Today's Notables

What the "Opinion Poll about Japanese Language" can Reveal

August 2003
Hisashi Furuichi
President and C.E.O.

Recently, the results of the 2002 public opinion poll conducted by the Ministry of Education regarding the Japanese language were released. Most of the respondents expressed a feeling of change in daily Japanese language specifically referring to the younger generation. Despite the influence of youth on the language, difficult vernacular and confusion in the language has become more pronounced. However, compared to two years ago, the people who responded, "Japanese is confusing," decreased 5.4% while those that responded "Japanese is not more confusing" increased 6.7% for a total of 17%. For example, when we pay at the register at a fast food or family restaurant, the clerk will either say, "Your total comes to 1,000 yen," or "Out of 1,000 yen." Neither seems necessarily wrong or offensive to the ear and therefore, it will not be too long that both are considered correct Japanese according to the results of the poll. Furthermore, Japanese has become inundated with katakana loan words which many people say they do not understand. Although, I do not necessarily recommend katakana loan words, they seem to appear in many different arenas. They are especially unavoidable in the world of business. There are some words that I have heard and could not respond to. These are some of the same words that had a low level of understanding in the public opinion poll.
Following is a list of those words that seem to appear most often. Many words are derived from English but there are a few from other languages.

Loan Word Definition
Informed Consent A physician's legal duty to fully explain the extent of a patient's condition
Cooperation Working together to reach a common goal Assessment Evaluation, appraisal, judgment
Scheme Plan, strategy, design, policy
Digital archive Archiving of digital information
Tracability A system that provides data throughout each step in the production process
Task force A group of people and resources temporarily formed to complete a task.
Empowerment Give power or authority to someone.
Mécéna (French) Support of public arts and science by corporations. Governance Act or state of social governing.
Enforcement Compel obedience to a law, regulation or command.
Incubation Support during start-up of an organization, period of development
Consortium A grouping of corporations or organizations
Competence Ability or expertise to understand or perform something.
Stick holder Those that hold advantages and disadvantages.
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