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Do Japanese Use A Flashlight or Torch?

Brian Yates

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I am writing a novel set in the summer of 1945. Would the handheld battery powered device my Japanese character uses be called a flashlight, torch or something else? I don't want to call this device a flashlight if the proper name is a torch or vise versa.
 

Mike Cash

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They don't call it either of those. They call it a 懐中電灯

You're anguishing over a difference between American and British English usage.
 

Brian Yates

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I am writing a novel set in the summer of 1945. Would the handheld battery powered device my Japanese character uses be called a flashlight, torch or something else? I don't want to call this device a flashlight if the proper name is a torch or vise versa.
Mike, thank you for your reply. You can add mind reader to your list of skills. The goal was to get it right and you helped me. My Japanese language skills are nonexistent. 懐中電灯 came up as flashlight in the Japanese to English Google translator. Again, thanks for your feedback.
 

Mike Cash

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You're quite welcome, but that still misses the point. The choice of "flashlight" or "torch" is entirely irrelevant to Japanese.

Which of the two ENGLISH words a Japanese person might use when speaking ENGLISH would depend entirely upon his individual educational background and personal history. If he learned American English he would use "flashlight". If he learned British English he would use "torch". If he learned American English and found himself in a part of the world populated by speakers of British English, he would almost certainly adapt and say "torch" instead of "flashlight". If he learned British English and found himself in America, he would almost certainly adapt and say "flashlight" instead of "torch".... especially since "torch" brings up images of something entirely different than a flashlight to speakers of American English.

In short, the question of "torch" vs "flashlight" has exactly jacksquat to do with whether the guy is Japanese or not.
 
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