One Japanese gentleman – Hoji Takahashi has sued NHK in Japan for 1.4 million yen, citing “mental distress” caused by an excessive use of words borrowed from English. Mr. Takahashi is a member of a group that supports the primacy of the Japanese language, in Japan.
As found in Korean, Japanese does have loan words from English. Loan words can take different forms in South Korea, for instance, if you walk into a franchise coffee shop, you will find signs for cinnamon that instead of reading “계피 가루” (a perfectly acceptable Korean term) will read “신아먄 퍼아드” which is simply “cinnamon powder” phonetically rendered into Hangul. There are many words from English that can be found in just the same manner: 헤어 스타일 (hair style),피트니스센터 (fitness Center), etc. and so on.
Some of these words are technically a sublanguage (Konglish), existing neither in Korean or English, for example: Officetel 오피스텔 (Office + Hotel). Even in other countries such as Germany, whose own language has influenced English with its own loan words (haus), how has experienced a reverse influence, for example sogh-ee (sorry). Instead of using the comparable word in German, Entschuldigung. Per one article from National Public Radio,
‘sorry’ is quite a useful way of apologizing because it doesn’t commit you to very much. It’s very easy to say ‘sorry.’ The closest equivalent would be Entschuldigung, which is, ‘I apologize, . . . That’s really like admitting that you’ve done something wrong, whereas with saying ‘sorry,’ you could also just be expressing empathy: ‘I’m so sorry for you, but it has nothing to do with me.’
“Sorry” is one of more than 10,000 American words Germans have borrowed since 1990. Language experts here say English is the main foreign language that has influenced German over the past six decades. This cultural infusion is pervasive, with English used by journalists, by scientists and even at the highest levels of government.
“Germany doesn’t really have a very purist attitude to language — unlike France, where you have an academy whose task it is to find French alternatives for borrowings; or if there is a new technology that needs to be named, then the academy will find a name. . . (cite)
Other countries like France do have an official body to police their language (L’academie Francais), founded in 1635. “Le walkman” used to be common in France but the academy decided a proper French word was needed, thus Le Baladeur was born and use of “Le walkman” in a news advert could gain a business a fine from the academy.
According to Holger Klatte, this use of loan words and influence from English is a problem:
“Languages do tend to affect one another, but the influence of English in Germany is so strong that Germans are having a hard time advancing their own vocabulary, . . . The second world war and Nazi times have led Germans to downplay the importance of their language, unlike the French, Finns and Poles — they promote their languages a lot more than we do.” (cite)
I also note that there is a divergence between the Korean used by the ROK and DPRK. The DPRK, in its political quest for racial purity, excludes the use of Chinese or English loan words and, as such, contains up to forty percent different vocabulary that is unique to the north, as opposed to its cousin in the south.
Loan words – aberration or growth? It is difficult to tell.