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Top 10 English words for 2015 according to users of Japanese online dictionary Weblio

21 Comments
By Oona McGee, RocketNews24

To coincide with Japan’s annual “Kanji of the Year” event, which reveals the mood of 2015 with a Chinese character, popular online dictionary site Weblio asked its Japanese users to nominate an “English vocabulary word of the Year”. The top ten results provide a unique insight into the hot topics of interest in Japan in 2015.

As the year comes to a close, top 10 lists begin appearing as we look back at the year that was. One of the more interesting lists we’ve seen comes from Japan’s popular online English/Japanese dictionary resource Weblio, who asked 828 of their members to nominate an English vocabulary word that provides a snapshot into the mood of the nation over the past twelve months. Let’s take a look at the top responses from the survey below.

The top three results provide a great insight into the big topics of 2015. The English vocabulary words, were chosen after being translated from Japanese on the site, giving us several multi-word phrases as a result.

1. Refugee (178 respondents)

Chosen as Germany’s Word of the Year for 2015, “refugee” is a word that’s really been brought to attention on the world stage this year. The increase in refugees has become a pressing issue around the world, as the intensification of the civil war in Syria continues to displace an unprecedented number of people. Despite pledging 1.5 billion dollars in emergency aid for refugees, Japan has not joined other nations around the world in welcoming displaced Syrians to its shores, sparking debate both locally and abroad.

2. Right to collective defense (141 respondents)

"Shudantekijieiken," or “right to collective defense”, is another topic of concern in Japan, following the passage of controversial security bills in September by the Upper House of the Diet. The new laws mean the nation’s Self Defense Forces can now assist the United States and other allies abroad in the event of an armed attack, even if Japan is not directly under threat. A number of large-scale protests were held in an attempt to stop the changes being made by the Abe government, revealing a large group of citizens staunchly opposed to increasing Japan’s defense posture abroad.

3. Heavy buying (71 respondents)

The Japanese word "bakugai," literally “explosive buying” but translated to “heavy buying”, flooded news reports in Japan in 2015, when an increasing number of Chinese tourists were found to be visiting Japan for the purpose of shopping in bulk, mostly to re-sell back in their homeland. The four main “must-buy” items turned out to be electric rice cookers, kitchen knives, thermoses, and smart-toilets. The weak yen, combined with duty-free discounts and China’s quality-control controversies, were cited as reasons for the interest in Japanese products, which provided a boon for the retail sector but prompted concerns from local consumers.

The remaining English words filling out the top 10 are:

4. Drone A word which made the news on a number of occasions, but most notably when one was found on the roof of the Prime Minister’s residence in April, containing a radioactive substance.

5. National Identification Number Otherwise known as “My Number”, this is a controversial new national identification system for social security and taxation purposes currently being rolled out in Japan.

6. Routine The katakana version of this word made the news thanks to Japan’s rugby hero Ayumu Goromaru, who inspired fans in Japan with his goal-kicking skills and signature hand pose, a “routine” which he developed with help from a Japanese sports psychologist.

7. Natural disaster In September, torrential rain from Typhoon Etau caused the Kinugawa River in Ibaraki to break its banks, washing away houses and affecting 6,500 homes and businesses. Media coverage of the scene, including images of residents stranded on rooftops, served as a salient reminder of the ever-present threat of natural disaster in Japan.

8. Trans-Pacific Partnership Despite public opposition, a trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim countries was finalised on October 5 this year, after seven years of negotiations.

9. Forgery A high-rise apartment building in Yokohama with 705 units made the news this year after it was found that construction records had been falsified, resulting in sloped floors, gaps in doors, and enraged residents.

10. Selfie Because well, who hasn’t taken a selfie? In Japan, high school girls really got into the trend this year.

The top 10 words above certainly provide a snapshot into the current issues that captured the attention of the nation this year.

Source: PR Times

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21 Comments
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With Japan full of drones and routines you would have thought these familiar words.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Honestly I've never heard of the term "Heavy Buyer" before... I would probably have translated that to "Splurging" or "Big Spenders"

I googled it and a few hits came up..with #3 being in Japanese. #1 linked to some marketing research page and #2 was about buying a heavy boxing bag...so I think it's safe to say this is not a phrase in regular English circulation.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Honestly I've never heard of the term "Heavy Buyer" before... I would probably have translated that to "Splurging" or "Big Spenders"

@kaynide

"Heavy buyer" does sound a bit awkward. A few other alternatives include "spending spree," "buying binge" or "binge shopping" for "bakugai" (爆買い).

4 ( +5 / -1 )

kaynide: Agreed. This is the first time I've heard 'heavy buying' as well. I've heard it described as "spending spree" or "shopping spree" before, and heavy buying doesn't seem a decent replacement even if shopping spree doesn't quite capture the phenomenon.

Anyway, interesting list. Definitely some encapsulate the topics of the year.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I never took a selfie.

BakuSerufei

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Where's "Trumpu-san"?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I don't really get this list. I thought it would be the top searched words for translations. But who would try to translate TPP, which is the proper name of a trade agreement. Of trans, pacific, and partnership all have their own individual meanings, but who would look up the whole phrase together? Also, "heavy buying" sounds like one of the horrible translations Google Translate would give you. It technically makes sense, but it's not an English phrase.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Spending Spree Big Spender Shopping Spree

These all refer to ONE person doing a bunch of shopping.

Bakugai refers to a BUNCH of people descending like locusts and buying everything in sight.

Shopping Boom Flash Shopping Mob Mob Shopping Explosion of Shoppers Shopping Invasion

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Heavy drinking - but not heavy shopping...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A lament for leadership lacking:

Forgotten refugees enter a fifth year of forgotten, internal exile.

Collective defence of vested interests a hop, a skip and a jump beyond majestic lawns.

Heavy buying. Ask a stockbroker. Don't remind a taxpayer.

Drone. But it's a one-trick-pony verb.

National Identification Number, a Confucian wet dream.

Routine: a mouth writing cheques his arse can't cash.

Natural disaster. Succinct epitaph.

Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trickle-up-onomics!

Forgery. Where should we begin?

Selfie. Media whoredom par excellence.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This article completely sums up the bizarre attitude towards English education in Japan.

Firstly, it's clear that the responses were actually Japanese words that have then been translated into English - totally going against the idea that it's the 'English vocabulary word of the year'.

Secondly, the answers themselves are nonsense. Apparently "Weblio asked 828 of their members to nominate an English vocabulary word that provides a snapshot into the mood of the nation over the past twelve months". How do any of the responses fit the question?

Finally, Weblio see it as OK putting their name behind this rubbish. The whole thing doesn't make any sense, yet could've been a really interesting, engaging, and useful 'project' had a few people with genuine interests in English education sat down and thought about it properly.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

As japanese English goes, heavy buyer isn't too bad as an alternative to big spender, as it refers to the person doing the buying, and the word heavy is already used in English as a means of suggesting that something is being done to excess, e.g. heavy drinker/smoker. It is, however, a bit weird that it's being used when "rouhi" is already available. Cultural cringe, perhaps? I wonder if it actually refers to a stock market wolf?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As japanese English goes, heavy buyer isn't too bad as an alternative to big spender,

Yet both have totally different meanings, as a heavy buyer, as noted, would typically refer to a stock broker or someone who purchases a lot of a specific item. Big spender refers to people who spend large amounts of money on a specific item or items, yet typically that person may not have the money all the time to make purchases like that.

Forgery high-rise apartment building in Yokohama with 705 units made the news this year after it was found that construction records had been falsified, resulting in sloped floors, gaps in doors, and enraged residents.

This is no where near even close. A forgery as everyone knows is a copy, these buildings were not "forgeries" nor was the hiding of the evidence about the shoddy construction either. The end result of falsifying construction records was a ton of cash being spend to correct the problem, a police investigation, and a hell of a lot of teeth-sucking!

Not translated well, even for an article about English!)

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The four main “must-buy” items turned out to be electric rice cookers, kitchen knives, thermoses, and smart-toilets.

The thermos flask was invented by a Scot called James Dewar, so I'm not letting the Japanese have that one!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The thermos flask was invented by a Scot called James Dewar, so I'm not letting the Japanese have that one!

No one wrote nor said that the thermos was invented by Japanese, but they are Japanese products!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

My Top Five Phrases:

California Drought

Black Lives Matter

Economic Inequality

Climate Change

Moreover, the Republican Party Must Be Destroyed
-1 ( +3 / -5 )

Others have pointed out that these English words are translations of their Japanese counterparts, not the top 10 English words looked up by users. That being said, 'heavy buying' is a term used in the financial world to describe a lot of buying by many buyers of stock. I've never heard it used to describe buying of anything other than stock.

Yubaru: I once bought a Dewar flask from Edmund Scientific in the USA. I loved it; until it exploded on me when I poured some boiling water into it. That was Bad!

Black Sabbath: Must you interject your political feelings into a discussion of vocabulary?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

No one wrote nor said that the thermos was invented by Japanese, but they are Japanese products!

Yeah, I believe that the company Thermos is now a Japanese company.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Weblio is a web dictionary used by translators. This only tells you about what words translators have trouble translating, and does not reflect anything general about society.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

My top five ENglish words in Japan:

Cli-fi Global warming Climapocalypse Ocean acidivacation Methane bomb
-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Strangerland: You are right about Thermos now being a Japanese company - In August, 1989, the Thermos operating companies in the U.S., U.K, Canada and Australia were acquired by Nippon Sanso K.K. of Tokyo, Japan.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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