japan

This word is VERY interesting (to me) and I am glad I bumped into it!
I tried to not reveal too much in the title so you could try your hand at guessing the meaning of this word without the explanation. Let's see if you have any idea what this word means:
(and you won't find it in the dictionary so don't even go there, mu ha ha ha!!!) 

Japanese: ガラケー
Reading: garake-

Well, doesn't ring any bells, right? Even if it's written in Katakana.
So let's try another version of this word that might give you some idea or direction.

Japanese: ガラ携
Reading: garakei

Did it help? No? Have no fear, another, even less abbreviated version exists!

Japanese: ガラ携帯
Reading: garakeitai

So it's something about a cellphone, right? Probably, but what the heck is "gara"?
Let's see the completely full version of the word/expression.

Japanese: ガラパゴス携帯
Reading: garapagosukeitai

So, you'd think that showing you the full version would make everything clear, right? But I bet there are a few people, if not more, that still don't know what the heck does that mean, including me when I first heard it. So here it is ladies and gentlemen, without further ado:

Japanese: ガラパゴス携帯
Reading: garapagosukeitai 
Literally: Galapagos Cellphone
Meaning: old Japanese cellphones, the ones before smart phones came around

And now for the explanation. You know how in the Galápagos Islands, being a remote and secluded land, away from the main continents, a special kind of wildlife evolved, all those lizards and turtles and stuff. The evolution of wildlife in the Galápagos Islands went a different route because well, it had different conditions and no influence from the mainland wildlife.
Japan, being an island itself, kind of had a separate social evolution as well, which explains the huge cultural difference between Japan and the west, but part of this also meant that they had different needs from their cell phones. One example is that they had to have higher resolution since they were dealing with Kanji that the west didn't care about. That's why Japanese companies made cellphones that work in Japan, for Japan but they didn't bother adjusting the phones to work anywhere else.
That is why when I came here, I couldn't use my phone (different network protocols and such) and had to get a local phone.

Now in the age of smart phones, everyone kinda start using the same stuff since smart phones do have a camera and a high resolution and all that so there is no more need to separately develop phones to work in Japan. Kind of like someone suddenly connected the Galápagos Islands to North America and watch all those lizards and slow turtles being devoured by the fast carnivores of the main land...
The same way, now the ガラ稽s are disappearing and being replaced by smart phones.

This was a long one today!
I hope you liked it.
I did!

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