Karoshi in Chinese

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Sat May 25 07:27:44 UTC 2002

It just seemed interesting that the same word was being borrowed
twice into English, once from China and once from Japan.

Because of the mutual use of characters, trying to figure out
whether the word originated in Japanese (using Sino-Japanese
characters) and was borrowed in China, originated in China and then
borrowed in Japan, or developed independently of each other would be
difficult. Another factor is kwaroshi (or gwaroshi), the Korean
version, though Google doesn't record it in English.

While guolao (word hard) has probably been used for some time in
Chinese, that doesn't mean that the word guolaosi has been around as
long. (Ditto for the other languages as well.)

Benjamin Barrett

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society
> >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).

> -- Doug Wilson

More information about the Ads-l mailing list