Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 13:04:37 -0500
From: Larry Horn laurence.horn[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALE.EDU
Subject: Re: Japan(ese)

At 7:04 PM -0600 2/10/98, Matthew Gordon wrote:
Watching the coverage of the Olympics I have been struck by an
adjectival use of "Japan" where "Japanese" seemed more natural to me;
e.g. "The Japan Alps" "these Japan Olympics" etc. I noticed this usage
by several of the CBS folks and I heard an NPR reporter use it as well
(specifically "The Japan Alps"). Any thoughts about what, if anything,
is going on? Could they be avoiding "Japanese" for some reason? Has
that term acquired some connotations they wish to avoid?

I think there's a semantic difference between the two cases. "These
Japanese Olympics" might be avoided because that phrase might suggest
possession or ownership; the Olympics AREN'T Japanese, they are just held
there. The nominal compound is thus motivated. On the other hand, "the
Japan Alps" does strike me as odd (although it's evidently part of a
language change in progress, which I take it is what that "Dictionaries"
article details); the mountains in question really are Japanese in the
sense that the Swiss (*Switzerland) Alps are Swiss. Maybe someone figured
if it's OK to have "Colorado Rockies", it's OK to have "Japan Alps". But
at least the former has an esthetically pleasing trochaic rhythm, while the
latter just sounds (if you'll excuse the technical vocabulary) silly.