Gaijin

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susantash

Senior Member
Español de Uruguay
Hi everyone!

I'd like to know what this word means. I'm only supposing it's japanese; so if it isn't I'm very sorry.
I heard it in the movie "Elektra".
This is the context:

-"Your men are dead. (refering to the men that were in charge of a certain task)
- Killed by a female. Elektra the Gaigin"

Thank you very much for your help.
 
  • hikari37lito

    Member
    Tagalog
    "Gaijin" has a negative connotation. If you happened to visit Japan and someone address you as "gaijin" it would be a discriminatory remark.
    I know that "gaijin" is short for gaikokujin, but we should use the polite one.
     

    jp_fr_linguaphile

    Senior Member
    English USA
    "Gaijin" has a negative connotation. If you happened to visit Japan and someone address you as "gaijin" it would be a discriminatory remark.
    I know that "gaijin" is short for gaikokujin, but we should use the polite one.
    I used to have a problem with that word when I lived in Japan. I heard 外人さん(gaijin-san) quite a bit too. As you may already know, -san is a suffix attached generally to a person's last name to indicate respect. (It's interesting to note, however, that in the case of foreigners, it was always the first name plus -san.) If I remember correctly, 外人さん was most often used by middle-aged to older people. It might sound offensive to someone who's been in Japan a while, but in retrospect, I realize they were trying to show respect the only way they knew how.
     

    cheshire

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    If gaijin is discriminatory or offensive at all, it is because some foreigners feel that way. You'll notice there's nothing suggestive of offense in gaijin 外人 in itself. It simply means "outside person." Almost all Japanese who utter the word don't even know if it's offensive. Those who stick with the use of 外国人 know that some foreigners don't like the sound of it, or feel excluded.

    It's just like the innocent use of "Jap"; most young or ESL people don't know if it's offensive. They just think it's short for Japan or Japanese.
     

    jp_fr_linguaphile

    Senior Member
    English USA
    Interesting analogy to the word "Jap." When you say young and ESL people, are you talking about young Japanese students learning English? They should be told immediately that "Jap" is a derogatory word that ought not be used. In using the analogy, am I to understand that you are implying that 外人 gaijin is a derogatory word?

    Regarding your comment, "You'll notice there's nothing suggestive of offense in gaijin 外人 in itself. It simply means 'outside person'." Is it really that simple? Words rarely just have denotative meaning. They have connotative meanings as well. That's like the expressions 内の人uchi no hito and 外の人 soto no hito. Words in Japanese seldom have simple meanings. Wouldn't you agree?

    As far as the word 外人 gaijin goes, I knew some Japanese who were sensitive to the fact that it seemed derogatory to foreigners and therefore opted to use the word 外国人 gaikokujin in its place.

    Similarly, "Jap" could simply be considered an abbreviation for "Japanese," yet it has a history of being used by those who were hostile to Japanese, hence its use has been discouraged.
     

    cheshire

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Frankly, I will never feel offended if I were called "Jap." But I might feel offended if it were directed at me in a very nasty tone or bad intention. Mostly I never feel offended when I find Jap in forums like this because I know that most people say it with no bad feelings. I know they are just being very lazy abbreviating the short word even more.

    ESL=English as a Second Language. No way am I implying that gaijin is derogatory; on the contrary it's innocent most of the time (almost 99%).

    Regarding your comment, "You'll notice there's nothing suggestive of offense in gaijin 外人 in itself. It simply means 'outside person'." Is it really that simple?
    I'm sure it's simple as I said. How can it have any connotation? There are no less people who like gaijin than otherwise.

    As far as the word 外人 gaijin goes, I knew some Japanese who were sensitive to the fact that it seemed derogatory to foreigners and therefore opted to use the word 外国人 gaikokujin in its place.
    Two reasons seem to be (1) it's a lot more colloquial feel to it than 外国人, (2)"gai" in "gaijin" evokes the homophone 害(gai). But this meaning is never intended on the part of the speaker.
     
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