Elderly Man Sues NHK for ‘Excessive English’ Use
Posted on August 6, 2013
TV networks have been sued for many reasons — from defamation to producing morally compromising TV shows — but not for incorporating too many foreign words into the local language.
Hoji Takahashi, 71, a resident of Japan’s Gifu Prefecture, did exactly that, demanding 1.41 million yen (about $14,000) for damages.
NHK network’s English usage had become too much, resulting in what he claims to be emotional distress and difficulty understanding every program aired on the TV channel.
For the pensioner, such act violates section 709 of the civil code, which protects the rights of the Japanese to freedom and security. Mr. Takahashi has also joined a local association in hopes of gaining support to spread his message.
According to Kyodo News, Takahashi stressed on the importance of how the media should consider its senior citizen viewers by adhering to strict usage of only the Japanese language.
Japanese linguist Makoto Yamazaki, speaking to The Guardian, cited double standards when using specialized or foreign words. The very same words, however, do not create much of a stir when used by private groups or companies. This is not the case when used by the media.
But in a more closely connected world, where social media and the Internet come into play, the use of English words has crept into everyday conversations. Even the words “Internet” and “rice” have replaced their rather tongue-twisting Japanese equivalents.
So, whatever is common in media usage is merely reflective of the slowly evolving everyday Japanese prose. And for Takahashi, resisting these changes would mean an uphill battle, much less receiving the amount he demands from the network.