Interesting Japanese loanword “マウンティング” (mauntingu, a.k.a. “mounting”)

By | November 12, 2019

Anyone who studies Japanese for even a short time knows there is a huge number of loanwords, and there seems to be more being coined every day. While they come from a bunch of world languages, yappari many are from English.

This is both a blessing and a curse. If the word sounds like its original English counterpart and has the same meaning, it makes it easy to pick up quickly (though care must be made to use proper pronunciation). However, if the meaning is different, it can be a source of confusion. I’ve already written a few posts about confusing loanwords, here is one of them.

I was having a conversation with a native speaker the other day and an unexpected loanword came up: マウンティング (mauntingu), which at first sounded to me like it was about mountains. I had the meaning explained to me but even then I couldn’t make the connection to English, so I had to look it up later.

It turns out the word comes from the English word “mounting”, which itself has various connotations (including things related to disk drives for those IT people out there). But first I want to talk about the meaning.

I found a good page that talks about this word’s meaning and origin in Japanese here. Let’s start by taking part of the definition from that page and translate that into English:

(…) 自分の方が立場は上であると主張し、更にそれをアピールするのがマウンティング女子です

“Mauntingu” involves making the assertion that oneself is in a superior position, and emphasizing that to others.

To give a concrete example, let’s say your family owns a ramen shop and you can eat delicious ramen every day. So you go out of your way to ask your friend “By the way, your father was a manager of what company again?” when you already know it was a not-very-delicious fast-food chain. When he answers, you get a little boost to your ego and feel you are somehow “better” than him.

As a side note, I think to a certain extent humans tend to have naturally emotions like this (such as jealousy), but “mounting” here is more about adjusting your human interactions to highlight your beneficial position(s) to others.

Now you may be curious how this relates to the word “mounting”. In fact, this loanword refers to the act of “mounting” that certain animals perform, sometimes to show their domination over another animal. (Dogs can also do it for another reason, but we won’t get into that here…) The word apparently became popular due to a popular TV drama in 2014, though I haven’t seen it so I can’t comment on details.

As for the word’s usage, it can be used like a regular noun:

  • マウンティングはあまり好きじゃない。 (mauntingu wa amari suki ja nai)

Or it can be used as a verb with the helping verb suru (or some form of that):

  • マウンティングするなんて情けない (mauntingu suru nante nasakenai).

Since I can’t think of any English word that closely matches this word (though the German schadenfreude seems pretty close), it can be a little tricky to translate. But you can use words like boasting or bragging without too much trouble, or try to get more creative. But whatever you do, just don’t use the English “mounting”. (笑)

(Note: image taken from Pexels.com)

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2 thoughts on “Interesting Japanese loanword “マウンティング” (mauntingu, a.k.a. “mounting”)

  1. Tolotos

    Hello,

    first thanks for your writing, I’ve learned a lot about Japanese in the last days while consuming many of your blog posts.

    Here is the first one where I feel that I can weigh in with something. Not about Japanese, I am far away from that level yet (would put me at advanced beginner or something like that). However, you also mention the word “schadenfreude”, and as a German native speaker, I wanted to talk about how I would use it and differentiate it from how you describe マウンティング.

    Most importantly, I think, “schadenfreude” does say very little about your own situation (although perhaps on a meta-level about your personality if you feel it often or in inappropriate circumstances). I would say it is used to describe a situation where one enjoys another person’s misfortune or failure. However whether you are more or less fortunate/succesful/… than the other person does not really matter. I think it is actually even a bit more likely (although by no means neccessary) that the other person is “in general” more successful/…, since you often use “schadenfreude” with some implication of envy. Since you relate マウンティング to “bragging” and also by the examples you give, that seems to be an important difference.

    Also, i have the impression that “schadenfreude” is more likely to be used for concrete one-of situations (i.e. someone missed a deadline, failed their thesis, got fired, had an accident, etc.) instead of lasting ones (i.e. someone has a less important job, is less wealthy, etc.). Here, however, I think it is less clean-cut. While I feel that many natives would give a concrete situation as a typical example when asked, I can imagine that others might use it in your example situation of the ramen shop, too (I myself wouldn’t however and it feels subtly wrong to me). I’d rather use something like “Häme” in your situation.

    Reply
    1. locksleyu Post author

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the interesting information about “schadenfreude”! It’s always good to learn about other languages.

      Reply

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