[Ads-l] "hafu"

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Sat May 30 17:24:03 UTC 2015

An article in today's NY Times (May 30, 2015, "A" section, p. 4),
headlined *"Biracial
Beauty Queen Challenges Japan’s Self-Image"*, about a Japanese beauty queen
whose father is a black American, uses the Japanese word "hafu", which
describes such mixed-race Japanese.

"Ms. Miyamoto is one of only a tiny handful of “hafu,” or Japanese of mixed
race, to win a major beauty pageant in proudly homogeneous *Japan*
And she is the first half-black woman ever to do so.


These hafu — a term that comes from the English word “half” — have gained
increasing social prominence, especially in sports and on television."

 In this story, the term is carefully defined and explained, but her
appearance in an upcoming world beauty pageant may well lead to its being
assimilated into current English.  And in any event, it had appeared in the
Times about 8 years ago without definition, although he context made the
meaning clear.

"At seventeen, Virginia Sachiko Kindwall wore pearls around her neck and
diamonds in her ears, combat boots, and mostly black clothing. She was a
*hafu*, a dark-haired Faye Dunaway from a punk-rock remake of *Bonnie and
Clyde." *

>From "Exit A", by Anthony Swofford, published January 14, 2007, in what
seems to have been a regular feature at the time of excerpts from new

Not in the OED.


George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998..

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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