The multilingual name of a Taiwanese baseball team

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In Tainan, Taiwan, there's an amateur sports team that calls itself the Yěqiú rén bàngqiú duì 野球人棒球隊, the English version of which is "Yakyuman Baseball Team"

Here's their Facebook page.

The first part of the first word of the English name of the team is the Japanese word for "baseball", so that's redundant with the "Baseball" of "Baseball Team".  The second part of the first word is the English word "man", so that makes "Yakyuman" a curious blend of Japanese and English.

Similarly, the Chinese character name of the team (野球人棒球隊) is neither fish nor fowl — neither Chinese nor Japanese.  You could force a Japanese pronunciation of the name — yakyūbito bōkyūtai or perhaps yakyūjin bōkyūtai or maybe even yakyūjin bōtamatai — but those are not idiomatic.  No Japanese would ever say them when they meant "baseball team".  The Japanese term for "baseball team" is yakyū chīmu 野球チーム.  The transliteration chīmu チーム for English "team" has been part of Japanese vocabulary for a long time.

The term senshudan 選手団 is used for Olympic delegations and the like, and butai 部隊 is used for non-sports "squads", "units", and so forth.

By itself bàngqiú duì 棒球隊 is sufficient and correct for "baseball team" in Mandarin.  For a Japanese, that might mean "stick-ball team"!

野球人 could be Japanese — kare wa yakyūbito desu 彼は野球人です ("He's a man in the field of baseball" — implying that he is a professional baseball player, or perhaps that he is a great fan of baseball).

The Taiwanese pronunciation of 野球 is iá-kiû / ia2-kiu5; my guess is that it is fairly widely known among Taiwanese speakers, but much less so among Mandarin speakers.

Adding it all up together, what we have is the name of a Taiwanese baseball team that neatly encapsulates the political, cultural, and linguistic history of the island during the last century and more, incorporating Japanese, English (American), and Chinese components.

[h.t. Eric Vinyl; thanks to Cecilia Segawa Seigle, Nathan Hopson, Grace Wu, Miki Morita, Melvin Lee, and Sophie Wei]

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6 Comments »

  1. Jim Breen said,

    October 26, 2013 @ 5:35 pm

    In Japanese 野球人 is invariably やきゅうじん (yakyūjin).

  2. Morgan J said,

    October 27, 2013 @ 3:51 am

    Professor Wiki claims that the first the 'indigenous' baseball team in Taiwan was formed in 1906–quite early in the Japanese occupation. It's hard to imagine they would have used anything but a version of the Japanese name for the game. Does anyone know the origin of the name bangqiu?

  3. Ashwin Sewambar said,

    October 27, 2013 @ 8:10 am

    I'm not sure about the origin of the word 棒球, but what's funny to me is that if you reverse the characters (球棒=qiu2bang4) you get the Chinese word for 'baseball bat'.

  4. julie lee said,

    October 27, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

    @Ashwin Sewambar:

    May I add for those who don't read Chinese, 棒球bang qiu "baseball" is literally "bat-ball". Tennis in Chinese is wang-qiu, literally "net-ball" , basketball in Chinese is lan-qiu, literally "basket-ball".

  5. Hitoshi Ozawa said,

    November 6, 2013 @ 6:52 am

    Japanese tend to mix Japanese and English together so "yakyuman" would pass for a Japanese word.
    Example:
    Karaoke is composed of 空(empty) + orchestra.
    There an anime titled "キン肉マン" which means muscle man.

    Yet, "yakyuman" would be written as 野球マン

  6. Kerim said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

    Andrew Morris has written a nice book about the influence of Japanese colonialism on Taiwanese baseball: http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520262799

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