Roger People

Early in our married years, my wife often used a curious phrase that I discounted as Japanese-American pidgin English.  She would say things like, “Masa people will be at my mother’s next Saturday,” meaning her brother, Masa, and people associated with him—wife, children, father-in-law, and maybe a friend or two—would be there.  This phrase probably stems from the Japanese language where –jin (pronounced jean) is tacked onto another word to signify a group of people.  For example, Nihon-jin are Japanese people, haku-jin are white people.  (Japanese language has no plural form, so those words could also refer to a single Japanese person or a single white person.)

In time, I got to appreciate her phrase as a compact, handy way to express common groupings that would be difficult to otherwise describe.  How else could you say “Masa people?”   Masa and his entourage?  That would imply a nonexistent hierarchy.  Masa and his family?  That doesn’t quite capture all the possibilities.  You would have to say, “Masa and his family, except possibly one of his children who might be staying home, and probably his father-in-law, and maybe one or two friends.”

Saying “Masa people” properly expresses the vagueness of who and how many would actually be there, but they would all be associated with Masa in one way or another.

Try using it yourself.  It works for me.


About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
This entry was posted in Popular culture, Writers and Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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