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Old 2012-05-18, 04:22   Link #61
Qilin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldlight View Post
It seems that is the case. Just as it is here, there is an ongoing "war of words" in many other places regarding the nature of language. I think the first part (before the W3C section) of this blog post best describes the two sides without being overly biased. Our dispute over the usage of "shounen" in English is just one of the many language usage skirmishes being fought in other places. Ironically, "shounen" hasn't even been accepted as an English term yet and we are here disputing over how it should be used in English.
Yep. That's an apt way of defining our current disagreement.

I don't pay attention to statements as to "how language ought to be used". I don't believe in a metaphysical standard as to how language should be. I don't believe that language should be stagnant. And most of all, I don't believe in imposing your own language game onto anyone else's.

The development of language, for me, can be likened to natural selection, as outdated and obsolete words and meanings are discarded in favor of more appropriate ones relative to the given context.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tempester View Post
There are already words which aptly describe the kind of manga that the ignorant English-speaking masses tend to relate shounen to. Examples would be "battle manga", "competitive manga", and "shounen battle manga". The paramount question for those who wish to change the meaning of "shounen" in English: what word do you propose to replace the original Japanese meaning which is a manga that is published in a shounen magazine?
If you've read my earlier posts, I never said that the word "shounen" was the most apt word for the purpose it was being put to. But in the end, consensus is the only thing that will matter. So in evaluating the alternatives you mentioned, are they even more widely used? Are more importantly, will they stand the test of time?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
You might be surprised. I recall how some time ago there was a post up on this forum talking about how Japanese anime fans had translated many Anime Suki posts into Japanese in order to talk about what we were saying.

I'm also pretty sure there's some Japanese anime fans on this site who are more or less fluent in both English and Japanese.
They're the minority, meaning that they hold very little sway on how terms are used. Saying that the two communities have very few opportunities to interact is not the same as saying they have none. Whether or not there are users here who can understand Japanese, the fact remains that they aren't enough to make the two communities homogenous. And as I said, standardization is simply a natural consequence of homogeneity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
depends on the circumstances. If you're taking a word from a language that's not used a whole lot any more in everyday conversation (Latin, say) and indigenizing its meaning, that's one thing. But if you're taking a word from a language that's still widely in use in certain parts of the world, then how that word is used by speakers of that language is what's most important, imo. That's what I mean by "respecting how they choose to use it".

We English-speakers don't take "déjà vu" from the French and do whatever we want with it. That's because the French language is still alive and well and using "déjà vu" itself. So English-speakers understand "déjà vu" the same way the French do.
Speak for yourself. English isn't the only language in the world.

I can name at least one currently used language that adopts words from English, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese while indigenizing the meanings for the culture's context.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
You sure about that? Coldlight, Vexx, totoum, Tempester, and I all seem to be disagreeing with you here.

I don't see a lot of people agreeing with you on the idea that we can basically just disregard what the term "shounen" means to the Japanese people themselves.
Well, if that was true then this argument would be meaningless.

One of the main assumptions I made in my arguments is that the use of the term, "shounen", as a genre is widely practiced within the English-speaking anime community. If you can indeed confirm that such is not the case, then I don't mind folding.

Or maybe you're saying the opposing opinions expressed so far are somehow representative of the entire English-speaking anime community?
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Last edited by Qilin; 2012-05-18 at 04:35.
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Old 2012-05-18, 05:24   Link #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qilin View Post
But in the end, consensus is the only thing that will matter. So in evaluating the alternatives you mentioned, are they even more widely used? Are more importantly, will they stand the test of time?
Just look at anime news network,in their encyclopedia (that's used by quite a lot of people) when you look up the genre of an anime "shonen" won't ever be listed.I'm french and I've just checked a few french website such as animeland,manga-news and manga-sanctuary and they clearly differenciate demographic and genre as well.

Of course there are others like myanimelist and baka-updates that do list shonen (and any other demographics as well) as genres,I won't deny that but to me there is no consensus yet.
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Old 2012-05-18, 05:47   Link #63
Qilin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by totoum View Post
Just look at anime news network,in their encyclopedia (that's used by quite a lot of people) when you look up the genre of an anime "shonen" won't ever be listed.I'm french and I've just checked a few french website such as animeland,manga-news and manga-sanctuary and they clearly differenciate demographic and genre as well.

Of course there are others like myanimelist and baka-updates that do list shonen (and any other demographics as well) as genres,I won't deny that but to me there is no consensus yet.
Well, there will always be dissenters, but as long as the majority accepts its usage as such, the term will remain. Now, if the ones who use the term "incorrectly" aren't in the majority, then there's no point in worrying since the term will eventually fade into obscurity. It's like natural selection, but with words instead of organisms.

Remember that language and the words that comprise it are merely mediums for the purpose of communication. From a pragmatic point of view, it is more efficient to make use of terms with meanings that are shared by more people within the group in which it will be used.

Again, this all hinges on the assumption that the ones who refer to "shounen" as a genre comprise the majority (or at least a significant portion) of the English-speaking anime community.
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Old 2012-05-18, 06:01   Link #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
It depends on the circumstances. If you're taking a word from a language that's not used a whole lot any more in everyday conversation (Latin, say) and indigenizing its meaning, that's one thing. But if you're taking a word from a language that's still widely in use in certain parts of the world, then how that word is used by speakers of that language is what's most important, imo. That's what I mean by "respecting how they choose to use it".

We English-speakers don't take "déjà vu" from the French and do whatever we want with it. That's because the French language is still alive and well and using "déjà vu" itself. So English-speakers understand "déjà vu" the same way the French do.
Actually, there are many cases where the english meaning differs substantially from the original meaning of a loanword.

For instance, in English, Sombrero means a festive mexican wide brimmed hat, in Spanish it's just a generic hat. Entrée in English means a main course, in French, it's the course preceding the main course (IE appetizer). Baguette in English means a long french style bread, in French it also refers to any long thin object, for instance a magic wand is a "baguette magique". In english Portmanteau means two words being joined together. In French it's a type of coathanger. En English mousse is a type of foamy desert, in French, it's any type of foam.

It's not unusual for loanwords to differ from their original, or to refer to a specific subset when the original refered to a generic category.
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Old 2012-05-18, 08:17   Link #65
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Well, at one endpoint we have "words mean what I want them to mean" blergle minber phit. At the other end we have "its a dead language and we kill anyone who changes a single bit in using it". So we're pushing back and forth on where the line is I suppose.

However, we have a word here that is well-defined within the primary community and misused by another community and there *is* considerable overlap between the two communities thanks to globalization and the internet, not to mention the number of people who speak/read both languages. Being on the same page is a better idea than letting the misuse get out of hand (which frankly, it only seems to be a problem with that subset of the outer community who are fans of the *subset* of what shounen publishers offer). So, basically, when someone asserts "what happened to shounen, it has all these other things in it" they're in some respect trying to remove something that was there in the first place - its essentially like wondering who all these "non red haired non green eyed" people who are claiming to be Irish.
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Old 2012-05-18, 08:26   Link #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
Actually, there are many cases where the english meaning differs substantially from the original meaning of a loanword.

For instance, in English, Sombrero means a festive mexican wide brimmed hat, in Spanish it's just a generic hat. Entrée in English means a main course, in French, it's the course preceding the main course (IE appetizer). Baguette in English means a long french style bread, in French it also refers to any long thin object, for instance a magic wand is a "baguette magique". In english Portmanteau means two words being joined together. In French it's a type of coathanger. En English mousse is a type of foamy desert, in French, it's any type of foam.

It's not unusual for loanwords to differ from their original, or to refer to a specific subset when the original refered to a generic category.
Unlike those words that might have differentiated from their original meaning but are generally accepted, is the word "shounen" really accepted as a genre? I have my doubts that everyone does though.

As for your examples, there are some flaws.

Sombrero might be a originally based off a spanish word but the hat that we are talking about originates from Mexico. So it doesn't matter if it's just any hat in Spain, the hat that we associate with somebrero is based off the version from Mexico.

Baguette simply means stick. The bread is called like that because of it's shape, so it's just a name and i would not call it a different meaning. It's the same for croissant though, because that bread has also it's name originated from it's shape.
The dessert mousse is simply a name based of the original french word because of it's shape and texture.
Those food examples are in my opinion just names rather than words that are misused from their original meaning.


edit:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qilin View Post
Again, this all hinges on the assumption that the ones who refer to "shounen" as a genre comprise the majority (or at least a significant portion) of the English-speaking anime community.
Define the majority. I don't think there is enough proof at this moment to call the people who think Shounen is a genre a majority

Last edited by hyl; 2012-05-18 at 08:47.
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Old 2012-05-18, 09:07   Link #67
Qilin
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As a side note, I found this really good article on the descriptivist and prescriptivist paradigms in looking at language. It's a really nice read for anyone interested in the analysis of language.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
However, we have a word here that is well-defined within the primary community and misused by another community and there *is* considerable overlap between the two communities thanks to globalization and the internet, not to mention the number of people who speak/read both languages. Being on the same page is a better idea than letting the misuse get out of hand (which frankly, it only seems to be a problem with that subset of the outer community who are fans of the *subset* of what shounen publishers offer). So, basically, when someone asserts "what happened to shounen, it has all these other things in it" they're in some respect trying to remove something that was there in the first place - its essentially like wondering who all these "non red haired non green eyed" people who are claiming to be Irish.
Quite frankly, all that matters to me is if the "misuse" of the term is widespread within the community. If it is, and people are still capable of communicating with one another despite that, there's very little point in scoffing and belittling those who do so.

Oh sure, there are lots of sentiments that muddle up the whole issue. The whole thing about the ones from whom the term originated from, "respect" for the term's original usage, and such... But really. Words aren't sacred.

Asserting that a word means whatever I want it to mean is different from asserting that a word means whatever a group (or at least a large portion of it) intends it to mean when they communicate with one another.

If you're talking about nationalities now, there are many different ways of defining someone's "nationality" depending on context. First, there's always taking a genetic perspective (lineage). Then, there's also looking into mannerisms and culture. Then, there's also birth place.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hyl View Post
Unlike those words that might have differentiated from their original meaning but are generally accepted, is the word "shounen" really accepted as a genre? I have my doubts that everyone does though.
A consensus isn't strictly necessary. As long as a large enough group shares symbolic meanings associated to a term, that is enough.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hyl View Post
Define the majority. I don't think there is enough proof at this moment to call the people who think Shounen is a genre a majority
Once again, I'm going to repeat. That's an assumption I'm making. No definite proof exists says whether it is true or false (which goes both ways). All my statements are made with that assumption in mind. At the very least, I'm pretty sure using the term in the general community as such is a fairly common occurrence. If it isn't true, my question still remains: If the term is used by the majority of a group, why still insist that it's "wrong"?

Of course, please understand that I hold a very functional view of language in that as long as it serves its purpose (which is to communicate) then there's nothing wrong with using it.
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Old 2012-05-18, 09:15   Link #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qilin View Post
But in the end, consensus is the only thing that will matter.
Well, I'm certainly not seeing any consensus here. And given the lack of such consensus, it makes sense to use a term by its most widely accepted original meaning. And here we go back to shounen = a demographic.

If people mean something more specific than that, then simply describe it with a few words or phrases that gets the core idea across.

Tempester's "battle manga", "competitive manga", and "shounen battle manga" may not be common phrases, but they're all pretty clear in their meaning. I'm sure we all get what he's referring to with these phrases.

There's not much potential for confusion arising from these phrases... unlike using "Shounen" primarily as a genre label.

Genre labels are notoriously hard to pin down with specific meanings as it is, so turning a demographic label into a genre label is just asking for problems, imo.

We've had lengthy debates on this site over what counts as "Slice of Life" anime, and what counts as "Magical Girl" anime, and both of those tend to have more precise understandings than "Shounen".

(By the way, those lengthy debates are precisely why I'm very leery of your preferred approach to language. Your preferred approach to language causes all sorts of practical problems in discussion; problems that likely would be avoided if more people followed Coldlight's preferred approach to language. I tend to lean towards Coldight's preferred approach to language not due to any abstract "metaphysical" reason, but for purely pragmatic and concrete ones.)


Quote:
English isn't the only language in the world.
I'm well-aware of that.

And obviously I'm speaking for myself. I'm expressing my opinion, no different than what you're doing.


Quote:
One of the main assumptions I made in my arguments is that the use of the term, "shounen", as a genre is widely practiced within the English-speaking anime community. If you can indeed confirm that such is not the case, then I don't mind folding.
Two points:

1. It's impossible to prove a negative. This is why the onus of proof is typically on people asserting something in "the positive".

2. Anime News Network isn't exactly small potatoes in the English-speaking anime community. Quite the contrary, in fact. If they're uncomfortable with "Shounen" being used as a genre label, then I think that points to how there's no consensus support for "Shounen" being used that way.


Edit: And I see from your most recent posts that you're now moving your goalposts (from "majority" and "consensus" to something less than that). That's simply poor form in a debate, and it certainly doesn't help the credibility of your overall argument.
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Old 2012-05-18, 09:56   Link #69
Qilin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Tempester's "battle manga", "competitive manga", and "shounen battle manga" may not be common phrases, but they're all pretty clear in their meaning. I'm sure we all get what he's referring to with these phrases.
Yes. Clarity of meaning is a good thing to look for. However, it isn't shared by a large enough group of people to become significant. In the end, the "correct" meaning is the one that lasts, so I guess it's too early to say.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
(By the way, those lengthy debates are precisely why I'm very leery of your preferred approach to language. Your preferred approach to language causes all sorts of practical problems in discussion; problems that likely would be avoided if more people followed Coldlight's preferred approach to language. I tend to lean towards Coldight's preferred approach to language not due to any abstract "metaphysical" reason, but for purely pragmatic and concrete ones.)
Language is highly context dependent. Communication varies depending on which groups of people you interact with. The norms and the use of words differ with each context. And those rules and norms are arbitrarily determined within the group. Language is a manifestation of shared human experiences, resulting in varied terms and meanings among different people. As such, language differences can be seen as reflections of the variations in the human experience. As a result, communication can only occur between individuals with identical language games.

If the above words mean nothing to you, then we have nothing more to talk about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
I'm well-aware of that.

And obviously I'm speaking for myself. I'm expressing my opinion, no different than what you're doing.
That's all well and good, but with all due respect, I just meant that the analogy you made was a badly formed one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Two points:
1. It's impossible to prove a negative. This is why the onus of proof is typically on people asserting something in "the positive".

2. Anime News Network isn't exactly small potatoes in the English-speaking anime community. Quite the contrary, in fact. If they're uncomfortable with "Shounen" being used as a genre label, then I think that points to how there's no consensus support for "Shounen" being used that way.
Huh. I guess using the term consensus was too much, I guess.

But even if there isn't a consensus, you can't deny that it's still widely used in that manner. Why should there be any reason to stifle its usage in that manner? Can't the two usages coexist with one another?

Quote:
Edit: And I see from your most recent posts that you're now moving your goalposts (from "majority" and "consensus" to something less than that). That's simply poor form in a debate, and it certainly doesn't help the credibility of your overall argument.
I'll apologize for that, but while admit that my usage of "consensus" was off, I did not "move my goalpost" from the "majority" argument. I still assert that a vocal minority has no power to prescribe a particular usage of a term over the majority that would do otherwise.
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Old 2012-05-18, 10:00   Link #70
DonQuigleone
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hyl View Post
Sombrero might be a originally based off a spanish word but the hat that we are talking about originates from Mexico. So it doesn't matter if it's just any hat in Spain, the hat that we associate with somebrero is based off the version from Mexico.
I'm sure in Mexico it also simply means "hat". Mexicans wear more types of hats then what we consider "sombreros". I'm not an authority on Mexico, but I'm sure they call all hats sombreros. They speak spanish there too you know .

Quote:
Baguette simply means stick. The bread is called like that because of it's shape, so it's just a name and i would not call it a different meaning. It's the same for croissant though, because that bread has also it's name originated from it's shape.
The dessert mousse is simply a name based of the original french word because of it's shape and texture.
Those food examples are in my opinion just names rather than words that are misused from their original meaning.
Same logic can apply to shonen. Shonen in Japanese means "boy". It also means a type of Manga (meant for "boys"). Now the english community isn't about to coopt the original meaning (much like we didn't for baguette or mousse), but we will coopt it for that culturally specific meaning.

In english, there's no point in using shonen in it's original meaning, because we already have a word for that (boy). We don't have a word for the specific japanese genre, however.

In fact, the word "anime itself" is just such an example. In Japan, Anime applies to all animation, Japanese or otherwise (EG The Little Mermaid is considered Anime, by the Japanese). In English, the word has taken on a more specific meaning, it's not used to refer to animation in general, but only to Japanese animation in particular. In fact, in Japan, when they want to refer to Japanese animation, they often use words like "Japanimation"

I'm not coming down on either side of this terminology debate, but that the Japanese use the word one way is not particularly relevant, because most if not all loan words end out being used in a manner very different from the original language.

If you flip it around, the Japanese often use English words in circumstances that would not be correct in English. For instance a lot of these.

Examples: Daburu, a type of jacket, from english Double (a double breasted jacket). The etymology makes sense, but in English we mean multiply by 2. Very confusing.

Fashonherruse (fashion health), a type of brothel.

Furonto (Front): Reception Desk (IE "front desk")

Jusu (juice): Soda or Energy Drinks (regardless of if it contains any actual juice)

Manshon (Mansion): A modern concrete apartment/condo , NOT a very very large house.

Rodosho (roadshow): Premiere, particularly of Films.

Vaikingu (Viking): A Buffet.

Compared to some of those, appropriating Shonen to use as a word for a genre of manga/anime is quite mild.
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Old 2012-05-18, 10:30   Link #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaos2Frozen View Post
Today we also have [Rou-Kyu-Bu!], what's your point?
Equality for the sexes and personally, if it goes down to that, I'd rather watch five cute girls being silly, rather than a bunch of macho dudes sillier

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
You know, I wonder if we'd be having this discussion if it was the other way around.

IE "Oh noes, Shoujo is being diluted in order to better appeal to boys!". There's a latent argument that because it's at all aimed at girls, it's somehow "worse".
I don't see why diluting or merging genres can be a bad thing. Offering what people want to watch is not going to change, and it's not bad, as long as there is room for minorities to express themselves. Ranting about a sub-genre that dominated in the past, but no more seems quite pointless to me.

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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
I don't see anything wrong with inserting a few elements to appeal to girls, so long as the central premise and appeal isn't derailed. Also, by inserting such elements, you can often get something superior.

That said, if it's done in a purely pandering manner, it's not going to really add anything. For instance, making every pilot in a mecha show a Bishonen, or adding in loads of revealing outfits to a Mahou Shoujo.

The right way is, say, to add interesting romantic drama to the Mecha, with a few appealing male characters, or interesting action/adventure to the Mahou Shoujo, with a few appealing (but not overtly revealing) character designs.

In that way, you make the story as a whole more interesting, and likely in a way that will also appeal to the original core audience as well.
Concerning Mahou Shoujo, le me give a visual example...

Spoiler for images:


1992 -> 1998 -> 2004 -> 2011

Personally I don't think the newest ones have more revealing outfits, nor that the shows have become worse... unless one makes ecchi-hating reviews his new bible/koran/kapital/kaempf/etc.

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Originally Posted by Fuyuno View Post
Sorry for not taking part in a discussion that I started but I just couldn't get online if my wife is around. Thanks for replying though.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuyuno View Post
My only reason to made this thread is I worry when someday(not today) the anime that intended for male audiences would be filled with teenage girls behaving like kindergarten kids or crazy yandere bitches with blood splattering all over place. Female ones would be nothing but ambiguously or obvious gay bishies making out with each other or horny bishies raping plain-looking girl. Just like some other members point out, it is really scary when fanservice is preferred over substance.
Fanservice can not in any way prohibit substance, plot, and character development. But the absence of substence can be filled in with fanservice, including ecchi. These are very different things, and confusing them leads to... Carlos Santos

Quote:
Originally Posted by totoum View Post
Sure,another exemple would be how the west uses "hentai" to describe porn anime,while "hentai"=pervert in japanese they don't use the term "hentai anime" they just say "echi anime" (hentai->h->echi) while in the west "echi" will refer to fanservice anime but not porn.
Ecchi is not fanservice, but fanservice can be ecchi... please don't promote this misuse; people base page after page of their vitriolic ministries on this misuse.

Also hentai does not refer to a demographic, like R-18, 18+, otona, etc. To get the demographic tag you need to graphically depict coital intercourse and reproductive organs while censoring them, which for some mystifying reason is considered perverted, therefore it usually gets the hentai tag, but fundamentally they refer to different things. Of course you can still show sex, gore, humiliation, torture, and all these nice stuff, and evade the dreaded R-18 tag by hiding (not censoring) reproductive organs, aka tastefulness

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Originally Posted by totoum View Post
But we're still somewhat in the same general vicinity.Meanwhile people only associating shonens with action/sports/harems leads to absurd stuff like me having to look for stuff like Azumanga Daioh,Yotsuba&,K-on in the shojo part of the manga store instead of the shonen or seinen part and when I ask the people working at the store what the hell they're doing there they tell me those can't possibly be shonens so by elimination they must be shoujos.
That's happened to me quite a few times.
To begin with splitting the demographic by sex is sexist, but it seems it helps people choose by tags and not content, and then complain endlessly on-line about just that
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Old 2012-05-18, 10:36   Link #72
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Originally Posted by totoum View Post
baka-updates that do list shonen (and any other demographics as well) as genres
Baka-updates (Manga) actually lists shounen as a demographic and not as a genre. I know this because I'm an updater on that site.
Spoiler for proof:
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Old 2012-05-18, 13:23   Link #73
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How is Yaoi, Yuri, Shounen Ai etc. a demographic indicator?

I've seen lots of Yuri Seinen manga...
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Old 2012-05-18, 15:12   Link #74
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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
How is Yaoi, Yuri, Shounen Ai etc. a demographic indicator?
Shounen Ai and Yaoi is mostly read by females and Yuri is probably more read by males. Eventhough i have no doubts that both genders read either of those.
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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
I've seen lots of Yuri Seinen manga...
And the problem with that is? A story about a relation about 2 females targeted for young adult males doesn't seem odd to me.
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Old 2012-05-18, 16:02   Link #75
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Genre labels are notoriously hard to pin down with specific meanings as it is, so turning a demographic label into a genre label is just asking for problems, imo.
Wouldn't changing Shōnen from a demographic label to a genre label result in the original definition being superseded by the new meaning anyway? Although I'm not sure how much this relates, I think DonQuigleone's post which cited some gairaigo and wasei-eigo terms might be on to something here.
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(By the way, those lengthy debates are precisely why I'm very leery of your preferred approach to language. Your preferred approach to language causes all sorts of practical problems in discussion; problems that likely would be avoided if more people followed Coldlight's preferred approach to language. I tend to lean towards Coldight's preferred approach to language not due to any abstract "metaphysical" reason, but for purely pragmatic and concrete ones.)
Shōnen as a content descriptor won't tell us who the work is intended for but Shōnen as a demographic won't identify the content of the series itself; at the very least, Shōnen as a genre isn't any more of an issue as Shōnen as an intended audience.

I do admit that I find this problem rather silly considering it could be avoided if people didn't use Shōnen as a genre in the first place but at this point the damage might already be done. For every person I've seen point out Shōnen being a demographic there must have been at least two other people who referred to the term as a genre. This leads us back to Qilins' point of semantic shift which I'm having trouble disagreeing with, no matter how stupid I found the process itself, because of what has happened to the word Shōnen over the years.
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Old 2012-05-18, 17:18   Link #76
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Wouldn't changing Shōnen from a demographic label to a genre label result in the original definition being superseded by the new meaning anyway?
No. Because the Japanese are going to keep using it as a demographic indicator, so that alone will ensure that the original definition isn't superseded.

If we stubbornly insist on using "Shonen" as a genre label instead of a demographic indicator it'll just cause more problems like the one that totoum ran into (shounen titles mistakenly getting classified under shoujo). It also runs the risk of creating added confusion/division within the worldwide anime fan community, which is a problem in the modern age with the increasingly global community that you can find on the internet.

There is no good reason why people can't simply stop using "Shonen" as a genre label and accept the term as the Japanese do - As a demographic label. That would be the best outcome here, imo.


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I do admit that I find this problem rather silly considering it could be avoided if people didn't use Shōnen as a genre in the first place but at this point the damage might already be done.
I don't think it's at that point yet. I think it's still possible to reaffirm the position that Shounen is a demographic indicator. It helps that ANN (and apparently Baka-updates) still recognizes Shonen as a demographic and not a genre. Also, this is what Wiki says about Shonen, which also backs up the "It's a demographic indicator" position. Interestingly, Wiki even cites the term "Battle Manga" to use for genre classification, like Tempester did.


I've seen too many popular anime fan-terms become almost unusable due to an overabundance of term drift. "Slice of Life" is one such term, where it's now almost impossible for most anime fans to agree on if a show is "Slice of Life" or not. "Moe" is another term where confusion often abounds when many anime fans talk about it together. Moe fans and moe critics aren't even using the same basic definition for the word, making it very hard for the those two sides to have a serious, productive discussion over moe, which in turn exacerbates already existing divisions within the anime fan community.


With this in mind, I'm very much inclined to agree with Coldlight's preferred approach to language, as it would serve to prevent counterproductive term drift. Now it's fine if word meanings change overtime if it's done in an organic and pragmatic way. In other words, if it happens due to how an older word/definition really is becoming obsolete/out-of-date (due to being overly vague, say) and hence it's good for that word to be re-defined to be of greater practical use in the modern era.

A good example of this is the word "Fantasy". At one time, it meant basically everything that wasn't firmly grounded in realism. At one time, that was fine, because there had yet to be a huge explosion in Sci-Fi works and Tolkien-style Fantasy works. But after that explosion, the original meaning for "Fantasy" was too broad to be of practical classification value any more, so most people today now use "Fantasy" to denote Tolkien-style Fantasy works. And simply use Sci-Fi for "Sci-Fi" (almost nobody today would list Star Trek under the Fantasy genre).

So here's a case where a word evolved into a more practical and precise meaning, and I'm supportive of that.

But there's nothing wrong or imprecise with "shounen" being used as a demographic indicator. Indeed, without "shounen" being used that way, what becomes of "seinen" and "josei"? Are we going to turn them into genres too?


Also, a lot of the term drift I see in the anime fandom is the exact opposite of what happened with the term "Fantasy". With a lot of anime fandom terms, a popular term starts off nice and practical and precise, and then for whatever reason, some people want to read new and different meanings into it, causing it to drift to something overly broad and nebulous. Until, in some cases, you get to the point where "Slice of Life" is now at.

This sort of thing really is getting out of hand, imo. At some point, the online anime fandom needs to take a deep breath, stand back, and ask itself "Do we want the anime fan-term lexicon to be practical and useful, or don't we? If we want it to be practical and useful, then sometimes we simply can't go along with term drift that can only add unwanted confusion and make words increasingly impractical/vague".

So instead of taking shounen, and creating a genre out of it, just use a term like "Battle Manga/Shounen". In other words, add a basic qualifier to "Shounen". That's a much neater and tidier approach than having Japanese anime fans recognize "Shounen" as one thing, and non-Japanese anime fans recognizing it as something else, imo.
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Old 2012-05-18, 18:54   Link #77
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The problem with accepting that language changes over time while asserting that some changes are good and others are bad is that it usually devolves into an arbitrary mess.

For example, what constitutes an inorganic change in language? Perhaps it comes as a result of "misusing" a particular term? But then, we would be able to label any deviation from a word's original meaning as a "misuse" of the term by that standard. Hence, it comes down to judging which types of "misuse" are more tolerable than others. After that, it all falls down to subjective standards to determine "correct" from "incorrect".

After that, there's the whole "precision of meaning" vs. "frequency of usage" debate concerning which would be a better way of determining words to be used. It could go one way or the other, but it mostly depends on which paradigm you fall into in the great language debate.
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Old 2012-05-18, 19:07   Link #78
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Confusing, misunderstanding and misusing a term is not evolving a languages in any way, and should be corrected. Some terms are practically impossible to define out of context... e.g. yuri, shounen ai as demographics make perfect sense, when one understands that they are referring to magazines' demographics. Same problem exists in localizations (not limited of course to anime) which many times corrupt the original work in order to appeal to a wider audience too unlearned and lazy that is practicing confusion, misunderstanding and misuse (e.g. hentai -> H -> ecchi that Totoum already brought up for an japanese contribution to the corruption of their own language).
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Old 2012-05-18, 19:10   Link #79
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Originally Posted by Malkuth View Post
Confusing, misunderstanding and misusing a term is not evolving a languages in any way, and should be corrected. Some terms are practically impossible to define out of context... e.g. yuri, shounen ai as demographics make perfect sense, when one understands that they are referring to magazines' demographics. Same problem exists in localizations (not limited of course to anime) which many times corrupt the original work in order to appeal to a wider audience too unlearned and lazy that is practicing confusion, misunderstanding and misuse (e.g. hentai -> H -> ecchi that Totoum already brought up for an japanese contribution to the corruption of their own language).
So let me ask you, how does language "evolve" over time without deviating from its original form?
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Old 2012-05-18, 19:24   Link #80
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So let me ask you, how does language "evolve" over time without deviating from its original form?
Ok, what has the evolution of language to do with this subject? Are you really implying that the misusage of the original usage of "shounen" is related to the cultural evolution in linguistics? You even have said it yourself that the "majority" that you were referring was just an assumption.
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