Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesday search challenge (12/18/13): What's that word again? The challenge of cross-cultural search

One of the biggest search challenges I face is finding something that captures an idea in another culture that's uniquely within that culture.  

While many of the ideas, concepts, and words we use to talk about the world are shared between cultures (the color red, for example, is pretty much a universal), some are not, but are embedded with a particular cultural context.  And in particular, those ideas are usually captured in a bit of language.  

For example, in languages that have a formal and an informal voice (such as tu vs. Usted in Spanish; du vs. Sie in German, etc.), there is usually a word to express the concept "I'd like to address you using the informal voice."  This doesn't really exist in English.  The closest English comes to this concept is the phrase "we're on a first-name basis."  By contrast, Spanish has a perfectly good verb for this:  tutear, which means to shift from formal to informal (that is, from Usted to tu).  

As a consequence, it's sometimes difficult to search for concepts and ideas that aren't native to your own culture and language.  Why?  Because you don't know where to start.  Luckily, I learned tutear years ago, so I don't have to search for it.  

But that leads me to today's Search Challenge.  Here's my true story of another cultural search puzzle... 

I spoke with a Japanese friend several years ago about what it's like to be a writer in Japan.  She told me about this really interesting cultural practice that takes place (apparently) exclusively in Japan.  

If an author is under contract to write a book for a publishing house, and the writer hasn't really produced the book by the due date of the contract, the publishing house can spirit that person away and keep them in a hotel room (effectively under house arrest) until they finish writing the book.

That cultural practice struck me.  Can this really be true?  

I've checked.  Yes, it's really true. But I had a bit of a tricky time figuring out what this practice is called.  Can you figure out what it is? 

Today's challenge: 
1.  What's the Japanese term for a publisher taking a writer out of their life and secreting them away in a hotel until they've completed writing the book that they're obligated to write?  
As you know, once you have the specific term for a complex idea, it's much easier to do subsequent searches.  Question is.. how do you get started?  

Once you've found the answer, be sure to let us know HOW you found it!  (What search terms did you try... especially the paths that didn't work.)  What we're trying to learn in this challenge is the skill of cross-cultural search.  

So, as you search, keep track of what you've attempted and how long (roughly) you spent.  Today's challenge isn't a race, but being aware of how long you're spending on a particular search strategy is a useful skill to have. 

Let us know how you do.  (And if you happen to know it because you lived in Japan, that's great too.  Just let us know!)  

Search on!  


  1. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers

    [japan housing finishing book]
    [japan book writer housing finishing book]
    [japan book writing fail deadline]
    [japanese publishing houses practice book finishing]
    [japanese book publishers ways book finished]

    many more... Nothing yet. The only thing I have found is

    Friends or Enemies? On the Relationship between Authors and Publishers And no mention about due dates.

    I'll keep working later.

  2. So happy to see Ramon's response. Anne and I are getting so frustrated because we are coming up with zero results. We also found the same article Ramon mentions "Friends or Enemies..." Some of the searches we tried Japanese publishers authors deadlines; Japanese authors publishers sequestered; japan publishing customs; Japanese authors exile publishers. Then we tried searching Japanese newspapers and found nothing. We tried looking in Wikipedia Japanese version. We tried a reverse dictionary. We realized that we kept hitting brick walls. So we decided to take some time away from this search. We need a fresh perspective.

  3. I thought this was hard... But you're trying all the right things.

  4. This search is proving tough but I’m not ‘throwing in the towel” so I want to share what I’ve done so far. It may spark an idea for fellow searchers.

    Query ["professional writers in japan"]

    Query ["authors” “japan" " publishing contracts"]

    Query [authors OR writers "japan" "contract law"]

    Query ["japanese law publishing contract" author OR writer]

    Query [blogs japan authors OR writers "how to get published"]

    Query Blogs ["japan" authors OR writers ]

    Query ["book publishing in japan" "contract obligations"]

    One Word Reverse
    I spent half hour trying different phrases & looking up Japanese sounding names

    Example : japanese customs writers laws (and others) no results - yet

    One other direction I’ve taken is I know there are books on “Business Etiquette in Japan” to see if any suggestions to would be writers in Japan. - no results - yet.

    I’m going to focus less on contract and more on culture. I’ll be back later.

  5. … since I could not find the moon, it was hard to find inspiration…

    Dan, this is a total shot in the dark, but I'm going with the notion of muri o iu… under the idea of contract fulfillment - 契約の履行
    SU legal
    this is honne, not tatemae.

    found after stumbling across this: 助け、私は白い家のためのコード猿であることを余儀なくされ、モーテル6で開催されています
    and then having my screen fill with what seemed to be 500MM+ lines of code something like this:
    " タイトル = '03 12 月新しいとより堅牢な
    役立つツールを登録する' クラス '行流体等しい高さ clearfix' href='/blog/new-and-more-robust-healthcare-gov-tools-to-help-you-enroll ='>
    d iv クラス = の pan2'>
    d iv クラス = '日付' >"

    really odd:
    < ! — — 谷歌标记管理器-->
    < noscript>< iframe 标题 = 'googletagmanager' src ="/ / ns.html? id = GTM FQFC"
    高度 ="0"宽度 ="0"样式 ="显示: 无; 可见性: 隐藏">
    < script>setTimeout(function() {(function(w,d,s,l,i) {w [l] = w [l] | |[] ; w [l] 鱼钩 (
    {'gtm.start': 新日期 (.getTime)、 事件: 'gtm.js'}
    ) ; var f=d.getElementsByTagName(s) [0]
    j=d.createElement(s)、 dl = l! = 'dataLayer'?'&l='+l:'';j.async=true;j.src=
    ' / / gtm.js?id='+i+dl;f.parentNode.insertBefore(j,f) ;
    (}) (窗口、 文档、 '脚本'、 'dataLayer',' GTM-FQFC');},0) ;/script>


    hopefully, we have not wandered into the floating word (ukiyo-ye) realm of 許せるはずもなく
    紫 式部, Murasaki Shikibu

    sucking air through teeth>gaze averted>head tilted>long silence>even longer, painful silence>Yakuza at door>hotel or learning new typing method…

    fwiw: the time spent living in Outer Mongolia was of no assistance in failing to find a suitable answer to this question. Cautionary note - this is what happens when trying to do a sRs? while sitting in Shidax Roppongi Club.

    Watashi-mo tsurai-no yo.

    Boku-mo tsurain-da.

    It's difficult for me, too… but I like the optics of it.

    1. a footnote on forced/coerced labor, the fate of tardy writer/authors?:
      Yak at work

      􀊢muri o iu􀊣:
      to force someone to work on something that is difficult to implement

    2. Sorry, Remiij -- looks like you stumbled into a badly broken web page...

    3. drussell?… very anom - who is Dr. Ussell? or Dr. U.S. Sell?… think you have to throw Luís Miguel Viterbo into the solver mix too - he seemed to be between Enusan & the tasty, toasty BreadmanTalking with his answer/timing.
      Think it is interesting that you all seemed to use a flesh and blood, Japanese fluent - to one degree or another - source(s) to resolve the question {even Dan tapped his thee OSU source to confirm story origin} think an exclusively english based source search would have been even more difficult… at any rate, still an enjoyable experience. Am now left to wonder about the nature of an archivist - looks interesting Enusan tumblr thanks for "throwing up" such interesting history fragments.
      Made me smile:
      which has already led to this - browsing wonderment
      division leap

      uq: when did the captchas go numeric exclusive?

    4. Yeah... I did that on accident... was logged in on the wrong account. (Ooops!)

      It's worth knowing that I solved the problem via EN-only, then contacted Dr. Noda for confirmation. (And yeah, this was a toughie.)

      When did catchas go numeric? A: A while back--not sure of the date. (Technically, this is a re-captcha. See: )

    5. thanks for the correction. It would be interesting to know how you learned of kanzume initially - is it akin to anything in the google culture? is there a google sub-language/slang?
      Thanks for the heads up on Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart and optical character recognition (OCR)
      would this qualify as a form of self-canning (kanzume gone wild)?

  6. Hello SearchResearchers;

    It's like grounding writers to finish their jobs. We Japanese sometimes use this word to "ground" someone (not just writers) to get something big done in a short period. Some people do this to themselves voluntarily, as in "I must finish this assignment by Monday, so I'm going to ground myself to my room until I'm done." It essentially means "I'm going to handle some intense task, so don't disturb me," or, "You are going to have to write intensely, so we've provided you with a hotel room so that you can write without distractions." Throwing someone into a hotel room might be specific to the publishing world.
    The same word is used to describe situations where you cannot escape and go home, like being trapped in a car in a highway traffic jam, or getting trapped in a train between stations in a snow storm.

    1. That's true in English too, although getting "grounded" is usually something that parents do to their kids. "Bobby, you're grounded until next Sunday because you stayed out too late last night!" (Which means that Bobby has to stay at home, except for going to school, until next Sunday as punishment for staying out too late.)

  7. Thought I had lost the mojo and kept putting my finger and my thumb in the shape of an "L" on my forehead. Like Rosemary, haven't given up.

  8. Searches I've tried (many of these I did in WEB, DISCCUSSIONS, BLOGS and BOOKS):
    [ japan author forced to write ]
    [ japan authors forced to finish book ]
    [ japanese culture of writing publishers ]
    [ japanese author "writer's block" ]
    [ rules japanese authors ]
    [ how to publish a book in japan ]
    [ "japanese authors" contract "writer's block" ]
    [ "japanese authors" imprisonment ]
    [ "japanese authors" imprisoned ]
    [ locked away to finish the book ]
    [ locked away to finish the book japan ]
    [ the culture of writing in japan ]
    [ author contract japan ]
    [ author contract japan finish writing ]
    [ publishing culture of japan ]
    [ publishing culture of japan authors locked ]
    [ weird japanese customs ]
    [ weird japanese customs authors ]
    [ weird japanese customs writers ]
    [ weird japanese customs contracts ]
    [ japanese authors "ringi" writers block ]
    [ japanese term for writer's block ]
    [ "Sakka no burokku" ]
    [ "Sakka no burokku" publishers ]
    [ "rules for authors" japan ]
    [ japan "contracts for authors" ]
    [ japan author publisher customs ]
    [ japan author publisher contract ]
    [ cultural practices specific to japan ]
    [cultural practices specific to japan deadlines ]
    [ cultural practices specific to japan deadlines "writer" ]
    [ lock author away "finish writing" ]
    [CIA spirit away ]
    [ japanese version of rendition for authors]
    [ japanese authors missing deadlines ]
    [ japanese "authors * miss deadlines" ]
    [ "only in japan" author contract publisher ]

  9. A good night’s sleep and I think I see the issue but haven’t figured out the solution. We have a concept (holding an author in hotel room ) and a japanese word that not only describes that scenario but as said Kenta (thanks) is used in other context as well.

    So rather than think in specific terms (author, publisher, writer, contract) we need a word that will cover various scenarios including ours. In English we would go to One Word Reverse Dictionary (I gave link above) but now we have to do this in a foreign language. My thought is to focus now on how to find a Japanese version of One Word Dictionary. In the meantime I did these queries in Google but I’m not sure what the results actually are. I’ll be back.
    japanese term for "sequestered" = kakuri

    japanese term for "self confinement" = Jiko tojikome

    japanese term for "grounded" = Setchi shita

    japanese term for "house arrest" = Jitaku kankin

    japanese term for “held captive” = Temochi kyaputibu

  10. OK, this is giving Anne and me more inspiration to keep trying! This time of the year is very busy in school library land (classes finishing projects before the holidays) so we may not have too much time to spend today. But love reading through the answers others have posted. Never thought of the word grounded! Used some of the same terms others have tried but there are many that we didn't.

  11. Rosemary thank you for the information. I also have to say that for this search I really missed the chevrons that used to appear in search results. It would have been helpful to see those snippets of each search result. This search is also showing the value of collaborative work on a tough search like this.

  12. Hi RoseMary. I tried exactly that and not luck... yet searching with those terms. Also thought about searching labor rights and using Google.JP

    I'll keep trying too. Have a nice day!

  13. Taking what Rosemary added took me to Japanese for author

    sakka, sakuseisha, hissha, sakusha, chosha

  14. Kanzume or Kandzume. The full explanation would be Shōsetsuka o kandzume ni suru. Written in Japanese: 小説家を缶詰にする
    I found an interesting reference to it here, in google books:
    Sometimes the easiest way is to ask someone of your culture who lives in the other culture. My cousin, originally from Canada lives with his family in Kobe Japan. He didn't know the answer but could ask some Japanese colleagues of his from work there and they knew the term From there it was easy to find the reference. It took overnight because of the time difference.