Ai Nihon 愛日本: What’s Japanese according to Google?

- December 5, 2012 - 0

Japanese is jap-uh-neez for Brits while Americans prefer calling it ja-pan-nees. It could be a noun or an adjective and of course, everyone knows that. Forget about those shizzle lexicons describing what Japanese is. Japanese are indeed in Japan. And that’s true.


Google’s search engine tells us a lot about Japanese using algorithms to generate possible results. Try searching Japanese on Google and you will realize that Japan appears as the first search result while Japanese language and Japanese people follows third and forth (at time of posting, that’s true out of 1,670,000,000 results). That is systematic and whole in definition – country first followed by language and its people. Compare this result with a search on the term American or British. And you would realize the vast discrepancy in results. But that’s the truth computational results revealed, both national carriers appear first in search followed by their people and country.


There are two differences between these searches based on the top three results. You wouldn’t find language result in both American and British perhaps they both speak English. And Japan Airlines didn’t appear anywhere on Japanese search, well Japanese Airlines doesn’t exist!

What’s revealing is the fact that both American Airlines and British Airways appear as an identity of their people or characteristic relating to the nation. Many would doubt this reasoning with assumption that search results are based on keywords entered, missing ‘s’ would make a big difference.


Looking further into Google tools, try using Google books Ngram viewer to search history of the word Japan and Japanese in English books dated as early as 1500. These search revealed that the word Japanese first appeared in English books as early as 1570 while Japan first appeared around 1610. Amazingly, its people and culture first appear in words for knowledge of others before the name is documented.


Looking at the analysis of graphs, the term Japanese dominate in all years except from 1650 to the early 1800. Well, that would need further explanation and deeper exploration beyond Google.

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