Quantcast
Connect with us

Disgruntled viewer sues Japanese public broadcaster over using English words

Published

on

Elderly viewers confused by increasing trend to use anglicised terms instead of their Japanese equivalent

Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, is in a spot of toraburu with a disgruntled viewer who has filed a damages lawsuit against the company for the “mental distress” caused by its excessive use of words derived from English.

Hoji Takahashi, who says he represents a pressure group that protects the Japanese language, is seeking 1.41 million yen (£9,300) in damages from NHK, reports said.

ADVERTISEMENT

In his suit filed with the Nagoya district court, Takahashi said the deluge of English words used in NHK’s news and entertainment programmes had caused him emotional distress, and accused the broadcaster of ignoring its responsibility to use Japanese alternatives.

Among the words he cited as particularly troublesome were kea (care), toraburu (trouble), risuku (risk) and shisutemu (system). He also noted the frequent use of loan words in programme titles, such as BS Kosheruju (BS Concierge) and Sutajio Paaku Kara Konnichiwa (Hello from Studio Park).

The 71-year-old claims he and other elderly viewers had been left baffled by some of NHK’s content. “I contacted NHK to inquire about this, but there was no response so I decided to take the matter to court,” Kyodo News quoted him as saying. “I want the broadcaster to take into account elderly viewers like me when it is creating shows.”

The frequent use of words derived from English, plus a smaller number whose origins can be found in Portuguese, Dutch and other languages, is not confined to NHK.

ADVERTISEMENT

But Takahashi said that given its considerable reach and influence, the company had a responsibility to remain neutral and appeal to as many viewers as possible.

NHK said it had yet to study the complaint and declined to comment.

The presence of English words in Japan has increased dramatically since the end of the second world war, when the country embraced American pop culture.

ADVERTISEMENT

The modern Japanese lexicon is littered with borrowed words. Most have been around for decades and are immediately understood by people of all ages: sarariiman (salaryman), terebi [television], passion (personal computer) and konbini (convenience store).

English is not the only foreign language to have influenced Japanese: tempura comes from Portuguese, pan is the French-derived word for bread, while part-time work is known as arubaito, from the German word Arbeit.

“Personally, I think the lawsuit is ridiculous, but it does at least draw attention to a problem,” said Makoto Yamazaki, an associate professor at the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics.

ADVERTISEMENT

“There has been pressure on the Japanese government and media to rein in the use of loanwords since the early 2000s. It’s OK for people in the same company or group to use, say, specialised words, but when they are picked up by the media it becomes a problem.”

Yamazaki noted the increasing use in Japanese of corporate and political buzzwords such as accountability, governance and compliance, which many people above a certain age find difficult to understand in their borrowed form.

“Politicians are particularly fond of them,” he said. “It is possible to use alternative words in Japanese, but they think that by using the borrowed version they are offering something new and exciting.

ADVERTISEMENT

“But politicians and the media have a responsibility to avoid creating ‘word minorities’ among their audiences.”

© Guardian News and Media 2013

[“Stock Photo: Asian Girl And Microphone” on Shutterstock]


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

Are conspiracy theories on the rise in the US?

Published

on

Have the internet and social media created a climate where Americans believe anything is possible? With headlines citing now as the age of conspiracy, is it really true?

In a word, no.

While it may be true that the internet has allowed people who believe in conspiracies to communicate more, it has not increased the number of Americans who believe in conspiracies, according to the data available.

Continue Reading

Facebook

Wall Street is ignoring the omens of recession – here’s why

Published

on

The world is on the brink of a recession, if all the breathless headlines are to be believed. So why are U.S. stocks near all-time highs?

That’s a question my MBA students have been asking me lately. Even the Federal Reserve is concerned – at least worried enough to reduce U.S. borrowing costs for the second time this year.

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

The 4 big questions that the next Israeli government will decide

Published

on

On Sept. 17, Israelis went to the polls for the second time in less than six months.

They were voting again because – for the first time in the country’s history – a coalition government could not be assembled after the last election took place on April 9. To everyone’s surprise, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – long renowned for his political skills and deals – failed to form the right-wing governing coalition he wanted. He was one seat short of securing a majority in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image