This morning, the front page of the Times of India told me that a Japanese company, Dai Ichi, had bought a majority stake in Indian pharma major Ranbaxy.
To be precise, the headline said “India’s No 1 pharma co turns Jap.”
Shouldn’t that be Japanese? I thought Jap was as bad a slur as Paki or Nigger.
Got to office. Checked the wikipedia. This is what it says:
“Jap is a term originally used as an English abbreviation of the word "Japanese." Today it is regarded as an ethnic slur, though English-speaking countries differ in the degree they consider the term offensive. Japanese Americans have come to find the term controversial or offensive, even when used as an abbreviation. In the past, Jap was not considered primarily offensive; however, after the events of World War II, the term became derogatory.”
Here’s what Webster’s has to say: “Jap”
Function: noun or adjective
usually disparaging : japanese
I thought I’d check what an English dictionary (as opposed to the American Webster) says about the use of the term. Here’s Oxford’s take:
• noun & adjective informal, offensive short for JAPANESE
Coincidentally, The Times of India’s sister publication Mumbai Mirror used the derogatory word as well, while no other newspaper that I read used the term.
What worries me. Did Japanese inadvertantly become Jap because of the constraints in the length of the headline? The same way Supreme Court becomes Apex Court and Finance Minister Chidambaram becomes Chidu?
While one can understand the need for brevity, isn’t it important that all headline writers do a double-check on whether the abbreviated version could offend?