Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on October 12th, 2008
Terms describing people in any language can be controversial. In your opinion, which ones, if any, of these words still in common use do you think are offensive and should be obsolesced over time?
- Gaijin (62%, 143 Votes)
- Haafu (44%, 101 Votes)
- Sangokukjin (34%, 78 Votes)
- Gaikokujin (25%, 58 Votes)
- Shina (24%, 56 Votes)
- I don't find any of the above words offensive. (18%, 42 Votes)
- Shintai shougaisha (13%, 31 Votes)
- Can't answer. (5%, 11 Votes)
Total Voters: 230
BRIEF COMMENT: I caution readers not to read too much into this poll. It’s a select group of words to a (pretty) select readership. But a point of clarification:
People were allowed multiple entries, and the total number of voters was at poll closing 230 people. This means that one person voting for, say, four responses, would give you four responses but still one voter. (I tested it myself: I put in four votes, and all four responses read 100%, but the total voters were only one.) Which means that any percent you see by a response means total number of responses divided by the total number of voters. This means, for example, 62% of all people who voted in this poll at all voted that they thought “gaijin” was an offensive word.
With that in mind, a couple of possible interpretations:
Only one word was found by an absolute majority to be offensive, and that was “gaijin”. The far second was “haafu” and then “sangokujin”. More people thought “gaikokujin” was worse than “shina”, it seems.
There may have been some shortage of responses due to confusion over whether people could have voted for multiple options (I tried to put in “you can vote for more than one choice”, but it wouldn’t fit in the question’s word limit.) But one response wouldn’t have that problem — people choosing “none of the above” (i.e. “I don’t find any of the above words offensive.”). Surprisingly (given the very vocal protest over the arguments regarding my recent Japan Times essays on “gaijin”), a very small number (barely a fifth of the voters) chose that.
Anyway, I will try to make it clear when you can vote for more than one option (please feel free to suggest improvements in the polling — that’s why this is a separate blog entry commentary), but do understand that the percents being represented take into account individual responses as a proportion of total voters, in any case. FYI. Thanks for participating. Arudou Debito in Sapporo