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"It's Regarded As An Ethnic Slur"

One EPer wrote about liking 'Jap' food. When I PMed this person to let them know the term was offensive and to ask them to change it to 'Japanese', they told me that 'Jap' was the proper abbreviation of the word. I was astounded. 

Here's what wikipedia says

"Jap is an English abbreviation of the word "Japanese." Today it is regarded as an ethnic slur, though English-speaking countries differ in the degree they consider the term offensive. In the United States, Japanese Americans have come to find the term controversial or offensive, even when used as an abbreviation. In the past, Jap was not considered primarily offensive; however, after the events of World War II, the term became derogatory." 

"Veteran and author Paul Fussell explains the usefulness of the word during the war for creating effective propaganda by saying that "Japs" "was brisk monosyllable handy for slogans like "Rap the Jap" or "Let's Blast the Jap Clean Off the Map"."

"In the United States and Canada, the term is now considered derogatory; Webster's Dictionary notes it is "usually disparaging". In the United Kingdom it is considered derogatory, and the Oxford dictionary defines it as offensive."

However, the article goes on to say that

"In Singapore[9] and Hong Kong,[10] the term is used freely as a contraction of the adjective "Japanese". The Australian news service Asia Pulse also uses the term."

So I can only conclude that this EPer is Singaporean (which are not referred to as 'Sings'), Hong Kong Chinese (which are not referred to as 'Honkies' unless you are Singaporean) or Australian (Do you guys mind being called Aussies?) Or perhaps this EPer is over 80 and fought in WWII.

In international country codes or language codes, the abbreviation is JPN, JP or Ja 

I find 'Jap' as offensive an abbreviation as 'eye-tai' for Italian, 'pollock' for Polish or 'chink' for Chinese. We use long terms like 'Native-American' and 'African-American'. Let's just use the whole word 'Japanese'.

Deki Deki 31-35, F 20 Responses Mar 30, 2009

Your Response


people just need to forget about being politically correct all the time. I use the word "jap" all the time, but it is more out of laziness. This is the same with other terms such as "kiwi's" "yanks" "brits" "frogs" "coon" and even "soviets" or if I don't know which part of europe a person is from, I just call them "euro trash".<br />
I don't use these terms to be derogatory or anything. it's just part of everyday language here. I know that in the past there may have been negative connotations to these (eg, I didn't know that the term "jap" was created for propaganda).<br />
besides here in ballarat, to be called the yellow menace (from the gold rush days) is much more offensive.

ok wow. im sorry that if i seemed heartless. dont get me wrong i respect each person as an individual. i just dont believe that we should be held by color, religion, or background. in my opinion there is only one race the human race. i have never treated anyone wrong i have never directly insulted anyone if i did it was by accident. i have been out in the world its just that i get along with everyone so i have never had any trouble. im sorry that there is pain in suffering in our world. i wish i could make it all go away. i just wish people would realise that if we hold to old racial ways we will never truely be happy. i can see a black man, a japanese man, even an arib as a brother. all i ask in return is the same respect. thats all i have ever asked of anyone. i dont need anyone to break there back to help me just show me the same respect you want and you will get it back ten fold. i have helped starving people, i have helped a few poeple though a bomb explosion from terrorism. but i still wish people could just get along. as i said there is only one race and thats the human race.

Physical Wreck, thank you. I'm glad you think so too, that it's not so difficult to say the entire word: Japanese. Yes, most people probably aren't aware of how the term originated but if they knew, they'd think twice about using it so casually.

CPAguy, Maybe political correctness has become a game of overboard sensitivity and cautious etiquette in America, where one is fearful of causing offense if you describe a person by their race, for example by using a term which has gone out of fashion like 'black' or 'Afro-American'. These terms were never intended as ethnic slurs. <br />
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I'm talking about using a term that has always been used as an ethnic slur by one race against another. 'Jap' was meant to be insulting when the term was first used in WWll. It is still derogatory today.<br />
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I don't want to hear my friends being called a derogatory term particularly if that is the original intention of its usage.

archelaos, you say "people should just get over themselves"? That's incredibly arrogant. You should get over yourself. You say you are always blunt? Is that supposed to be an impressive trait where you are from? I'd be more impressed if you could read.<br />
Go back and read my article CAREFULLY. You will discover that the term 'Jap' was coined specifically to use in war slogans against the Japanese so it is every bit as derogatory as the 'N' word which you claim you don't use because it was "created for a bad reason". <br />
You belong to an ethnic group that has been subject to racist slurs and you don't care? Just because you don't care doesn't give you the right to dictate how other people should feel.<br />
You say you haven't been in a war? You have never experienced any violence first-hand in your country due to racism, ethnic-cleansing and cultural decimation? When you've had some real life experiences, like seeing your people dragged off to prison and tortured or even killed just for demonstrating, when your people have to escape their country at the risk of their lives so that they can have the freedom to practice their religion, then you might develop some sensitivity and compassion. Racist slurs are the tip of the iceberg. People who use them condone racial hatred or at the very least show they don't give a damn about the sensitivities of others.<br />
I have no patience for snot-nosed, inexperienced, opinionated punks and if you don't like it, you'd better just 'get over it'.

Wow ok i am normally very loving and caring and understanding but in this situation i think people should just get over themselves. ok so i call someone a jap. ok there japanese arnt they. so get over it. a african american is black so if i describe him as a black man he gets mad. wow. your black right. get over it. i get slurs put twards me all the time. you know what i do. its like 2009. Did i fight a war. no. did i go and violate anyones rights. no. so why should i bend the truth just so it sounds nicer. I am always blunt. now i dont use the N word because it was created for a bad reason. I dont use the word Chinc or charlie because its made to insult. but to call someone exactly what they are...come on why cant people grow up and join the real world. im sorry if i affended anyone. I normally am not like this. please dont be angry. But the day i fight a war or directly screw a culture over is the day i become the most polite person in the world.

Elfinsong: Thank you. I agree.

Bottom line: If it offensive to one person it should be considered offensive to all.<br />
Anyone who uses these terms should begin the process of deleting all dergoatory terms from their language.

Definately not nice. I wouldn't like my Japanese friends to hear that.<br />
And I don't want to be called names either. are a strange man, sunbear...

Whoa. That's totally shitsurei, dayo (rude). I'd never use the word 'jap' unless I was saying 'yes' in Dutch....or Khmer. I forget which.

Doitashimashite. You're welcome.

I'm from LA and my closest childhood friends were nissei (second generation Japanese). Also I lived in Japan for many years. I would NEVER use the term 'Jap'. <br />
It's offensive to me and it's offensive to the people I love. I think most everyone from the West coast, particularly California which has a large population of Japanese-Americans, considers the term derogatory.<br />
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Good guideline, Deki "Would a native of that country refer to themselves by that name?" Thanks for this article.

Yes, in text messaging people shorten words for ease and it is not yet a standardized language as such. Still, in proper international code, Japanese is shortened to JPN, JP or JA. Therefore to avoid possible insult, it would be better if people used one of these abbreviations.<br><br />
I've heard Australians say 'I'm from Auz' or 'I'm an Aussie'. But I have never heard a Japanese person say 'I'm a Jap' or a Tibetan say 'I'm a Buddha-head' or even an American say 'I'm a Yank."<br><br />
I think a good etiquette guideline for EP is for us to ask ourselves "Would a native of that country refer to themselves by that name?"

On a website like EP which is used globally, it can be easy to unwittingly offend someone. Especially in these days of mobile phone text messaging (SMS) when people tend to abbreviate words a lot for ease and simplicity, which tends to spill over to informal emails and forum posts as well.<br />
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I had no idea the abbreviation of Japanese was considered offensive in some countries.<br />
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And no, Australians do not mind being called Aussies, it is perfectly normal and much easier than to say "I am Australian" or "I come from Australia". "I'm from Aussie" is a completely normal thing to say. Just as New Zealanders call themselves Kiwi's. I'm a Kiwi.

In that case, in respect to both you and your Japanese-American friends, I would not use the J word.

I see what you're saying. I guess the term doesn't hold the same emotional punch in Hong Kong or Singapore but coming from a westerner it would sound demeaning and hurtful. <br />
I would think younger generation Australians wouldn't use the J word either but considering they had to defend their home turf from them in WWII, there could be residual resentment amongst the older generation who might still use the term.<br />
A native of Japan wouldn't expect you to refer to them as Nihonjin unless you were speaking in their own language. (pronounced 'Nee-hohn-jeen')<br />
I have both Japanese and Japanese-American friends. It would be the latter who would be offended by the J word. And I, as their friend, would be offended along with them

If I was with a group of friends, and someone used the "N" word to describe and African-American, it would reduce the value of my worth to that person. I personally would not do say anything because I'm not the type of person to call someone out, but the value of them as a friend would go down. It would make that particular friend look extremely borish. Same is held true if he were to use J word to describe the Japanese.<br />
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I think you kind of misunderstood my comment about the when in Rome part, but you got the rest of it. I should of been more clear. I personally would not use it, but I would not consider someone from Hong Kong or Singapore rude if they did use the J word. But if an American would to use the J word, then I would consider it an insight into their ignorant behavior.<br />
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This, however, is all based on information within your original post. If someone from Japan tells me that I should be using Nihonjin instead, then I would respect their wish. Of course, they'll need to pronounce the word a several times to allow me to train my tongue properly.

"When in Rome, do what the Romans do" doesn't apply. In Japan, they refer to themselves as Nihonjin. This generation wouldn't realize that the term was used as a racial slur during WWII so they're going to be apathetic about it. Unless the implication was explained to them, the term would be lost in translation. But you can be sure that a Japanese-American living in the US would find it offensive having had grandparents who were put in internment camps during the war and treated like spies and traitors. The terrible use of the word then is still within living memory in their families as well as anyone who is baby boomer age or older.<br />
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As for "When in Rome", if you were with a group of friends and one of them used the "N" word about a black person, would you just let it pass if there were no black people around?

When in Rome, do what the Romans do. I think it largely depends on the circumstances and if you are in a crowd of Japanese or Japanese-Americans. If they find the word "Jap" offensive, then I wouldn't use it. In the US, because of our history with WWII, I would consider "Jap" as a racial slur, but it may be an acceptable adjective in other countries. A Japanese's input would be very informative in this discussion.