Kuso! - What NOT to say in Japanese - swearing, sex, and general rudness

You keep saying this like your wife is always going to be standing there when you talk to people about her. If she’s literally there, you’re likely to refer to her by name. A language learner could easily see “家内 is a word for my wife” and use it for a considerable period of time without any idea that anyone thinks it’s a problem and without the wife having any idea what is said about them (and maybe their wife doesn’t even speak Japanese).

I get that your point is “nothing bad is going to happen to you if you end up in that situation.”

Great. We get it.

But you introduced this concept by implying that we westerners invented the issue.


your husband is correct though. there’s people who use it, and it’s old-fashioned. young people don’t use boomer-language, not even in japan.

that doesn’t put it in the “be careful when you use this” category though.

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You’re making it sound like I unearthed an obscure translation of a Germaine Greer anthology. I provided a link to an article from a rather mainstream Japanese men’s magazine simply as a real life example illustrating the point others have made, namely that there is a conversation about language use, in this instance about terms denoting married women, in Japan that isn’t imposed on them by Westerners who – as you put it – are “judging Japanese people” and “interpret everything using Western categories”.


The fact that it is falling out of favor with Japanese people and isn’t just an issue that westerners have made up is the point, though. You keep moving the goalposts.

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if my wife stands next to me, i surely don’t call her なるみ when referring to her. i call her 連れ合い, and if i was 20 years older, i might just use 家内, unless my wife would feel uncomfortable being called that.

whoever you talk to though can’t possibly feel offended by a term that doesn’t describe them, but my very own wife, if she doesn’t even mind herself.

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again, i’m not moving goal posts. see how we foreigners are having this debate here on the forums, while rarely anyone ever brings it up in real life in japan? i won’t say nobody would ever, there’s always someone who feels offended by something, but in general it’s just such a non-issue, totally blown out of proportion by, yes, mostly foreigners.

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People have provided you evidence that the use of those kind of terms is being discussed by Japanese people. It isn’t just a foreigner thing.


nowhere did i say no japanese person talks about it ever.

i said it’s not an issue, and especially not in the grand scheme of things.

a minority of a small sample size of anonymous females asked feel the term “yome” makes them feel uncomfortable, we get it. that doesn’t mean the word is now on the “be careful when you use it” list, on par with てめえ or 野郎.

let’s treat data properly here.

and to add to this, what i also said is, that people who bring this up are more often than not westerners who have no clue what they’re talking about, and i stand by that point.

(fixed some typos and added the postscript)

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No one thinks that 家内 is comparable to てめえ or 野郎. We are only literally responding to your framing of it, introduced by you. Doing so also doesn’t constitute “going on a rampage.”


you might want to scroll through this thread again and re-read ~50 of the replies then.

I’m sorry but suggesting that this is a niche conversation that no one but a “small sample size of anonymous females” would even think about is simply disingenuous. A quick Google search is enough to find several other articles on the topic of how to address and/or speak about married women, specifically focusing on what is, or should be, considered appropriate, dating back to at least 2015:

TBS article from 2019: パートナーを呼ぶ言葉「妻・嫁・女房・奥さん・家内・カミさん」正しいのは?
Huffington Post article from 2019: 嫁さん、奥さん、妻…。呼び方を見れば、パートナーから自分がどう思われているかが、見えてくる
withnews article from 2015: 「嫁・主人」と呼んだら男女差別? いい呼び方ありませんか?

The latter coincidentally shows the number of views (over 140,000) so it seems to be a topic that more than a few Japanese people are interested in.


that’s not what i said. re-read please before we continue this conversation.

Yeah, OmukaiAndi is a real stickler about not misrepresenting people.


What was that right now? lol.
I won’t follow you down there, bud.
Have fun though, I’ll take a nap. I said what I had to say anyone, and will let everyone draw their own conclusions. Repeating this nauseam is a bit tiring.

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Look, I just joined the conversation in an attempt to make (what I thought would be) a productive contribution to the discussion by providing a few real life examples of what is being talked about in a variety of Japanese media. Take it or leave it.


In an interview I’ve watched/read about with an elder gay man that frequents variety shows, I know he personally chose to use okama, or something similar that is outdated/considered offensive, simply because he’s always identified that way. However, I know a lot of younger LGBT people in Japan tend to use English phrases such as “gay,” or “lesbian,” or “transgender.” I’ve seen Tokyo Pride flyers use those terms in katana, and even saw ゲイ written in sharpie at a table in a gay club in Tokyo. So it almost depends on the person (especially for lesbians in Japan!) what they prefer to use.


Thanks for sharing your insights! ^>^ It makes sense as well, importing the English words, and sort of starting anew (since the Japanese words have a history of prejudice connected to them). It sounds like a good rule of thumb to keep to the English terms unless you hear someone else use a different word to refer to themselves (making them okay to use in the situation at hand).

It was in Europe (international electronics company you know of), half of my colleagues were Japanese and the other half were Europeans, and a whole load of them were ex-pats that had returned from doing a few years in Japan. No-one in that category was offended by this (i.e. the 白人の外人). I would say 外人 was one of the most commonly used Japanese words amongst the 外人 (non-Japanese speakers). But like I said, I heard this from Japanese people too in communication to non Japanese, it was used freely and no feelings hurt ever.

These were all grown-ups so maybe that’s why :man_shrugging:

In any case - context IS everything. If I overheard a conversation and people were talking about me calling me a “silly sausage” in the UK I know they are thinking of me in an endearing way. If they call me a stupid prat it might sting a little, but in general “stupid” and “prat” are not entirely rude.

Of course I can foresee a playground scenario where bullies call kids 外人 because they are of mixed ethnic background, etc. But as an adult, we understand this is just used to describe a foreign person, like the word “foreigner” in English, eh. The default status of the word “foreigner” is not an offensive one, same applies to 外人.

Blows my mind someone could be offended by this. Might as well be saying the word “bum bum”.

Here is what Frank had to say about “words”…

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While this thread is about rude Japanese language, please note that the Community Guidelines still apply. Please edit your post to not include the F-word, お願いします.


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