https://www.duolingo.com/maiiashkii

Slanted Eye: Is This Term Offensive?

Hello, I was just wondering how an actual Japanese person feels about the term "Slanted Eye"? I'm Diné. In the Navajo language, Japanese people are referred to as "Anaalitsoosí," or "Slanted Eye." Is it racist? If so, what do you preferred to be called? I don't intend to sound ignorant. Please, enlighten me, so I may coin a better term because my people still use this phrase and I find it offensive. Ahéhee'! (Thank you!)

December 10, 2018

12 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Riplinked

Er, yikes.

Is this a term just for Japanese nationals or is it applied to Americans of Japanese descent as well? Full disclosure that I am white as the cliffs of Dover, but I can tell you for an absolute fact that reference to 'slant eyes' is considered highly offensive to Chinese and Japanese Americans. Even if it is limited to Japanese nationals, it's probably... still not great.

When in doubt, call people what they prefer to call themselves, I think! I don't know how well the Japanese sounds in "nihon-jin" lend themselves to Navajo, but as you may already know, the characters used to write it are "sun" and "origin", and it's sometimes referred to as "The Land of the Rising Sun". A word based on that would probably be way more respectful :D

December 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/maiiashkii

Yeah, it does apply to any person of Japanese descent, American or not. "Land of the Rising Sun" is actually a great name. A rough translation could be "Ha'a'aahjigo Bikeyah," or "Their Land Toward the East (where the Sun rises)" or even "Sháanii," the "Sun People." When I visited Washington once, some people thought I looked Chinese, so I find this sort of ironic lol xD

December 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CoconutMermaid

From a perfectly outrsider point of view, I think if you're looking for a new term to catch on, then "Shaanii" might be it, since it's shorter. I think people would be more likely to use a less wieldy term.

"Slanted eyes" may have been an easy descriptor back in the day when political correctness wasn't really a thing. But there are so many interesting things about Japan. The largest fish market in the world is there (which makes sense since they eat more fish than any other people). Ten percent of the world's volcanoes are there. The world's longest railway tunnel (and some of the most punctual trains in the world) is there. I have ZERO idea what inspiration any of those might be able to offer for the Navajo language. But my point is that there are so many other descriptors to choose from, and I think it's really cool that you're trying to find one. :-)

December 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/JoeyH

Great answer. This is an issue in American Sign Language as well (and I assume other sign languages but I only know ASL and American Deaf culture). Old signs for places like China, Japan, and Africa were centered too much on the physical differences between white and nonwhite people. The tendency today is to use the country's sign for itself in its own sign language and it definitely feels a lot better to use those signs!

December 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/iris13-09

they prefer to be called Japanese not slanted eye. that, especially in the Japanese culture would likely be extremely offensive. however specific people may have a preference of what you refer to them as

December 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/tiendunghl14

This is a term from the old days, when the new language was built, since then, people are still racist. But so far these words have been used even though society has reduced the distinction a lot

December 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/tiendunghl14

Humans now live for the present and for the future, so let's ignore them to unite more

December 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/maiiashkii

True. Thanks for your reply. We do need to understand each other more, and one way to do that is to learn each other’s language/culture. I love Japanese!!!!

December 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Jonathan864042

There are physical differences between east asians and westerners but I think terms like smaller/bigger eyes and smaller/bigger noses are a bit more politically correct. I've not used the term that you used but when I lived in China I heard a lot about how westerners have bigger eyes and bigger noses.

December 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/MK5Eu9

I don't know your race, but as a hint, you should think why or why not you think as racist.

For example...

Have you ever thought calling Swedish people having blue eyes offensive?

Have you though calling Italian/Spanish people being brunettes offensive?

Why yes or why not?

Have you thought calling African people having wooly hair offensive?

Have you thought Asian people having yellow skin offensive?

Why yes or why not?

Japanese people indeed realize they have darker skin compared to caucasian but don't feel it's yellow. Only caucasian calls it yellow. Also they realize that they have slanted eyes compared to caucasian.

What do you think why that happens? Why and why not do you think calling Japanese people having slanted eyes offensive?

Think about it.

December 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/WitlessBittern

A history of derogatory usage makes people sensitive to certain words, or words in certain contexts. There's nothing wrong with a person's middle finger, but when they hold it up at me, it definitely sends a message.

December 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/maiiashkii

I'm Native American, and some people often mistake me for an Asian lol ;P

March 1, 2019
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