Wednesday, June 11, 2008


The two top Japan news stories, according to Google news:

Japan lifts Olympics swimsuit ban
BBC News

Japanese swimmers will be allowed to wear cutting-edge swimsuits made by UK-based firm Speedo at the Beijing Olympics, officials have said.

The decision is a U-turn on a previous ruling that allowed only Japanese makes of swimwear to be used.

Swimmers wearing Speedo's LZR Racer suit have smashed 30 world records in previous months - the latest Japanese swimmer Kosuke Kitajima on Sunday...

Japan opposition to submit PM censure motion Wednesday

TOKYO, June 10 - Japan's main opposition party plans to submit a non-binding censure motion against Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in parliament on Wednesday in a bid to pile pressure on a leader whose public popularity has plunged.

The censure, likely to be adopted as opposition parties control the upper house, would be the first against a prime minister under a constitution drawn up over 60 years ago.

While embarrassing, it will not oblige him to resign or call an election.

Analysts say the opposition Democratic Party move would do little more than remind the public of Fukuda's weak leadership in the face of a divided parliament...

Come together in this morning's Sankei Shimbun cartoon:

Wearing a Speedo LZR suit with the word censure (monseki) on it, Democratic Party leader Ozawa Ichirō swears to his towel boy, DPJ #2 Hatoyama Yukio, "With this, the world's best performing suit on, I will show everyone my best performance!"

At which point rather than race each other, Ozawa and Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo engage in a childish splash fight across the lane barriers.


My memory may be faulty but "performance" (pafōmansu) seems to have had interesting trajectory as a loan word. My impression is that it was originally borrowed from Business English and was used in a straightforward way, such as for "high performance" computing. It is now more commonly used in sarcastic double talk, playing with the alternate English meaning of performance (as in "putting on a performance")--so that a word that once indicated a well-directed focus on achievement is now used almost exclusively to mean the exact opposite: a pointless, content-free show.

One for the philologists and behavioral linguists.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fascinating. Tidbits like these are great for us younger folk that didn't really get to see these words assimilated. Even so, the shot of Ozawa in a swimsuit might be enough for a chuckle.