Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mokusatsu Excerpt

1.  Mark and annotate the text as you go 

2.  Discuss the reliability of this text

3.  What perception did the US form based on the use of the word Mokusatsu?

4.  Are the shades of grey in language powerful?  perilous?  both?  Justify your response.

 5.  Post here on the blog under comments!  Posts are held until 7am and then released.


  1. I don’t find any reliability in this text. The main hint of this is the lack of an author’s name, and citations. For all we could know, a child wrote this. There is no significant proof saying that this actually happened. Rather than providing that proof, the author drifts into other subjects regarding language. Although the issues with language are accurate, the story about mokusatsu does not seem as accurate, if accurate at all.

    The shades of grey in language are both powerful and perilous. They can change one statement into a completely new meaning, just by a simple “by the book” translation. Of course, sometimes these errors can be overlooked, where as in the case of “mokusatsu” this error was prevalent and taken as an insult, leading to Hiroshima. With language, one must be aware of this so he/she won’t say the wrong thing. Most people forget these shades of grey are existent and face conflict because of this. They’ll get carried away with misinterpretation and mistranslation, leading to deeper conflict, forgetting the limitations that different languages induce.

    - Jessica ^__^

  2. -The text is reliable to an extent. The points stated are true. For example, there most definitely was a mistranslation in the bombing of Hiroshima. It's true that not all words are literally translated in another countries language. The lesson derived from the text is not to use ambiguous words and to try to be specific when using certain words. At the same time, the text seems too dramatic and too drawn-out. Like when the text said that people who mistranslate words in different languages should be punished. It's not their fault, and not everyone is a linguist.

    -The U.S. translated the word 'mokusatsu' as not worthy of a comment, like Japan was belittling the U.S. That goes back to the superiority complex of the U.S. We don;t ever want to be seen as a weak country and we feel the need to take action always.

    -The shades of grey in language are very important. They are the middle grounds of language and an understanding point in which we reference to. Not everything in language is in black and white. It's not always yes or no, sometimes there are maybe's involved. These areas of grey can be the difference between miscommunication and understanding language.


  3. The reliability of the text seems pretty decent to say the least because it touches on the fact that the word Mokusatsu in Japanese could have multiple meanings. Also the text touches on the fact that the cultural differences can play a difference on how an language is perceived and also it touched on how the US might have perceived or reacted on the ambiguous statement made by Suzuki.The things that might seem unreliable about the source is that it made it seem like one word just started the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and that the article did not show how Suzuki body language could of played a role on how we might have misinterpret the word Mokusatsu. The perception that the US formed from the word Mokusatsu was that the tone of Suzuki statement was kind of like the idea of surrendering was not a important matter at the time and that it was distasteful.I think the Shades of Grey of language is powerful and perilous because if your making statements that are not clear to understand than people may misinterpret it. For example an Politician may manipulate words in order to deceive people to reelect him to gain control over a certain position. Another example of how the shades of grey of language could be perilous is if an person went to another culture and sayed a wrong word and they get beat up for it because they did not know that cultures language. -- Guyvin


  4. Junior Post
    Discuss the reliability of this text
    The text is not very reliability; the text uses an extreme situation to prove a point. Although their concept of mistranslation can lead to tragedy is correct they are many flaws that they use in their article. U.S officials won’t drop a nuclear bomb on an entire city just because they hated the tone of a politician voice. There were many forces that drove U.S officials to drop the bomb; this reason was minor compared to the main driving force behind the dropping of the nuclear bomb. The article shows extreme bias and is one sided in terms of its information.

    What perception did the US form based on the use of the word Mokusatsu?
    The US formed a negative perception from the use of the word Mokusatsu. The US and Japan were at war and the United States was looking to end it due to the number of bodies that Japan was losing daily. They were in a sense doing Japan a favor by offering them an opportunity to surrender. As ungrateful as Japan was, they were hesitant to agree to the declaration. This angered US officials as they took this as another reckless and a plain disrespect from the Japanese and the attacked.

    Are the shades of grey in language powerful? Perilous? both? Justify your response.
    Yes the shades of grey in language are both extremely powerful and dangerous. Although this article is extreme, situations like these happen all the time. Mistranslation can lead to major tragedies . I was reading an article about coke and I would an example from there. The name Coca-Cola in China was first rendered as Ke-kou-ke-la meaning,"bite the wax tadpole" or "female horse stuffed with wax" depending on the dialect. when Coke started selling in China in 1928 there was no official translation, but shopkeepers started writing out their own arrangements of ko-ka-ko-la. Some of the combinations of characters resulted in silly meanings but this was not official policy of Coke. Coke later found the right Chinese characters that are phonetically close to the brand, "ko-kou-ko-le" which can be translated as, happiness in the mouth". How ever you can see how the grey area in language existed in china. Although this example is not tragic, it just goes to prove the power of mistranslation.

  5. (1.) A person, as I, would have difficulty determining the reliability of the sources because of the lack of sources within the article. There are some notes made but there are no sources cited and the reader has no knowledge of who the writer is. I was unaware that the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima occurred because of this, and I’m not sure if it is accurate based on the article but I do know that the things discussed in the article are very much true. The topics discussed about the ambiguity of words and the differentiation of words in other cultures, are very much real today. This makes me lean closer to the decision that the article is in fact reliable in my opinion.

    (2.) Based on the English translation of the word Mokusatsu, the United States government perceived this word with a negative connotation. The translation was poor (not completely the fault of the translator) because there was only a single translation for the Mokusatsu, which led the US to believe that the Japanese leader thought their request as “not worthy of comment” instead of what was really meant “withholding a comment”.

    (3.) I think that the shades of grey of language are both powerful and perilous. The ambiguity of different words can lead to the same situation given in the article between the US and Japan; the vagueness of a word can have a great effect in events in the world and communication between people daily. A culture can have many definitions to express a single word (as discussed in the article) and this can pose a barrier between different people of different cultures and languages. The shades of language can easily mislead people in day-to-day interactions, although the purpose of these different shades can be powerful in a positive way. Language is extremely powerful and the use of words as well because different definitions for one word can help a person express the way they are feeling in a certain way. Just as the Japanese word Mokusatsu, one person could use the word to express different feelings (one a negative connotation and the other with a simple, plain definition).

  6. The document, a once top secret essay on the word "mokusatsu", is quite reliable because of the fact that it is "unclassified". This implies that, at one time in the past, the essay was a top-secret US government document, and that it was declassified sometime after the war had ended.

    Upon hearing that Kantaro Suzuki had said "mokusatsu", news outlets took it as suggesting that Japan was uninterested in what the Allied Powers had said about the ultimatum. As a result, the US perceived that Japan would not surrender to the Allies, and that the US and the ohter Allied nations would have to force Japan to quit.

    Language's gray areas are both powerful and perilous. The essay on "mokusatsu" is proof of both. It shows that the gray area of "mokusatsu" was powerful enough to change the course of world history. It also shows the peril contained within, for such an incident could happen between any two disagreeing sides. If the incident involved, instead, KGB agents of Communist Russia misinterpreting what American officials mean when they say things, the results might be, simply, apopclayptic, and the world would then go up in radioactive smoke and flames. Thus, a word's vagueness and ambiguity in meaning can come with great power and great peril. Another book that proves that language's gray areas are powerful and perilous is the Bible. For thousands of years, countless people have been willing to believe literally everything that it says, and today, billions of people still believe it. The Bible is also one of the main reasons why there have been so many religious wars involving the Christian forces declaring war against some other "satanic" force. Because of the problems of figuring out how to translate the Bible between numerous languages, and because different people will interpret it different ways, there is always the chance of a disagreement over something related to the Bible between two sides turning into an armed dispute. Such was the case of many of the religious wars of Europe and Asia from the 1000s to the 1800s (and, even before this time period). Thus, the areas of language that are vague, ambiguous, and "gray" are both powerful and perilous.


  7. 1.Discuss the reliability of this text
    I think the essay is pretty reliable because it shows both sides of the issue and brings in examples too for the reader to fully understand the mistake that was made.

    2.What perception did the US form based on the use of the word Mokusatsu?
    The U.S and the allied leaders took it as an insult thinking that the Japanese Government saw their claim " not worthy of comment."

    3.Are the shades of grey in language powerful? perilous? both? Justify your response.
    The shades of grey in language need to be elaborated more especially when it comes to translation. They are both powerful and perilous. Powerful in that different people with different cultures view things differently and that is reflected into their language, that's the beauty of it. However, that doesn't directly mean that every word in every language has an exact translation to it, that is when the perilous part of language plays in because it could arise in misunderstandings and conflict like in the case of "mokusatsu".

  8. This text or given in this text shows no reliability what so ever. From the first paragraph of the text, you could notice the ignorance and blame already being conveyed. The unknown of one's language played a huge part.Just from anxious and obsure possibilities led to the unreliablity of the text.
    Perceptions of the americans were of an intent if an attack were in play, they were already preparing for a fight and once they had the opporutunity to attack, whether it be for simple reasons as such. Miscalculations of interpretations is a language barrier that enables us humans as either closed-minded.With every word, thier are two meaning to that word, whichever ones you seem to apply will your actions vary. Classes and catergorization is very important, because they allow a human to have a various of options to identify with a particular language or word. People also seem to judge other people's culture and opinions but fail to understand it or fail to take time out to correct themselves. Language is both powerful and perilious. Awareness seems to be a issue that noone seems to reconcile with. A distance view and human fault


  9. 1)This text in not very reliable because there is no author or source to attribute it to. It also makes it sem that it was a story that was often heard but I have never heard the story.
    2)The US percieved that the Premiere was being rude and did not care about the ultimatun. He was percieved as rude because his statement was reported as if he felt that the ultimatum was not important enough to make a statement.
    3)There are many shades of grey in language. They can be both powerful and perilous. They can be powerful because it can communicate what we want or need. It can also tell our feelings about people or situations. But it can be perlious because views and thoughts can be lost in translation due to misunderstandings in words and other forms of language.

  10. This document is moderately reliable because it does provide the reader with valuable information. This document includes several examples from important leaders in history, that lead the reader to believe that they are true. to make the document more reliable the author should cite whay dictionary's we're used to define these ambigiuous words.

    When the United States heard the way Suzuki said "mokusatsu" they took it in a negative manner. US official saw the word as a sign of disrespect in the way it was translated and the way it was spoken. The US thought the word held the spirit of the Japanese battle cry of "Banzai", a empowering word for the Japanese to support themselves and hold contempt toward others.

    The shades of gray in language can be both powerful and perlious. In this document the author describes the many ways words can be misinterpreted due to a variety of different factors. When certain words are translated into different languages the meanings can be skewed into a postive or negative way. In the case of "mokusatsu" the translation was perlious because of the many people that lost thier lives as a result of the bombing. If translators took the time to note that some words can have polar opposite definitions situations like that can be avoided. The gray areas of language should be studied with great carr to ensure that tragic misunderstandings do not occur.

    ~Jasmine BW

  11. <>Overall the text can be deemed as reliable because the writer gives various examples of the loss of meaning through translation. The writer explains how translations are not always exact due to geographical differences, cultural differences, and difference in criteria in which words are used to describe. Translated words with multiple meanings are also made known by the writer, as well as the hesitation of the translator to admit their true measure of precision when translating ambiguous text. But based on the writer’s findings and concluded bias, blame is placed on Kantaro Suzuki for the use of an ambiguous word during such tense circumstances.
    <>When Kantaro Suzuki responded with “mokusatso”, US officials translated it as “not worthy of comment” and took offense, thus dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
    <>The shades of grey in language are perilous. Ambiguous words are considered to be a part of this shade of gray. When these words are used confusion can easily arise, and when these words are translated its meaning can possibly change. An example of an ambiguous word would be light. The word light can be used to describe the shade of a color, the weight of an object, or the radiance of the sun. Taking in consideration that every word that exists in the English language cannot be precisely translated into another language causes issues when translating phrases using ambiguous words. Translators have to be extremely careful when translating ambiguous words (like light) in order to keep its original connotation and overall meaning. The use of these types of words add to the difficulty of translation, and can result in the lack of conveying messages; and an important aspect of language is to exchange and convey messages.


  12. William:
    For the most part, the text itself is reliable because of all the examples that both fit the subject at hand and it also supports all the claims. for example, because of my Spanish speaking background the I personally know that the phrase for "place a bomb" and "instal a pump" can be said word for word in the same way in Spanish (Instalando una bomba).

    The U.S. instinctively thought of the response as an act of retaliation against the declaration for unconditional surrender. in their defense, thee U.S. was still probably very emotional against the Japanese and the pearl harbor attack. what I don't understand though is, how could the U.S. have such a bad translator for such important international affairs. If anything, the only reason I can find for having such a bad translator could be because the U.S. might have secretly still wanted revenge and only used the "lost in translation" excuse to attack them back like a child trying to settle a score.

    According to the text, the shades of grey in language are very important when it comes to communication. just like the old warning saying "choose your words carefully", had the Premier Kantaro Suzuki not used that word, then the devastating attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki might not have happened. At the same time, these ambiguous words are also perilous to the user as well as the indicated receiver; When it comes to the gravity of the argument, it is better to be as clear as possible because the people may perceive a comment or action in a different way. For example, in our English class we learned that the gesture for "OK" which is a "thumbs-up" can be taken as sexual harassment in Greece.

  13. 2. Discuss the reliability of this text
    -This text is reliable to an extent due to the fact that the source is taking one side. It’s not seeing the United States take on the situation basically just stating that the US was in the wrong. The word wasn’t thoroughly defined which is a problem for the United States.

    3. What perception did the US form based on the use of the word Mokusatsu?
    -The US perceived the word as an invitation to “prompt and utter destruction”. The US intention wasn’t to go and proceed to a full war but just to scare the Japanese to surrender. This word that basically means to ignore was seen as a threat due to the ones reading the gram and the ones receiving the message.

    4. Are the shades of grey in language powerful? Perilous? both? Justify your response.
    -Yes, they are both powerful and perilous because the littlest words can mean so much to the ones receiving them. Words don’t hurt or affect people the definition is where the pain is distributed which is considered the shades of grey. For example, bullying, a major American problem, verbal abuse is equivalent to physical abuse due to the fact that words hurt. If a white child is calling a black child a nigger it would be effective due to the history and meaning of the word, the underlining meaning. Words such as nigger, kaffir or spic are all perilous words because they are hazardous words that could potentially lead to violence. Words start wars for example the attack of Hiroshima was over the misinterpretation of the word “mokusatsu”. So yes the shades of grey or the underlining meaning in language both verbal and body language is both powerful and perilous.

  14. This text can be described as Reliable, yet biased. The text is of one person, meaning, only one opinion of language translations. Although he supports his thoughts with historical evidence. For example, based on the use of the word Mokusatsu, the U.S. perceived its translation as "not worthy of comment", when really it was "withholding comment". Because of these mistranslated words, there was a misunderstanding of the context. Because the U.S. misunderstood what was incorrectly translated, they dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. This shows How errors in translation can turn a simple comment into a negative one, resulting in warfare. The shades of grey in language are both powerful and perilous. Language has both strengths and flaws, and that makes language a powerful WOK in itself. The strengths bring knowers closer to knowledge, and the flaws and weaknesses challenges us to want to find the answer instead of sitting in our ignorance. We question more things because we want to know what we don't already. Language is also perilous because there could be consequences for dealing with language in the wrong manner, such as translating untranslatable words. It can be inferred that translation is both a major benefit and interference with the process of knowledge through language. Translation can be a benefit when trying to understand others. It interferes when untranslatable words are present or when things are taken out of it's context. This blocks the communication of language change from one person to another. It's important to remember that Translation is a major part of the WOK, Language.

    1. (Sorry, forgot my name)


  15. Based on the word Mokusatsu, the United States perceived Japan's message completely wrong, and ended up bombing Hiroshima. The United States took mokusatsu as saying the Japan was too good to give the United States an answer. I think that is important to look at all meanings of a word before you choose one meaning for it. People misinterpret meanings all the time. However, whatever meaning you choose can have a huge affect on what happens. Even if the Japanese translator for the United States told the general that there were two meanings for the word mokusatsu, he probably would have still chosen the one that would put the United States in a greater position, therefore causing the bombing of Hiroshima. The shades of grey in language are both powerful and perilous. In different cultures, words and phrases might not have the same meaning as they do in your native tongue. An example of this can be seen in the document when it talks about quoting the Cuban farmer wrong. In his language he was talking about installing a pump. However when translated, this statement was taken completely out of context. This is dangerous because this one misinterpretation could have caused a lot of trouble. It is good to analyse and get background information on something before you make assumptions and get the wrong message.


  16. The reliability of the text is not reliable in my opinion because it is based on one person, or countries point of view. If more opinions were involved then it might be different. Also there are a couple of words in the txt that I do not quit understand which makes me feel a little biased towards because the smallest words can change the meaning of what is going on in the text. Because the United States "misunderstood" the word "mokusatsu" they kinda like "declared war" on Hiroshima by dropping the very first atomic bombs on them. It's funny how people say one thing, but definitely mean another. All of this could have been avoided if the United States didn't jump to conclusions. To mean it seems like its more difficult to judge a persons tone from text than when it comes out of there mouth so I feel Ike the United States went " above and beyond" before even thinking. After reading this text in feel like the shades of grey are both powerful and perilous because now I see grey and think of smoke, which is dangerous. I think of wars we hav had where people have died. I see though grey cloudy days where everyone is down.

  17. The US perceived the response from Japan negatively because of the way the word Mokusatsu translates in english and because the difference in Japanese and American views on language. The way the US perceived the word was not the way the Japanese wanted them to perceive it. Languages all have certain cultural customs that may never be fully understood when translated because different cultural background view things differently and their languages show their
    difference especially when they are translated.
    The shades of grey in language are certainly powerful and perilous because of the misunderstandings that can easily occur. This excerpt is a perfect example because of the way the US perceive the response wrong. One can only try to imagine how different the world would be today if the US had not perceived the message offensively and no longer decided to dropped the atomic bombs. Therefore, the shades of grey in language can be viewed as very perilous and powerful because of how the true meaning may get changed during translation.

  18. The text corners of page say unclassified but the author is unknown of this article. The example use in the text to support his answer is plausible in my view. The perception of the US form was negative due the word meaning being lost in translation. The both shades of grey in both languages are powerful and perilous. It perilous because like the word Mokusatsu the US bomb Japan. Powerful because it can make people feel better about themselves. Lead them to a journey or make them feel enlightened in area of life. I see the question as if people ask is your tongue a powerful tool. Yes but it can build people up and tear them down. The is the same as shade of grey in languages.

  19. The text lacked an authors name and sources so it is hard to categorize it as reliable. Although the meaning of the word was accurately stated the lack of citations makes the story reliable. These citations are important because it helps a reader identify the personal bias that they may have had when writing the text

    The translation of the word makes it seem as though Japan couldnt bother to respondor they didnt care when that wasnt the case. This painted Japan in a negative image and it was seen as a sign of disrespect towards the US.

    The shades of grey are very powerful because words have literal meanings but they also mean different things to everyone. This is what causes issues because of the deeper meaning the word might have in a certain culture. - Jazmine A

  20. The text isn't very reliable from what I read because the source is very limited from history we do OPVL (orgins, purpose, value and limitations) and the limitations from this text is that there is no author name so I can't do any background information on the author to make sure he is reliable and credible. This is also just a one person view with no other opinions are available so we can see if he's point of view is reliable. We can make an inference that the author is bias cause he doesn't have much to support his explanation.

    The US didn't acknowledge the word because they thought it was no giving any respect to us and degrading. In the civil rights movement African Americans believed that when they were called "boy" or "negro" they found that degrading and should be called by there name like the US should have been referred to the United States of America.

    The shades of grey can be perilous because grey is sadness and can represented by war which is dark and grey. Through language it is fighting things out with guns and instead of talking you use weapons to get your point across


  21. The text isn't reliable because it lacked proper sources and an author. Reading it we don't know it's origins and what to base the information on. The united saw the response in a negative way, because when directly translated it had a negative connotation. Both languages are different and the English language is very indirect so when the message ‘Mokusatsu’ was sent it only had one meaning and was lost in translation. due to the language differences we can’t directly translate some words and they end up having ambiguous meaning. The shades of grey in language are both powerful and perilous. just a simple misunderstanding of a word led to such catastrophic events, showing language can be both perilous and powerful.

  22. Elijah

    Discuss the reliability of this text
    This text is not reliable at all. There is no origin and also no author is given it just states an assortment of numbers and letters. I cannot go back and research the background of the author to see if he/she is credible. The language is also too informal. Also there are no citations..

    What perception did the US form based on the use of the word Mokusatsu?
    The US thought that the Japanese were dismissing them as a threat. The US perceived that Japan didn't take them seriously and that it all part of the "Banzai and Kamikaze spirit." This greatly offended US officials and the decision to drop an atomic bomb on Japan was made.

    Are the shades of grey in language powerful? perilous? both? Justify your response.
    Shades of grey in languages are very powerful and very perilous. Some languages such as English do not tolerate shades of grey. People who speak English as a native language tend to look for translations that mean exactly one thing in English. This can be seen in Mokusatu as the US only derived one literal and one metaphorical meaning from a word that had many meanings and was used more or less as an expression by the Japanese people.

  23. Franklin:

    Response at link


  24. 1) Discuss the reliability of this text
    Mokusatsu: One Word, Two Lessons is very reliable because it gave viewpoints of both United States and Japanese officials. It also put the blame on possible offenders in the situation such as the U.S. reporter, Premier Kantaro Suzuki, the translators on both side. Hence, there was hardly any bias because both sides' situations were mentioned.

    2) What perception did the US form based on the use of the word Mokusatsu?
    US declared that the word "Mokusatsu" meant by Suzuki was "not worthy of comment," which sounded offensive in a way because it seemed as if Japanese authorities didn't care, hence they seemed as if they ignored the Potsdam Declaration. However, this wasn't the true intent of Suzuki. He just meant to say, "no comment," which showed that he wasn't deciding anything yet.

    3) Are the shades of grey in language powerful? perilous? both? Justify your response.

    Language can be both powerful and perilous depending on how it is used and what message it meant to deliver. For example, when United States declared that it would bomb Japan if it replies with a negative message, U.S. was powerful and perilous in those terms. It wasn't just about U.S. saying that it would bomb Japan because of that, but also for the purpose of reflecting that U.S. was a strong country; that it was powerful. Moreover, in general language can be powerful because in history it changed human rights and freedom for the better such as when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his message, "I have a dream." It was so powerful it still inspired mass majority of Americans, hence it's message spread in the nation, then to the world. Moreover, language can be perilous because, just like what U.S. declared, saying that "we will bomb your country" to Japan meant mass destruction and deaths of the Japanese people. In addition, language in this way proves that words are expressed in actions, not just said out of our mouths.



Thanks for posting!!