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Amid the coronavirus outbreak, do you think most Japanese understand the meaning of words being used by politicians, such as overshoot, social distancing, lockdown and clusters?


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By the looks of it, Japanese don't seem to understand much of what is going on at all. Life as usual. So glad to be born in Japan.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

No. My bilingual Japanese wife asked me about overshoot and neither of us could figure out what politicians meant. After some research she discovered it actually means 'a sudden increase'. A meaning the original English word does not have.

The real reason I think politicians love katakana words is that it confuses the electorate and makes the electorate think 'Gee he's smart' or 'Gosh, I don't know what he's talking about' and 'I'd better leave these difficult subjects up to the politician.' I.e. Obfuscate and confuse.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The problem is that these articles are not translating the Japanese word オーバーシュート into English, but are only transcribing it into English, using the spelling 'overshoot', which unfortunately is the same as an existing English word. This creates confusion, due to the meaning of the word オーバーシュート not being the same as the meaning of the English word 'overshoot'.

The media is sloppy in not translating this Japanese into English, and only transcribing it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I don't undestand why Koike used the word "overshoot" at all to refer to an explosive increase in infection cases. Each time she did, they had the kanji for "bakuhatsu" in the subtitles. As for social distancing, I had never heard of that expression even in English until the coronavirus appeared. What's wrong with just saying keep a few meters apart from other people?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

not a clue. ive had Japanese people ask me if the word overshoot was english

5 ( +5 / -0 )

So, overshoot is a spike in cases? Yeah that’s actually a bit confusing until you know. Other words from my everyday dealings are well understood I think. The seriousness of the situation is what is not understood by a lot.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Perhaps overshooting the original estimates of contagious people. Lots of English words here make no sense. For example, a sign on a door saying Close.

confusing the masses makes them more controllable.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I looked up the word overshoot a couple of weeks ago and wrote a comment for a website on it. I found three conflicting recent usages of it. I think it started with the body's immune system overshooting the virus in the lungs creating a cytokine storm, flooding and destroying the lungs, leading to organ failure and death. Large numbers of such patients require massive numbers of beds and ventilators, overloading the whole hospital system. In Japanese it seems to be indicating the latter, the societal infrastructure failure.

A very convenient buzzword, like cluster, which can add an extra air of authority without any real content.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A resounding NO!!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Each time she did, they had the kanji for "bakuhatsu" in the subtitles.

I just don't understand why she couldn't have just used that word instead of overshoot. Overshoot, in English, is not the right word to use in this case, because it suggests that a certain quantity increases temporarily until settling down to a lower value. This is the problem of Japanese using English words to sound cool, but not fully understanding the meaning, and more and often than not, bast*rdizing the meaning before entering the wasei-eigo dictionary. Please, just use words which even elderly citizens can understand.

Social distancing? I've yet to hear that word used by anyone in Japan because I don't think most people even understand the concept - most don't care what's going on around the world, like a frog in a well. Please, just use the Japanese word - you can find it on wikipedia. The beauty of kanji is that it shows the meaning (in most cases if used sensibly).

And no, I don't say 'hot sand' when I mean 'toasted sandwiches'

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I saw someone online post something about overshoot being a term used in epidemiology to describe when the number of cases exceeds testing capacity, I think, or something like that. Even if it is technically 'correct' though, it's poor communication if nobody understands.

Kono put a tweet out showing kanji-based words to replace the ones written in katakana and I very much agree they were easier to understand. Japan's obsession with foreign words isn't a healthy one, really

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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