Tag Archives: Oxford

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:

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

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

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

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
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:

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

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?

Shibuya Crossing in London

5 Nov

In 渋谷 (Shibuya, Tokyo), there’s a famous intersection near the JR train station that, when the pedestrian signal turns green, all the cars have red lights and must stop and people can walk across the intersection in any direction.
The crosswalks are painted not only straight in four directions…but also diagonally.


Shibuya Crossing

(Actually there are a number of intersections around Tokyo like this…but Shibuya’s is most famous).

Well, London, England has just made a similar crosswalk at one of that city’s busiest intersections.
At the opening ceremony for the new crosswalk, the Mayor of London said that the intersection’s new crosswalk is entirely based on Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo.

In fact, there were Japanese 太鼓 (Taiko drums) drummers playing at the opening ceremony!


London's new crosswalk based on Shibuya Crossing.