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November 08, 2005



In English, Satsuma means a small orange or tangerine without seeds and with loose, thin skin that comes off easily. It originally comes from Japan. We call it Mikan in Japanese and it is a very popular winter fruit in Japan. But we never call it Satsuma. Satsuma is an old name of a province in the southern part of Japan. The area is famous for it's sweet potatoes, a kind of taro, and we call the potatoes Satsuma in Japanese. The Satsuma area is not famous for tangerines and so it's very strange for us Japanese that Satsuma indicates tangerines in English. I think there must have been a kind of mistake in translation relative to the Japanese tangerine. This kind of mistake sometimes happens; the literal translation of Meriken-ko in Japanese is american flour, which just indicates flour. If we know about some words which are mistranslated, it is difficult to correct them after their meaning has spread. I think translators carry a very heavy responsability.

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