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by tjm Holden

1 Feb 2007


In Japan it’s a big word, a concept, a way of defining relations between people. Most often in organizations – like between teachers and students or managers and staffers—but also in other connective sets. Like when a coach presses a tennis player for greater effort, or a hotel guest berates a maid for failing to make up a room, or a cop pulls a driver over to the side of the road.

Pow-wa” means “power”. No big decoding mystery there. “Hara” (aside from being a family name in the ReDot on the order of “Jones” over in the English-speaking West) is the Japanese rendering of “harassment”. And, as I have explained elsewhere in the PopMatters’ world, it is common for Japanese to shorten words as a means of expediting conversation. For instance, “akemashite omedetou gozaimasu” – (Happy New Year) – is transformed into “ake-ome” (akay omay). In the same way, “Brad Pitt” – short enough as is—nonetheless, gets even shorter shrift, becoming “Burapi”. Everyone seems to get the meaning, it saves time, and no one is any more the worse for wear.

Whoever said the Japanese weren’t creative?

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