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Searching for Equality in Japanese

equality-equivalence

These two videos by Tamarah Cohen of Kansai Gaidai University deal with the use of kanji and its interpretation in Japanese society. When I taught English for Special Purposes in Osaka and Tokyo, I often used similar examples shown in the videos to discuss language usage and various issues faced by Japanese women. Special ARIGATO to Steve Silver for posting the videos to Face Book.

According to Ms. Cohen, “In KANJI, after engaging in a little “dictionary research,” the presenter makes a startling discovery regarding who, according to the writing system of Japan, qualifies as a person — and who does not!”

Ms. Cohen says of What is Equal, “There are, according to presenter, 989 words in contemporary Japanese that include the radical ‘onna’ (woman), and many if not most are negative. There are, in contrast, no “negative” words that include ‘otoko’ (man).”

The presenter argues that this is an obstacle to sexual equality. Watch and see why!

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7040713472235209664

4 Comments

  1. “There are, according to presenter, 989 words in contemporary Japanese that include the radical ‘onna’ (woman), and many if not most are negative. There are, in contrast, no words that include ‘otoko’ (man).”

    I think you mean, there are no -negative- words that include ‘otoko’.

    勇気, courage. Contains otoko.

    My favorite negative word that includes the character for female, ‘onna’ is 姦しい ‘kashimashii’, which means noisy and loud. Just like it is when 3 ladies get together! Or, is what the Kanji say anyway. Not me. I’m no sexist!

  2. Ohhhhh… now that I have watched it. She’s talking about the ‘otoko’ radical. I never thought of that! Wow. Weird. I guess now I know never to guess that that 男 part is the radical on any Kanji quizzes that I may see in the future! Good stuff.

  3. At work and can’t watch the video, but how much of this does she tie to Japanese sexism and how much does she lay at the feet of the Chinese who put these characters together in the first place?

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