September 02, 2010

Monocellular Americans


On a linguistic note, one of the things that struck me about former Japan Democratic Party leader Ichiro Ozawa's odd aside about "monocellular Americans" was the expression itself.

The translation is literal. The word tansaibou (単細胞) means a single cell organism, but can also refer to one-track thinking or simple-mindedness.

Perhaps the closest literal/figurative English analogue in this case is "one-dimensional." Off the top of my head, a common dual-use biological insult (where, sans context, the literal meaning is assumed) is "invertebrate."

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