A member of which society

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In Japan, they have a word 社会人 Shakaijin which directly translated would mean someone in society (Shakai means society, Jin means person), however the meaning is actually someone who supports themselves financially. This means that the average undergrad student is not included, and nor is someone who is passed ‘working age’ that needs assistance in order to live.

So when you ask Japanese students to write an essay entitled ‘University students must not work part time’, their argument against it is often that working part time helps you build skills that you can use when you enter society, but they’re already in society, so I tell them to use ‘when you graduate’ instead.

Also instead of people saying that they didn’t finish high school, people say they became a member of society after junior high (about 15 years old in general).

I have since found out that, as suspected, this is a phenomena that is limited to Japan. As such, it gives people quite a shock when I explain that it doesn’t really make sense when you say it in English (and it probably shouldn’t make sense when you say it in Japanese, but it does).

It’s funny how something can be so universal in one language, and entirely non-existent in another.



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