Archive | September 2013

WEP 270613

This is the last WEP of the 2012-13 season – see you again in October 2013!

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Japanese TV has toraburu* with English words

*toraburu = trouble

Look at the vocabulary first and then read and listen to the story.

trouble: problems, difficulties 

a viewer: a spectator of TV programmes

to borrow: to take (temporarily)

to highlight: to call special attention to something

broadcaster: a TV or radio station

An unhappy viewer is demanding compensation from Japan’s national TV station for “mental distress” caused by an excessive use of words borrowed from English.

Hoji Takahashi, 71, has asked for 1.4 million yen  in damages from NHK (€10,000). “The basis of his concern is that Japan is being too Americanised,” explained his lawyer.

English became more prevalent in Japan after World War II during the US-led occupation. This was followed by a growing interest in American pop culture.

The country’s modern vocabulary has a lot of borrowed words, many of which are changed to fit the Japanese phonic structure.

Mr Takahashi, who is a member of a campaign group supporting the Japanese language, highlighted words such as “toraburu” (trouble), “risuku” (risk) and “shisutemu” (system) in NHK’s news and entertainment programmes. He accused NHK of irresponsibility by refusing to use native Japanese equivalents.

“Japanese society is increasingly Americanised, and Takahashi believes that NHK, as Japan’s national broadcaster, shouldn’t go with the trend, but should prioritise the use of Japanese. He thinks this would protect Japanese culture,” his lawyer told the Japan Times newspaper. NHK said it would not comment until it had studied the legal documents.

Other examples of English words often used in Japanese include:

terebi (TV)

rajio (radio)

konpuraiansu (compliance)

koraboreeshon (collaboration)

dejitaru (digital)

taoru (towel)

Vocabulary is also borrowed from other foreign languages. The Portguese “pao” is used as “pan” for bread.

Japanese words used in the English language include “haiku”, “origami” and “Bonsai”.

Other commonly used “loanwords” are the German “kindergarten”, “zeitgeist” and “blitz” as well as French terms such as “faux-pas”, “decor” and “cafe”.

Read more about this story:

Something to chat about

What English words are there in your language? Which ones do you use?

Do you think there should be laws to limit the amount of foreign words that ‘invade’ your language?

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