Karoshi in Chinese

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Fri May 24 13:11:31 UTC 2002

>I thought it interesting in an article by the Washington Post
>(Philip P. Pan) that appeared in the Seattle Times today, the word
>guolaosi was used. It's translated there as "overwork death." I
>think it's been about 10 years since I first saw karoshi, the
>Japanese term, in Time magazine.

The two terms are really "the same" (i.e., the same characters), I guess. I
don't think this necessarily implies any recent adoption: certainly
"overwork" has been expressed in this way ("guolao" = "karou") in both
Chinese and [Sino-]Japanese for some time, and "death" of course is
universal (second only to "taxes" in this respect, as Asimov would say).

Here is a current "karoshi", used in the English-language edition of the
Japanese tabloid news:


Note that the English used here is quite polished, although sometimes
over-colloquial IMHO ... quite different from the bizarre quasi-English
traditionally seen in operating manuals accompanying Japanese electronic
equipment etc. Apparently real Englishmen etc. are hired to write these items.

-- Doug Wilson

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