Word Wise: Second Appeal

By Richard Medhurst

I hear you soon find out who your true friends are when you appeal to them for help. Meanwhile, アピールする is one of the katakana false friends that I seem to meet on a regular basis. It is connected to the English verb “appeal” in that it is seeking positive action or judgment from others, but direct replacement rarely seems to fit.

The Japanese term is generally related to some form of PR or promotion. When Sony Chairman Hirai Kazuo recommends もっと『日本』をアピールしよう, he is suggesting “promoting Japan” or “using Japan as a selling point,” by emphasizing its technical ability and manufacturing strengths. If interviewees with a particular background receive advice on 管理経験をアピールする, this topic can be translated as “highlighting management experience.” Similarly, with 実績をアピールする, politicians might “publicise” or “stress” their achievements to voters.

It can also be deployed when talking of love. One might use one’s charms or other strengths (魅力・長所をアピールする) to win someone’s heart. Or it might be a case of wanting to show that one is single and looking for a relationship: 彼氏・彼女募集中をアピールする.

All of these examples concentrate on the structure using を, which describes what the subject wants to convey, as this can be tricky when it appears alone. The structure にアピールする, indicating who the target is, such as customers or voters, is more straightforward.

Read about a different kind of “appeal” at the earlier column on 魅力. And share your suggestions and give feedback on アピールする by contacting SWET or commenting on the Facebook page.

Illustration: Stuart Ayre