In American English "construction worker" can refer to any manual labor worker at a construction site. Is 土方{どかた} a common term to refer to such person in Japan?


土方 is a common word, but if you want a neutral term that is usable in news articles, essays and such, (建築/土木)作業員 is better.

土方 tends to have a negative/derogatory undertone, and we never see it used in government documents and such. Basically I always refrain from referring to someone as 土方. Some broadcasting companies even have explicitly prohibited it as a discriminatory word.


Related: In what type of social settings could one say "百姓{ひゃくしょう}"?

  • 土方 is not slangy word at all... and your source doesn't look "authoritative" either. What made you think "土方 is at least slangy" other than than the source. – someone May 15 '17 at 9:20
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    "What made you think"と聞かれたら自分の30年以上の経験としか答えようがないです。まあ100年前には新聞でも普通に使うような単語だったかもしれません(興味がないので調べていませんが)が、1960年の時点では既に差別用語として扱われていました(そこまで悪い言葉じゃないだろうという意見があるのは認めます)。 – naruto May 15 '17 at 9:29
  • 公式の場で使われるは知りませんが最近まで公式に使われた土人よりかはよっぽど普通の言葉だと思いますが? 「差別用語である」の記述は要出典になってますので言い切るのはどうかと思います。少なくても"土方 is at least slangy"と言うのは間違いだと思いますが。 せいぜい「ザリガニ」などでも問題になる放送では使わないが「古いが会話では普通に使われる言葉」では? 印象としてよっぽど悪意がなければ問題にならない"n-word"みたいなものかと – someone May 15 '17 at 9:44
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    ええですから、「もっと明白な差別用語と比べたら全然マシ」と感じる人がいるのは分かっていますし、だから私も断言をせず tend とか undertone とか使ったのです。それでも "construction worker" と同様に使える中立的な単語かと言われたらNoと言うべきでしょう。「IT土方」が自虐ワードだと理解しているなら、なぜそうなのかを考えたら自明でしょう。 – naruto May 15 '17 at 9:46
  • う~ん、多少ネガティブなイメージがある言葉には全く同意しますというかそれを表現するのも敢て「IT土方」を出した理由なんですけどね。私が問題にしてるのは土方は「俗語」ではまったくないと言う事ですしnarutoさんも言われるように「それ程悪い言葉でもない」と言う事です。 – someone May 15 '17 at 9:51

土方{どかた} seems to be the most searched term used when finding out how much construction workers get paid for their job (out of the alternative terms that I found). There is also the family name 土方{ひじかた}. It can affect the search frequency a bit, but you rarely search a family name together with 給料.

The terms 土方{どかた} and 土工 are sensitive when used to refer to a person, and you shouldn't use them in official contexts. Anyway, considering that people commonly use 土方 to find out the average pay of construction workers, it must be very common.

More neutral alternative words are 建設労働者, 土木作業員 and 建築作業員. There are also more precise words for the exact job, but according to this, 土木作業員 is used as a general word for all kinds of construction workers.

Screenshot of the Google Trends query used as a source:

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    検索数は多分「土方【ひじかた】」という名字の人が多いのでその影響もあるのかも… – naruto May 15 '17 at 0:15
  • Could you provide an actual link for your source rather than just an image? It would be interesting to know where you're searching for these things. – snailplane May 15 '17 at 11:31
  • @snailplane Link added. I also edited the answer to use 給料 with the actual term to filter out most searches about the surname – siikamiika May 15 '17 at 14:37

Is 土方 a common term to refer to such person in Japan?

Yes. And there are also self-deprecating words like IT土方....


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