June 17, 2010

BP会長の「スモールピープル」発言とトヨタのマスク会見:BP "Small People" Remark & Toyota's "Man in Surgical Mask"

““We care about the small people. I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies, or greedy companies, don’t care. But that is not case in BP, we care about the small people” - Carl-Henric Svanberg, BP chairman (Swedish), after meeting with President Obama

Why do US people make such a big deal out of this remark?  Poor choice of words. Sure. But he's Swedish!  For those of you who needs help to understand what he really means, here's a comment left on WSJ;
Kafpauzo wrote:

It’s a fairly common Swedish expression, best translated as “the exposed people” or “the vulnerable people,” when used in this context. It describes people who are affected by something that encompasses them and is beyond their control.

I’m Swedish, so I’m judging from how the literally translated expression comes across when used in this context in Swedish.

Swedish politicians and media sometimes use this expression when talking about political decisions that have large effects, discussing how individual people are exposed to these effects, and talking about the fact that the politicians are responsible.[...]

Mystery solved....

Toyota spokesman in Surgical Mask

This unfortunate event reminds me of Toyota's surgical mask incident. When a Toyota spokesman appeared on camera in a surgical mask apologizing to the world, non-Japanese viewers were taken aback.
There is a tendency on the part of non-American automakers to view the American public’s emotional consumerism as a fetish, or even a form of illness. This might explain the surgical mask. - The Daily Beast
What!?  I saw the same feedback posted everywhere. (First originated  from ABC News host, I guess.)   Actually, in Japan, unless it's swine flu, we usually wear a surgical mask when we catch cold to protect others from OUR virus, not the other way around.
To the Japanese, there was nothing odd in the sight of a Toyota executive appearing before the world’s TV cameras to announce the recall of its cars while wearing a surgical mask. You don’t need to be a PR consultant to see that, to the West, especially to anxious Toyota drivers in the West, this makes as good an impression as turning up to the Vatican in hotpants. Even here, cultural misunderstanding widens the gulf: foreigners in Tokyo see these surgical masks, commonly worn during the cold season, as evidence of the natives’ hypochondria. In fact, it is a considerate gesture: they are wearing their mask to prevent you catching their cold. - Times Online
As long as I know, Times Online was the only media outlet that mentioned it.

Well, next time you encounter some bizarre, weird, out of contest behavior coming out of foreigners, just ask them why, what they mean by that before getting angry, because a lot of times, they don't really mean it.

「我々は小市民(small people)のことを心から案じている。大手石油会社、欲まみれの会社は気にしちゃいないんだ、とという声をよく耳にするが、BPは違う。我々は小市民(small people)のことを心から案じている」

だって相手はスウェーデン人じゃんねー。前半削って後半の「small people」のところだけ何度も流して煽ってるマスコミもどうしようもない。通しで読めばなんとなく言ってることは分かるのに。きっと向こうの言葉にはこういう言い回しがあるんじゃないの? 









Shintaro Tominaga said...

Your post on the BP incident over the words "small people" is quite interesting.

Shintaro Tominaga, Kashiwa, Chiba-ken, Japan.

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