When did Asian start meaning southeast Asian or Oriental?

  • Delivis

    Posts: 2332

    Apr 29, 2010 8:37 PM GMT
    Just something I find odd. Asia one is one huge place. But it seems the vast majority of people, when they use the word Asian, do not in fact mean someone from Asia but only someone who is oriental or from the far east. Someone from India or Sri Lanka or Kazakhstan or most of Russia, and so on are all Asian too, no?

    Just curious when the word's meaning got to be what it today is all.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 29, 2010 8:43 PM GMT
    Some people think Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, and South America are countries.

    I laugh at those who say someone looks "American." Hello! That's two whole continents! icon_lol.gif
  • Delivis

    Posts: 2332

    Apr 29, 2010 8:45 PM GMT
    paulflexes saidSome people think Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, and South America are countries.

    I laugh at those who say someone looks "American." Hello! That's two whole continents! icon_lol.gif


    Yes, American has come to mean someone from the US rather than someone from the Americas. And that's ok, language changes, but I am curious about how and when in these particular cases. It may indeed just spring from longstanding geographic ignorance..icon_smile.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 29, 2010 10:13 PM GMT
    Asia came about around 440 Bc as a greek word first used by herodutos in a reference to Anatoloia. Herodotus makes mention of the fact that, Anatolia, and east as well as Africa were called the same name.

    During the time of Homer, which was pre 440, there was a Trojan named Asio, and in the Iliad Homer uses the word to refer to a swamp or marshy area. and the words roots might be traced back to Assuwa a 14th Cen Bc Anatolian word.


    just to be a bit more nerdish LOL. there are suggestions that the root of Asia might actually Lie in the Akkadian and pheonicean Langauges. both having a meaning of generally.. " to be outside."


    anyway just my two cents worth.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 29, 2010 11:42 PM GMT
    I agree, most people when they think Asian think Chinese etc so you have to go further and categorize others as East Indians or SE Asians etc. The term Oriental has a bad connotation now but Occidental doesn't.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 30, 2010 2:13 AM GMT
    Why does oriental have a bad connotation? I must have missed that memo. Is it a U.S. thing? It is certain not considered bad in South Africa.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 30, 2010 2:39 AM GMT
    "oriental" has a bad connotation stateside when describing people, not for anything in particular other than that it's a reminder of former times when the word had a loaded derogatory context and that it's easy to be a bit more exact in the words chosen. as the historical context is a part of it it's entirely possible it's not offensive in other places.

    i won't lie, i learned that from real world season three.

    but i think the thread subject s a false premise, or at least subject to the particular groups of people you're listening to use the word "asian". over time i've seen the trend go from usually meaning just "far east" ethnicities / countries to now including the ones mentioned in the first post. especially in regard to indian and pakistani people referred to as "southeast asians". even russia although it's the least common, having land in europe and people with features more easily identifiable as similar to that of other europeans than not.
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Apr 30, 2010 3:37 AM GMT
    the middle east is part of asia too
  • inuman

    Posts: 733

    Apr 30, 2010 3:40 AM GMT
    The same could be said about aboriginal people in Canada or the "Indians" in the states, it just makes it easier to generalize the people who don't look like you icon_rolleyes.gif

    Sometimes you guys read way too much into things or take things way too serious, relax a little icon_cool.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 30, 2010 3:48 AM GMT
    I guess it gets a little confusing, even contradictory in some cases, but my policy is to refer to a person or group as they would like me to refer to them. It really doesn't cost me a thing to accept my one Filipino friend's insistence on referring himself and other Filipinos Orientals and another Filipino friend's preference for the term Pacific Islander. Though getting them in the same room and watching the argument is pretty awesome.

    Refer to yourself as you want, change your mind as you wish and I'll try to keep up. Forgive me if I'm slightly out of date and I'll get it right the next time.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 30, 2010 3:51 AM GMT
    This is america...wut difference does it makeicon_question.gificon_eek.gif
  • mcwclewis

    Posts: 1701

    Apr 30, 2010 4:54 AM GMT
    viveutvivas saidWhy does oriental have a bad connotation? I must have missed that memo. Is it a U.S. thing? It is certain not considered bad in South Africa.



    The term "oriental" means eastern. It's generally used to described that geographic area as "other" along the same lines of any self-other dichotomy used in a system of oppression or bigotry.


    Personally, I think it's digging a little too deep to be offended by it, but maybe that's because I'm distanced from the situation.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 30, 2010 4:55 AM GMT
    Oriental is a rug. Asian is someone of Asian decent.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 30, 2010 5:40 AM GMT
    We don't use the term "oriental" because Americans have deemed that term 'politically incorrect"...although Oriental (with a capital O) is, by definition, more specific and correct than "Asian". It refers to The Orient, or the East, specifically referring to China, Japan, Indonesia, and the like. This did not include what we now refer to as "southeast asian" people. I have numerous immigrant friends from Japan and China who referred to themselves as "Oriental".....until some of my American friends told them that it was not PC. Wow.
  • RSportsguy

    Posts: 1925

    Apr 30, 2010 9:10 AM GMT
    My stepmom is Japanese. She was telling us a story the other day and said something like me and my oriental friends. Someone corrected her by saying its not 'oriental' but 'Asian'. She just laughed and asked when it changed because she herself was using the term 'oriental' for 50 years!! icon_wink.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 30, 2010 10:18 AM GMT
    Ahhhh this is the story of my confused identity as a child.

    My parents are originally from Afghanistan, technically in the heart of Asia right, growing up I never knew what to bubble for my race. Was I Asian or Caucasian? I never identified myself with either category. So I would usually bubble in "other" and write "Middle Eastern".
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 30, 2010 12:16 PM GMT
    viveutvivas saidWhy does oriental have a bad connotation? I must have missed that memo. Is it a U.S. thing? It is certain not considered bad in South Africa.

    Objects & things like furniture & cooking are Oriental, people are Asian. Oriental was once used in the US to describe the people from the Orient, but that has become obsolete. I found this explanation online:

    USAGE The term Oriental, denoting a person from the Far East, is regarded as offensive by many Asians, esp. Asian Americans. It has many associations with European imperialism in Asia. Therefore, it has an out-of-date feel and tends to be associated with a rather offensive stereotype of the people and their customs as inscrutable and exotic. Asian and more specific terms such as East Asian, Chinese, and Japanese are preferred.

    In matters such as these I personally tend to defer to the wishes of the people concerned. If Asians are offended by the term Oriental then I won't use it to describe them. That's not so much PC as being respectful and having good manners.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 30, 2010 12:33 PM GMT
    When others refer me as Oriental -- I always feel like an object, furniture or a rug. Yes, the "O" word also typically refer to East Asian region (geographical area) -- China, Japan etc... I am Chinese but not from that region therefore Oriental does not apply to me either.

    I do feel the "O" word slightly racist. Just a personal opinion.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 30, 2010 1:04 PM GMT
    Um, isn't Oriental like a rug or some 'thing'??????
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 30, 2010 2:47 PM GMT
    Red_Vespa said Therefore, it has an out-of-date feel and tends to be associated with a rather offensive stereotype of the people and their customs as inscrutable and exotic.


    Why is it offensive to be inscrutable and exotic? As an immigrant I work my exoticism... It's something to use to attract and influence people. But in America I guess everybody has to be a victim.

    I swear I will never understand Americans. They will get all up in arms about something like this yet when they kill dozens of children in Afghanistan with bombs it's just "oopsie", let's move on, while Paula Zahn goes on and on for months and months about Haylie or Kaylie or the latest lost American child.

  • dreamer121

    Posts: 265

    Apr 30, 2010 2:50 PM GMT
    morpheus85 saidWe don't use the term "oriental" because Americans have deemed that term 'politically incorrect"...although Oriental (with a capital O) is, by definition, more specific and correct than "Asian". It refers to The Orient, or the East, specifically referring to China, Japan, Indonesia, and the like. This did not include what we now refer to as "southeast asian" people. I have numerous immigrant friends from Japan and China who referred to themselves as "Oriental".....until some of my American friends told them that it was not PC. Wow.


    I was informed by some of my asian-american friends that people are not oriental... people are asian... objects though are oriental.

    Go figure. Its some crazy mess of words that sometimes I wonder "how many times can i put my foot in my mouth today" at times.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 30, 2010 3:10 PM GMT
    dreamer121 said
    I was informed by some of my asian-american friends that people are not oriental... people are asian... objects though are oriental.


    That is just something they made up because in America every ethnic group has to have some thing to complain about.

    The English language as such has no such distinction.

    Furthermore, they don't even get that the two adjectives refer to different geographical regions.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 30, 2010 3:32 PM GMT
    "Random House's Guide to Sensitive Language states "Other words (e.g., Oriental, colored) are outdated or inaccurate." This Guide to Sensitive Language suggests the use of "Asian or more specific designation such as Pacific Islander, Chinese American, [or] Korean." Merriam-Webster describes the term as "sometimes offensive," Encarta states when the term is used as a noun it is considered "a highly offensive term for somebody from East Asia.'"
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 30, 2010 3:39 PM GMT
    dreamer121 said
    morpheus85 saidWe don't use the term "oriental" because Americans have deemed that term 'politically incorrect"...although Oriental (with a capital O) is, by definition, more specific and correct than "Asian". It refers to The Orient, or the East, specifically referring to China, Japan, Indonesia, and the like. This did not include what we now refer to as "southeast asian" people. I have numerous immigrant friends from Japan and China who referred to themselves as "Oriental".....until some of my American friends told them that it was not PC. Wow.


    I was informed by some of my asian-american friends that people are not oriental... people are asian... objects though are oriental.

    Go figure. Its some crazy mess of words that sometimes I wonder "how many times can i put my foot in my mouth today" at times.


    Speaking as a Canadian, I have no idea why the term Oriental grates on people and didn't even know it is supposed to have racist undertones though I worked in the US for two years. Some people take being PC way too far.

    That said, I've been called some deliberately racially epithets but I can't say that really bothers me too much anymore. I also confess that just as I've wished I was straight, I have wished I was white - though I also quickly revert into the realization that if I wasn't both gay and of Chinese descent I wouldn't be who I am today and I am pretty happy with who I am today.

    Also on the topic of things that grate on me, I am Canadian first. I realize there are those who do not feel the same way, but my ethnicity has little to do with my nationality - and stuff like this isn't really that simple - since new immigrants and old ones feel differently about such things. My friends will openly call new immigrants fob's (fresh off the boat)s. They on the other hand will call people like me CBC's (Chinese born Canadians) / ABC's (American born...) or less charitably Bananas - Yellow on the outside, white on the inside.

    I went to China for the first time about 7 years ago and it's also kind of funny there. I mean realistically, Asian societies are some of the most racist in the world (though effectively according to the UN Durban Racism conference a few years ago, only white people can really be racist). The term "Gweilo" is used to describe foreigners - literally translated to mean devil people. Because I don't speak the language particularly fluently I know there are a few people who derisively call me a gweilo.

    On the other hand, I have colleagues who are very nationalistic who believe that it's ethnicity first not nationality and they think that I should consider myself to be Chinese (despite my libertarian politics which I sometimes keep to myself depending on who I am talking to in China). To tease one of them I tell them I am (literal translation) a Hong Kong person because that's where my parents are from despite being born and raised in Canada. It sends him off on a rant - which, frankly, amuses me.

    I also had the good fortune of working in finance at an NGO in Uganda. They don't really have a name for people from the Orient and at the time (2002) I bet I could have counted the number of people of Oriental descent (say that ten times fast) on two hands in a city of 3M people and most of them worked at the Chinese restaurant downtown. They called me, along with the white people, mzungu's - sometimes derisively and sometimes in endearment.

    I should also point out though that I have a lot of friends from India/Pakistan who do consider themselves to be Asian which also makes things absolutely confusing.

    Bottom line - it's the intent that matters (though to be honest, I'm not sure that there are very many kind and well meaning ways to say things like "chink" ;) ).
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 30, 2010 4:35 PM GMT
    riddler78 said...it's the intent that matters...


    Exactly.

    As an immigrant to the U.S., I am often offended by the use here of the term immigrant. But what makes it offensive is not the word but the sentence in which it is used.