Fukuyama City, Hiroshima. Business consulting. Translation. Interpreting. Printing. DTP.
Cross-border ramblings

Japanese

Safety?

Japanese has two words that are often used incorrectly or in the wrong context: “Anzen”, which means “safety” or “security”, and “Anshin”, which means “peace of mind”. Then again, perhaps this isn’t a phenomenon restricted to Japanese. Let’s take airport “security” as an example. How is your safety guaranteed by the “security checks” at airports? Over the past few years we have seen them become stricter and stricter. You need to remove your computer from your bag before the X-ray check, liquids are either limited by amount or totally prohibited, some airports require you to remove your shoes, and then there is the “metal detector” you walk through after putting …

Whose wife?

Japanese has a complex system of honorifics. This can be a wonderful thing when used correctly, but lead to absolute confusion when misused. One example of this is the word “wife”. There are a number of ways of referring to your own wife, with the most common probably being tsuma (妻), and another way of referring to somebody else’s wife which is okusan (奥さん). Even with the latter, okusan, it is unclear whose wife is being talked about without the relevant context or background to the discussion, but it is clear that it is not the wife of the person doing the talking. Although when referring to your own wife, …

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