Parallel Vocabularies

I am given to understand that one of the reasons why Japanese is so hard for a foreigner to master is that the vocabulary is so heavily modulated by social class and relative status. English, however, possesses some differential terminology too: certain adjectives can only be applied when various criteria are met. For example, “auburn” means red-haired + rich, “redheads” being poor. Whereas poor people are crazy, mad rich people are “eccentric”. There used even to be a word, “portly”, that combined the three separate concepts of “fat” + “male” + “rich”.

Posted on July 8, 2011 at 09:55 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Some Notes On Language

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