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Thread: Why is it that when Oriental folk say ASIAN

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    aliG
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    Why is it that when Oriental folk say ASIAN

    they mean only the people from Oriental countries? there are 48 countries in Asia, and not 5. I recently asked a philipino friend what he meant by Asian and he replied all the oriental people. and when I asked him about russians, turks, saudis, kuwatis, iranis, pakistanis, srilankans, burmese, armenians, etc..he was puzzled, surprised, and confused. again, this is just a question and no offense to any one here.

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    Well, I consider the people from India, Pakistan, Iraq, etc. to be Asian as those countries are part of the Asian continent. Russia is considered part of Europe for some reason. I guess it's just that China, Korea, Japan, Philippines, Thailand and other countries in the eastern part of Asia are more familiar to most people. Part of it could be marketing and media. There are more Chinese restaurants than any other Asian restaurant and the association is strong. As for media, when you see an Asian person on general TV or the movies, they're most likely to be Chinese, Japanese or Korean.

    On a side note, a lot of Asian Americans consider the term "Oriental" to be demeaning, since (as it was told to me) "oriental" is a word used for things - oriental rug, oriental furniture, etc.

    Just my 2 cents, Hope that helps a bit. I'm sure people like Maciamo can give a much better reply.
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    err the countries you listed are oriental as well. oriental is just another word for eastern. anyhow i persoanlly dont really think of the middle eastern or former USSR people as asian either. the term asian to me means the mogoloid race. while turks, russians, saudis, iraqis and the rest may be from asia they arent mogoloid. so the other people i would call by their country name or if i didnt know that by their region. so saudis, iraqis, kuwaitis, etc would be middle eastern. if i didnt know their country
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    I have been told by Chinese-Americans that "oriential" is not politically correct because it is an imperialist term. So now the proper term is Asian, but as you pointed out, it doesn't technically mean the same thing as oriental, but the truth is that certain Asian countries just aren't called as such.

    It's kind of like saying African-American instead of black, which is also no longer PC, but it seems like most "African-Americans" don't really consider people like Egyptians or Morrocans as part of the group.
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    you guys might also want to check out this thread as well.

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    Yay. this same debate goes over around the world. I play Initial D the arcade game, and of course, a fair amount of Asian pople play it. In Montreal, someone made a big accomplishment, and someone else congratulated him with "good job - AZN PRIDE" I told him his comment was racism/elitism, notably because of the pan-asian thing.

    I really don't use this term, and I'm not a racist, but I have heard once that "Iraqis aren't the right shade of yellow, they're just a bunch of sand n******"

    And they're telling me that AZN used in the i-look-cool way isn't racism ?
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  7. #7
    aliG
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    Originally posted by jeisan
    anyhow i persoanlly dont really think of the middle eastern or former USSR people as asian either. the term asian to me means the mogoloid race. while turks, russians, saudis, iraqis and the rest may be from asia they arent mogoloid.
    just for your information, the turks, russian, saudis, and this ETC of yours are all different races. they are not slant eyed, but they are still in ASIA, hence they are asian.



    also, less then a fifth of russia AND turkey is in europe. but officially they are counted as ASIAN countries.

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    Originally posted by aliG
    just for your information, the turks, russian, saudis, and this ETC of yours are all different races.
    just for your information they are the same race. there are only 3 races, mongoliod, negroid and caucasian.
    they are not slant eyed, but they are still in ASIA, hence they are asian.
    there are plenty of latin and others here in the west, but most asians arent refering to them when they say "westerner"

    also, less then a fifth of russia AND turkey is in europe. but officially they are counted as ASIAN countries.
    im not arguing their geographical postitions or what their offical status is.
    india is in asia as well but i wouldnt call the people there asians, i would call them indians. if i could tell viet, korean, thai, chinese, japanese, cambodian, malay, filipino, mongolian, indonesian, taiwanese, laotian, tibetan and people from any other prodominatly mongoloid country i may have missed, apart with a fairly good accuracy rate i wouldnt even use the term asian myself, but until i can thats what i use it for.
    Last edited by jeisan; 09-02-04 at 03:55.

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    I think this question goes under the topic of how do we seperate ourselves, by ethnicity, or by nationality?
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    Originally posted by jeisan
    just for your information they are the same race. there are only 3 races, mongoliod, negroid and caucasian.
    Of course you are right about Turks, Russians, Saudis but there are more races than 3. There are also some smaller races: at least Khoisanid & Australoid, depending on the interpretation of data even more (eg. the Pygmies may be considered a distinct race, Ethiopians are a mixed Europid/Negroid race).

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    its been awhile since ive looked any of this up. last i checked there were the three with australiod being a possible forth, havent heard of the others.

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    Re: Why is it that when Oriental folk say ASIAN

    Originally posted by aliG
    they mean only the people from Oriental countries? there are 48 countries in Asia, and not 5. I recently asked a philipino friend what he meant by Asian and he replied all the oriental people. and when I asked him about russians, turks, saudis, kuwatis, iranis, pakistanis, srilankans, burmese, armenians, etc..he was puzzled, surprised, and confused.
    Hi there !

    The meaning of words depends on the people who use them. Usually, in Britain, "Asian" means South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan...), while in North America (and Australia, I think), Asian refers to East Asians (Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Malay, Indonesian, etc.). Central Asian, Turks, Iranians, Iraqi, Syrian, Israli, Saudi, Omani, etc. tend to be called "Middle Eastern" by all Westerners.

    Of course, logically, "Asian" includes all people from the Asian continent. Yet, that would have to exclude "non-Asian" immigrants (e.g. Westerners living in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore...) or even newly arrived settlers, like the Russians East of the Ural mountains.

    But then it becomes more difficult to decide who is really Asian and who isn't. How far can we go back to determine whether someone is Asian, or immigrant/settler/invader like Russians in the huge Asian part of their country ? India was invaded by the Aryans (=common European ancestor, from Caucasus/Black Sea) 5000 years ago. The local Dravidian people had black skin like Africans, and the Aryans had white skin and fair eyes (and maybe hair too). The Aryan invaders created the Hindu religion (probably based on an older Aryan polytheism, that derived as Graeco-Roman and Norse mythology in Europe) and the caste system. The caste system had for aim to separate the Aryan invaders (higher-castes) from the local Dravidian (lower and outcastes), by prohibiting intermarriages between some castes, so that nowadays there are still white skinned and fair-eyed Indians (look at Bollywood actors and actress). As they are originally the same ethnic and cultural group as Europeans, they should not even be called Asian.

    On a historical point of view, 5000 years is very little for a ethny to change. But then Finnish and Hungarian people aren't really Europeans either, as 1000 years ago, they were still roaming the plains of Central Asia. Needless to say that intermarriages have help a lot to make them look truly European, although their language is still unrelated (some say closer to Japanese, Korean and Mongol than to Indo-European languages).

    For me the word "Oriental" (which only means "Eastern", after all), refers more to East Asian. It may be easier to specify the geographic area when talking about "Asians". Saying "East Asian" (incluing South-East and North-East Asian), South Asian, Central Asian, Middle-Eastern or Russian avoids a lot of confusion.
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    It's kind of like saying African-American instead of black, which is also no longer PC, but it seems like most "African-Americans" don't really consider people like Egyptians or Morrocans as part of the group.
    I don't know who you've talked to, but most black people I know (including myself) hate being called African-American, and prefer to be called black.

    African-American connotes something like....someone that came from Africa but now lives in America. Black is like someone who was a descendant of the slaves who were in America from the beginning.

    Anyway, I've never called someone Oriental (like Oriental rug) because it carries negative connotations. It's like calling a black person "Negro" or a Native American a "Red". It's an outdated term.

    BTW I like Maciamo's explaination!!!
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    Originally posted by Keeni84

    Anyway, I've never called someone Oriental (like Oriental rug) because it carries negative connotations. It's like calling a black person "Negro" or a Native American a "Red". It's an outdated term.
    It's funny because "Oriental" only seems to have a negative connotation in North America. I really don't see why. "Oriental" and "Eastern" mean exactly the same thing. The former comes from Latin, while the latter is from Germanic origin. Linguistically, it's merely like the difference between "kingly" and "royal", "begin" and "commence", "help" and "aid", "chat" and "converse", "meat-eater" and "carnivorous" or "grown-up" and "adult". The former is from Germanic origin, while the latter is from Latin, but they originally mean the same.

    In French, Italian or Spanish, there is no other word than "Oriental(e)" to mean "Eastern" (or just say "of the East" => "de l'est"...). Actually, Oriental sounds more romantic and attractive. It brings images of Oriental civilization, Oriental savour, or even Orient Express. A specialist of Eastern cultures is called an Orientalist. It sounds refined rather than pejorative.

    As for political correctness, it is just a few politicians who want to impose their biased sensitivities to the population. They are rarely linguists, and, as you said it yourself, don't often understand the true feelings of the people they are talking about (i.e. black people often prefer being called "black" than "Afro-American"). I find it so stupid to want to call a blind person "visually challenged", for instance. But aybe is it just those politician who are mentally challenged after all...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    "Oriental" (which only means "Eastern", after all)
    Actually, to be kinda picky, seeing as we're tracing the word back to it's etymology, it would literally mean, as an adjective, 'of the place where the sun rise', although it obviously became the common use for the orientation of East a couple of thousand years ago... And seeing as Japan is the 'Land of the Rising Sun', you could argue that the Orient singularly refers to Japan.
    Although really, that's pretty stupid... and now I can't remember why I started this in the first place

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    Maciamo:

    It is hard for you to figure out? First of all, yes there is a history to the word "Oriental" and at one time, that history and that word was acceptable, mainstream. However, over time, "Oriental" in America began to carry negative connotations. Just like Negro used to be a perfectly fine word back in the day, but now it just carries negative, outdated connotations. It has racist overtones. Oriental comes from the period where Europeans believed themselves to be the best, the center of everything. The Orient was a mysterious place, with strange customs that were to be respected but at the same time, still inferior.

    No matter if the word started out being Germanic, then had some latin roots, and then got switched around into the French language--it doesn't matter. The fact of the matter is, it is outdated in America.

    Actually, Oriental sounds more romantic and attractive. It brings images of Oriental civilization, Oriental savour, or even Orient Express. A specialist of Eastern cultures is called an Orientalist. It sounds refined rather than pejorative.
    Oriental as this is prejudiced in itself. Why is the Orient so "romantic or attractive?" It's like, you get these images of mystery, romance, ancient civilization, tradition, and that's not all of what Asia is, not in the least. It's positive stereotyping--and that can be bad as well. It's the same as "All Asians are good at math". Well just change it to "Asia is mysterious and traditional". And besides, Oriental is an ethnocentric term---just like Eastern. Eastern to what? Not to America! In the sceme of things, The "Orient" is actually the West.

    And Oriental in itself is a little irritating, because its' almost like referring to Asian folks as inanimate objects. Like "Oriental rugs or Oriental flavor ramen noodle soup" or something.

    Many of you guys might call me nit picky or something, but I just feel that I need to make sure that everyone feels comfortable in all situations. Many, many other Asians feel "Oriental" to be negative, and so do I.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keeni84
    It's positive stereotyping--and that can be bad as well. It's the same as "All Asians are good at math". Well just change it to "Asia is mysterious and traditional".
    It isn't the same. Being good at maths would be a fact (measurable and immuable), while being mysterious and traditional is just a matter of personnal impression, based on one's culture or sensitivity. The former is objective, the latter is subjective.

    And besides, Oriental is an ethnocentric term---just like Eastern. Eastern to what? Not to America! In the sceme of things, The "Orient" is actually the West.
    Well not so much a matter of ethnocentrism as a matter of language. English is the language that has developped in England, which is in Europe. From a European point of view (which naturally pervades European languages), East of Europe, you have first the "Levant" or "Near East" (Turkey, Syria, Israel...), then the "Middle East" (Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran...), then much further, skipping India ("the Indies"), the "Far East" (China, Japan, Korea...) or "Orient". This is inevitable if you speak English or any European language. Of course, it's ironical for Americans (of the whole continent) who all speak European languages (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch), and have to keep these words based on how European see the world. But the funniest of all is that Japanse say 中東アジア (chuutou ajia) for Middle East, which is the literal translation from European languages, thus also keeping the European point of view ! I guess it's the same in some other non European languages too (BTW, I wonder how one says "Middle East" in Arabic, Hebrew or Turkish ?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    the "Far East" (China, Japan, Korea...) or "Orient".
    Well if you're going to argue from the point of European languages, and the Romantic roots of the word 'Oriental', maybe you should point out that the Romans called the Middle East 'the Orient'. Hence, in Arrian's Anabasis Alexandri, Darius II is 'an Oriental despot' etc. Also, before arguing that anything East of Rome was 'Oriental', they didn't apply the word to the Near East, calling it Asia Minor. The 'Orient' for them probably began around Bactria and Sogdiana etc...

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    It isn't the same. Being good at maths would be a fact (measurable and immuable), while being mysterious and traditional is just a matter of personnal impression, based on one's culture or sensitivity. The former is objective, the latter is subjective.
    So what? It doesn't matter which one is objective or subjective. Imagine it like this. All Asians are good at math and culture from the Orient is mysterious and unique. All Negroes are good at sports and culture from the Dark Continent is primitive and strange. It's the same thing. Remember when Negro to describe black people and Dark Continent to describe Africa were okay things? (although I still see in some publications "Dark Continent" being used to describe Africa). Now it's not okay.

    And second of all, are you saying that "all asians being good at math" is an objective fact? Because if you are, you're worse off than I thought!!

    If it is your own personal opinion, that is fine. However, the word means much more than that. For instance, a white person may think that it is fine to call a black person "Colored". In that person's mind, she sees a black person as having color, and makes her own personal opinion that the person is "Colored". It is, in fact, accurate to call a black person colored. Black people have color! However, the history of the word "Colored" is very negative and offensive to blacks and others. The same with Oriental. You may feel that Asian culture is mysterious or whatever, and the word "Oriental" exemplifies your personal feelings, however the word carries a much more negative tone than your personal feelings, and it is offensive, not only to me, but also to many of the people it is in reference to.


    Well not so much a matter of ethnocentrism as a matter of language. English is the language that has developped in England, which is in Europe. From a European point of view (which naturally pervades European languages), East of Europe, you have first the "Levant" or "Near East" (Turkey, Syria, Israel...), then the "Middle East" (Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran...), then much further, skipping India ("the Indies"), the "Far East" (China, Japan, Korea...) or "Orient". This is inevitable if you speak English or any European language. Of course, it's ironical for Americans (of the whole continent) who all speak European languages (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch), and have to keep these words based on how European see the world. But the funniest of all is that Japanse say 中東アジア (chuutou ajia) for Middle East, which is the literal translation from European languages, thus also keeping the European point of view ! I guess it's the same in some other non European languages too (BTW, I wonder how one says "Middle East" in Arabic, Hebrew or Turkish ?)
    Um...isn't that my point? The fact of the matter is, the words you mentioned above are ethnocentric based on a European (not world) view, and this view has been passed around the world by imperialism, trade and colonialism.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keeni84
    And second of all, are you saying that "all asians being good at math" is an objective fact? Because if you are, you're worse off than I thought!!
    Don't misunderstand me. I never said I agreed with that. What I mean is that saying that "one person" is good at maths is a measurable and objective fact, while the other was not measurable and only based on one's imaginary. This said, one's imaginary can ebglobe a whole country or continent (even though it is very approximate, it's just a general impression one person has in their mind), but it would be absurd to classify a huge group of people on objective critria such as maths.

    Um...isn't that my point? The fact of the matter is, the words you mentioned above are ethnocentric based on a European (not world) view, and this view has been passed around the world by imperialism, trade and colonialism.
    I inquired, and it appears that even in Arabic, "Middle-East" translates literally as "Middle-East", even though most Arabs live there. It has become a political symbol. Anyway, there need to be a point of reference if you want to talk of east and west in a spheric world. The internationally accepted standard in matter of time and world maps is the Greenwich Meridian (so based on Central East London). This Euro-centric vision has become a world standard whether you like it or not.

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    can't see the problem

    Both Asia & Orient originally mean virtually the same: "where the sun rises".
    The usage all over the world of course differs. If you, Keeni, don't feel comfortable with this term, simply don't use it. But since a lot of people here are not from the US (BTW, are you sure it has a negative connotation in all of the US, or just in some parts of society?) & they have their own interpretations, why shouldn't they use the term Oriental?

    BTW, although it can be used for the Far-East, in Germany the connotation of Orient is usually Near-/Mid-East, e.g. Sheherazade's stories are "1001 stories from the Orient".

    Speaking of ethnocentrism: in Europe there is also the term Occident to describe Europe or the "Western" world. What would you make of that, Keeni?

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    It seems the U.S. is the only country where there's a stigma attached to the term "Oriental". All of my European friends use Oriental when talking about someone who's Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. Also, every native Japanese person I know and all of the native Chinese people I know don't have a problem with being referred to as Oriental. In fact, I've had some tell me that they'd rather be referred to as Oriental rather than Asian, because Asian is too broad of a term. I will also add that I was surprised to know that, because being American, I thought they would be offended by someone using "Oriental" to describe them.
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    [QUOTE]Both Asia & Orient originally mean virtually the same: "where the sun rises".QUOTE]

    So what? Good info, but so what?

    The usage all over the world of course differs. If you, Keeni, don't feel comfortable with this term, simply don't use it. But since a lot of people here are not from the US (BTW, are you sure it has a negative connotation in all of the US, or just in some parts of society?) & they have their own interpretations, why shouldn't they use the term Oriental?
    Of course the usage differs, as Maciamo has already explained countless times. And I don't need you to tell me what words I can and cannot use, thank you. If I don't feel comfortable using a certain word, then I won't use it. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. And I also never said that Maciamo or anyone else could not use the word. That word is socially acceptable and doesn't have as many negative connotations in their society as it does in American society. Scroll and reread, please. You might pick up a few things.

    It's funny because "Oriental" only seems to have a negative connotation in North America. I really don't see why.
    THIS is what I have been replying to for the past two posts. I'm merely trying to explain to Maciamo (and others) WHY I don't use the word, and to fill in any areas that they might not understand, like WHY it has negative connotations in America. Perhaps you skipped this part, no?

    Of course "Oriental" isn't going to be offensive in some circles in America. Do you know how many friends I've met in college who've called me "Colored" or "Negro" and I had to tell them to stop calling me that? It was perfectly acceptable for them to call me that, because in their cirlces, there wasn't anything offensive about it. They had no idea that the term was offensive. There are even Asian American/Asian folks who don't mind being called Oriental, and I respect that. However, I must respect that fact that many more Asian Americans don't like the word at all.

    [QUOTE]I inquired, and it appears that even in Arabic, "Middle-East" translates literally as "Middle-East", even though most Arabs live there. It has become a political symbol. Anyway, there need to be a point of reference if you want to talk of east and west in a spheric world. The internationally accepted standard in matter of time and world maps is the Greenwich Meridian (so based on Central East London). This Euro-centric vision has become a world standard whether you like it or not.QUOTE]

    That's what I've been saying this whole time. "Whether I like it or not"? Whoa, calm down. There is no other word in my language for "Middle Eastern" except "Arab" which is not accurate of the people living there, however there IS a more accurate and less-offensive word for Oriental which is Asian. Just like "Africa" means "dust" and was in reference to Tunisia, not Africa the continent, I'd much rather say "Africa" than the Dark Continent.

    Speaking of ethnocentrism: in Europe there is also the term Occident to describe Europe or the "Western" world. What would you make of that, Keeni?
    Just so you know, I don't use "Western" either, because it also carries an ethnocentric lable compatible to "white". And as we all know, all Westerners aren't white. But that's another subject that doesn't really deal with this conversation.

    I mean...just do a search on Yahoo! or something. Look up Asia/Asian then look up Orient/Oriental. Chances are for Asia you'll actually get something about the people and culture and for Orient/Oriental you get like history and rugs and artifacts or something.

    Originally Posted by Keeni84

    And second of all, are you saying that "all asians being good at math" is an objective fact? Because if you are, you're worse off than I thought!!


    Don't misunderstand me. I never said I agreed with that. What I mean is that saying that "one person" is good at maths is a measurable and objective fact, while the other was not measurable and only based on one's imaginary. This said, one's imaginary can ebglobe a whole country or continent (even though it is very approximate, it's just a general impression one person has in their mind), but it would be absurd to classify a huge group of people on objective critria such as maths
    So you think it's okay for me to say that all French culture is contradictory and strange? Or that France is a nasty, dirty country? That's my own personal opinion, that I get from French folks, and it's okay, because it's my "general impression" that I as "one person" have in my mind. What if your perception of the Orient (or someone's perception) of the Orient was not so good? What if Orient did not conjure up and image of "romance" but insteand one of savagery? Would it be okay, then?

    I'm not saying you can't use Orient or Oriental. The word, in your country, does not seem to have negative connotations (from what I hear from you).

    ANYWAY, you guys can say what you want, when you want it. For a Japanese board, I expected a little more understanding, and a lot less "preaching" but it's cool. I'm done with it, because it seems people would rather argue about Germanic endings and English etymology than the cultural implications of a word.

  24. #24
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    It seems the U.S. is the only country where there's a stigma attached to the term "Oriental". All of my European friends use Oriental when talking about someone who's Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. Also, every native Japanese person I know and all of the native Chinese people I know don't have a problem with being referred to as Oriental. In fact, I've had some tell me that they'd rather be referred to as Oriental rather than Asian, because Asian is too broad of a term.
    Isn't that the point? The word has negative connotations in the US. I'm not talking about any other place. I'm talking about America. "Colored" is still an acceptable word to use in SA but it's not in the United States. Why? Because there is more negativity attached to the word.

    Just like with Oriental. Maybe in Europe and other places around the world, Oriental does not have as much negative baggage as it does in the United States. It's not just about what the word literally means. It's the negative connotations of the word!

  25. #25
    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    I was just pointing out what I have heard directly from native Japanese or Chinese people. That's it. I wasn't saying it's right or wrong. It depends on whatever individual you're talking to and whether they believe it's negative or not. My last line says that I thought it was negative too and was suprised to hear that a lot of them didn't find it offensive. I'm always the diplomat...

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