We all know that the word “economics” comes from the Greek “oikonomia” which refers to the thrifty management of household affairs. By extension, the origin of the term “economy” is closely related to the same term as it is from the Latin “oeconomia”, which is again from the same Greek “oikonomia”. From all this, it is not difficult to see an economy as simply the agglomeration of individual households when it comes to the European language tradition. In a sense this nicely encompasses both our micro and macro traditions, as macroeconomics simply becomes the study of the sum of many individual household behaviours. What about economics when to comes to other languages – especially non-European languages?
and is pronounced “keizai”. What is quite interesting is what the two characters mean. The first character apparently means “passage of time” while the second means “come to an end”. What does this say about economics in Japan and how the “economy” is perceived in Japanese language and culture?
Does the general perception of economics in Japan have a fundamentally macroeconomic bent with a focus on business cycles and economic performance over time given that the first character is “passage of time”? Then there is the more ominous sounding second term – “come to an end”? Again, is this a view of macroeconomic or business cycle performance over time in that there are periods of growth and decline? Is economics in Japan an even more dismal science than in the Anglo/European tradition? There does not seem to be a microeconomic or individual aspect to this definition that I can see. The Japanese term for economy simply seems to refer to activity over time that comes to an end. l do not know enough about the language or the culture to really understand this but if anyone out there has some insight, feel free to post a comment below.