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soc.culture.japan FAQ [Monthly Posting] [1/3]
Section - (3.5.2) Is "Gaijin" a derogatory term?

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This issue crops up occasionally as a heated debate in this newsgroup.

Gaijin is a contraction of the word gaikokujin, and literally means
"foreigner". The Japanese language has several cases of using "gai"
(outside) with a noun to indicate one of <noun> from another country.
Gaisha for foreign cars, gaijin for foreign people, gaika for foreign
currencies.

Some people are deeply offended by the word, saying that "gaijin" refers
to outsiders rife with undesirable characteristics. There is no doubt that
is one meaning of the word.

"Gaijin" is also used in many cases where it is probably not intended
as a negative statement. Consider that it is common in the Japanese
language to address people whose names are not known, or even if names
are known, by titles: omawari san, Mr. Policeman; sushiya san, Mr.
Sushi Shop. It is not unusual for a Japanese speaker to call a non
Japanese who is otherwise not known, "gaijin san".

It should be noted that: 

The language also has much stronger words for cases where a speaker
wants to discriminate or insult.

and

Non-Asian foreigners _will_ be called "gaijin" by many Japanese.

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Top Document: soc.culture.japan FAQ [Monthly Posting] [1/3]
Previous Document: (3.5.1) Japan's involvement in World War II
Next Document: (3.6) Why are there so few Japanese posters in SCJ?

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