Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Last updated 24 January 2002

HOME

Ties Talk Index

Language Directory

JA*Net

NAJC

Discussion
Board

JA*Net Ties Talk
Ku-ichi

Re: Language: Ku-ichi (Was: JA-ben (JA Dialect))

> I'd love to hear any other variations in the language
> that others might have come across.

I've heard of "Ku-Ichi-san", to refer to Jewish people.

It's interesting mixture of Japanese numbers and arithmetic:

"Ku-Ichi-san" -> Mr. (or Ms.) Ku-Ichi -> Mr. Nine One -> Mr. 9+1 -> Mr. 10 -> Mr. "Ju" -> Mr. (or Ms.) Jew

This way, early Japanese Canadians could talk about Jews behind their back in front of their faces. Is this a strictly JC thing, or did JAs use the same term?


Re: Language: Ku-ichi

> "Ku-Ichi-san", to refer to Jewish people.

I am familiar with the term "ku-ichi." We used it in my JA family, too I learned it from my nisei mother, who was from the Pacific Northwest: "Ku to ichi wa ju desu kara."

How many of you learned "Shina-jin" to mean Chinese (person)? Did this (now derogatory ) term originate in the US? Does anyone else use the term "Shina meshi" to refer to a Sunday meal with the family (usually at a Chinese restaurant) or a dinner after a funeral? I also learned this from my mother, which is clearly a foreign word to my Nihonjin friends.


Subject: Re: Ku-ichi

> I am familiar with the term "ku-ichi." We used it in my JA family, too
> I learned it from my nisei mother, who was from the Pacific Northwest:
> "Ku to ichi wa ju desu kara."

I, too heard the term ku-ichi, although it wasn't always in reference to a Jew, but rather a cheapskate.

What about the word "sukoshi" meaning a little bit? I have heard Americans say "skosh" with similar meaning and wondered whether the word was originally Japanese or American, or ... ???

Also, my Obaasama used the term "ochokoko" on me a lot when I was a child. I later learned the real word was "ochokochoi" since I was kind of clutzy or when I was careless! Anyone else been called ochokoko?


Subject: Re: Ku-ichi

> Also, my Obaasama used the term "ochokoko" on me a lot when I was a
> child. I later learned the real word was "ochokochoi" since I was kind
> of clutzy or when I was careless! Anyone else been called ochokoko?

After some hunting about, the closest things I could find to this in standard Japanese were:

"otchokochoi" = a hasty person, a scatterbrain

"choko-choko"

"choko-choko suru" = to bustle about
"choko-choko aruku" = to toddle

The second meaning can be used to describe the clumsy way toddlers walk.

This is an example of "gitai-go" or mimesis, a word that imitates an action or state. Related is "gion-go" or onomatopoeia, a word that imitates a sound. The Japanese language is rife with these, and they give real colour and life to a conversation. It could be argued that you do not really know Japanese unless you know gitai-go and gion-go. English has similar kinds of words, but somehow "Biff!", "Pow!", and "Kerplunk!" just don't cut it when compared to "gakun to", "giri-giri", "moya-moya" and "niko-niko". :-)

Words That Imitate Sounds
sh.jcic.or.jp/nipponia/nipponia7/spot01.html
Onomatopoetic Words in Japan
http://www.kt.rim.or.jp/~etshioda/onoma.html


Subject: Re: Ku-ichi

"Ku-Ichi-san", to refer to Jewish people.

"ku-ichi" (nine + one) = "ju" (ten) --sounds like--> "jew"

some people use this term to refer to a "cheapskate" -- it is a derogatory stab at Jews who are stereotyped as being cheap.

i think we often inherit terms and use them without realizing their full meanings and origins.


Subject: Re: Ku-ichi

"Ku-Ichi-san", to refer to Jewish people.

Many of my friends when I was growing up used to use the term "ku-ichi" for "being stingy". I never knew the origin of the term until much later when someone explained to me that ku and ichi (1 and 9) make up ten, which is pronounced "ju" or "jew". Some might take this as an ethnic slur because of its reference to Jewish people as being stingy.


Subject: Re: Ku-ichi

> "ku-ichi" (nine + one) = "ju" (ten) --sounds like--> "jew"
>
> some people use this term to refer to a "cheapskate" -- it is
> a derogatory stab at Jews who are stereotyped as being cheap.
>
> i think we often inherit terms and use them without realizing their full
> meanings and origins.

I agree. I used to use this term until I realized that it is very derogatory and is racially based. I have never used it since.


Subject: Re: Ku-ichi

> "ku-ichi" (nine + one) = "ju" (ten) --sounds like--> "jew"

I think the term "ku-ichi" must be unique to English-speaking Nikkeijin, because the pun doesn't work in other languages: "Jew" in Japanese is "yudayajin", in Spanish it is "hebraico" or "hebreo", and Portugese it is "judaico" or "judeu" (with "j" pronounced like "s" in pleasure).

[Back to TOP]

Continue this thread on the Runker Room Discussion Board

[HOME] [NAJC] [JA*Net] [Ties Talk Index]