The content of this chapter is related to that of the preceding one. As the two treat different examples from different points of view, both were chosen for translation and inclusion in the present volume. However, portions covered in the proceeding chapter and examples irrelevant to the theory have been omitted. Here the author deals with three kinds of group language: argot, occupational language and slang. Although the examples are taken from daily events, the theoretical treatment is noteworthy. Japanese studies of slang and group jargon since have been carried out within the framework of this analysis.
Because this article was originally written and published in Japanese in 1956, some of the data described is no longer current, but it serves as a reminder and a record of the situation in Japan after the war.
People may sometimes have noticed clerks in the Mitsukoshi department store saying in a low voice, “I’m just going to kiza”, and then leaving their counters. However, a person noticing this would no doubt be at a loss as to what kiza referred to. At Mitsukoshi it is an argot term for ‘lunch’. In addition to this, shinkaku means ‘toilet’, onari, ‘a customer’ and kiinotsu, ‘shoplifter’.
Not only Mitsukoshi, but the Shirokiya and Takashimaya department stores as well have each developed their own special argot for ‘lunch’ and ‘toilet’, ‘customer’ and ‘shoplifter’. This is to avoid any unpleasantness which might be caused to the customer by the direct use of words like these.
In addition to the existence of this kind of argot, in some department stores employees are directed to use a specific type of language in dealing with customers. For example, instead of the expression Ne ga takai (‘The price is expensive’), in one store they are instructed to use O-nedan ga haru, which involves an honorific expression of the word ne, and instead of inaka no hito (‘a person from the country’) and onoborisan (‘a country person visiting Tokyo’), which are ruled out because of their “country bumpkin” nuance, they are instructed to use chihô no o-kata, ‘a gentleman (lady) from a rural area’, in which the honorific term o-kata is used instead of the neutral hito.
This kind of “store language” is designed to have a pleasant effect on customers, in the hope of contributing, however discretely, to attracting more customers to the store. It is an absolute necessity for new people joining the staff of such stores to study this argot and “store language”, and the Mitsukoshi department store reputedly provides one week of practical language training for all new