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by robin d. gill

(a sampling of particular interest to teachers of courses of comparative culture)



Is Mistranslating Culture Inevitable?


Distant tongues, by definition, share little. Strictly speaking, they can not be translated; there is just too much that cannot be “carried across” the divide. All that the translator can do is Mind the gap!  as he or she strives to recreate a semblance of the original on the other side.  It is impossible to do this without creating some misunderstanding. This essay describes how and why it occurs.


If the translator insists upon literal translation where no equivalent structure or term can be found, he or she risks creating not only awkward sentences but prejudice among his readership, for such language unintentionally feeds stereotypes about the “East” in the West and “West” in the East. In chapters I and II, these charges are substantiated with what I call “the “honorable” problem” (what happens to Japanese in English) and the ““I” of the monster” (what happens to English in Japanese) respectively.  Then, in chapter III, I try to put this “prejudice in perspective,” explaining why Occidentalism (mostly uncomplimentary stereotyping of the people and culture of the West), symbolized by the “I” of the monster (you and I), is now a more serious problem than the far more salient topic of Orientalism that now takes third place in the bad ism’s (sexism and racism being the first two).


If, on the other hand, the translator does not try to translate the untranslatable, but gives us language so natural that only someone who previously read the original might suppose the words were translated –Venuti’s phrase, “the translators invisibility” is apt – we and our language have no opportunity to recognize difference and grow from the experience.  Translation between exotic languages (no language is exotic but in relation to another) is, then, a damned-if-you-do-but-damned-if-you-don’t effort.  In chapter IV, “The stuffed and the diced,” I argue that most translators are better not trying, because leaving a reader ignorant is better than planting the seeds of prejudice, show why the different grammar of English and Japanese belies any claim to word-for-word translation even in the loosest sense of the term, and criticize the current trend toward an easily read but misleading “diced style” of English-to-Japanese translation.


Anglo-American scholars who have read little of what is written about the West in Japan and less of English in Japanese translation have no idea of the seriousness of the Occidentalism problem. They do not understand how prejudice against the West is the reverse side of the Japanese identity – as much part of it as heads and tails of a coin – and ignorantly ask things like: “What is not clear is why the West should be fascinated with what the Japanese think of themselves.” (Lynn Revell: Nihonjinron: Made in the USA in Phil Hammond ed. CULTURAL DIFFERENCE, MEDIA MEMORIES: Anglo-American Images of Japan: Cassell/ London: 1997)  I hope these scholars will seriously consider the implications of the charges made in chapter V “a failure of the imagination;” and I would suggest that while it is very gracious to hold the West (the scholars’ own culture) ultimately responsible for all prejudice, this is itself a form of Orientalism, for it fails to acknowledge the contribution –  good or bad – of the other.


Written Japanese may take a long time to master, but Chapter VI, “a difficult language, English,” explains why our native tongue is especially liable to be mistranslated.  I go out a limb, perhaps a bit too far, arguing that while we can usually tell when we don’t understand something in Japanese, Japanese usually don’t know when they don’t know English.  Moreover, for a number of reasons, Japanese neglect to ask for the help of native speakers even where the need is clear, such as writing down the words to songs which a foreign ear could not possibly pick out.  This is sad, but the results are very entertaining and help explain why the answer to Chapter VII’s leading question  “Do I complain too much?” is “No!”


Unaware of the ubiquity of Occidentalism in Japanese discourse (I swear, I won’t use the d-word again!), Western critics commonly over-react when facing anti-Western or anti-American stereotypes mouthed by Japanese leaders or others whose banalities have the bad luck to come up against a sensitive interest group and receive international press.  In chapter VIII, “Occidentalism: the extent of it,” I argue that blaming individuals  for their utterly commonplace statements (Sony’s Morita re. our “never apologizing;” Novelist Kometani re. our religious intolerance) is not only unfair to them but unfair to us, for we fail to get at the heart of the matter.


Orientalism and Occidentalism may be expressed in other ways.   In the case of Japan, “Nihonjinron,” or “theories of Japaneseness” has long been the salient term. Because everything said about Japan implies (and, often makes explicit) the opposite about the West, books about Japanese traits are full of Occidentalism and, to the extent Japanese identify themselves with the East, self-professed Orientalism.  Moreover, since Japanese tend to identify the West with the rest of the world, and think the rest of the world (including China and Korea) is more Western in mentality than they are – not to mention the fact Japan is the first non-Western culture to industrialize and beat a Western power (Russia) in a modern war – the Japanese identify their side of the antithetical East-West stereotype with being “unique.”


All cultures are, of course, unique.  But my early experience in Japan (1972-3), broad reading, and experience with Japanese teachers in the USA told me Japanese were so hung up on their own uniqueness that it hurt their ability to cope with new global develop- ments and effectively debate in the international arena.  Moreover, I felt the incredible strength and number of Japanese preconceptions of “Westerners” or “Americans” stymied personal conversation, and this bothered me.  I thought a book deconstructing the myth of  uniqueness was in order, and spent much of 1976 and 1977 doing research  to that end.


Travel writers have long joked about a Japanese penchant for being different,  but, as far as I know, it was Edwin O. Reischauer who first  showed the first serious concern for what I later called “the unikusa-shindoromu” (uniqueness syndrome) – an excessive fixation on one’s cultural uniqueness on the part of Japanese.  He devoted a whole chapter of THE JAPANESE TODAY (1977, expanded in 1988) to the problem. I have yet to see his contribution recognized by a single critic of nihonjinron, perhaps because it would complicate their simplistic (=unfair) portrayal of Reischauer as the apologist for US Cold-War policy and, after Benedict, the leading maker or purveyor of stereotypes about Japaneseness.


Most recently, the Orientalist bias of our benighted scholars would have us believe that “not only did Western thinking create, mold and color Japanese perceptions of themselves, but the supposed Japanese obsession with their own uniqueness is but another facet of the Western imagination.” (Lynn Revell again: Nihonjinron: Made in the USA, in CULTURAL DIFFERENCE, MEDIA MEMORIES: 1997


Anyone who has spent a long time in Japan (or reads a lot in Japanese) knows the problem is real. The only disagreement concerns the extent to which the West shares the perception, and the purpose,  if any,  served by the “myth of uniqueness.” Obviously, then, I would put myself on the same side as Reischauer, Miller, Sugimoto, Mouer, Taylor, Dale and others who have recognized and shown concern for the excessive fixation on uniqueness on the part of Japanese.   But, at the same time, I think some of the analysis and criticism of the Japanese found in Miller, Dale and others is unfair.  In a world full of endangered cultures, I feel we need to show a bit more appreciation for difference. Especially when it is so wonderful as the Japanese writing system. Chapter IX is written “in defense of Japanese.”  


We cannot help but appreciate our own humanity, the only reality we know from the inside out, more than that of others. Translation, in the final event, requires an infusion of good faith to bridge the gap.  Where may we find this?  Chapter X, “Songs from Xanadu,” gives one possibility.  It concludes on a poetic note I shall not risk ruining here.

(The above was peppered with 15 footnote marks removed for they goofed up the html -- likewise for all items here. )



The Honorable Problem

(orientalism by default)



Compared to Oscar Wilde’s obnoxious American child who “from its earliest years ... spends most of its time in correcting the faults of its father and mother,” the children of Japan, described by “Belle Brain!’ in a 1905 issue of Harper’s, behave like angels. Two of the five stanzas in her rhyme include comically Englished samples of what is supposed to be Japanese.


The little children in Japan

Don’t think of being rude.

“Oh noble dear Mama” they say

‘We trust we don’t intrude,”

Instead of rushing into where

All day their mother combs her hair.


The little children in Japan

Are fearfully polite;

They always thank their bread and milk

Before they take a bite,

And say, “You make us most content,

Oh honorable nourishment!”


This is Orientalism in a nutshell. On the one hand, the children of Japan are idealized and – imagining the uses this rhyme was put to – dangled over the unruly heads of their American counterparts. As John Steadman shows in his well‑balanced analysis of our often contradictory Orientalisms, THE MYTH OF ASIA (1969), the West has idealized the East – at least, certain aspects of the East, many of which are found in Japan – as often as it has denigrated it. On the other hand, the words put into the mouths of the Japanese children psychologically belittle their entire culture. Prejudice, like the proverbial pickaninny, can be very cute.


Consider the “Japanese” in the verses. “Oh noble dear mama” is, denotatively speaking, not far off the mark. The imagined original may be “haha‑ue-sama,” where “haha” is “mama,”‘ue” “above”, and “sama” a formal title (used equally for “sir” or “madam!’ in Japanese), or okachama., where the “o” is a prefix of respect and the “cha “ a postfix of diminutive endearment, surrounding the significant “ka’ of motherhood.  Either way, the connotation of the translation would be wrong for two reasons: first, because what, in Japanese, are unobtrusive prefixes and postfixes turn into separate words with a hopelessly strong presence in English; and second, because real Japanese children, like all of us when we speak our own language, use conventional expressions without giving much thought or significance to them. Isn’t a three-word transliteration ridiculous for what is, practically speaking, “mama! “ (or, perhaps, “dear mama” in 1905?)

(This is the start of chapter I, which demonstrates how the lack of an equivalent grammatical device makes all translation and not the translator a traitor.  Orientalism is, thus, automatically created.)


(Eg of footnotes: Note that they are not necessarily academic! In the orig., they are double-column)

5. Grace in a word.  Let me be blunt.  Unless you sincerely believe in the Christian (or Jewish, or Moslem) theology,  a grace thanking specific supernatural being or beings seems vulgarly concrete, juvenile and downright barbarian compared to the more subtle relationship with the Cosmos expressed by “Itadakimasu”.  I simplified a little when I said the word was not directed to the food.  The thankfulness expressed does include thankfulness for the food, in so far that it is life we kill -- or have killed -- in order for us to live. Feeling grateful for taking this life is, of course, in no way comical. “Thanking food” only sounds funny because we are used to thanking supernatural beings (think how funny that sounds to others!),” and because food is something already dead.  Now, back in America, I regularly say “Itadakimasu!” at the beginning of my meals and “Gochisosama-deshita!” at the end.  My friends think I am being Japanesey, but that is not true.  I just like the sense of closure.  If  English could give me such grace in a word, I would gladly speak in English.  But, the Japanese term is indeed a mouth/earful. Could we, perhaps, adopt more familiar sounding (less polysyllabic) terms with similar meaning from another language? (i) The French at least have bon apetite to begin a meal. And, a Croatian friend says they, like Japanese, have something to say at both ends of their meals that is not particularly Christian.

9. Hung upon your honorable eyelids.   In a book on PICTURESQUE EXPRESSIONS,  I encountered Knapp’s strange eyelids.  There is an English idiom “hang by the eyelids,” -- that, according to the lexicographer “requires no explanation -- dating from the latter half of the seventeenth century.  Its definition:

To have a very slight hold on something, to be just barely attached, to be in a dangerous or precarious position.

While Knapp’s 1896 book FEUDAL AND MODERN JAPAN gives a good deal of attention to the “principle of inversion”, where the “far Oriental” is pictured as the psychological antipode to us (see his book, or my introductory essay to FROIS:2004 [check paraverse.org for more information] for the entertaining details!), this exotic treatment does not assume Western superiority, as Edward Said’s ORIENTALISM might lead one to expect.  Rather, Knapp takes care to explain how

an analysis of any one of their [ostensibly backward and wrong] methods . . . will show that it possesses manifest advantage over ours.

The fact that “the Japanese saw” (pull-cut saws actually are found as far West as Turkey) which Knapp rightly found to have “superior merit” has only made real inroads into American workshops in the last decade of the twentieth century shows Said is not all wrong either!



The “I” of the Monster

(Occidentalism by mistake)



Fifteen years ago, I took a course of comparative sociolinguistics from a Japanese visiting professor at the University of Hawaii. We were taught that Japanese use the first-person pronoun far less than English speakers do. This is true, and so obvious to anyone with even a smattering of Japanese that we hardly needed to be shown the evidence – comparative pronoun counts showing, say, 8.7 times more first-person pronouns in your average English language novel, or 10.2 times more in an American playwright’s dialogue than that in a Japanese playwright’s work  We were also introduced to books and articles by leading linguists who seemed to take great pleasure in evaluating this undeniably enormous difference. To wit: Using the first-person pronoun is against Japanese good taste and moral sensibilities. It sounds pushy, egotistical and is hopelessly wearisome to boot. The more Japanese the Japanese, the more the offensive pronoun is omitted. Unlike Western people, we prefer understated subtlety to overstated crudeness.


I was astounded; not so much at the readings but at the fact that our professor seemed to go along with them. How could someone so bright and well­-degreed – including over a year of linguistic post‑graduate work in the United States – be so naive? I would have expected any linguist worth her salt to look very long and carefully at the syntax (differences in overall sentence structure) involved, before making a blind leap from numbers to significance. She did not.


Syntax matters. In Japanese the pronoun must be followed by a post‑particle or, at the very least, a pause. It doesn’t blend into other words like “I’ll”, “I’d” or “I’m.”  When­ever it is used, it stands out in the manner of something linguistics call “marked case” (eg. I did it (not him)). That is, like a sore thumb. It, or its post‑particle, may immediately be followed by a comma – imagine an “I” set off by a comma! – and is, practically speaking, a phrase or even a dependent clause of its own. In Japanese, but not in English, “I” is indeed an island.


What those gloating over Japanese subtlety fail to realize is that they are not really comparing Japanese and English. Their “English” is a monster born through mating the high frequency of pronoun use in English to the high impact of the Japanese pronoun. Had this monster been confined to the narrow reaches of the academic mind, it would probably have been put to sleep long ago; but such is not the case. The monster predates the professors, and is very much alive outside of academia, for it is, to be sure, the image of English held by most Japanese and confirmed by what is called chokuyaku, or direct translation. This monster is the linguistic body of “proof” upon which Japanese Occidentalism (stereotypes about the West) naturally rides. Until it is slain, the Japanese can not help but be prejudiced with respect to the basic humanity of Western people. 


This chapter shows how Occidentalism (mostly unfavorable stereotypes about the Occidental) is automatically created by poor translations from English into Japanese based on a misunderstanding about the respective nature of our pronouns.




(Japan Times “Guest Forum” July13, 1986)






Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most ecological of all?


In the prewar years [shortly before World War II], most Japanese schools of thought and religious sects vied with each other to be accepted as “the most Japanese of all,” even to the extent of distorting their own moral doctrines – a point tellingly criticized by two brave academics, Kyoshi Miki and Jun Tosaka, both of whom died in jail as a result of their thought-crimes.

While Tosaka, a brilliant left-wing rhetorician’s rhetorician didn’t balk at taking on Kyoto’s intellectual wizard of the East, Kitaro Nishida, insultingly arguing that his philosophy of mu (nothingness) did indeed boil down to  nothing of worth, Miki, like Nishida, was eager to formulate a philosophy capable of conquering the West.

And, like Nishida, he believed the best chance lay in Buddhism, which was, after all, originally an imported religion bearing the requisite stamp of universality – as opposed to inherently Japanese philosophy such as neo-Shintoism and national organicism (kokutaishugi) being pushed by the government of the time.

Be that as it may, the first Japanese to launch a successful challenge to the Judeo-Christian worldview was probably Daisetsu Suzuki – whom the irrepressible Reginald Blyth lauded as “the only man who can write about Zen without making me loathe it.” If the late Rene Dubos (THE WOOING OF THE EARTH:1980) is correct, Lynn White’s seminal article (“The Historical Roots of the Ecological Crisis,” Science:1967) pinning the blame for environmental problems on the teachings of Christianity was merely a rehash of the ideas first expressed by Suzuki in an article entitled “The Role of Nature in Zen Buddhism” (Eranos-Jahrbuch 22:1953)

Today, in Japan, as in the rest of the “developed” world, this something, which may be called “ecological validity,” is fast becoming the litmus test for all philosophical and ethical systems of thought with aspirations of universality, and a convenient tool to grade otherwise “relative” cultural lifestyles. 1


Commandments Compared


One of Tohoku-bred, Kyoto-schooled Umehara’ Takeshi’s many books, Tetsugaku-no Fukkyo (the revival of philosophy: 1972) agrees with Toynbee’s The-Future-is-East (the-West-is-dying) hypothesis, and specifies just where Western philosophy/morality is inferior to that of Buddhism and Animism.

While I hold no truck with much of Western philosophy, and am largely sympathetic to the so-called “New-Age” criticism of Baconian-Cartesian-Kantian thinking (I also think Bacon et al have something to be said for them: see, for example, Loren Eiseley’s THE MAN WHO SAW THROUGH TIME), Umehara is a wee bit too full of Eastern  hubris for me.

For example, he points out that in Buddhism “No killing” is the First  Commandment, whereas in Christianity it is way down in the number five  position and covers only humans at that – if that, considering the bloody pages of the Old Testament.

There is no contesting the blood in the Bible.  If Mark Twain were here today, he would certainly compare it to a spaghetti Western or samurai drama.  But, the Commandments are open to other interpretations. The first four concern the relationship of man to diety and child to parent.  Follow the first four, and the rest follow naturally. To use the Tao-like phrase of Saint Augustine, “Love God and do as you please.”  In this sense, “Thou shall not kill” is the first of what might be called the secondary group of Commandments.

Moreover, one may cite Ecclesiastes iii 19: “That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; . . . as one dieth so dieth the other; yea they have all one breath; so that man hath no preeminence above a beast.” and conclude that the 5th Commandment means we can no more kill a beast without due cause (self-defense, food, clothing) than a man.  Indeed, a 15th century manuscript, “Dives and Pauper,” argues just that (see Keith Thomas’s masterful MAN AND THE NATURAL WORLD).

(This was the first part of 1 of 3 appended items).


(This is part of the second appendix, 16 Ways to Make a Difference, (or, how we exaggerate our differences and fail to properly find our similarity). I think it would be a very useful classroom tool.)


Comparing incommensurablesApples and pears.  E.g., Lafcadio Hearn’s contrast of complex and enormous Gothic Shrines of the West with simple wooden Shinto shrines in Japan, when he might better have mentioned North Europe’s stav churches, or the large and ornate Buddhist architecture in Japan! (See Steadman: THE MYTH OF ASIA 1969)


Comparing the real to the ideal –  E.g., decision making in smoke-filled rooms in Japan versus public democracy in the West. It is fine for Japanese writers to browbeat sleazy Japanese politicians, but haven’t they heard of Huey Long? Mayor Daley? (Compare Nakane Chie: JAPANESE SOCIETY and Mike Royko: THE BOSS)


Claims reflecting personal biasE.g., the Western executive claims the decision was all his own, while the Japanese claims it was made by consensus.  Research shows, however, the decision process was, in reality, not all that different. The CEO only made different claims about it  (See Rodney Clark:  THE JAPANESE COMPANY 1979 ).


Offering partial truths –  Japanese conservatives use their soldiers’ low desertion rates in WWII as proof of high social cohesiveness Western soldiers lacked, but fail to mention the higher suicide rate of Japanese recruits, resulting partly from the greater difficulty of desertion.


One-sided generalization – A respected professor of geography claims that Japanese, being a “forest civilization” don’t like to be clear-cut, and therefore often say “wakaranai,” meaning “[I] don’t know” or, literally “don’t cut.”  He neglects to say that the positive form of the same verb proves Japanese “understand” by “cutting.” Likewise, in THE JAPANESE BRAIN,  the otorhinologist author claims Japanese can not be entirely rational, while forgetting that by the same token they couldn’t be entirely emotional either!


SimplificationChristianity is said to separate man from the rest of nature, while Buddhism does not.  But what about the karmic cycle incorporated by  Buddhism that has man at the top of the chain?  Isn’t this also anthropocentric? (Gill: “Ecology, Buddhism and Christianity Reconsidered” Japan Times, 1986/7/13)


(The book is about 180 pages in length and has a name and subject index which I will C+V below.  Because html will open up lines it may look horrendous, but i have no time to shrink them all up -- for it would take hours!)




Abbey, Edward 85

Aida Yuji  76

Alberuni  28

Amano Yosei  162

Aoki Michio  19

Ascham, Roger  162, 169

Bacon, Alice Mabel  81

Bacon, Francis  138

Barrie, Peter  80

Bassnett-McGuire, Susan  71

Basso, Keith  44, 49, 54

Bateson, Gregory 153, 164, 166, 169

Befu Harumi 49, 51

Belle Brain 23,27 (any relation to Garrison Keeler’s Sarah Bellum?)

Bekku Sadanori  79

Ben-dasan  111 (Yamamoto)

Benedict, Ruth 14, 19, 74, 126

Bester, John  73-75

Blyth 137, 160-1, 168

Bloom, Harold 125

Boxer, C. H.  20

Buruma, Ian 55, 56, 170

Burke, Edmund  67

Cahill, Thomas   143

Carlyle  51, 71, 158, 167

Carrier, James 8, 54

Cash,  W.J.    92-3

Chamfort   111

Chen Xiaomei 52-3

Clark, Gregory 110

Clarke, J.J. 51

Clinton, President 88

Clintons  91

Coe, David Allen 91

Cowherd, Kevin  91

Creighton, Millie R. 54

Crump, J.I.  129, 131,132-3

Dale, Peter  9, 15,19,38, 47,50, 55,68,81,122~126, 153~168

Davenport, Guy  71

De Madariaga, Salvador  49, 68

Denver, John 83

Dillard, Annie 85

Doi Takeo 75,80-1,109,150

Dowd, Maureen 91

Dostoevsky 49

Dubos, Rene 137

Ehrlich, Gretel 85

Eiseley, Loren  85, 138

Eto Jun  59-62, 66-7, 69-71,78,86,129

Farb, Peter 30, 47, 94

Fitz-Adams, Adam  142-143

Fitzgerald (translator)  71, 144

Fleisch, Rudolf  66

Fornell, Jan 9

Frank, Anne 108

Freud  80, 156

Frois, Luis 18, 30, 47, 125,147,151

Fujino, Diane 45

Gershwin 91

Gill, Robin  1, 7, 51, 76, 148, 153-169

Godwin, Joscelyn 55

Goethe  127

Goldman, Emma  125

Goodman, David 101, 108-9

Goody, Jack  21, 55

Gurga, Lee 146

Haggard, Merle  92

Hall, Edward 127

Hall, Tom T.  91

Hammond, Phil 12, 17, 110

Hannas, William C.  122-3

Hansen, Chad  68

Hasegawa, Nyozekan 19


Heidegger 19

Hansen, Chad  66

Harris, Frank 49

Harris, Roy  123

Headland, I. T.  29, 129

Hearn, Lafcadio 112, 147, 151

Higginson, William J  63

Hippocrates 92

Hoagland  86

Hofstadter  134-5

Hon Sajun 106

Honda Katsuichi  101, 109

Hudson, W. H.  86

Hughes, Langston 85

Humbolt, Alexander 92

Hurston, Zora Neale 85

Hutton, Betham 119

Inoue Hisashi   37, 162-3

I O’ryon See: Lee Oh Young

Irving, Washington  166

Ishihara, Shintaro   93

Ishida Eiichiro  101, 109

Itasaka Gen   165

Iwada Kenji  166

Jay, Ricky 132

Jefferies 86

Jones, George  83

Kahill, Thomas 143

Kataoka Shinobu 160, 168

Keene, Donald   29-30, 49, 65, 79, 168

Kendrick, Miranda  99

Khayyam, Omar  144

Kitajima Saburo 92

Knapp, Arthur May  18, 30, 68-9, 94

Kometani, Fumiko  13, 108

Kreiner, Joseph  49

Krownhauser, John A.  104-5, 169

Lee (Pres. of Singapore) 114-5

Lee, Oh Young 48, 52, 54, 67, 103-7, 111, 169

Levi-Strausse 57

Lehmann, John Pierre  52

Levy, Ian Hideo  145

Lightning Hopkins 97

Littlewood,  Ian    52

Lopez, Barry 85

Lowell, Percival  39,

MacKenzie, John 55

Mark:  See Twain

Masson, Jeffrey Moussaieff  80

Matsuoka Seigow  167

McCormack, Gavan 127

McNeil, William H.  55

Miller, Roy Andrew  14, 15, 19, 38, 47, 66, 68, 116, 120, 122, 154, 156

Mizuno Oi, Kyoko  61-2

Mikes, George 17

Moeran, Brian  48

Moore, Charles E.  60

Morita (of Sony) 13, 109

Morrison, Toni  85

Morse, Edward  27, 47,

Mouer, Ross  19, 51, 127,

149, 160, 165, 167

Muir, John  160

Murasaki Shikibu 144-5

Nakamura Hajime 49, 60

Nakamura Tôyô  97, 99

Nakane Chie 17, 74,127,148

Needham 55

Nishida Kitaro 137

Nitobe Inazo  51

Norinaga  166

Obeyesekere, Gananth  46, 166

Oi, Kyoko Mizuno  61-2

Okura   145

Parton, Dolly 75, 80, 149


Perrine, Noel  56

Pigeot,  Jacqueline 81

Plass, Paul  112

Pound, Ezra 70-1

Prudence, Rules of  67

Pulvers, Roger 49

Reischauer, Edwin O.  14,18,19,165

Revell, Lynn   12, 14, 16

Rexroth, Kenneth  125

Rheingold, Howard  29, 78

Richie, Donald   52

Riftkin, Jeremy  143

Rin Chem Lha-Mo  142

Ringo, John  127

Robin Gill  153-169  (I do not include other references to my books)

Sabata  Toyoshi 125   

Sahlin, Marshall  52

Saigyo  145

Sato Tadao 48 (couldn’t google the bk to confirm!)

Sato Yoshiaki 165-6, 168

Sei Shonagon  144-5

Seidensticker, Edward  39, 57-9,  Seidenstickered 78

Shakespeare 87, 93-94

Shibatani Atsuhiro  121

Shirozaka Toshikichi(?)  76

Silko, Leslie Marmon  143

Skaggs, Ricky  92

Smith, Patrick 20

Soseki, (Natsume Soseki) 39, 112, 121, 123

Stafford, Kim  7-8

Steadman, John  23,27,28,55,147,166

Sterne Laurence  144

Sugimoto, Etsuko  139, 142

Sugimoto (Yoshio) 14, 19, 51, 127, 149, 160,  167

Schulberg, Lucille  28

Suzuki Daisetsu  137-8

Suzuki Hideo 76-8, 81

Suzuki Takao 38,39,47, 118, 122,123

Swift, Jonathon  112

Tabito  144

Tanaka Yuko 17

Tan Cheng Sun  53

Tanizaki Junichiro 35-6, 39, 57, 65-7, 84

Taylor, Jared  15,19,20

Thomas, Keith  158

Toyama Shigehiko  76

Toynbee 140

Tsubouchi Shoyo  93-4

Tsunoda, Dr. 38, 113-15

120-1, 158, 167

Twain, Mark  59, 65, 138

Umehara Takeshi  138

Umesao, Tadao  51

Unger, James  9, 121, 165

Valignano 149

Venuti, Lawrence 12, 16,

69-71, 134

Vogel, Ezra  167

Waddington, C H  127

Walker, Alice 85

Watanabe Kilyong 47

Watanabe Shouichi 124-5

Watsuji, Tetsuro  84, 93,150,162

Whisnant, David E. 93

Whorf  68

Will, George F. 83

Wilde, Oscar 23,86,95,145

Wynette, Tammy 91

Xiaomei, Chen 52-3

Yamada, Haru  28,109

Yanagita Kunio  66

Yonehara Mari  40, 94

Xiaomei Chen 52~54

Zandt, H.F. 166

Zukofsky  71




ACADEMIA and ACADEMIC  16 = academic Presses and popular ism’s; 16 = ~ books and insufficient author information; 19= ~ s  who follow pc line, 45= ~ relatively free of prejudice in USA compared to Japan; 52= as trendy in Japan, 53= ~ as business, 100 = ~ quality control?;  134= ~ correctness, translation and rhyme; 153 = me and ~


AFRICAN-AMERICAN  57, 59 = black english and translation;  85 = ~ literature


ALPHABET  122-124= as efficient compared to Japanese system of writing


AMAE   (dependence) 80-1,  109=And Jewish-American mothers, 119=and Americans, overall


AMERICA/N (Usanian)  12 = Anglo-American images of Japan,  13 = Anti-American banalities, preconceptions re. American;  19 = Japanology not America-born; 23, 27 = American children (107 = and mother); 29 = boastful;  29 = Afro-American and “black;”31-2 = system of Address; 33, 37,48 = and “I” use;  42,47 = white vs. black speaking cultures; 45 = tough-is-cool pathology;  50 = assume universality; 52 = lumping together “oriental” things;  62 = students’ writing style vs. Japanese students’ style; 64-5, 111 = and gum-chewing; 66 = as childish; 80 = Americans and popular phonetics; 84 = ~ and country music; 84 = ~ as opposite of Japanese; 85-6 = literature (new generation, nature essay, black); 86 = and English expectations; 93 = prejudice re. Appalachian whites; 100 = environmental organization; 102,109 = never apologize; 102 = and cultural contamination; 103 = Ugly American and Japanese equivalent; 103 =  ~ tolerance for reverse-discrimination; 104 = why Americans were successful (equivalent of nihonjinron); 109 = ~ mothers and children;

111 = white and black ~ and inferiority complex; 118, 125 =  ~ and individualism;  121,127 = ~ as suspicious of difference; 134 =  ~ as vulgar; 140 = born-again Christians in ~ ; 141 = American dreams; 149 = vending machines; 163 = at heart same as Japanese; 166 = national name problem


AMERINDIAN –  46, 49, 54, 143


APPARENTLY (mistranslated as clearly) 74,78,79


BABY  142=baby cult in USA


BALANCE OF CULTURE  25,134,158 = balancing/offsetting stereotypes;  43 = overall psychological balance in a culture (common sum of impact X frequency);  92 = example of balance from music;  163-4 = any difference should be offset by another; 164 = as implicational universal; 169=expanding idea in NAVEN


BRAIN (the Japanese BRAIN)  See Tsunoda in Names.


CHINA  AND CHINESE    13 = ~ as more Western than Japan/ese;  29 = honorific lao;  31 = Japanese vs. ~ and rhetoric; 45 = kowtowing image; 48 ~ and multiple “I’s;”  52 = as next Japan;  53-4 = ~ and Occidentalism (Chen);  53-4 = contrariness;  54 = ~ and cultural superiority; 54 = ~ impressions of America; 55 = ~ and Occidental in Orient (Needham);  68 = nonlogical characteristics of ~ language and thought;  71 = terseness of ~ language; 103 ~ with Korea and Japan vs. the West;  colorful invective of  ~ ; 114 ~ brains, like Koreans, Western pattern; 114 = and low birth rate in Singapore;     115 =  high expectations for ~ -oriented cultures;  121 = Chinese and uses of Occidentalism; 129-30 = ~poetry and de-rhymed translation; 134-5 = ~ vernacular translation; 143 = ~ and linear calendar ; 167 = ~ language’s human-centricism;


CHINESE CHARACTERS    118  = Simplifying ~,  121 =  ~ as a handicap;  116-7  =  ~ as an advantage; 122 = ~ as a  dilemma;” 123 = ~ and character; ~ have no intrinsic meaning (Unger); ~ and stereo reading; restoring in Korea= 125 ; = ~ and blue collar


CHRISTIAN/ITY  20= ~ and calendar system as Western cultural imperialism; 24, 29 = ~ grace too concrete, childish;  43, 140= ~ fundamentalist beyond the pale;  50 Fundamentalist ~ as reversing Occidental stereotype;  77= ~ as desert-born; 81= ~ and Western view of machines;  84, 150= succeeded in West because from desert; 84,150= ~ at odds with monsoon countries; 101, 108= patriarchial Judeo~ intolerance;  109= ~ mythology to me, but i’ll defend it from unfair charges;  125= not Judeo~  tradition but harsh collectivism in West led to individualism; 126= Judeo~ and Western morality; 137-145   reconsidered vs. Buddhism with respect to ecology;  139= ~ and progress;  143= Fundamentalist ~ as potentially good;  146 = Orthodox ~

COUNTRY MUSIC and enka 83-4


DIFFERENCE   9, 33-36, 41 = certain differences compensated for by other differences; 12 = no opportunity to recognize ~ in transparent translation; 12= ~ and media; 15, 20 = appreciation for ~ and endangered cultures; 17= ~ as rhetoric; 18 =  ~ without inferiority; 19= on identity as ~  (Dale);  20 = Steadman) , 51 (Nitobe), 119 (R. Clark), 143, 147-51 =  ~ exaggerated, , ; 20= ~ fit to stereotype; 43 = cultural relativity won’t  stop belief in ~ ;  55 = ~ contradicted over time (Goody); 125 (Sabata);  59 = ~needed for identity; 61-2 “~ in rhetorical patterning” (Mizuno Oi), 69 = and Whorf;  70 = ~ and

translation and foreignizing (Venuti); 75 = ~ as identity; 75, 81 = ~ outlandish claims of ~ ; 91-2 = ~ and my cultural parity hypothesis; 111 = psychological burden of individual ~ vs collective ~ ; 112 = Far West vs Far East ~ as real; 114, 120 =  ~ and brain; 121= bias toward finding ~ in scientific research;  124-5 = ~ between native and foreign words according to Japanese (Dale); 127 = need to recognize ~ (Hall) ; 147-51 = 16 ways to make a ~ ; 156-7 = fixation on ~ ;  158 = cultural ~ and absolute value;  162 = a different approach toward ~ for Japanese and Western readers; 163 = assuming similarity to understand difference


DIRECT TRANSLATION à translation.  




ENVIRONMENTAL REDUCTIONISM   84, 92-3, 150 = opposites attract (desert religion sunshine to damp dark England);  161-3 = two types of cultural compatibility


EXOTIC    (respectively exotic tongues) 8, 12;  (mistakenly exotic) 31; (and authenticity) 70; (outlandish) 69; (as comical) 99; (knowledge of exotic tongue and theory) 123




FOREIGNER à gaijin.


FUDORON à Environmental Reductionism


GAIJIN   17= foreigner as intrinsically different from Japanese;  20 = child’s reaction to stereotyping (Jared Taylor); 54 = ”denies individual uniqueness of Westerners” (Millie R. Creighton) and demeaning women;  156= Western aliens


GERMAN 19 = influence on Japanese 


GRACE   24 = grace in a word, 29 = need for in English


HONORIFIC  1 = inability of English to match Japanese;  29 = ~ usage and affection; 30, 31 = courtesy as intrinsically japanese, versus

Korean and Chinese; 31, 37 = ~ and American English); 41 = frequency of vs impact/meaning.



“I”    11, 33-34 = ~  frequency vs. impact, ~ as pushy;  35, 38 = ~  vs. “you” as dueling; 36 =  ~ as egoistic, as bad taste,  37 =  syntax-determined, “~ as an island”, as qualifying, ergo modest; 39 = “the obnoxious “~” (a Victorian view); 48= ~ and pronoun avoidance in Japanese;  48=dozens of first persons in Japanese; 93 = and punchline/word


IDENTITY  1 = Orientalism not vital to Western identity;   12, 44 = occidentalism as reverse side of Japanese identity;  18  = ~ and modernization, as a natural problem for japanese); 17, 19, 44  = as difference, Amerindian as similar case;  49 = relativity of ~ ;   75 = as antithetical;   49 = self denigration of West;  113 =  ~ and Appearance


INDIVIDUALISM   54 = ~ as bad Western trait;  81 = ~ and not allowing amae; 125 = ~ and American self-Occidentalizing; 125 = ~ in West as a reaction to oppressive communalism (Sabata);  127 = ~ and crime rate


ISLAM  28 = ~ and Hinduism; 55-6, 170 = ~ and Occidentalism;  84 = ~ and climate; 108-9 = ~ and Intolerance.



KANJI à Chinese Characters.


KOREAN  = 31= honorifics diff. than Japanese; 41-2, 47-8 = assertive yet little first-person because same syntax as Japanese; 49 = ~ similar to Japanese; 104-7 = ~ and Occidentalism; 111= ~ clarity, ambiguity and argument resolution; 114,  167 =  ~ and Japanese brains;  124 = ~ and Chinese

characters; 131= ~ shopkeeper killing black woman in LA;


MANYOSHU   89, 117, 123-4  144

MONKEYS   16 = Japanese vs “Western;”  144 = red faces


MISTRANSLATION  7= ~ out of preconception;  20 =  ~ as systematic; 72 = ~ tends to harden Western text;  79 =  ~ and the “apparently-as-surely” problem; 79 = ~ and Bekku Sadanori;  83= ~ and music,  87 = definition of ~ ;  88 = degree of ~ in Japan/ese;  89 = what to do about ~ ;  93 = ~ not always important;  94, 165 = my book MISTRANSLATION  PARADISE;  94 = ~ caused by being rhetoric-deaf;  100 = ~ in the USA;  100 = no real ~ checks;  147 ~ 51 =  ~ of culture, 16 ways to do it


NATURE   19 = japanese not especially appreciative of ~; 49, 160 = ~ and language; 50 =  cultures that follow or fight ~  ; 85-7 =  ~ essays;  92 = the influence of ~ (=environ’s)) on culture; 112 = ~ East and West (~ vs. eternal feminine, vs. muscles); 137-41,143  ~ (=ecology) Buddhism and Christianity;  160-1 =  ~ and natural lifestyle.

NIHONJINRON  12, 13=defined, 14, 16, 153-169

OCCIDENTAL/S (and, see Gaijin)  21, = ~ as child or machine; 50, 149 = ~ as machine-like; 76= ~ as digital and hardware-like (vs. Japanese as analogical and software-like); 81 = ~ as hyperlogical and cool; 106 = ~ have machine-like communication;

OCCIDENTALISM  1 = ~ as vital to Japanese identity; 1, 17  =  ~ as prejudice vs. Occidentals; 11 =  ~ as a more serious problem than Orientalism; 12, 13, 46 =  ~ missed by

many in West; 13 =  ~ not individual but cultural problem; 13 =  ~ ubiquitous in Japan; 34, 39, 44 = linguistic cause and inevitability of ~ ; 50 = ~ and uniqueness-mongering;  52 =  ~ ignored in Japan because important;  52-3, 115, 121 = ~  reconsidered by Chinese, self-appropriation in East ( = Xiaomei Chen: OCCIDENTALISM); 54 =  ~ and Chinese view of West ( LAND WITHOUT GHOSTS); 54 = ~ and James Carrier ed.: OCCIDENTALISM;  54-5 = four approaches toward ~ ; 66, 80 = ~ as antithetical to self-image; 79, 80 = ~  and Mistranslation); 101-107 = ~ as prejudicial and insulting to the West;   103, 115 =  ~ spreading in Asia; 101, 109 = ~ and Middle East ;  102 ~ and poor  treatment of returnees to Japan; 108 = and Kometani’s novel, PASSOVER; 115 =  ~ as “East-West rhetoric;   118 = ~ makes sense on own terms);   165, 169 = ~ ahead of its time; 167 = ~ and japanese brain

ORIENT(the)   27 = THE ~ does not exist (only asias (plural) = Steadman);  54 = the ~ has a superiority complex vs. West;  55 =  Occident in the ~  (Goody)

ORIENTAL   52 = ~ image in the USA;  106 =  ~  conceit vis-à-vis West; 106= English as ~


ORIENTALISM   1= Orientalized image of Japanese caused by English language; 1 =  Orientalism not vital to identity of West; 11 =  ~  as more salient than Occidentalism; 12= failure to see prejudice of East vs West itself a form of ~;  13 =Nihonjinron as ~ , as self professed ~ ; 14 =  Western bias for ~ ;  16 =  ~ as pc;  23 = ~ includes idealizing;  24-5 =  ~ and absurd language such as “thanking food;” 26 = 0rientalization of language unconscious act of linguistic revenge;  92 = and environmental reductionism;  28 = ~ as reducing the East to the Near East (Said); 30 = Oriental as “inverted;” 30 = Orientalism contradicted by idea of Japan as superior (Knapp); 43= tough on ~,  easy on Occidentalim; 44-5 = Orientalism’s import over-rated, but still a problem, especially “deep orientalism;” 46 = ~ by Japan vs. other Asian people;  52 =  ~ as a recognized discipline whereas Occidentalism is not;  53 = ~ as accompanied by Occidentalism;  53 = if ~ a strategy for global domination (Said) ,  ~ for competing domestic aims (Chen);  55= ~ reconsidered, especially in art history (MacKenzie); 55 = influence of East on West in religion (Godwin); 55 =  ~  as corrective mirror for West (Clarke); 56 = ~ and Islamic World; 78 = little effect of  ~ in Western translation compared to Occidentalism in Japanese translation; 79 =  but (vs.78), ~ found when reader attributes obscurity to inscrutable Oriental (Keene); 93 =  ~  vs. treatment of poor whites in Appalachia (Whisnant);  103 = “Ugly American” reflection too shallow to reach roots of ~; 105 = If ~ was like Occidentalism; 110 = ~ more blatant in the UK than in the USA; 112 = some truth in Orientalist and Occidentalist stereotypes; 125 = Japanese Orientalize themselves; 126= ~ taught before basic anthropology; 131 = street-level Orientalism in the USA; 166 = teaching anti-Orientalism alone is not enough; 166= Steadman’s book on Orientalisms [plural] overlooked; 167= equating ~ with Japan

 PERSONAL PRONOUNS à see “I” and “You.”

 RELATIVISM    42,168 = an excuse for irresponsible contrast or, why cultural relativism can be dangerous.


RHETORIC  17 = ~ of uniqueness; 28-9 = ~misunderstood in trans.; 31 = ~of self-deprec.; 61 = diff. styles of ~ jp vs en.; 69 = ~ and diff. of translation; 88-9, 95 = Japanese as ~ -deaf.



SELF-DEPRECATION   29 = ~ as a manner of speaking


SIMILARITY   18 = ~ of opposite sides of Asia;  51 = ~ East and West emphasized by Nitobe; 163 = understanding difference on the basis of the assumption  of similarity; 166 = must be felt;


SYNTAX = 1, 33-4, 36,39,41 ~ and Korean; 42,47,49 =  ~ and hyperconsciousness; 148 = ~ and pronoun use; 60-1 = ~ and dependent clauses;  69 = ~ and sentence structure; 71 = absence of ~ in Chinese; 71  = ~ and direct translation.


TRANSLATABILITY  123 =  ~ and universality (Addison);


TRANSLATION    11 = risk of direct/literal ~ ; 12 = stuffed vs. diced ~ ; 15 = ~ requires good faith;  25= “to be literal is to be ridiculous;”  34-6= direct ~ as monstrous; 35-6 = direct ~ as mistaken; 38 =  the term “direct ~;”   in English;  39 = direct ~ as ugly (unfaithful beauty vs chaste dog a false contrast); 39 feeds back with Occidentalism; 57 =  ~ and dialect; 58, 62 = “literally wrong to be right;”   62; 65 = ~ and dialect;  67 = multiple translation;  68= ~ and the dilemma of whether or not to “foreignize;”  71 = direct ~ as diverting ; 71 = homophonic;  73-81 prejudice and  ~;   79 = “apparently” and ~ (see mistranslation);  83 = mistranslation;   86  ~ of black-americans; 84-7 = translation as selection of what to translate first;  99 = ~ and movies;  118 = styles of ~ ;


 TRANSLATOR   11 = ~ can only “mind the gap;” 11 = ~ as source of prejudice; 12 = invisible ~ (Venuti); 25 = the ~ is not a traitor, his language is;  29 = ~ ridiculed if bold;  58 = ~ conforming to Western rules of narrative (Eto Jun); 40 = ~overlooked in biblio.; 58 = Japanese ~s and English heterophony; 59 = heroic efforts of generations of ~s in Japan; 60 = most translators not up to translating between exotic tongues;  61 = heavy-handed ~s;   69-70 =  ~ as invisible;  73= John Bester’s lament; 74 =  bias of ~; 78 = obtuseness of  ~; 78;  Japanese vs. Western  ~ s;  79 = ~ and expectations;  87 = ~ and mistranslation;  89 = mis ~ and ignorance of real significance; 126 = sin and guilt conflated; 129 = ~ and rhyme; 134 = the structural equivalent of figurative ~ ;  134-5 = ~ and vernacular;  144 = ~ of Manyoshu;  148 =  ~ and cognitive dissonance;  168 = ~ and the “deadly democracy of English” (Keene).


UNIQUENESS (of Japanese)   13= Japanese identification with being unique;  14-5 = as an obsession and problem; 14, 18 =  ~ fixation and Reischauer; 14 =  ~  fixation as an American invention; 16-17, 155, 156-7 = treatment for ~ fixation/syndrome; 166-7 = uniqueness syndrome; 17 = ~ and Japanese stomachs, and uniqueness mongering as rhetoric; 18 = ~ and Frois  in 1585 and 19th c. topsy-turvyism; 18 = ~ more their (Japanese) fiction than ours (Western); 19, 153 = the myth of ~  (Dale);  19-20 = behind the myth of ~ (the uses/causes/meaning of ~) ; 38 = belief in ~ , Dale’s diagnosis; 47 = Japanese ~ when Korean is added to the picture; 50 = uniqueness as opposite (Dale); 114 = assertions of ~ not necessarily racism; 120 = ~ and Japanese Brain (Tsunoda);  125 = ~ and types of writing



53, 54, 55, 143= Western ~ ;  104 = ~ and Americans; 109 = unique intolerance of West


VERTICAL vs HORIZONTAL Societies    17


WORDISM     77  = philological reductionism, eg. wakaranai


YOU    11, 26 =  ~ and “your” as translation for a subtle honorific (or indicator of other);   24, 25 =  ~ as diminutive endearment;  35 = second-person is like index finger in Japanese, but interchangeable with first-person in English;  38=  “~” as dueling, or antagonistic to “I;”   48 = and pronoun avoidance in Japanese;  94 =  English “~” as ambiguous.