My 8-year-old wanted to use my computer. "I need to search the Internet for a picture of a kurumaisu," he said, in his usual blend of English and Japanese. Never mind that both his parents are American; he's lived in Japan since he was 5 and attends a Japanese elementary school. This qualifies him as a chanpon meijin (expert at mixing up the languages).

"A wheelchair? Why do you need a picture of a wheelchair?" I asked.

"Because we're studying bariafurii in school," he answered. Bariafurii? Bariafurii? It took several seconds for the overtaxed part of my brain that handles language to convert this into something recognizable. "Oh! 'Barrier free!' You're studying how to make places accessible for people with disabilities."