The Other Side of Lost in Translation


How Japanese see Koreans #1

Momoe Yamaguchi was one of the biggest stars in Japan during '70s,
and this song is one of her many hits,
which is called "謝肉祭 Shanikusai(Carnival)."
Interesting enough, this song had been prohibited
to be put on the air,
and her compilation CDs had not included this song untill recently.
Because the lyric contains the word "Gypsy"
and that is considered as a derogatory remark.

Do you know where the "Gypsy" came from?
Gypsies were the people who migrated to Europe
from the north India.
But at that time,
as most of Europeans did not know much about India,
they thought those dark people were Egyptians.
Then "Egyptian" became "Gyptian", then "Gypsy."
Now it is considered derogatory against Egyptians.

From late '80s to mid '90s,
there was a strong cracking down movement
against any derogatory remarks in Japanese media,
which probably was influenced by
"Politically Correct" movement in American media.
All of sudden, so many words were prohibited to be used
in media and some works which had been already
published/released became out of print
and/or being prohibited to be put on the air.
There were so many words disappered from the media like:

Ainoko.....racially mixed
Eta........descriminated group of people in Japan
Kuronbo....Blacks, equivalent to "N word"

There was a huge commotion in general public
about this prohibition.
Many people said it was wrong to prohibit to use these words
because they have been used for so many years,
and this kind of crack down can be
againt the freedom of expression.

At that time, I was already in U.S.,
and still there was no internet.
Yet I could almost figure out which words were wrong to use
as probably I had been advocated
about politically correctness, by living here in U.S.
However, still the prohibition of the word "Gypsy"
was a bit strange to me
because it is okay to use it in U.S.
I have never heard the songs like "Gypsy Woman"
were criticized because of the usage of that term.

Then, about two years ago,
On my e-mail, I asked my editor
if I could use the pics that I took
with my small digi-camera though I usually use pics
that I take with my SRL camera for my articles.
And I wrote with the term "Baka-Chon camera."
"Baka-Chon camera" is a general term for
small, inexpensive & easy-to-use camera,
which was a very usual term when I was living in Japan,
during '60s and '70s.
To my surprise, my editor wrote
"this is a forbidden term now,
because Baka means an idiot,
and Chon means a Korean.
So Baka-Chon camera means the camera that
even Idiots and Koreans can use.
I was totaly astonished
and I swear that I had no idea about this.

To be continued


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