Rock-paper-scissors redux

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Tue May 22 00:46:20 UTC 2007

Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
> Breen's current on-line Japanese-English dictionary does not show the
> translation "Negro" (although older dictionaries do), but rather
> "dark-skinned person, well-tanned person" and of course also "stagehand (in
> kabuki), prompter" (I suppose a person who traditionally is entirely
> covered in black cloth?). It may be that this word is becoming obsolescent
> as a racial term/slur.
On Honyaku, I got only one response about whether this word is
derogatory in Japanese, and it was from a native bilingual who said she
always thought of it in context of children coming back together after
spring break because kuro- means tanned (in addition to black) and bou
means child. The derogatory meaning may very well be waning.

Nevertheless, Jim Breen has just responded to the issue. He says:

Apropos of é»’ã‚“å  [kuronbou], it did have a "derog" tag until a month
ago. At that time I split up the é»’ã‚“å /黒奴 [kuronbou/kokudou] combined
entry, and the "derog" went with 黒奴 [kokudou]. Yes, it should still be
there for é»’ã‚“å  [kuronbou], and I have reinstated it. (As Koujien has
it: 色の黒い人を、あざけ゠をこめて呼ぶ語。 [iro-no kuroi-hito-o,
azakeri-o komete yobu go.])

I just checked the Monash site
(, and the
derog label is not yet entered, so perhaps there is a delay. Rather than
bothering JB about it, I will wait a few days and check back with him.
It seems this was just bad timing, though it's good this was caught.

As for the prompter meaning, I believe it comes from the black cloth
they wear, yes.

Benjamin Barrett
a cyberbreath for language life

The American Dialect Society -

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