I often hear the trivia that orangutan originally meant "forest person" in Malay, a term used by coastal dwellers to refer to people who lived in the interior of the island, but Europeans misunderstood it and it became the name of a primate.
This kind of communication failure between languages is not limited to the past. Recently, as a result of the spread of Japanese anime abroad, there is a word that has acquired a meaning different from its original meaning in Japanese. It is the word "senpai".
In Japanese, the word "senpai" simply means someone who joined the same school or workplace before you, and it does not include any romantic relationship. However, the word "senpai," which has spread through anime, seems to be used to mean someone who doesn't notice your feelings, something that Japanese people would never expect.
It is true that the senpai in anime are often people who are the object of admiration but whose feelings are not easily conveyed. In the first place, if the feelings were immediately communicated, the anime would be complete in a few episodes. At least in anime, feelings for senpai should not be immediately conveyed, and the process of conveying them should be enjoyable and harrowing. When you think about it, it's not entirely wrong that people from overseas interpreted senpai to mean someone whose feelings are not conveyed.
However, when the word "senpai" is uttered by a foreigner, I am not confident that I can accurately judge which meaning they are using. On the other hand, what about orangutans? If someone whose mother tongue is Malaysian or Indonesian, which are included in the Malay language family, he or she might think of "forest people" in the original sense of the word, or of "animals in the family Drosophilidae of the order Mammalia".
|Dec 2021 ANIMAL KANAGAWA|
|SIDELONG GLANCE YOKOHAMA ZOO|
December 28, 2021
Yokohama Zoorasia, Kanagawa
SONY ALPHA 7R II
EF135MM F2L USM