Archive | 3:10 am

Japanese in the Oxford Dictionary

21 Aug

I wrote a post last year about Japanese words that are used in the English language (often with a different pronunciation…and sometimes even a different meaning from the original Japanese).

(Click here to read it.)

Well, it seems that this year’s edition of the Oxford Dictionary from England has added three more Japanese words to their dictionary that are supposedly in common usage in the English language now.

The words are: 「引きこもり」 (“Hikikomori“), 「過労死」 (“Karoushi“), and 「オタク」 (“Otaku“).

I know these words of course…but I can’t imagine them being used in English!
How are they used in a sentence in English?

Their definitions as taken from Oxford Dictionary Online:

Hikikomori
Pronunciation:/hɪˌkɪkə(ʊ)ˈmɔːri/
noun (plural same)
[mass noun]
(in Japan) the abnormal avoidance of social contact, typically by adolescent males
[count noun] a person who avoids social contact

Origin:
Japanese, literally ‘staying indoors, (social) withdrawal’

Karoshi
Pronunciation:/kaˈrəʊʃi/
noun
[mass noun]
(in Japan) death caused by overwork or job-related exhaustion
Origin:
Japanese, from ka ‘excess’ + rō ‘labour’ + shi ‘death’

Otaku
Pronunciation:/əʊˈtɑːkuː/
noun (plural same)
[mass noun]
(in Japan) a young person who is obsessed with computers or particular aspects of popular culture to the detriment of their social skills
Origin:
Japanese, literally ‘your house’, alluding to the reluctance of such young people to leave the house

I think there are a few errors in a couple of the entries.
The actual definitions are mostly fine, but the “origins” aren’t quite right.

I think they should change them to:

Hikikomori
Origin:
Japanese, literally ‘staying indoors, (social) withdrawal’
I’d write:     Japanese; literally ‘pulling away’ or ‘(social) withdrawal’

Otaku
Origin:
literally ‘your house’, alluding to the reluctance of such young people to leave the house
I’d write:    Japanese; literally ‘you’ or ‘your house(hold)’. Anime fans in Japan began referring to each other by this overly polite term, from which it became the term that they were all referred to by.

Also those pronunciation keys in the entries are difficult to understand.
Does anyone actually use those characters to learn how to correctly pronounce a word?

This is where Japanese kana characters are especially helpful, if you can read it.

Hikikomori is pronounced 「ひきこもり」 (hɪˌkɪkə(ʊ)ˈmɔːri),
Karoshi is pronounced 「かろうし」 (kaˈrəʊʃi),
and Otaku is pronounced 「おたく」 (əʊˈtɑːkuː).

Have you ever used these words in English conversation?