Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Just lynching"

I read an article about Japanese girl gangs that engaged in lynching. The article, about the world’s five most bizarre gangs, said that sukeban, or Japanese girl gangsters, modified their school uniforms, used yo-yos as weapons, and sometimes engaged in lynching.

I asked Itsumi about sukeban. She said that when she was in high school in the 80s the sukeban were the girls who drank and smoke and maybe shoplifted, but they weren’t really so bad. They were well-liked, and sometimes stood up for other kids against the school authorities.

I asked Itsumi if the sukeban ever did anything violent, and she said not really, by today’s standards. But sometimes there was conflict between different groups of sukeban or within the group, and they burned each other with cigarettes. I asked if there was anything else, and she said not really, just lynching.

“JUST lynching?” I said. Occasionally, she said, but it wasn’t too serious.
Japanese borrows many words from English, and sometimes uses them in novel ways. For example, in Japanese, a “mansion” is an apartment building with more than four floors. And “lynching,” it turns out, means several people beating one person up, and it’s usually not a very serious beating.

In English, unfortunately, lynching means “to put to death, especially by hanging, by mob action and without legal authority.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Goodness Kimi - that raised my eyebrows! I know about the novel use of the word 'mansion'(having lived in one in Tokyo), but this usage of 'lynching' is definitely new to me.

- EL