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Wednesday, March 25, 2015


I got an interesting question from a student in the writing class, and I want to share it, because many Japanese people struggle with this issue:
Mistake: "Lots of employees left and freshmen didn't want to enter the company." 
Question: I understand that you can only say "freshman" for high school or college students, but how would you describe the 新入社員 in English? 
アルク gives many ways to say this, but the fact is that we don't use these expressions often.

This is a cultural difference, not a language issue. In Japanese culture, the idea of a place in the hierarchy (階層) is important and useful. Google has 21,000,000 hits for Japanese hierarchy society.

In American society, the idea is less useful, and we usually don't bother to express it. You could fix the sentence like this:
Lots of employees left, and the number of applicants fell dramatically.
Lots of employees left, and it was difficult to replace them because no one wanted to work there.
I am not a sociologist, but it seems to me that several basic concepts of Japanese society, especially 内・外 (such as 外国人) and 階層 (such as 先輩・後輩、エリート、 and 新入社員) are concepts that you should try to avoid using if you want to write or speak English well.