Language was never meant to be rigid, or we would still be speaking in Shakespearian dialect, or worse, grunting like cavemen. Any now with the ease of travel and global media, it’s fair to say we are trading words with our international words left, right and centre.
Most of it we aren’t even aware of, yet alone deeply offended, but that hasn’t stopped one Japanese man attempting to sue NHK, Japans national broadcaster for 1.4 million yen for emotional distress caused by excessive use of borrowed English words during one of their broadcasts.
The man in question is a member of a campaign group that is pro Japanese language, and heavily against American and European influences on the language. He has branded NHK irresponsible for Americanising their language, by forming American words that adopt the phonetic structure of Japanese ones.
Not Just English
But branding it an ‘Americanisation’ implies that American or English words are gradually seeping into other languages and will eventually take over, rather than it working as a trade of language. Hundreds of Japanese words have also been borrowed by Western society.
Words such as karaoke, ninja and tycoon all have Japanese roots, they have been borrowed purely because they are the best fitting linguistics for cause. Imagine if instead of fruit ninja, the popular game was called fruit person skilled in ninjutsu, or to be pedantic as fruit person skilled in Asian arts. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
National language should be preserved and studied, but as the world becomes a smaller place, the lines between cultures and nations are beginning to blur, but not necessarily for the worse.
What are some of your favourite words from other languages? Or better, what words do you think should be borrowed?