Linguistic Anthropology

The study of language has been part of anthropology since the discipline started in the 1ate 1870s. This site is a place for linguistic anthropologists to post their work and discuss important events and trends in the field.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Japanese WOTY

Japanese publishing company Jiyu Kokuminsha has just announced this year's Shingo Ryukougo, or Fashionable New Words. Similar to Word Of The Year announcements made by various US and UK publishers, Shingo Ryukougo is essentially a publicity event that draws attention to Jiyu Kokuminsha.

This year there are actually two winners, and both are loan words from English... sort of. That is, both are Japanese words based on clipped versions of English words or phrases.

First (following the order they appear on Jiyu Kokuminsha's web page) is Guu! the catch-phrase of comedian Edo Harumi. Edo-san gets big laughs with her broad facial expression, thumbs up gesture, and this slightly altered version of English "good". (Slapstick is also popular with certain Japanese audiences - especially people being hit over the head with large paper fans. De gustibus non disputandum est.)

Tied for the first place nod is arafo, a clipped version of "Around Forty," a popular television drama. Nikkei Weekly magazine suggests that single "arafo" women are especially prized by retailers, since they tend to spend money on a variety of retail products. NHK television also suggests that women around forty, who came of age during the "Bubble Jidai," the 1980s economic bubble, are trendy, self-confident, and appealing.

NHK is partially supported by advertising dollars. I'm just sayin'.

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