Japanese is affecting the English lexicon in new ways

The earliest Japanese loanword to appear in the Oxford English Dictionary, kuge (court noble), came in 1577. By 2014, a study by Kinjo Gakuin University researcher Schun Doi had found 584 loan words.

Since Commodore Matthew Perry’s Black Ships forced Japan open to trade in the 19th century, such loanwords have repaid the favor by contributing to the English language. The internet and increased travel now allow people to increasingly catapult their linguistic heritages — and attendant values — into each others’ lives.

The term “emoji” is a good example. It first appeared in the OED in a 1997 citation from the Nikkei Weekly, but didn’t make the dictionary until 2013. The year before last, it was dubbed Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year for reflecting “the ethos, mood and preoccupations of 2015.” Oxford says the use of emoji more than tripled compared to 2014, allowing it to beat out words such as “refugee” and “lumbersexual.” OED President Casper Grathwohl cited Hillary Clinton’s request for people to send emojis in response to a campaign question, and the debate over emoji skin tones as signs of how the word moved from teen jargon into the main lexicon. He added that emoji pictograms suit our “obsessively immediate” times perfectly, an example of how Japan’s preference for visual communication has hit a nerve overseas…

(Full article in the Japan Times)

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