“Risuku (risk), kea (care), toraburu (trouble), asuri-to (athlete); I can’t understand what the hell they’re talking about!” vented 71-year-old Gifu Prefecture resident Hoji Takahashi.
Takahashi, a former public servant and sponsor of the “Cherish the Japanese Language Group,” filed suit against Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) in Nagoya district court on June 25 for emotional distress. Claiming he is unable to comprehend programming content due to the broadcaster’s excessive use of foreign load words, or gairaigo, Takahashi is seeking 1.41 million yen (US$14,000) for the pain and suffering he has had to endure.
“By causing mental anguish to people who feel uncomfortable with the excessive use of foreign languages,” Takahashi believes NHK is guilty of acting illegally under Article 709 of the civil code. Emphasizing that he had signed a contract enabling him to receive and watch NHK broadcasts (technically, something everybody in Japan with a working television must do), Takahashi felt the broadcaster was unnecessarily subjecting him to foreign language loan words such as konshieruju (concierge) and konpuriansu (compliance) when there were perfectly acceptable Japanese words available to convey the same meaning.
“Young people can probably understand a lot of this stuff, but for older people like myself, when I hear asuri-to and konpriansu, I don’t know what it means. I wrote and asked NHK about this issue, but they failed to respond so I am suing them.”
A spokesperson for the NHK broadcasting office in Nagoya declined comment, stating, “I don’t fully know the details of the complaint.”
What do you think, are Takahashi’s gripes legit?