The most shared article of the day on Yahoo! Japan was the news that Kinki University has finally realised the connotations of the term “kinki” in English, and therefore has decided to change the English version of its name from “Kinki University” to “Kindai University”.
The university remarked that they were now aware that “kinki” sounded too much like the term “kinky”, meaning that to English speakers it sounded like the kind of place where you could get a very special education. Let’s hope enrollment numbers of foreign students don’t fall as a result.
But do you think the name change was really necessary? And will the Tokyo Institute of Technology follow suit?
From Yomiuri Shimbun:
It Meant “Pervert”…Kinki University Changes English Transcription Of Name
On May 20, Kinki University announced that the English transcription of its name up to now — “KINKI UNIVERSITY” — would be changed to “KINDAI UNIVERSITY” when the new departments for foreign languages and international studies are scheduled to open in April 2016.
“KINKI” has virtually the same pronunciation as the English term “KINKY”, which is used to mean “abnormal” and “strange”, and the university explained that as the university advances its internationalism, the name is being changed to prevent misunderstandings.
The current English transcription of the university’s name has been used since 1949 when the university was founded, but a name change has been investigated over the course of the past year along with the plans for new departments. It was decided that the term “Kindai”, which is the abbreviation that been taken up within Japan for the university, so that it would not be a hindrance to plans to increase the acceptance of foreign exchange students. Signs and printed stationary, as well as uniforms of sports clubs and so on will also be changed to the new English transcription over time.
Shiozaki Hitoshi, dean of the university, stated at a press conference that “It also means ‘pervert’, and there have been times when I’m at conferences abroad where I’ve been laughed at when I introduced myself. “Kinki” is a word that has a history of being the name for the region, but in order for us to really advance our own internationalism, we have no choice but to change the English transcription of our name”.
The new department is being created with the aim of nurturing international talent, and will be founded at the East Osaka campus as the university’s 14th department. As well as working with Berlitz Japan (Tokyo) who run language schools, to establish a practical English curriculum, they intend to make one year of study abroad obligatory for students after the first year. The university will apply to the Ministry of Education for approval to institute these changes within the year.
Comments from Twitter:
Um, this is pretty awful, but isn’t it for the best if the band Kinki Kids change the group’s name?
We don’t need to go so far to flatter English speakers…Even if we get laughed at, I think that we should raise global recognition of the name by just responding that “to laugh at a historical region is rude”, and then explain the historical origins of the region’s name.
So it looks like Kinki means “pervert” in English, so I wonder if the KinKi Kids will be OK.
Good job Minky Momo wasn’t called “KINKY MOMO”! Hah, I wonder if it’s for a similar reason that in the West Minky Momo was called “Gigi”?
So it seems like word KINKY, which is a homonym for KINKI meant that huh…Still, if we start caring about that then places using Kinki in their name will all become extinct. Kinda feel like we’re being too careful about this…
I do understand, but I guess true internationalism (in this case that of other people) is when people have the intelligence to be able to distinguish between the two even when the pronunciation of a word in a foreign language takes a different meaning in your own language.
Isn’t this just hyper-consciousness of globalization (read the English-language Empire)…The fact that the pronunciation of a certain word has a different meaning in a foreign language doesn’t mean that we should refrain from using it, even if it is an opportunity for encounters between languages.
In international matches the KINKI University T-shirts that the students wear are always really popular with the foreign athletes, they’re all like “Swap shirts with me!” w.
It’s probably a serious issue for the person who gets laughed at when they introduce themselves. Saying that, I wonder if global expansion will get more difficult for the “KinKi Kids”? (笑)😅💦➡️Cos it means “pervert”…
I dunno, wasn’t it pretty much a fact that there were a lot of pervs among the students at Kindai? As a graduate of the university I guess that even includes me (masochistic)
Oh yeah, there was that movie called “Kinky Boots”.