Writings > Lexical Leavings


The following is the write-up of a talk I gave together with Watanabe Toshirô and Zachary Braverman at the IJET-15 conference in Yokohama, Japan, on May 23, 2004. Other remarks about this dictionary are at 88, 95, 112, 128, 140, and 143.

Herding Cats: Adding Entries to Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary

Tom Gally

In his delightful book Word Spy: The Word Lover's Guide to Modern Culture (2004), Paul McFedries writes, "New words and new meanings are coined with a breathtaking frequency and trying to catalog them all is like herding cats." Though McFedries is referring specifically to new words in English, neologisms are created in Japanese just as frequently and their feline resistance to tidy arrangement is just as frustrating for lexicographers of Japanese. And while McFedries restricts his word-wrangling mostly to fun expressions like bridezilla and McMansion, editors of general dictionaries must chase down and rein in all kinds of words, not only the new and sexy ones but also the vast and constantly shifting mass of idioms, technical terms, proper nouns, and other terms that the dictionary's users might want to look up.

The cat-herding for the online edition of Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary (研究社 新和英大辞典; sometimes called the Green Goddess, from the color of the printed edition's cover) began soon after the fifth edition was published in paper in July 2003. Like several other dictionary publishers, Kenkyusha had a subscription-based Web site, which allowed searches of several of its dictionaries, including the fourth edition of our Japanese-English dictionary. But with the completion of the fifth edition and the new availability of several other dictionaries in digital form, Kenkyusha decided to revamp and expand the Web site significantly to make it even more useful and to attract more subscribers. As part of this effort, they adopted an innovative concept: instead of making the online database merely a repository for completed dictionaries, they would turn it into an evolving site to which new and previously overlooked words could be added on a continuing basis.

For the online edition of the New Japanese-English Dictionary, the editors have set the goal of adding between 300 and 500 new entries per month. The words are gathered by people both inside and outside Kenkyusha from many sources, including newspapers, magazines, specialized dictionaries and glossaries, and online sources. When a new candidate is spotted, we check the word's meaning and frequency on the Web and in databases of Japanese texts. If a Japanese editor finds or thinks of an English translation, then he or she appends it to the entry and passes it on to the native-English-speaking editor for checking; in other cases, the native-English editors must find or create translations by ourselves.

When checking and creating the English translations, we consider many factors: Is there already an established translation of the term, or do we have to invent one? Can a term that describes something originating in Japan be given a brief English equivalent, or does it also need a longer, explanatory definition? In the case of nouns, is the English word countable or uncountable or both? In the case of names of organizations and the like, is the article "the" normally used before the name?

Most of the new words we add are not found in other dictionaries, and some are unlikely to be known to most native speakers of Japanese. The Japanese editors therefore often include complete definitions in Japanese as well, making our dictionary useful not only for people who need to translate Japanese words into English but also for those who just want to know the meanings of new and unusual Japanese words.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of the online edition is that there are no restraints on its size. While all paper dictionaries are severely limited by the size of the font and the thickness of the paper, the minuscule cost of electronic data storage means that digital dictionaries are limited only by the amount of human time that can be devoted to expanding them. While we do not add all new Japanese words we come across—there's no point, for example, in including words that have been used only once or twice—we now have much greater freedom to add slang, jargon, proper names, and technical words that students, translators, and others may want to look up. This freedom, of course, makes only more endless our task of herding together the myriad of Japanese word-cats.

Below is a random selection of words that have been gathered for the online edition of Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary. Many of the entries already appear online as of April 2004, while others might not make the final cut, and the Japanese explanations and English translations may still be revised.
電子タグ[荷札] 〔商品などに付ける〕 an 「electronic [IC] tag.

ガンジス河海豚 【動】 〔カワイルカ科のハクジラの一種〕 a Ganges river dolphin; a susu; Platanista gangetica.

音楽ファイル 【電算】 a music file.

オレオレ詐欺 〔高齢者宅に息子や孫を装って電話をかけ金をだまし取る詐欺〕 an "it's me" scam; a scam in which a man calls an elderly person and, pretending to be a son or grandson, demands money. [Since this entry was prepared, new variants of the scam have appeared, suggesting the need for future revisions.]

ソフトの期間貸し 〔業務〕 application service provision (略: ASP); 《口》apps-on-tap; 〔企業〕 an application service provider (略: ASP).

食品安全委員会 〔食品安全基本法に基づく〕 the Food Safety Commission (略: FSC).

マニフェスト 〔宣言〕 a manifesto; 〔政党の政権公約〕 an election platform; ∥an election manifesto. [The ∥ symbol indicates that the term is used primarily in British English.]

ネット心中 an Internet suicide pact.

メガバンク 〔巨大銀行〕 a megabank.

リンパ球性脈絡髄膜炎 【医】 lymphocytic choriomeningitis (略: LCM).

活字メディア (the) print media; 《in, through》 the medium of print.

歴史を歪曲する distort [twist, pervert, rewrite, revise] history. [This example appears in the entry for 歴史.]

執行役員 an operating officer; an executive.

法人化 establishment as [conversion into] a corporation; 〔民営化〕 privatization.

国立大学の法人化 reorganization of the national universities as corporations; privatization of the national universities.

国立大学法人法 the National University Corporation Law.

日本とペルーには犯罪者引渡し条約は結ばれていない. Japan and Peru 「do not have [have not signed] an extradition treaty. [This example appears in the entry for 犯罪者.]

釣りばか a fishing nut. [This appears in the entry for ばか.]

民間空港 a 「civilian [civil] airport.

小洒落たa bit [somewhat] stylish [chic]. [This word is pronounced こじゃれた. In the first draft, it was written こ洒落た, but this was changed to 小洒落た based on the following Google hit counts: "の小洒落た" 1360; "のこ洒落た" 154; "のコ洒落た" 98; "の子洒落た" 7. The last spelling is presumably a mistake.]

こじゃれた感じの店 a somewhat trendy shop.

足底筋膜炎[腱膜炎] 【医】 plantar fasciitis.

ドリフト族 drifters; hotrodders who do long, controlled skids.

縦パス 〔サッカーで〕 a forward pass.

横パス 〔サッカーで〕 a 「square [cross, crossing] pass.

回し3 〔輪姦〕 (a) gang rape.

回す9 〔輪姦する〕 gang-rape.

沖縄の人たちは豚を丸ごと無駄なく使って料理する. Okinawans cook the entire pig without wasting anything. [This example was added to the entry for 無駄; an editor had noticed that there was no example of the phrase 無駄なく.]

用の美 functional [practical] beauty.

建築模型 an architectural model.

すり胡麻 ground sesame seeds.

練り胡麻 sesame (seed) paste.

保冷剤 a refrigerant; 〔ゲル状の〕 (a) 「cold [thermal] gel.

保冷枕 a cold pillow; an ice pillow.

リハビリメイク medical cosmetics.

アタカマ大型ミリ波サブミリ波干渉計 【天】 the Atacama Large Millimeter(/submillimeter) Array (略: ALMA).

エンパワーメント 〔能力開化・権限付与〕 empowerment.

エンフォースメント 〔法執行・強制〕 enforcement.

オープンジョー 〔飛行機で, 行く都市と帰りの出発地が異なること〕 an open jaw; 〔航空券〕 an open-jaw ticket.

オフ会 【電算】 〔ネット上で知り合った者同士が実際に集まって催す会合〕 an offline 「gathering [get-together, party].

オフ会を開催する hold an offline gathering; get together offline.

株価指数連動型上場投資信託 an exchange-traded fund (略: ETF).

共同運行[運航] 〔飛行機の〕 code sharing; 〔列車・バス・船などの〕 joint operation.

共同運行[運航]便 〔飛行機の〕 a code-share flight; 〔列車・バス・船などの〕 a jointly operated 《train》.

半生semiperishable 《food》. [This word is pronounced はんなま.]

半生うどん[そば] semiperishable 「udon [soba].

半生菓子 semiperishable sweets.

半生ケーキ (a) semiperishable cake; (a) cake that will keep for a while.

権勢症候群 【獣医】 〔飼い犬の〕 (the) alpha syndrome. ▲alpha は動物の群れのボスを指す.

国際郵便 international [overseas] mail. [This was a surprising omission from the print edition.]

最大手 largest 《company》; the 《industry》 leader.

最大手の旅行会社 the 「largest [industry-leading] travel company.

スライド 2 〔滑ること・ずれること〕 a slide.

~する slide; slip.

サンルーフは電動でチルトおよびスライドする. The sunroof tilts up and slides 「open [back] electrically.

電池のふたを押しながらスライドさせ, その後ふたを上に持ち上げて開きます. 〔電気製品などの電池交換について〕 Press and slide the battery cover [Press the battery cover down and forward], and then lift the cover to open it.

全押し【写真】 (a) full press.

~する fully press 《the shutter button》.

シャッターボタンを全押しする press the shutter button all the way down.

半押し【写真】 (a) half press.

~する half-press 《the shutter button》.

シャッターボタンを半押しする press the shutter button halfway down.

試し撮り 【写真】 test [trial] photographing; a 「test [trial] photograph [shot].

試し撮りをする take [shoot] a test photograph; take a picture as a test.

企業テロ (acts of) terrorism against corporations.

生物・化学テロ biological and chemical terrorism.

反テロ antiterrorism; counterterrorism.

連続テロ serial terrorism; a series of terrorist attacks.

テロ防止 terror prevention; the prevention of terrorism.

テロ撲滅 the elimination of terrorism.

バッテリー・チャージャー 〔充電器〕 a battery charger.

ユビキタス 〔身の回りのどこにでもコンピューターが存在しそれを自由に利用できる環境〕 ubiquitousness [ubiquity] 《of computer access》.

ユビキタス・コンピューティング ubiquitous computing.

ユビキタス社会 a 「ubiquitous-computing [universally connected] society.

ユビキタス・ネットワーク a ubiquitous network.

投資家心理 《boost, hurt》 investor sentiment.

全米証券業協会 the National Association of Securities Dealers (略: NASD).

ウォルマート 〔米国のディスカウントストア・チェーン〕 Wal-Mart.

人口ボーナス 〔全人口に占める生産年齢人口の割合が増大すること〕 a population bonus; an increase in the working-age population.

フォックス 5 Fox (Quesada), Vicente (1942- ; メキシコの政治家; 大統領 〔2000- 〕).

神舟5号 〔中国初の有人宇宙船; 2003年10月に打ち上げ成功〕 Shenzhou V.

鍋奉行 a person who directs the cooking of the food in a pot on a table; a pot boss. [Unable to find a short equivalent English term, I coined "pot boss."]

焼き破り 〔押しこみ強盗の手口〕 breaking and entering by heating window glass so that it can be broken quietly. [Is there a shorter term for this in English?]

DVDレコーダー a DVD recorder.

キム・ジョンナム 金正男 Kim Jong-nam (1971- ; 北朝鮮の指導者キム・ジョンイルの長男). [Should we mention the trip he tried to make to Tokyo Disneyland?]

パルトロー Paltrow, Gwyneth (Kate) (1973- ; 米国の映画女優).

リンドウズ 【電算】 〔リナックスをパソコン向けに改良したOS〕 Lindows.

アウトサイダー・アート 〔精神病者・知的身体的障害者の生み出す美術〕 outsider art; art brut <F.

アール・ブリュット 〔精神病者・知的身体的障害者の生み出す美術〕 art brut <F.; outsider art.

アクセシビリティー 〔交通機関・建築物・電気通信機器などをすべての人が自由に利用できる状態〕 accessibility.

保険数理士 an actuary.

ガウリ 【軍】 〔パキスタンが北朝鮮の協力を得て開発した核弾頭搭載可能な中距離弾道ミサイル〕 a Ghauri missile.

仮面浪人 a college student who is trying to get into 「another [a better] college.

激発物破裂 detonating an explosive 「substance [object]; causing an explosion.

アウトレット・モール 〔工場直販店街; 在庫商品割引販売なども行う〕 an outlet mall.

職質を受ける be questioned by police. [This example appears in the entry for 職質, which is cross-referenced to 職務質問.]

高機能自閉症 【精神医】 high-functioning autism.

文化センター =文化会館 (⇒ ぶんか) [The previous omission of 文化センター was unfortunate.]

自虐史観 a masochistic historical view; a self-tormenting view of history.

上空通過料 〔領土上空を通過する旅客機から徴収する管制手数料〕 an overflight 「fee [charge].

ユーマ UMA 〔未確認動物〕 a mystery animal; a hidden animal. ▲ UMAは an unidentified mysterious animal の略とされるが和製英語.

臭素化ダイオキシン 【化】〔臭素系難燃剤を燃やすと発生する有害物質〕 brominated dioxin. {化}

ポスティング・システム 〔大リーグ球団が日本選手の獲得を望むときの所属球団への移籍金の入札制度〕 the posting system.

(written March 1, 2004; posted May 28, 2004)