• Yukiko Sakata

Beyond Language: Asian Racial Expression

I have been exposed to many Asian racial expressions that don't be considered to be one due to the language barriers and the cultural differences.

While it can seem easy to understand the marketing copy tendency to be less alerted to the risk of being racially discriminatory in areas like Japan and Korea, it is tougher to fully understand the origin why these areas can embrace such trends.


One of the reasons why products don't care about wrong English expressions is simply because they can't or won't care. In case of Japan, learning English as their second language starts in older age compared to the ones in other Asian countries like Singapore or India. Therefore stuff like product copy and design don't have to have the real meaning in the particular language but can be used more like an accessary. It can be meaningless and won't be thought rude or broken.


Another reason why correct English is not always necessary is because of the cultures that don't allow the people to express their own feelings and emotions freely enough to be competitive to the ones of Western cultures, they become less sensitive to what they don't have to worry for their regions. They target their local customers and kind of ignore the global standard since they already have some domestic suppressive pressure about freedom of speech and that kind. They are also behind when it comes to multi-racial cultures and particularly in Japan, the people don't have to face their minority problems somehow. There are a few different backgrounds besides biracial or multi-racial people, and they are Japan-born Koreans, Chinese, Koreas, Philippines, Iranians, etc., and their native people in Hokkaido, Ainu.


Lastly, this is also about Japan, but they lack in understanding of English as the global language with the great volume of vocabulary and they tend to see it as something non-Japanese as opposed to their own which is Japanese. They are accustomed to see it as one of the subject to learn at school, too, so in that mindset, it has to be as simple as other ones so that kids can use their brains for all of the subjects like science and gymnastic. It is strongly believed that language isn't so important but heart and passion matter when it comes to business and communication.


My advice for anybody who finds some expressions in Asia a little offensive in that sense, would be to ignore and learn that people like non-verbal stuff and linguistic expressions can't matter much.

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