2010年3月1日月曜日

hyphens

If we lived in Australia I think my kids would be 'Japanese- Australian'.

Here they are most commonly referred to as "haafu". Yes, it does rile some people with it's connotations of less than completeness but I am fine with it and the girls seem to be, too.

But what do I call my kids when I'm in Japan speaking English?

Today I was chatting away in English and a (well-meaning) friend used the word 'half-breed' which just about had me splurt coffee across the table.

No. Half-breed doesn't work for me.

Mixed race? She enquired? Nope. Sounds too much like 混血 to me and that's not a nice word...

Half? Nope. Doesn't mean anything in English.

Well then what? She asked?

Hmmmm... what indeed?

I use bi-cultural myself but it was suggested that that is PC speak. A nothing kind of term that is so watered down as to have little meaning left.

There is a neat word Hapa used in Hawaii but I don't think that would work either- not widely known and especially what with it sounding the same as leaf and all...

Being as the girls are too young to ask I'm interested in other people's opinions.

So, what do you call yourself or your kids? What do others call you? Are there any words you really cringe at? Does it really matter?

16 件のコメント:

selena さんのコメント...

I'm haafu and usually just use that word here since it's the one most people understand. A few aware people say "mixed" to me, that sounds okay too. My grandma made a push for "double" but that never stuck. In English I say Japanese American.

illahee さんのコメント...

i use the word half, i think we use it in the US. i mean, i went to school with kids who were half black, half japanese, half filipino....

Melanie さんのコメント...

we haven`t really had to use any sort of term yet. Whenever I say she is American, DH corrects me and says she is human.

Lulu さんのコメント...

I use the word half too when speaking English. Or I say half Japanese half Australian- I think it is because my two best friends here are "half" and they refer to themselves as "half"....

It annoys me when people say in Japanese "yapari haafu ga chigau ne" although I know the probably mean nothing mean by it.

I like bi-cultural too.

Claire さんのコメント...

I tend to use "biracial" in English, but also try and distinguish between biracial, bicultural, and bilingual. My kids are all three, whereas my brother's children, for example, are biracial (Chinese/English) but not bilingual or bicultural. I don't like "half" in Japanese but it seems we're stuck with it, and the kids themselves don't mind.

Brenda さんのコメント...

Interesting topic! I'm enjoying everyone's comments. If someone called my child a half-breed, I think I would probably spew my coffee across the room too (if not at that person, depending on who they were and if I could get away with it or not). I'm pretty sure when I was in America, I used half-Japanese. Once in awhile people would ask me, "Is your daughter half Asian?" or "part Asian?" Because in America everyone is "part something". I would answer that she is half-Japanese.

Myrnie さんのコメント...

My (caucasian) sister married a man from Hong-Kong. She always calls her kids "mixies" when talking with friends, especially friends with kids with similar heritage. I just call them my niece and nephew :) It might be a Chinese term, since most of her friends are familiar with it. If I need to, I just say my brother-in-law is from Hong Kong.

Xana さんのコメント...

I always have trouble with this, because I am genetically haafu, which makes my girls genetically kuataa or sureekuataa (depending on your point of view, I suppose), though culturally haafu. When people say "haafu kaiwaii nee!" meaning the kids, I sometimes preen and say thank you as a joke, but only if they've seen my mother (otherwise they just think I am crazy), and then they remember. I take after my dad. Anyway, I sometimes use "international" or "bicultural", but talking to other people who live in Japan I usually use "haafu". I was really struck, watching the Olympics this time, how much many more multinational and multiracial atheletes there were even compared to 4 years ago. When I was applying to colleges it was always "check one of the above" on forms. We had a multiracial group called "the other box." Times are changing, hooray!

Slime さんのコメント...

We say "mixed" or "bi-racial". It used to make me angry years ago when we'd fill out applications for Gabi and her choices were only "White" or "Black". Most forms have graduated to offering "Other" as a choice these days, still not satifactory in my book, but I guess it'd be impossible to offer every possible combination.

Half-breed def. has an ugly ring to it. I like "mixy", cute!

Semsavblanc さんのコメント...

This has been eating away at me all day and finally on the drive home the word came to me - Eurasian. I think it sounds lovely and exotic. Why do you have to describe your children as being a particular race anyway? It gets so complicated.

thefukases さんのコメント...

wow thanks for all the ideas!

I hadn't thought about the different connotations of biracial, bicultural and bilingual....

selena- Interesting that your grandmother wanted double too. I hear that a lot but assumed it was a new thing (no offence to your grandmother!)

illahee- I agree I would use half Japanese or half Australian but I'm not sure straight half would mean anything....

Melanie- wit till your kids correct you! Mine seem to confuse language with ethnicity and insist mummy's Japanese and Australian too but Daddy's only Japanese. ;P

Lulu- my hackles go up as soon as anyone says 'yappari' at all! And everything western our kids do is prefaced by 'yappari' regardless of how many Japanese kids like it too. Meg once chose a an-butter sandwich over takikomi-gohan and we got a chorus of 'yappari sandwich da ne' I had to point out that my mum would be way more likely to make takikomi gohan than an anko sandwich!

Brenda- it was K the bosses wife and she really didn't mean anything by it I think she thought it was a translation of haafu. Don't worry I set her straight. ;P

Myrnie- mixies is cute and avoids the half is less than whole issue nicely.

Xana- it must be interesting being the bi-cultural mother of bi-cultural children. I don't understand the race box- is it for minority based scholarships? I'm pretty sure the only race based question in Australia is Aborigine or Torres Strait Islander and *I think* that's because they get higher study allowance than other Australians.

Slime is the black OR white thing a hangover from the one drop rule? (I may have that huuugely wrong please don't be offended, I am very vague on US history). I would imagine you must get a number of intrusive questions when you go out as a family. Now your kids are older how do they deal with it? Mine still cringe at the attention. I keep talking up the advantages hoping to arm them against bullying with a bit of pride and confidence but no luck yet...

Semsavblanc- Eurasian! That's a great word! And it avoids having to spell out what the other half is. That's what I like about haafu- it's a nice big umbrella term that covers a lot more people than Japanese Australian. Eurasian.... Geographically speaking I'd like a word like NorthAmEurAustralasian of course but.... ;P

Aunt LoLo さんのコメント...

Myrnie's sister, checking in! Yes, my hubs is from Hong Kong. I lived there for a few years before I met him, and became fluent in "Hong Kong-ese". The "mixie" term is from Hong Kong (they really almost speak more Chinglish than anything else!). If you want to be formal in Hong Kong, my children are "wan hyut" (混血? I can't read. LOL)

When my first daughter was born, my (Taiwanese born) doctor told me that the proper term here is "Eurasian." I like that! Hapa also works...most people on the West Coast know what that is.

Katrina さんのコメント...

I'm coming out of lurking cos this is a great topic. I love your blog by the way and can relate to so much of it!
anyway,my australian best friend and i usually use 'international kids' or sometimes 'mixed kids'.
I kind of have issues with the term haafu but have learned to accept it as i dont think many Japanese people realise the connotations behind it, and don't mean anything bad by it. (implying you are only 'half' a person, or even 'half' japanese -as if you can never really be fully japanese-when really you are BOTH Japanese and Australian right?)
its easy to use the term haafu though and my kids dont seem to have any problem with it.
I totally get the annoying yappari's too !
whenever they do something really 'western' its 'yappari ne' and if they do something really japanese like eat natto, mochi, or sit in seza its 'eh? sugoi ne!' well at least from people who dont know us very well.
i like that term mixies though..thats cute!

Xana さんのコメント...

The "race" box on college applications was (I think) because schools were trying to increase and/or brag about their diversity. But there was also a race box on the US census which required checking ONE box (last time I was on it was in 1990, someone else probably has more recent info). Of course, I would hope these days with a President who needs more than one box, the census has evolved.

In CT (which had a very low Asian population), when I was growing up, people assumed my mother was my nanny. Now when they see her with me and the girls, clearly she is my MIL! When we quibble in public, I even get sympathetic comments from other women. But when I am not with my mother in the US, everyone assumes my daughters are adopted.

My mother's generation of Japanese Americans in Seattle still refers to us (including their own children and grandchildren) as "ainoko" which totally horrified me once I learned enough Japanese! My mother doesn't speak Japanese, so she had no idea.

achan さんのコメント...

You've had me thinking for days, this is such a great topic. I rang my mum to see how she describes us and she said that she just says 'her grandkids' and if anyone asks then its 'their father is Japanese'.

I suppose to us, from Sydney where everyone is something else, it really isn't a question anymore. Take my family: mother is scottish, hubby Japanese, neice is half Tongan, brother in law is Indian and sisters boyfriend is greek!!!! Everyone has to explain!.

Ask my 5 year old though and she is ONLY Japanese.

I hate half cast and half breed. I now understand why Aboriginal Australians have always resented this term. They are people like us all.

thefukases さんのコメント...

Aunt Lolo- thanks for the Hong Kong/ Taiwan perspective. Eurasian is growing on me... I don't know wan hyut but the kanji I used have the meaning mix/ blend/ confuse and blood. The first kanji is used in things like traffic congestion and isn't really a positive image...

Katrina- thank you (blush) international kids- I like that, too. Images of them spanning the globe. Yup, like that. and useful when you don't know where the non-Japanese parent is from (a problem with hyphens and I think the reason haafu is so easy...) I agree there is little Japanese understanding of it and I really think a long almost monocultural history (or at least not acknowledging other cultures) has helped create this. In the 10 years or so I've been here I really feel there are more and more international people in the news/ media- Yu Darvish, Becky, Uemura Ai etc etc. Hopefully this will have a positive roll on effect.

Xana- thanks for explaining the tick box thing.

Wow a simple family day out is certainly an adventure for you guys, huh? Meg looks quite Japanese (especially to Australians from the predominately white rural area I'm from) and I get the adopted questions. Amy has quite fair hair and causes no end of stares if it is just K and Amy walking around together.

Ainoko- ouch! I wonder if this is a generational thing, too? My Brazilian-Japanese neighbour spoke no Japanese until she moved here 20 years ago but always referred to mixed kids as ainoko. She was horrified when I set her straight that that wasn't going to fly with me and my kids!

a-chan- great minds- I asked my mum what she says and she explains it the same way you do. Mind you she carries around their 7-5-3 kimono photo so I'm guessing she's pretty proud of their Japanese side as well! I agree it's easier in Australia, too. I have a Chinese Aunt, a South African Aunt, a Croation cousin in law etc etc and my dad is Canadian so I guess I'm kinda half, too huh?

My 6 year old is definitely 'ONLY Japanese' around Japanese people. At work (where everyone speaks English) she is all 'Australia this, Australia that'. I look forward to watching her sense of identity develop and change over time. If she ever does the pigeon toed teeter totter walk thing I might think again though!