August 21, 2019

At Home with Piles of Books

Hopefully, your tsundoku is not this big.
I was writing a post about Japanese loanwords for another blog that focuses on word origins, names and language oddities. A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word adopted from one language (the donor language) and incorporated into another language without translation.

We have loanwords in English from many other languages and a good number from Japanese, including karaoke, karate, tsunami, typhoon, teriyaki, sake, sushi, manga, anime, tofu, emoji, origami, shiatsu, ramen, and wasabi.

The new word for me is Tsundoku which I think might apply to some poets and writers. It's one of those words that beyond a meaning implies almost a lifestyle. The word is used to mean acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in your home without reading them or the actual "reading pile."

Readers and writers do tend to have these piles. I have one on my nightstand (mostly novels), one in the family room (many magazines) and two in my office (one with non-fiction; one with poetry books).

Most people with these piles intend to read those books. But sometimes the pile grows faster than our reading consumes.

Another Japanese loanword I recently discovered isn't meant to be used for poets or other writers, but I know a few who it describes. Otaku literally means “house" but in English and Japanese, the word is used to describe someone who spends a lot of their free time at home.

In the original Japanese usage that meant home playing video games, reading manga and watching anime. I know a few writers who I think spend too much time inside reading and writing and not enough time in nature or with people.

The word is not always considered negative. Fans of anime and manga use otaku to describe others who have similar interests.

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