JAPANESE LEADING DICTIONARY REMOVES HETERONORMATIVE DEFINITIONS OF LOVE AND SEX

One of Japan’s leading dictionaries has made a significant (and arguably long overdue) step towards acknowledging and normalizing homosexuality by revising the entries for words relating to love and sex. They have removed restrictive references to these feelings existing only between a man and a woman, opening up the definition of love to everyone — gay, straight, or otherwise.

The latest edition of the Sanseido Kokugo Jiten, or National Language Dictionary, has revised its definitions of words relating to love and sex, removing heteronormative references to it being between men and women. In this day and age most people accept, even if they don’t agree with it, that love and sex are not strictly limited only to people of opposite sexes. Love and desire comes in many forms, not all of them heterosexual or even homosexual. Society is becoming more aware that there are people who choose alternative labels for their gender and sexuality such as transgender, gender queer, or polyamorous, or shun labels altogether, which is why removing these limiting qualifiers seems such a logical development that it’s surprising it’s taken this long.

Below is a translation to show the changes that have been made to the entries for two particular words. The 6th edition was published in 2008, and the 7th edition in 2014.

Love (koi – used exclusively for romantic love)

6th edition
Unquenchable feelings of affection between a man and woman, of wanting to see them, and always wanting to be with them.

7th edition
To have unquenchable feelings of affection for a person, of wanting to see them, and always wanting to be with them.

Carnal desire (shikijou)

6th edition
Feelings of sexual desire between a man and a woman.

7th edition
Feelings of sexual desire.”

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