Travel expands one’s horizons … and one’s vocabulary

Hyouka_12_22

Holidaying in Japan can be quite the educational exercise, and it often requires no more than switching on the telly and tuning into the morning news. (A good habit to have whilst getting dressed for another day of sightseeing, if only to learn what the weather will be like.) In the course of the viewing, one tends to pick up certain words that keep being repeated due to their increased relevance at a particular moment in time.

For example, I was in the country during the 2014 Winter Olympics, and the pervasive coverage of Japan’s performance in Sochi led me to learn a new word: senshu (選手), in this context used as an occupational honorific after competing athletes’ names (e.g., Hanyū-senshu). A rather severe raft of snowstorms also took place during that period, frequent news reports of which added another word to my arsenal: ōyuki (大雪), referring to heavy snow.

I’ve just returned from my 12th holiday in Japan, accompanied not merely by bags of socially obligatory omiyage and a rather bad head cold probably caught from a fellow commuter on the train somewhere, but by yet another fresh item for my linguistic catalogue: jikidaitōryō (次期大統領), meaning “president-elect”.

I don’t think I need even mention the chap whose dominance of news reports during my stay has drilled this new word into my head. (^_^)

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